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Silksters Galleries - Embroidery and Needle Arts

Needle Arts have many variations, from traditional embroidery to free-form design and crazy quilt stitching.

This Silksters Needle Arts area presents some of Treenway Silk's customers wonderful projects using silk.

Nancy Cole, quilt 'I Am A Log Cabin'

Nacny Cole, Summerside, Prince Edward Island

Quilt - I Am A Log Cabin

It is always a treat for us to see how people have evolved their work and talents. It was inspiring to learn a little about Nan across the continent by words on the screen.

Nancy shares:

"I Am A Log Cabin was made with Treenway's sari strips as a log cabin quilt block to celebrate the centenary of International Womens Day. I loved the vibrancy of the silks."

"My practice has evolved into contemporary and concept based art pieces based on the notions of quilting and other traditional textile techniques. My work has a strong narrative base and contains elements of text. I use silk exclusively and my work is not decorative. I am a fourth generation quilter and come from a line of strong, practical and plain women."

"Akin to leno, the basic technique is worked on a frame. Vertical threads are twisted around the thread to the right, and then around the thread to the left. The resulting effect gives the impression of something very like chain-link fencing. Originally I set out to produce something that could be used as a military sash. I found the result most alluring. The sideways stretchiness is most amazing. I've created Viking headgear and small coin purses using the technique. Playing with patterns and rainbow dyed skeins. I've also made neck scarves and shawls."

 

Susan Forsberg, Powell River, British Columbia

Three-dimensional Embroidery with Silk

Susan Forsberg 3 dimensional embroidery with silk thread Susan Forsberg 3 dimensional embroidery with silk thread 2

Susan's stitching has been part of her recovery after the removal of a very large and painful but benign brain tumour. We were happy to hear once again of the healing and therapeutic qualities connected to working with our hands and nice fibres.

Susan shares:

"When I first got home from the hospital, I spent my time going through my studio and reorganizing the things I had not been able to put away properly because of the pain in my head. The embroidery was the first project celebrating the joy of my life being extended."

"I have been embroidering more than fifty years loving the moments I have a needle and thread or ribbon in my hand. My recent embroidery with silk was delightful to work with while it added a new delicious flavour. What joy!"

"I am often asked how long did that take you and as I don't keep a time record my answer is simply 'from beginning to end'. Although I love to see the finished piece, I enjoy embroidering so much I usually wish it could go on and on and not end. Should I not 'get enough' and the piece is finished I can always start another which is the case with the two bags featured here. The smaller bag with the floral three dimensional stitching is used to store the tools I am using. The larger sea shell and shore wave bag, holds both the smaller bag with tools and any new work in progress."

"I was honoured when Karen chose to use my embroideries for this gallery showing, as I have found so much inspiration from the others who have been featured in the Silkster's Gallery."

Contact Susan at warmsunnysmile@shaw.ca.

 

 

 

 

Susan Forsberg Susan Forsberg silk thread embroidery Susan Forsberg embroidery tools basket

Barbara Nichols wild silk embroidery 'Chickadee'

Barbara Nichols (aka Frankie), Hudson's Hope, British Columbia

Wild Silk Embroidery - Chickadee

It was a lovely to learn about how Frankie's Chickadee came into being.

"I started the Master Spinning Program at Olds College in Olds, Alberta, in 2007. It is a six year program with classroom instruction for one week a year, followed by months of intensive practice perfecting the techniques learned, by completing set homework assignments. Level 2 had a section on spinning for embroidery. I had never embroidered anything in my life let alone spun for embroidery, but I jumped right in not knowing what to expect. My first experience with spinning for embroidery was with wool, however, in level 3 there was an intensive section on spinning silk for embroidery. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to receive a gift certificate from Treenway Silks that some friends gave to me for my birthday. I chose Bombyx silk roving for its beautiful sheen and tussah silk roving because of the richness of the champagne colour. It had been waiting in my stash for the right project, which would be something for level 3."

"The object was to spin the fibre in such a way that it would be able to withstand the continuous abrasion of passing through the fabric without it breaking down. I saw an etched bird on a mirror in a local store and loved the scene, it inspired me to use my favourite bird, the Chickadee, as the subject of the embroidery project. The bird and pinecone are stitched in the hand spun tussah silk and the branches and snow are stitched in hand spun Bombyx silk."

Barbara Nichols wild silk thread Barbara Nichols wild silk thread

"The whole project has wetted my appetite for more silk embroidery. I am hoping to get some muga silk for my next project which is an owl. Since then I have discovered another embroidery technique that intrigues me called Swedish Weave and I am now working on woven hand spun tussah silk as the background and handspun Bombyx silk for the embroidery. I think I've been seriously bitten by the bug... or the silkworm, as the case may be.""

