A Small Wedding Anniversary Gift – and the reason behind the elephant!

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A small wedding anniversary gift

Today, hubby and I have been married for fourteen years! When you stop and think about it, that is a long time! Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like a long time. I’m honoured and privileged to be married to such a wonderful man! We have experienced a lot, and done a lot of things together, seen a lot of things, moved countries together a few times. Knowing someone is walking beside you is always a good feeling. The poor man has had to put up with a bit over the years too! I can be difficult at times, my embroidery supplies can go everywhere (he’s only sat on one needle over the years – needless to say I’m much more aware of where I put sharp objects now!). And he was with me, and dealt with all the trauma after my fall. I don’t recall the majority of it, but he remembers every last detail.

So why an elephant?

Gift giving can be difficult can’t it? I’m not great at the activity, and the past few years we have celebrated our anniversary with a nice meal and no gift. But this year, I thought it would be nice to make something small. It’s not expensive or special in any way to anyone else, it is just a small gesture.

Fourteen years. According to the traditional gift giving guide for wedding anniversaries, this means we are up to ivory. For obvious reasons, a tad difficult in this day and age, as it should be! But I thought I could ‘celebrate elephants’ as a symbol of ivory rather than have anything ivory specific.

After looking at images of elephants online, and seeing a couple I thought looked appropriate, I came across an image in zentangle style with the two interlinking trunks, and I thought, that’s it! Perfect for a wedding anniversary. It was an image available on Shutterstock, and even though I had to buy credits for five images to get it, I thought it was worthwhile. I’m sure I will find images to use as part of my RSN work!

And so, tthe elephant was born. I didn’t want all the fancy lines, just the outline – I needed this to be a quick project! So I have adapted it a bit to what it is today for this little project.

design for elephant wedding anniversary gift by Catherine of Hillview Embroidery

Gathering supplies

For this little elephant, I thought it might be nice to make the design up into a little box cover as I had one in my stash. Uncovering one box actually meant finding two so I now had choice! They are little satin covered boxes by Rajmahal threads. They come in a few different sizes and colours and come complete with a padded top that is easy to remove. So minimal fuss on completing the project!

For whatever reason, I have a rather large supply of this silk that I used for my quick Christmas ornament last year. And as it’s ‘ivorish’ in colour that was what I would use! And learning from my mistakes of that project. I definitely backed it with calico (homespun) this time round.

I also used some ornamental threads from Oliver Twist threads, and some metallic threads of various brands.

Starting the design

After tracing my design onto vellum tracing paper, I got out my trusty lightbox, and used a micron pen to trace the design straight onto the silk. Big tip – don’t do this! The micron pen ‘bled’ a little, so my lines were not as sharp and minimal as I would have liked! It didn’t end up being a major problem, but I did nearly throw the whole thing out and start again! If i wanted fine stitching, this would have been a major problem. So, another lesson – trace either onto the background fabric, or use a sharp pencil! I really should have known better.

As I wanted quick, with a bit of sparkle, I used one of the Oliver Twist threads, and couched it down using one of the metallic threads on all of those (large) design lines. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with the eye, or the ears. For the eye, I used quite a thick metallic thread and used backstitch (I attempted stem stitch at first but the thread just wasn’t co-operating!) to outline the eye, and using an ‘ivorish’  silk thread, used padded satin stitch for the eye itself.

As for the ears, I actually wish I had left them blank! I stitched in the first ear with a couched down metallic thread, and didn’t like it. So I pulled it out, but the fabric did not fare will through the exercise. So I had to decide to start again, or work out if I could do something else. So a couple of attempts later, we have the finished ears. I’m still not happy with them, but they are better than the original attempt. I really need to plan these things out better before just diving in!

And to finish it all off, it really needed something else. So I backstitched a metallic thread around the couched down lines. It might have been nice to add some pearls or beads or something, but I didn’t have anything that was ivorish in colour, and I really wanted to keep it as a principally monochrome piece. Sometimes I get set in my ways and won’t be swayed!

An effective use of materials to create a pleasing and simple design

So to finish it off

Completing the little guy was actually surprisingly easy!

I held the piece up to the light whilst it was still in the frame, and held the removable lid section behind it to work out where it needed to placed. Then I just traced this (in pencil – lesson learned!). I left about a two centimetre allowance, and stitched in some gathering threads. At times I think embroiderers need eight hands, and this was one of those times! Holding the lid, tightening and making sure it was all looking ok was not easy! I probably could have pulled the gathering threads tighter, but I ended up lacing it quickly to make up for that.

I was a bit unsure as to how to actually attach it back to the lid now!  On Rajmahal’s website, they say to use glue, which horrified me slightly (I’m so old fashioned!). But I couldn’t think of a better way, and I didn’t have time to work it out, so I went with it, and here it is!

completed hand embroidered wedding anniversary gift

And to finish the gift off, I bought some elephant cuff links for inside the box. So now he might have a cufflink box that is actually big enough for all of them!

And that’s how I got away with an ‘ivory’ themed gift!

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