I have now completed Blackwork, the second of the 4 modules in the Royal School of Needlework Certificate in Technical Hand Embroidery. This means I am half way through with Silkshading and Goldwork still to come, so I thought it was time for a quick update.
Overall impression. The Blackwork module was a lot of work but still very enjoyable, and our tutor Jen was ably assisted by Sara-Jane and Sarah to get us through, and somehow I did manage to get through all the work and actually hand-in my finished piece on time on the last day. The fact that only 2 from the 12 students managed to do this by the end might give you some understanding of the intensity of the work. Lots of very late nights for me with this one. I am sure the others will get finished, as most were just a little way from completing their piece.
The Classes. Each student gets to choose their own image to stitch and in this class we had a wide range of subjects such as a giraffe, a hare, a tortoise, a matador, a horse, the Sydney Opera house, and images of people. My image was a fallen Oak Leaf with Acorns; not my first choice but this image was the one that best met the brief.
Being prepared with really high resolution black and white images is a good start for this class, and the tutors are very good at knowing which images will work best for this technique.
The Blackwork classes follow a series of steps that make you look long and hard at your chosen image to ensure you are really familiar with the light and dark, shadows, highlights and shades of the piece before you even commence stitching. The process the RSN tutors work through really does help with gaining realism in the stitching. After tracing, sketching, shading, and tacking, we then chose Blackwork stitch patterns that would work harmoniously with the design, and varied the thread weights to achieve shading across the design.
The stitch work is slow going and hard on the eyes, and regular breaks are recommended. Gradually your stitching builds up to what you hope is a realistic version of the image. I think I have managed to achieve the requirements, though you can judge for yourself as here is my finished piece.
On to Silkshading now!