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Posts Tagged ‘silk matka’

With this month’s Move It On project safely put to bed, I’ve been able to think about other things, including a piece inspired partly by a recent trip to Withernsea beach which always turns up some interesting beachcombed treasures, and partly by some recent images that caught my attention on Pinterest of densely encrusted stitching around seashells.

I rediscovered a fabulous piece of silk matka which looks like a hessian sack but feels like velvet, some scraps of organza to add subtle shading to the background and some assorted shells and literally started to doodle in stitch.

I had an odd pony bead and I knew I wanted to cover it in stem stitch band like one I did for the North Cornwall Wallhanging. I used a much thicker thread for this one but it still has the sea urchin sort of look that I was looking for. The raised cup stitch that was so successful as poppies on the Harvest Wreath was a complete disaster here, so I filled them with seed beads and started to surround them with French knots to try and blend them in.

Next I added feather, threaded chain and Palestrina stitches over the strips of organza to hold them down and continued to build up the French knots and add some little mottled sandy coloured beads.

I love the depth and texture of the stitching.

More French knots interspersed with bullions and pearl beads. I liked the shaded effect on the needleweaving on the left from the variegated silk threads I was using so I added some more of those.

Finally finished. Well, in the end I had to tell myself to put down the needle and walk away. With this sort of free form stitching it’s so tempting to just add another dozen French knots or another seaweedy frond. The hardest thing is knowing when to stop!

I finished the Mothers’ Day card in good time too and am told it went down very well with the recipient. Despite my best efforts the the tea bags did shred a bit and the whole thing had to be restabilised by stuffing scraps of Bondaweb under the flapping areas and ironing carefully. You can see some spidery areas of glue but it’s less obvious in real life and was much better than having bits dropping off!

Next job is to decide on April’s Move It On Project and I’m torn between revisiting an existing project or starting a kit that’s been hanging around for a while and of course, also needs moving on.

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The first item on Dorian Gray’s list is: “the great crocus-coloured robe, on which the gods fought against the giants, that had been worked by brown girls for the pleasure of Athena.” So my first job was to do some research and produce some crocus-coloured fabric. It seems that wool and linen were the most common fabrics, with silk and cotton available later in the ancient period, so I sourced some matka silk, wool and linen as my primary fabrics.

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Although crocuses are more often purple, I suspect crocus-coloured in this instance means saffron-coloured and certainly in Ancient Greece saffron robes are associated with women and ritual clothing, so my first choice of a dye stuff was saffron. Turmeric is also an ancient dye and gives a similar colour, so that was my second choice and my third was ‘false’ saffron, or dyer’s safflower.

This would give me nine different fabric and dye combinations to choose from, so I cut swatches of my fabrics and started dyeing. One of the really nice things about this is that all three dyes are food stuffs and none need mordants, so I was able to dye in the kitchen using my own pans.

First, the saffron. The extra piece on the left is the cotton muslin I put the strands into. Then, from left to right, wool, silk and linen. Lovely soft, sunshiny, golden shades.

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Next, the turmeric. From left to right, wool, silk and linen. Fantastic deep rich golds.

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And lastly, the dyer’s safflower. Disappointed with these shades, especially on the linen, but it was probably my dyeing technique that wasn’t right. From left to right, wool, silk and linen.

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I love the way the wool took up the dyes but it feels a little heavy and ordinary for a ceremonial robe. From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.

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The silk is lovely but the matka which I’ve chosen has a very nubbly texture, which would make embroidery a little more challenging. From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.

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So I’m leaning more towards the linen, which was very widely used in classical times.  From left to right, dyer’s safflower, saffron and turmeric.

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As undyed linen isn’t white, it didn’t appear to take up the dyer’s safflower much and made the saffron look a bit muddy, but the turmeric has worked well and looks very similar to the colour of the saffron on silk, so at the moment, that is my choice for the fabric. Another bonus is that I have plenty of cheap and easily obtained from the supermarket turmeric left!

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The dyeing is the easy bit – researching the background information on my three dyes to add to the book and putting it into a short piece in my own words takes a lot longer, but I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading, researching, referencing and cross-referencing.

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“…the merrow took up her story stick; shook it until the clattering of stone and bone brought silence and then began her tale…”

Story sticks 1

This is the piece I created to go with the first full day of our holiday, Sunday 11th August. We spent a wonderful afternoon and early evening at a quiet, secluded and sandy beach just north of Padstow and these were some sticks that I picked up at the top of the beach.

Story sticks 2

I had no fixed idea of what I wanted to do with them, but later that evening I decided to start wrapping them and embroidering around them, much to the bemusement of some of the rest of the party.

