Monday, 16 February 2015

Buried Treasure ~

Last week I had the most unexpected find! Whilst quickly checking something on my ebay a splendid piece of needle work popped up on the first screen where all the 'suggestions' are relating to what you might like ~ this I did like ~
Normally I just click right on by but this time an amazing buried treasure caught my eye ~ and it had a 'buy now' a 'buy now' that I couldn't believe and could afford ~ one quick click and she was mine ~ woo hoo ~ quick as a flash she came all the way from the UK  to New Zealand in just a few days ~ I could hardly contain myself upon opening this beauty ~ and even if the provenance is not as was researched and advertised she's still drop dead gorgeous and the closest I will get, unless I travel long and far, to seeing a piece of this age and integrity in my studio or my country ~ take a look at this beauty ~

Now the provenance suggested for this gem by the seller is 18th century after consultation with the V & A. It is certainly in the 17th & 18th century style with the animals depicted very similar to those found on other antique pieces from that era. But there are two pieces of linen here, both of some age ~ this piece certainly has a story to tell ~

~ Despite the obvious age of the linen the stitching on the centre piece is still so vibrant ~

~ You can see where the centre piece has been joined to the bigger background piece ~

~ Someone has taken the original and incorporated it into a larger border drawn
onto the background ~

~ The pattern has been drawn on and then someone has started to stitch the outline ~

~ Just look how that border blends into the original piece ~

~ The drawn border is an artwork in itself ~

~ I LOVE that each side of the border cartouche is different ~

~ The leopard has the very distinctive style of 17th & 18th century needlework ~

~ The flowers are gorgeous but not so familiar to me in this style ~

~ The lion is just splendid and those lips are so 17th and 18th ~

~ The seamless joining with the background is so well done ~

~ It looks like there were original drawings not stitched on the centre piece ~

~ I would just love to know what the entirety of the original was ~

~ On the back it looks almost like a slip, there is linen covering the back of the original stitched onto the
background piece ~

~ You can see the original piece under the backing and the stitching around the form of the lion ~

~ And here around the form of the leopard ~

~ The back of the centre flower ~

~ Someone has started to fill in the background below the leopard once the two pieces were joined ~

~ And here under the lion ~

~ On the far right edge some of the drawing is in red marker ~

~ A close up of the tent stitching under the leopard ~

~ And under the lion ~

~ The mound has been stitched with two threads of differing colours that look to be fine wool ~

~ The same is done under the leopard with two different colours, I like that effect,
it's giving me ideas for my casket ~

~ A close up of the stitching on the flower ~

~ And the birds ~

~ Those eyes are very like those of the  17th century ~

~ On both the leopard and the lion the eyes are black in the middle and  what looks to be a
strand of white and red at the corners, it's very effective ~

~ This is as much of the thread used as I can see through the original backing but it looks to be
a mixture os fine wool thread and silk as some threads are matt and some more shiny ~

~ I want to get into the backing of the original and take a closer look, but then I don't
because I am loving the drawn border too ~

~ You can see the mottled mounds from the reverse side and the excellent use of two
different threads in the needle ~

I am still reeling that I managed to procure such an interesting piece and studying it has already taught me a few things. Is it 18th century, I'm not sure, could it be a 19th century reproduction? I do not recollect work like this being done in wool threads in the 17th and 18th century needlework of this type ~ maybe someone more knowledgeable can shed some light?

I'm in LOVE with it no matter what ~

~ May Your Days Be Filled With Salubrious Stitching ~

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Too Much Poof? Poof!

This week has still seen me faffing around with Mountmellick. I have been dwelling on that annoying fusing in the centre of the quilt and as Leeanne {my quilter} and I have been emailing back and forth about the quilting she came up with a brilliant suggestion ~ what about 'Trapunto~ing' it ~ light bulb moment ~ why didn't I think of that ~ it's even a part of the new Quiltmania BOM for 2015 by Le Fee Piroutte by Nathalie Meance AND I watched those videos but didn't think to utilise on Mountmellick ~ must be getting old ~ anyway, that's what I spent last evening doing with my sharp pointed scissors, my stuffing tool and some stuffing, I would have used wadding like Nathalie does but I didn't have any and so stuffing it was ~ I hope that's ok ~ it surely has 'poof' now ~ too much 'poof'? or just right? ~ I didn't put that much in but it 'poofed' up real quickly ~ I hope we don't need to perform an extraction Leeanne! ~ after all it was my first ever go at trapunto ~

~ Look at all that 'poof' peeps! ~

~ 'Poof ' in the swags and in the diamonds ~

~ 'Poof' in the vase too ~

~ It has certainly added some dimension to that flat and lifeless fusing ~

~ Now that's an eye popping swag for sure! ~

Anyway, 'poof' or too much 'poof' I don't need to overthink this anymore and so she is packed up and posted today, off to the lovely Leeanne from Quilt Me Kiwi.

Now to patiently wait for her return in 6-8 weeks ~ hmmmmm ~ it's nerve racking sending off such a labour of love to be entrusted into the care of the postal service ~ I'll relax when I know she's there safely ~ she's going on my bed so she's a she ~

~ May Your Days Be Filled With Salubrious Stitching ~

Monday, 9 February 2015


Technically, I'm a day late for this celebration because it's February the 9th here in New Zealand, but it's still February the 8th in the USA and surely it's still ok if somewhere in the world it's still the 8th ~

Hari-Kuyo is a Japanese tradition marked on the 8th day of February each year, where Japanese needle workers take their broken and worn needles, from the past year, to the shrine where they are placed in a tofu like substance in a respectful memorial of tenderness & gratitude for their service and to pray for improved skills. 

