Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Embroidery March: Blackwork (reprise)

I've alternately been under the weather and distracted by nice weather. Last Thursday's blog post just escaped me entirely. I had meant to do a reprise of the blackwork post from back in January, so here it is, albeit a few days late.

Back in January, I talked about blackwork as a means of repairing weak fabric, but not really as a decorative art and that's what I want to talk about today. There are some really great pieces at the Victoria and Albert Museum, such as this woman's waistcoat that show the decorative potential of blackwork.

Image copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 
If I had a higher resolution image, I'd be copying the heck outta that. I have been working on a small sampler and trying out  some different techniques.

The top left and bottom right designs came from my Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework and the top right and bottom left designs are from my own brain. I'm pleased with how it turned out and I kind of want to do some more samplers just to see if I can't figure out some designs that are both in the Spanish style (reversible designs in Holbein stitch) and in the English style (non-reversible, organic designs like the waistcoat above).

I'm about as pleased with the back of it as I am with the front. The hexagon design did very well on the reverse, as did the picot on the top and bottom. I'm still working on starting and finishing threads more neatly, but I'm pleased overall.

My next challenge is going to be to figuring out how to use the density of the pattern to produce values of dark and light over a larger design. I'll let you know how it goes and if it all goes well, I'm considering writing up the little bird as a pattern.

I'm loving the simplicity of blackwork, though it's just about the opposite of my usual free style stuff. I'm used to working without counted stitches and in all the colors, but using only black reminds me a lot of pen-and-ink drawing. In the 17th century, they used woodcuts for inspiration.

The only thing that changed is that I grabbed this image from four thousand miles away and never had to leave my living room. This coming Thursday, I'll talk about cross stitch, which I have yet to successfully do. It'll be an adventure!
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