Story sticks 3

This one, with its lovely weathered ends, has been wrapped with a soft slubby browny grey blue thread, overwrapped with a variegated turquoise silk thread and embellished with tiny turquoise chips, stitched down with a fine silk thread which shades from sand through to sea.

Story sticks 4

The middle one was wrapped with a hand dyed silk strip at one end and then over with various other hand dyed threads.  which were left loose to form a tassel to which I added a brass dragonfly charm to remind me of the huge dragon flies we often see here and also some beads and sodalite chips.

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There is some needle weaving at the end of the silk wrapping and some buttonhole stitch over the longer threads in the middle. The slubby thread at the ends has been criss-crossed and a cream buttonhole thread used to tie the crosses together.

Story sticks 6

For the last one I had some variegated thread I wanted to showcase, so after I’d tied some scraps of silk round the stick…

Story sticks 7a

…I wrapped most of the rest of it in the thread.

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Some detached buttonhole stitch just to see if it would  work, and then the ends of the silk were finished with little Fimo charms and a cluster of beads.

Story sticks 8

All three story sticks were then stitched onto a piece of my own eucalyptus hand dyed silk matka.

Who knows what stories the merrow (the mer-folk) might tell with them.

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Also…

Hawker's Cove scallop shells 1

Hawker's Cove scallop shells 2

More treasure from the sea.

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For the background layer I used a lightweight variegated cotton perle from Jennifer Gail threads in a slightly darker shade to fill in the spaces.
Turquoise sea glass 1

I tried to weave the feather stitching both over and under the top layer.

Turquoise sea glass 2

Turquoise sea glass 3

Then it was time to start adding the beads. I pulled together a selection of about 4 small ones in shades of turquoise and blue, a couple of different colours of gold and copper small metallics, some very small pearl beads and a couple of larger turquoise/blue ones and using beading thread started to string them randomly to adorn the pieces of glass.

Turquoise sea glass 4

It’s challenging to try and bead the glass in different ways but still ensure the colours and shapes of the glass nuggets aren’t overwhelmed.

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It was a lovely coincidence that I happened to be working on a new sea glass piece when Jody posted this. The last time I had chance to do a bit of beachcombing on the East Anglian coast it was slim pickings, so this beach filled me with envy!

First I got out all my sea glass and played around with a number of layouts, before I finally settled for this one, another one of my meanders, with the sea glass gradually decreasing in size from the bottom to the top.

New sea glass piece 1a

This piece is hopefully going to be a commission and at 9″ by 12″ is substantially bigger than I normally work. The background is dark natural coloured silk matka, which has a lovely linen look, but is much softer and more forgiving in terms of creasing. The nuggets of glass are simply stuck on with an all purpose glue.

New sea glass piece 1b

The room it’s going into is turquoise, which led me to the first thread choice. No label on this one, but I think it’s variegated stranded silk and the feather stitch is stitched with two strands to give enough weight to the lines.

New sea glass piece 1c

Quite a challenge to work something this large in my hand with the added weight of the glass pebbles, but the glass makes it impossible to put in a hoop and I don’t have a frame.

New sea glass piece 1d

It’s a good job that the meandering feather stitch doesn’t have to be too exact!

New sea glass piece 1d

A third line of the stranded silk feather stitch completes the foreground.

New sea glass piece 1f

Next the background layer.

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The first ever dyeing I did with avocado skins and pits I pretty much made up as I went along, so the wonderful shades of coppery pink I got were doubly pleasing.

I decided to put all the bits I’d dyed – antique and modern lace, ribbon, scraps of silk and cotton, aida, grosgrain ribbon, ricrac braid, hand made crochet lace etc. all together into one long cloth, embroidered with the threads I’d dyed at the same time and some wonderful toning stranded silk threads I’d bought.

That was eighteen months ago.

Jacobean laid work in silk on silk matka, which takes on the dye so intensely.

 Perle thread dyed at the same time on ricrac braid.

Another offcut of the spotted voile I used for Miss Murdstone’s house cap. The spots turned into a diapering pattern with french knots and lazy daisy stitches in stranded silk.

Heavier avocado dyed perle-type thread couched down onto silk matka with silk stranded thread.

In the centre, a scrap of vintage broderie anglaise trim with eyelets for a contrasting ribbon – in this case a synthetic modern one which didn’t really pick up much of the dye.

I love the way the perle continues to dance across the fraying edges.

I keep working on it a bit at a time, on and off, between other projects. It’s about three times the size of the pieces I normally work in my hand without a hoop which can make it a bit awkward but it’s good to keep coming back to.

 

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