Literally translated Hari {means Needle} and Kuyo {means memorial}

Now, why I know about this is because I read Susan Elliot's blog {Plays with Needles} and she's talked about Hari-Kuyo hereherehere & here

What an awesome tradition and not one I have participated in ~ until now that is ~

I LOVE reading Susan's blog, she's SO creative and SO talented, she's not been blogging for a while and now she's back! ~ thanks Susan I missed you interesting posts and visually detailed photos ~

Her latest posts have inspired me to participate in Hari-Kuyo or at the very least motivate me to set myself up to celebrate with an actual aged and worn needle in 2016, a needle that I have kept aside just for Hari-Kuyo instead of cursing & disposing of it immediately for I was in the middle of something when the needle expired ~ I am wondering Susan, is it ok to include 'sewing machine needles' ~ I know I have had some of those break during the past year whereas hand needles not so much? ~ I don't make Kimonos for a living so that could be why! ~

Susan designed an awesome needle book a few years back that she still offers as a e-course as well as sew in labels she offers in her etsy shop. The needlebook has a page in the back for {Broken but not forgotten} needles waiting for Hari-Kuyo ~

~ Susan's colourful design with embroidery and toggles ~ LOVE IT ~

I have committed and purchased the .pdf and now it's onto choosing the fabrics. I am looking forward to making this using her techniques for constructing this little book.

Currently my needle situation looks a bit like this ~ not exactly organised ~

~ There's a pin cushion beside my favourite chair ~ no needle labels here ! ~

~ My Mum made me this amazing hardanger needle book a few years back, I LOVE it, BUT ~

~ She labelled it how 'she' likes her needles filed with her oft used needles ~

~ Then there's all my Sue Spargo HUGE needles still filed in their original packaging ~

~ I'm GOING TO make up this Sue Spargo needlebook for those needles ~

~ The there's this beauty on my studio table, still no labels here! ~

SO, as you can see I need some organisation and better portability, if I leave the house I carry the needle in the project but there's not always one needle required so I need to do something ~ it's not fair on those needles to be treated so disdainfully, they should be respected, without them I could not do what I LOVE to do ~ thanks Susan for showing me the light, for motivating me and I really look forward to you continuing to blog ~

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Respite & Success Brings A Fabulous Result

The heat and humidity has dampened down here in the Northern Climes of New Zealand, we've had rain and some cooling south westerly breezes, some respite from the humidity that will likely only last until the sun comes to visit again and then it will probably be more humid than ever with all that evaporating water ~ so I thought I would taste some success whilst I had the chance to work in my studio without the fan blasting everything off the work surfaces and I wanted to actually sit at my sewing machine covered in great swathes of fabulous scrappy cottons ~ this is the result ~ a finish ~ well a finish for my bit ~ I'm not doing that quilting ~ Leeanne we need to talk ? WOO HOO ~ I did it, I really really did it ~

~ The beautiful final border strip prepares itself to be cut in half, ~

~ That was scary, no extra if I mess it up, the final element of a year long project ~

~ The grand finale, isn't she beautiful, look at all that work ~

~ She looks like a stained glass window hanging on the line right outside my studio ~

~ My one and only regret, I fused the vase and swag early on as I had never done
hand applique ~ @%&$ it ~ I will never fuse again it's far too flat and lifeless ~ 

~ What a magnificent journey I have been  on, thank you Di Ford, you taught me
how to hand applique and to broderie perse and to have the patience to do it in hand
because  the result is so far superior ~ 

~ LOVING the look of all these divine scrappy repro's meshing together ~

~ Loving all those borders, one, two, three, four ~ and the rest ~

I am jumping up and down with excitement that I have finished this journey with such an awesome result, the Quiltmania 2014 mystery is solved, Mountmellick rocks!

So onwards and upwards and never one to be idle, I have started one of my two 2015 BOM's. This one's in wool with big embellishing threads and the needles are HUGE when compared to what I normally use but I am having such fun with the colour and texture. Now we are not allowed to show any progress pic's of what we are up to cos eventually in a year or so's time it will be available as a pattern or kit I believe but here's the official link just to give you an inkling ~ but  sign up's closed. Sue Spargo

~ A rainbow of colours ~

Isn't her work brilliantly colourful, fun and OSO funky, love it and I have always loved working with wool not to mention being a convicted thread addict. I completed a little project just to kick start me into the Sue Spargo mode of colour, texturising and embellishing so I can share that, it's a nifty little Yazzi case jazzed up in Sue's folky style ~

~ The pockets are triangular and roll up into a square shape at the ends, nifty ~

~ Marie Antoinette is suitably impressed ~

~ A riot of colour ~

Now for a little something a bit left of centre I have been meaning to share ~ I have a bit of a thing for taxidermy, ~ taxidermy of cute animals ~ vintage and victorian ~ bird and butterfly domes from the victorian era I find most splendid indeed but they are virtually impossible to come by here in New Zealand of a vintage age and so butterflies being more readily available from suppliers here I decided to have a go at making my own globe ~ now some might say ewwwgh yuck ~ but the butterflies come from butterfly farms and don't live long and so I do not see anything ewwwgh yuck about it but an opportunity to appreciate their beauty after they have departed this mortal coil ~ I am most happy with my display and it fit's most splendidly into my home ~

~ A fitting location ~

~ I painted the base with Annie Sloane chalk paint and 'crackled' it ~

~ We went scouring for the perfect driftwood on the beach ~ then it was painted and
distressed with sandpaper ~

~ Faux velvet leaves, flowers and real butterflies were introduced to their new home ~

~ For that eccentric touch a flock covered Bambi was nestled into leaves at the base ~

What a mega fun week I have had, kids back at school, new achievements and a brilliant finish ~ hope your week' s been just as productive ~


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