The first week of the Silkshading intensive class is over and I have been able to make slow and steady progress. The technique practiced at the RSN uses single stands of DMC or Anchor stranded cottons to replicate a photograph of the subject. At the certificate level we are able to stitch a flower, a fruit, or a vegetable – with some set conditions around size, complexity etc – the image should also include stem, a leaf with a turn over section on the leaf or a petal with turn over.
Keeping with the theme that has emerged through my Jacobean Crewelwork and Blackwork pieces I had choosen to stitch an image of Oak Leaves and Acorns. I did take many photos of Acorns and Leaves in the nearby parks myself but couldn’t seem to get one with just the right grouping or composition. The Oak trees here have been under considerable stress due to the extended hot and dry conditions and are not looking at their best. In the end I obtained an image from an online image source.
The class commenced with a considerable amount of preparation work; choosing the design, editing the design ( I removed a good number of the leaves), shading in black and white, making multiple copies of your drawings, a pricked version, coloured renditions, then a stitch direction plan, and finally order of work plan, and all of this before framing up calico onto the slate frame as a supportive base for the chosen piece of Dupion Silk.
The silk is attached ( painstakingly hand stitched at 4 mm intervals) while the calico is reasonably loose and then the two are tensioned up together. Then comes the fun of applying the design via the traditional ‘prick and pounce’ method. As I have chosen an Aubergine ( Deep Purple) coloured silk I had to use a fairly light coloured pounce and then paint in the design lines with a mid purple coloured paint.
With the design applied it was finally on to stitching the furthest away element first. As this was the largest leaf in my design I found commencing difficult, however this is where you just have to dive in and start. I can report the unpicking is reasonably easy if you just cut out the bit you don’t think is Ok and restitch it again – being very careful not to cut the silk underneath!
Progress is slow and I estimate that about one square centimetre per hour is my stitch rate. So now back to stitching.