A few years back, there was a challenge on a German textile art mailing list to use corn cop leaves in an embroidered piece. I didn’t get anything spectacular done, but I did find a technique that makes their use feasible. It’s fall once more, and I decided to revisit that idea. I’m trying to share the fun with you, but unfortunately I have no camera, just a scanner, so it’ll be without illustrations for the most part.
You will need:
* Corn cops complete with the outer leaves (don’t steal them if you can avoid it)
* Acrylic emulsion as used for mixing your own acrylic paints, or glossy, transparent, fluid acrylic gel (not the thick ones)
* Surrogates like fabric glue or bookbinding glue may or may not work, I haven’t tested them, but they are often acrylic emulsions either
* a soft brush and maybe a small container to soak the leaves in
* baking paper, newspaper paper
* a device for pressing plants flat, or a few heavy books for the same purpose
* some iron-on vilene, preferrably stiff or semi-stiff
* a flat iron
* optional: background fabric and bondaweb
* any other stuff you want to use in your piece
Keep in mind that the process is kind of messy. You will want to wear old clothes and maybe rubber cloves. Also, remember that acrylic solution will turn into insoluble plastic matter when try. Clean brushes and such at once, the best thing to use for that is warm water and natural soap.
Peal the leaves off the corn cop. If you want them green later, do it at once, if you want them yellow let them dry on the cop for a few days. Tear them in stripes that will lie more or less flat. Let them dry until they feel completely dried out (may take a few days). Drying them in the press at this stage will make the rest of the process easier, but is not necessary. Tear them into stripes that will lie flat with some pressing if they are too concave for that naturally.
Now carefully paint the dry leaves with the acrylic emulsion or gel, or let them soak in it. Apply additional layers of it until they are completely soft again and are somewhat glossy on the surface. Let them dry until they are still soft, but no longer really wet on the surface or too sticky. They should be somewhat glossy now.
Then put them into the plant press or on a hard surface below a few heavy books. Never put them in books if you want to read those again. Put the leaves between sheets of baking paper and above and below those a layer of old newspapers. The newspaper shouldn’t come near the leaves because it is likely to stick to them for good, while baking paper can be peeled off later. Leave them in there until dry (several days).
The acrylic emulsion they were soaked with turns into a kind of plastic. When the leaves are dry again, they should be reasonably durable. They still can break when you bend them hard, and they may curl up when laying arround for months. You can stitch through them without making them crumble or split, but you should always use a sharp needle that fits the thread size and work stab action.
In order to keep them safe in the long run, they should be ironed on vilene to secure them against damage or curling. If you want you can cut them out then and bond them onto some other fabric. Iron them as cool as possible, and always iron from the backside or through baking paper. Otherwise the leaves will stink like popcorn and your flat iron will get dirty. A tryout piece I did like this shows no visible changes after 3 years, but keep in mind that green plant parts are not lightfast.
Finally, I’m showing you another tryout piece, a corn leaf I stitched on. Against my usual procedure, I have embroidered it before ironing it onto backing, just to see if it’s possible. I used the actual tast stitch, reversed buttonhole band.
I have never tried this with other plants, but I think I will this year. I know that I’m posting this a bit prematurely, without experimenting with other plants first and also without a finished piece to show, but I wanted to get it out before the snow covers all usable plant material in my nook of the woods. As always, comments and questions are wellcome. If you try this, please let me know your experiences and results. I’m curious.
I’m sorry I have been a bad blogger last week. I started a full-time vocational training that will last 4 months and is eating up a lot of time and energy.
I did finish the brick wall part of the rice stitch piece and discovered a new rice stitch variant, I’ll blog all this some time next week. I started a piece with the actual tast stitch, knotted buttonhole band, but it is white and soft yellow on white, and I wasn’t able to get a good scan of this. I’ll try again tomorrow.
So I’ll keep blogging, but probably not as often as during the last few weeks. Sorry again.
It is a needlepoint stitch, and my sample turned out quite like needlepoint. I used socks wool in light grey, dark grey and reddish multicolour, and heel strengthening yarn in a few greys. The wool has the strength you knit with 2.5 needles. The fabric is jute. The dark grey lines are cross stitch or continental stitch. they didn’t turn out too well because the wool isn’t quite covering the fabric. I have pretty much concentrated on playing with shading in that sample, together with some variations. It is supposed tho show a crumbling brick wall when I’m done.