Janice Dowthwaite, Ridgetown, Ontario

Roses From The Heart

Janice Dowthwaite embroidery 2 Janice Dowthwaite embroidery 1

We were very enthralled with the project Janice is working on, Roses from the Heart. She has been using Treenway Silks for the embroidery of the project. She has written an article for Embroidery Canada magazine. We will include excerpts from that article, so you can also enjoy the story behind the beautiful work.

One in four Australians today can be traced to a convict ancestry. Due to the Transportation Act of 1718, Britain was in the habit of sending her convicts to the American colonies because her gaols (jails) were filled to overflowing. The country was seriously over populated, poverty and famine were widespread, especially in the cities, and Britain just had to get rid of some of the populace.

Until the War of Independene began in 1775 in the US, Britain had been sending convicts to its American colonies. But when America won their independence this ceased and there was a tremendous overflow problem in British gaols.

Captain James Cook had claimed possession of part of the continent of Australia on behalf of the British Crown and this distant colony was a very attractive prison solution for the British government.

Dowthwaite detail of embroidery work

Over a period of about 80 years, beginning in 1788, approximately 160,000 people were herded onto ships and sent on long perilous sea voyages to a land 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world. In addition to New South Wales, Tasmania was also a prime location for prisons.

Both male and female convicts were transported. 25,566 convict women are recorded being sent on this treacherous journey and those who survived the trip were used basically as slaves, many working for male colonists. Female convicts provided household services such as housemaids, cooks, laundresses and seamstresses. They were also in demand as wives and mistresses. For the most part they were not prostitutes, just desperate, ordinary women trying to survive in terrible conditions.

Becoming pregnant was deemed a punishable crime, usually resulting in being sent back to the prison and six months of hard labour. They were usually separated from their babies soon after birth and sent back out into the work force. The babies were housed in a nursery dormitory where the hardiest survived. Those that did live were sent away to Orphan Schools. Christina Henri, a conceptual artist from Tasmania, has conceived a project called Roses from the Heart that pays tribute to the lives of the 25,566 convict women transported from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to Australia.

Women from around the world are making bonnets, fashioned on a pattern of an 1800's servant's bonnet, for each of the convict women recorded. The bonnets are being made with empathy and love for these exiled women. To date, over 16,000 women's bonnets have been made as well as over 1,800 infants' bonnets to commemorate the babies who died without their mothers. Some Blessing of the Bonnets ceremonies have already been held in Australian states.

I, personally, became aware of this project through an article in Inspirations magazine. After contacting Christina by email and learning how to access the convict records, I went on to make three bonnets, one with my Irish grandmother's maiden name (Adams), one with my maiden name (Johns), and a third for Jane Donaghey because we have the same initials. Reading over their conduct records in the prison record books is a very powerful glimpse into the past. The sparse details written so coldly in old-fashioned script does little to describe the harsh conditions of the lives of these women or the hopeless desperation they must have endured, both before they were transported, on the terrible journey and at their final destination.

A commemorative cloth will also accompany this special art exhibit. The names of women from around the world who have made bonnets will be embroidered on this cloth. In the centre is a heart which will have been worked on by a number of women from different countries.

It was begun by Antonia Lai of Queensland who fashioned a heart covered in Hardanger surrounded by stars of the Southern Cross, a ship and lovely bullion roses and rose buds.

I was honoured to do the second section of the heart and chose to do it in the language of flowers. At the top of the heart is a Tudor rose (representing Britain) and flowing down each curve are sweet peas for departure and goodbye, white roses for innocence, secrecy and silence, yellow roses for friendship (or jealousy), pink roses for please believe me, and dark crimson for mourning. There are also rosebuds which signify beauty and youth (lost to many of these unfortunate women), forget-me-nots for memories and rosemary for remembrance.

After showing the bonnets and cloth to various groups in my area and speaking about these convict women, other members of Tulip Tree Needlearts, my chapter of the Embroiderer's Association of Canada, and even some local women, have contributed bonnets to this project.

I am very proud to have been able to participate in this project commemorating these women who ultimately contributed so much to the development of their new world.

Shelia Joss- silk thread embroidery crazy quilt shawl Shelia Joss- silk thread embroidery crazy quilt shawl detail

Sheila Joss, Nanaimo, British Columbia

Crazy Quilt Shawl

My Memory Crazy Quilt Shawl:

"This was made from my mother's fabrics which included hand-dyed laces embellished with her pearls. To this I added special buttons given to me by friends who wished to be remembered and included. I used beautiful silk ribbons from Treenway and Brazilian Embroidery to highlight the shawl."

