Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Celia Johnson

You might have noticed I'd disappeared from these parts for a wee while. Well, that's because I've been busy tackling blackwork... oh, and celebrating my twenty third birthday with a cocktail or two.

Celia Johnson just needs the final RSN seal of approval and then, fingers crossed, she'll be mounted on Thursday, ready to be assessed and then framed.

And I must say I'm rather chuffed with her! She's been a pleasure to stitch from start to finish, with only a few hair-raising moments.

Here is the screenshot I based my blackwork on:

 Here is the final result:

And here are all the stages in between (I got a bit snap happy as time went on!):

Onwards and upwards to silk shading come Monday; I'll be stitching a Boletus satanas, or "Devil's mushroom"... alongside an innocent little oak leaf.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Thunder Thighs Are Go

Despite currently suffering from a throbbing thumb where I've gouged a chunk out of it with a blade, I've become addicted to lino printing! It's so immediate and fun. I think I'll be taking a trip to Hobbycraft to pick up some more linoleum in the next few days!

I couldn't resist printing a lino patch of one of my favourite slogans I've ever embroidered, "Thunder Thighs Are Go":

Learning to love my thunder thighs is an ongoing process for me, so I feel this patch is particularly poignant. I hope it speaks to some of you, too; it's now up for sale in the Poesie Grenadine Etsy shop, alongside my "You Didn't Cry" trophy lino patch.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Roll up roll up to the Poesie Grenadine Etsy shop!

After months of stitching away in my spare time and scouring East London for pretty vintage threads, the Poesie Grenadine Etsy shop is finally open! (Click the screenshot below to go to the shop!)

Currently I have a mixture of romantic fine art embroideries, lino cut and embroidered patches, hand stitched quirky brooches, and vintage finds for sale. In the coming weeks and months I hope to add zines to the mix, and I'm working on the next lino cut design as I type (not the easiest trick!) Here's a round up of what's for sale so far:

You Didn't Cry Trophy Little Victories Lino Print on Calico - £5

Leaping Fox Hand Embroidered Brooch - £15

Leaping Fox Hand Embroidered Brooch -£15

Away With the Fairies - Embroidered Patch on Vintage Floral Cotton - £15

Witchy Woo Dating Agency Spooky Halloween Hand Embroidered Brooch - £12

 80s 90s Galaxy Glitter Print Oversized Velvet Top

Love Exists - Romantic Fine Art Embroidery - £40

The Cure for Love - Romantic Fine Art Embroidery

Friday, 10 January 2014

In black and white

One of my first embroideries was based on Brief Encounter. I believe it will always be one of my favourite films (to be watched with a box of tissues close to hand!) It crops up as a reference again and again in my writing as well, and so for my latest RSN piece I decided to embroider its star, Celia Johnson, in her role as Laura Jesson.

A favourite band from my adolescence, Patti Plinko and Her Boy, cemented my love of Brief Encounter in their song Brief Call (which sadly I now can't find anywhere on the internet). In the song, a woman with a cut-glass English accent implores to a telephone operator that she wants to talk to Celia Johnson (one of their later songs is entitled Tapestry Stitches; clearly Patti Plinko and I are destined to be!) The crackly, seductive-yet-sinister voice of Patti Plinko seared the character Celia Johnson into my brain; in my spoken word piece Kiss the Book, I later wrote that "You and I might be the last remaining sufferers of Celia Johnson Syndrome, forsaking feelings for public decency, drinking to loosen stiff upper lips, awakening to find starched white surgical ruffs buttoned back up beyond the collar."

The black and white, austerity Britain, "keep calm and carry on" vibe of the film (apt as it was made during the war) translates well to blackwork, the technique I'm currently learning at the Royal School of Needlework. 

I wouldn't have expected it as I'm pants at maths, but I've really taken to counted thread techniques; perhaps there's something slightly obsessive about my personality?! Making those tiny little geometric stitches in counts of two threads a time certainly is satisfying; I find the octagonal square pattern I'm using to shade Celia's face with particularly hypnotic.

Teeny tiny waffle pattern making up Celia's hair

Blackwork is very crisp, and perhaps the closest embroidery technique to hand drawing. My favourite pieces to stitch prior to starting at the RSN were black and white illustrations from early-twentieth century children's books, so I was particularly looking forward to starting this technique:

In fact, my initial design for blackwork more closely resembled these illustrations; it was based on a character from my stories and stitchings, Polly Kettle:

However, my tutors decided that this design would be too flat, as blackwork, as opposed to just black on white stitching, is all about shading and dimensionality, and the use of negative space. So we plumped for this screenshot of Celia instead (only severely cropped!):

I will be sharing blow-by-blow progress over on Instagram, so do head on over if you want to see my stitchy (and other!) goings-on.