|Design Copyright Japanese Embroidery Center|
This is my Phase II piece. It was a big step up from Nejiri-bana (post of 14th September 2018). The second, 4th and 6th sections from the left are motifs I learned when stitching my Phase I. Compared to the rest they were the simple parts. The 1st, 3rd and 5th sections are worked in flat or twisted silk and then a further pattern stitched on top, while the 7th is couched Japanese Gold.
All things are comparative, that is to say that compared to 3 and 5, section 1 is comparatively simple. First I covered the area with flat silk satin stitch, the stitches running in the same direction as the weft, then I added the superimposed pattern. The pattern is called Sayagata (Lightning) and is achieved by couching a Japanese Silver metallic over the stitched area in a series of zig-zags in a traditional format. What's really clever about it is that all of the couched silver is one unbroken length.
Area 3 is a base of twisted silk which is then topped with a grid of thin metal threads couched at the meeting points to form a star like pattern known as Flax Leaf. The position of each of the superimposed threads has to be measured accurately (in millimetres) or the pattern will not work. Trust me on this, I know how many times I had to take back a thread because it was a fraction out.
Segment 5 is called Tie-dye. It is created by stitching the dark thread between and over (never through) the base of flat silk (again stitched with the weft of the fabric) and is achieved by careful counting.
The far right, 7th segment, including the circular end, is Japanese Gold, couched every other twist, working from the outside into the centre. You might ask why not work from the centre out? What can I say? It just doesn't work if you do that. The angles at the end will not meet properly and the circle will want to become an oval.
Whatever else you learn from what feels like miles of couching, you do learn patience. I suppose you also learn to be accurate first time. All it needs if for the couching thread to cross the gold at anything other than 90 degrees and it screams out at you, giving you no choice but to pick it all the way back and correct it. Yep, I had to do that a number of times!
At first sight many people assume that the background of the superimposed areas is applique, but every part of Suehiro is stitched by hand, including the cords.
I wasn't counting hours at the time, but looking back I consider that every hour I spent working on Suehiro was time well spent.