I use a 60 yr old Bernina Record 730 sewing machine to sew and embellish my artwork on paper. You would think that by embroidering by machine would be quick and easy, but it is quite the reverse. It takes lots of patience and concentration. One is supposed to sew on cloth, so you can imagine the process of trying it out onto paper!!! I have to drop the feed underneath the needle, so that I am in complete control of movement and manipulation. It is a skill that took many years to master. However, it is so satisfying to have overcome the initial problems, such as warping, tearing and big holes. Like a scientist, one has to experiment and experience the drawbacks in order to find the right solutions. My old Bernina sewing machine is a treasure. It's strong,its reliable,I am familiar by the noise it makes, especially if something is not right, the spare parts and accessories are still available, and the manual is comprehensive. Its had many overhauls such as a new motor , sewing foot,winding mechanism, wheel belt and needle holder.I love it!!! It does the magic, its my main tool, I push it to the limits and it still performs. This precious machine, given to me by my mother, is the most important tool in my creative world. The machine is old but has so much potential,even though it just has basic stitches and a few other sewing operations. I enjoy the painting but it is the embroidery that brings out all the beauty and expresses my voice in the most impressive way.
Many people ask why do I embroider on a perfectly adequate water colour! If you can see for real, the amazing quality of the embroidery, it offers so much originality in itself but value is included with these points: 1; Adds dimension 2; The play of light on the threads give movement 3; Adds a touch of luxury 4; Enhances relief and detail 5; Produces exciting textures 6; Gives richness in colour 7;Adds value in terms of generating interest and uniqueness 8; Emulates true natural effects 9; Gives an emotional response to my stories 10; Is a Skilful craft
What more could you wish than being entranced by the sight of in a cornfield full of wild flowers! This is exactly how I felt as a young child, as our house was right next to one. It was a playground, a den,a refuge and now it is a place to appreciate, be alone and to contemplate. Poppies in a field is becoming such a rare sight that I totally feel uplifted when I see one.
My recollection of a summer field under a cloudless blue sky was fairly recent in Provence. I was captivated by the wispy, delicate poppy heads dancing and bobbing in the breeze, the cornflowers, dainty and fragile whilst the daisies carry their heads upright with strength, pure and white through the fluffy fronds of wheatears. To complete the scene, hundreds of drooping poppy flower heads, about to burst open are shining like tear drop golden pearls. You feel the warmth of the summer sun as you wade you way through the sticky stalks of wheat and a heady fragrance wafts through your nose. Suddenly, a butterfly or two flee away, annoyed that that have been disturbed but they find another bloom to feed on and all is quiet and sublime.
After the water background is done, the process of embroidery takes several stages. First of all the paper I use is very high quality, durable and flexible. Not all makes of water colour paper can take the weight of the stitches, so one needs to experience the behaviour and properties of each type of paper. Then of course, the expertise in controlling the paper as it goes through the stitching process by machine, is also a skill that must be acquired. Knowing your sewing machine and how it operates is a must. The choice of high quality embroidery threads is vital in order to achieve good results. There are very few hard-fast rules when it comes to selecting the type of embroidery threads. Use the type of thread or weight that looks best or will have the best effect you want to achieve.Experimentation is often the best indicator of whether or not a thread will give you the desired look. I use Japanese silk and Madeira threads which comes in many hues and thicknesses. Sometimes the type of thread I use is thicker on one layer than another, however the principal of dark against light is applied, the darker colours and thicker threads are sewn first, then the finer, lighter silky threads go on top layer. The application of several layers of stitching as well as the direction in which they are applied is important as it determines the texture required. Once all the stitchery is completed, the paper is then stretched onto acid free card or directly onto canvas. The glue used is also transparent and acid free so that no yellowing will occur over time. As an extra precaution against dust, the effect of UVA light and humidity, I spray several coats of archival mat varnish which also protects the embroidery from dirt and dust., hence no need for glass.