Saturday, 21 January 2012

In which I embroider a burning bush

I love embroidery and back in the summer I wanted to create something that allowed me to practice different embroidery stitches.  I didn’t want to just do a sampler of different stitches (I can get a bit bored with other people’s patterns) so I decided to design a piece.  I’d been doodling trees or bushes at a church training day where they mentioned the burning bush, so I decided to use that as a motif.

I looked through my Good Housekeeping embroidery book (don't laugh - it has really clear pictures!) for stitches that I thought would suit the design – I needed stitches to make up the trunk and foliage of the bush, and the flames could allow me to try other filling stitches – ones that filled a space rather than creating a line.

I decided to try my hand at long and short stitch, stem stitch, coral stitch, French knot, bullion stitch, satin stitch and chain stitch.  I mapped out where I would use these on a little diagram, and painted a sketch of the bush to think about colours.  I matched these colours with embroidery cotton.  I made a template for the bush, traced it onto my black fabric, and started to stitch.

I started with the trunk, and tried my hand at long and short stitch, based on the pictures in the embroidery book I had. However, I got the RSN’s Silk Shading book for Christmas, and I’ve since realised I did the long and short stitch in this embroidery incorrectly!  Oh well.  I outlined the trunk with stem stitch and coral stitch, and embroidered French knots and bullion knots as the foliage for the bush.

I played around with different stitches for the flames, and when I’d finished them, the design still seemed incomplete. So I added the text “You are on holy ground” using a Rustic Roman alphabet from Graham Leslie McCallum’s “4000 Alphabets and Letter Motifs”.

I think it’s still not quite finished – I want to tidy up some of the flames and perhaps add a border to it.  I’ll either frame it or back it and turn it into a wall hanging, and I might give it to Holy Rood House, a retreat house in Thirsk where I sometimes stay – being there always feels like being on holy ground. 

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