“A little video for the song “Wrapped In Piano Strings” by Radical Face taken at the South Brisbane Cemetery (2011-09-10).”
In early spring I was pulled from winters dream to see the crimson jet stream painted by the cardinal’s wing. Listening to these lovebirds sing, I stitched a few more embroidery things.
Early spring is mating season for cardinals, a time when our cedar hedge becomes a popular place for them to hide and nest. The thatched canopy provides camouflage from hungry hawks circling above. Not long after this year’s couple moved in, the Mrs. went a bit Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs on our windows. I’m guessing the hormonal effects of reproduction might have kicked in.
All day long, in twenty-minute intervals, she tirelessly performed a security detail. This involved circular flybys around our house, which is in close proximity to her nest in the hedge. On each turn the mama bird landed on the sentry post that is our windowsill, and every time, as if for the very first time, she discovered another girl in the window staring back at her. Taken by surprise, she’d jump acrobatically in reverse to make a quick get-away. Then, a few seconds later, she’d boomerang back into view, launch towards the window, stop just short of hitting it, flutter to a mid-air halt, and nip and spit at the female intruder encroaching on her territory.
She did this over and over again, never quite figuring it out, that all along she has been defending her family against a mirror image of herself. It’s behavior like this from whence the expression ‘birdbrain’ comes from I guess.
Shisha’s sea shells by the seashore.
The farther I venture into the embroiderer’s territory the greater my longing to create ornately illuminated, thread-iful things. Up till now the only stitches I knew were the blanket, chain, and back stitch – otherwise classified as outline and/or edge stitches. The line work within individual stitches is an art unto itself. So is the shading effect you get when you multiply, vary and overlap stitches; creating patterns on top of patterns until you are effectively painting 2D shapes and sculpting 3D form.
There’s a multitude of embroidery stitches and techniques out there to choose from – ‘Bibles’ of them in fact. Thanks to “imagineers” (of the non-Disney kind) like Cayce Zavaglia, Bascom Hogue, Diem Chau, and a gal named Nat, I’ve been inspired to yield a broader understanding of needlework craft.
My first step towards needlework enlightenment is learning shisha (mirror) stitch. “The word shisha means little glass in Hindi and the origins of shisha work can be traced back to India and the reign of Shah Jehan (1628 – 1658) who built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She, in turn, is credited with originating the technique of using mirrors in embroidery, although before this time, pieces of mica or shiny beetle wings had been used in a similar way.” Source: NSW HSC
What I love most about this technique (in it’s modern form) is that you wrap an organic, hand-sewn envelope around a symmetrical, machine-cut piece of glass; thereby connecting the medium back to its non-symmetrical roots. The finished effect is often crude, imperfect, and quite appealing. My fingertips tell a less enthusiastic story though, being that they’re full of enough pins pricks to paint crimson colored polka-dot patterns with them.
If you are interested in trying any of these shisha stitches, I’ve added the links to the DIY tutorials I used below.
© 2013 Dana Aubrey
Feeling much gratitude towards all the DIY contributors out there, without whom discovering new skills and techniques would be a more arduous route.
A: Let’s Learn Embroidery’s basque stitch
B: Let’s Learn Embroidery’s detached chain/lazy daisy stitch.
C: A Crafter At Sea’s Fancy Shisha Stitch
D: The Embroiderer’s Guild’s Shisha Stitch
I watched this video before I knew what it was about. Sometimes words are inadequate and unnecessary.
Afterwards (if you like) you can read about what’s going on here .
This painting is the first thing I thought of when I heard about Stompin’ Tom Connors passing yesterday. I was compelled to dig it out of storage for nostalgia’s sake. Seeing it again opened a floodgate of memories full of good friends and good times that will forever brand my heart.
I lived out west in the late 1980′s. Time spent in two-stepping country would not have been complete without my favorite pair of cowboy boots – a mainstay of my wardrobe back then. They are long since gone but suddenly I’m grateful to have immortalized them in this painting, reminding me of a time and place I spent 1/3 of my life. Back then, Tom Connors was the poster boy for kicking up dust on Canada’s small-town stereotypes, making him a hero all across our land. As I walked the western landscape his music was a big part of the soundscape. His style interested me most, being that of the quintessential rebel; a black hat, black shirt, faded blue jeans, and pointy toed cowboy boots. I supposed I tried to emulate his ‘cool dude’ vibe with my own pair of shit-kickers. But I was never as cool as that guy was.
Tom Connors was Canada’s Johnny Cash or Hollywood’s John Wayne. CBC wrote a great article about him, in it singer k.d. lang described him best: “Stompin’ Tom was dedicated to documenting life in Canada in a way that was unapologetic, uncontrived and uncompromisingly Canadian. We owe him our pride and respect.”
Rest in peace Stompin’ Tom Conners.