"It took six years to make and is made it to be worn and I wear it frequently. It draws many compliments but, more importantly, it reminds me of my dear mother and of the many friends who gifted me precious mementos for my shawl."

 

 

 

 

Shelia Joss- silk thread embroidery crazy quilt shawl 3 Shelia Joss- silk thread embroidery crazy quilt shawl detail 4

Margaret Terry, Brandon, Florida

Sock Dolls with Silk Thread

Terry - sock dolls with silk embroidery Terry - sock dolls with silk thread embroidery 2

Wait 'til you see what Margaret is doing with our silks. It is so wonderful, we are thrilled to share her heart-warming story with you.

Here is what Margaret has told us:

""Catherine, my sponsored child in Lebanon, is two and I have used your thread and ribbon when making her a purse. Anything I make for her must fit in a 6" x 9" envelope due to postal restrictions. I found a book on making sock dolls and used Treenway cord, floss and ribbon to decorate them. I took the dolls to show my dentist, as they had been so kind to give me stickers to send to Catherine. While I was showing them the bright doll, a man asked if he could also see the doll. He explained he was taking a group to Columbia to an orphanage with 18 children. In eight days I made 19 sock babies to go with them to be delivered to the girls. It is amazing to watch how some thread and love can turn a sock from an item that goes on the foot to a doll for children who have very little.""

Her story continues to her local community. "I am now making baskets of babies and animals (don't want to leave out the boys) to give to two social workers to hand out to children in crisis as well as the homeless coming in with children to be fed. This week I have made bears and I'm doing my first little pig to add to the collection. They are traveling to Tulsa, OK, to a social worker who is working with crack babies and their moms. I am hoping if she gives the mom and the baby an identical doll, this may give incentive to the mom to do all she needs to get her baby back."

Terry sock dolls with silk thread embroidery 3 Terry sock dolls with silk thread embroidery 4

Sue Earle - embroidery on top, Ode To Water Sue Earle - embroidery on top, Ode To Water detail

Sue Earle, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Embroidery - Ode To Water

"I revel in the colours of the Montano series every time I fill an order, but finally Glacier Lake grabbed me for its own. The preciousness of water and our need to honour our water sources was on my mind. A watery flow suits my design style - I made up the pattern for the neckline first and finished the design of the shirt when the embroidery was done."

"I started with a couple of 'S' forms at the centre front of the facing, with mirrors at their ends. I played with 20/2, 8/2, 6 strand floss, fine cord and ribbon, and used solid blues as well. The ribbon beautifully fills spaces and forgives anything. I Detail for Sue Earle's "Ode to Water" stitched with whatever my mood wanted and moved around within the piece as inspiration bubbled up. The fine cord was so particularly sensuous to stitch with that I really got hooked on it as my favourite. A symbol for harmony popped out of a book while I was musing over how to bring the two side together at the back."

"The project took me about two months and perhaps 60 blissful hours. I did it at every waiting opportunity and looked forward to delays that would normally make me impatient. I decided to make a shirt that I would wear not just for special, as those become too precious and don't get worn enough. "

Diana Caleb, Saanichton, British Columbia

Canvas Embroidery - A Christmas Cracker

Diana Caleb - canvas embroidery

This piece was designed by Anke Schaddelee to be worked on canvas. I decided to use Treenway silks. It makes a perfect Christmas tree ornament. The silk glistens with the Christmas lights. It is a perfect way to show off a variety of stitches with a variety of silk threads.

Marjorie E. Holme, Chicago, Illinois

Needleweaving & Embroidery - Sampler

Marjorie E. Holme - needleweaving and embroidery sampler

Marjorie says, "This sampler was inspired by Needleweaving and Embroidery: Embellished Treasures by Effie Mitrofanis (Sterling) and by a Silk Snack I received with an order from Treenway Silks. I had the silk snack for quite some time and I had expected to use it in a crazy quilting project, but when I saw the designs in this book, I knew it would be perfect for the needleweaving sampler. I used every last inch of the threads in that snack in the sampler."

"I used both the ribbon and silk thread throughout, the silk is most visible in the pyramid needleweaving in the middle. I also used DMC linen thread, Needle Necessities overdyed cotton floss and DMC floss and perle cotton."

"I love anything to do with needlework and experimenting with new techniques and materials. I've always made things but my love of needlework really took off in the creative atmosphere of the 60s and early 70s and I haven't stopped since."