Sorry for jumping between projects randomly. This stitch really didn’t fit any of the ones already started. My WIP bin will be overflowing after that year.
Progress on my goldfish piece is quite slow. I sew the fish on the background fabric the fish with two rows of long and short stitch, that took quite some time. I also added some more greenery but not enough for verbose progress reports. I’m showing a closup because this seems like a good followup on my previous progress postings.
The two lines were just a learning experience, the round form was threaded in herringbone stitch manner and the threading then sewn down with small running stitches.
What can I say more? An interesting stitch, but also time-consuming to do. Again, I did it on a scrap of leftover fabric, and will probably sew it onto some bigger sampler.
I wanted to do a bit more with it than that underwater scene sanely allows for, so I did a little tryout piece. The white rayon thread didn’t scan well, sorry. I’m not sure what to do with it, probably I’ll incorporate it into a larger sampler with other stitches.
if you start at the top and go clockwise, the quarters show:
lines with alternating “blobs” done in cotton embroidery floss, 6 strands.
trellis made from cable chain, cotton embroidery floss, 3 strands
closely stacked zigzag cable chain, wool yarn
trellis made from zigzag cable chain worked back to back, 4 strand rayon embroidery floss from Anchor
The fish is not yet fixed, because for that I’m going to need embroidery floss in the exact colour of the background, and the two whops here which have the full colour palette are closed for holidays until Monday. I think the fish is somewhat too bright for the background. Orange and its complimentary colours kind of fascinate me, but I often get the colour sheme wrong with them. I’ll have to see if it looks better when the fish is fixed and I add some brighter greens in the foreground.
This week’s tast was shisha stitch .
Well, this one really defeated me. Each day this week, I looked at Sharon’s blog post and wondered what the hell those double threads mean. Consequently, I couldn’t do the stitch. Today I tried again, and a big lightbulb went on in my head. There are no double threads. All this is about a MIRROR, so of course I’ll see the mirror image of some threads on a photo!
After that realization, the stitch was a breeze to do. I love it and will use it again. So here’s my feeble tryout piece. the green forms below the mirror are shisha stitch too. The darker one is done directly on the fabric, for the lime green one I did two rows of alternating running stitches to suspend the shisha stitches from. Other than the first, this works really well.
Have you realized how the top stitches of shisha stitch are buttonhole stitches with a back stitch between them?
For last week’s tast challenge, I started an underwater piece with lots of seaweeds. Well, in my favourite online game my character is the proud owner of a goldfish now, so I thought this lake could use a goldfish. Of course, I decided to make it of shiny organza, so it took me a while. I couldn’t start practising shisha stitch because I found shisha mirrors only today, in a dingy local craft shop, after a whole day of browsing the shops of a nearby big city. Sigh.
So here is my progress with the fish. Sorry, it’s a bit image heavy.
Firstly, my self-drawn pattern. go here for a bigger version of it and click the donload link on the left hand side there if you want to use it for something. Yes, I know, standard goldfish don’t grin like that.
Next, I sew the organza on the piece of paper I drew the fish on. It was embroidered without ever piercing the backing paper. That is my usual method of using organza, since I haven’t yet found a method to mark organza, and can’t buy solvy or something like that locally. It has the disadvantage that you have no access to the backside. The organza is not patterned, I don’t know why there are moire effects in some pics and in others not.
The next picture shows the fish when I was done stitching. Terribly messy with all the loose ends on the frontside. As you already see, I decided to leave the eye undone and add it in paint later. It seemed too small to embroider. The thread is two strands of orange and deep orange embroidery floss from Anchor, and black one strand of the same. The stitches are shadow work (which is herringbone stitch done from the wrong side), satin stitch and running stitch. The running stitches look almost like back stitches because the organza is so transparent.
Now I’m almost done stitching, and have taken the fish off the paper.
the next picture shows the fish after hiding the loose ends and adding a few finishing toughes. The plan is to back it with a white fabric using bondaweb, and then sticking it on the rest of the embroidery, also using bondaweb. I decided to sleep over it before deciding if it’s done or needs some more, so that’s all I did until now.
And last but not least, a magnified detail from the fish that shows all the stitches used.
Sorry for so much ado about my little work. Do you find such postings useful or interesting? Or should I rather not bore you with tons of progress pictures? Or do you have questions about that piece? (Am I a sucker for comments? )