Thursday, 23 July 2020

Phase IV

But not the movie.
Does anyone actually remember the movie? Seventies, Sci-fi, ants doing strange things and a mad ecologist.

No, this is Phase IV of my occasional forays into Traditional Japanese Embroidery or Nuido.

I took up Nuido for a number of reasons.
Partly it was because I understood that I needed something with strict rules and disciplines to counterbalance my tendency to let my own designs run too far ahead of my ability. I like to push my boundaries and try something new in each piece I design, but there are times when I try and pile in too much 'new'. One well executed new idea is better than three or four poorly executed.
Partly it was because I liked some of the designs and colours and I could see that if I learned to use them properly I would see how they could fit into my own work.
Partly it was because Jane-Beth needed a 'numpty' (know nothing/idiot) to practice her teaching technique on.

So, Phase IV. This Phase IV piece is called "Embroidery Sculpture" or, in Japanese, "Shishu Chokoku". It is a Japanese Embroidery Center design.
The flowers and leaves are worked in Japanese flat silk. In Japanese Embroidery only a flat silk is used, and where a twisted thread is required, the practitioner has to twist it themselves. That's fun (or not). To twist a thread, you have to split the required thickness in two, twist half of it in one direction and hold the end between your teeth while to twist the other half - of course the first half has twist tension on it and if you let it go it will spring away in some uncontrollable direction, curl up on itself and then you have to start again. Then you have to twist the two halves together in the opposite direction.


"Embroidery Sculpture" Copyright Japanese Embroidery Center, Atlanta

"Embroidery Sculpture" is less about the flowers and leaves and more about the metals and precision couching. The gold and silver threads are non-stitchable, They are too thick to go through the silk fabric on which they lie, so they have to be couched, and the couching is part of the design so it has to be accurate to give the angles the correct shapes.

I started "Embroidery Sculpture" in April 2010, and finished it in February 2015. Sometimes you just have to not hurry! In real time, it took 166 hours, or 21 days based on an 8 hour stitching day. It measures 14" by 18" not including the frame.

I exhibited this at the Royal Highland Show in 2015 and was awarded 1st in Class and The Agnes Bryson trophy for best piece of needlework in the exhibition. BIG YAY!

I don't often talk about value, but the lady presenting the awards asked me to explain it to her how it was done, then she asked how much it would cost if it were for sale. Without a blink I said £2000. But that was back in 2015. I think she was a little shocked.
I do that to people. If they don't stitch, they don't always understand how long these things take, or how long it takes to gain the experience in order to do them.  Yes, it only took 166 hours, but what about the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, that you spend learning how to do it?
Thought for the day, put a realistic value on your needlework. Not that I sell anything, but if asked, I generally consider that twice the minimum wage is a good start, then adjust upward for difficulty, originality or just for the sheer hell of it.

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