Friday, April 29, 2011

The Needlekeeper's Rooms

It has about a year since I last added to this blog.  I have been urged by a couple or three people to return to blogging about my embroidery adventures.  So I am not to blame for the lameness of my remarks here.  It is those people--you know who you are!

In 1994 I made my first embroidered book.  It was on perforated paper and a small 3.5” X 3.5”.  Each page was dedicated to a sampler stitch and the names of each stitch spelled out a word.  The word I used was my first name, Shirley Kay.  It was a cute thing, easy to hold, and a lot of fun to stitch and bind together.  I thought I would have no problem selling the class to several venues.  But in fact, that book class has never sold.  I called it The Little Stitchery Book.

In 1999 I made another similar book and its word was "Y Two Kay."  Still no buyers, but of course that book was topical and dated.

My second embroidered book

 Y Two Kay--two pages

Between 1994 and 1999, I studied book binding and book folding whenever I got the chance.  Book making is too big a field of study to tie each experiment to embroidered pages.  So most of those are pure paper and card.

A couple of years after that I had a very good idea for an embroidery-illustrated folded book.  It was called Laeta Acus (Happy Needle in Latin).  In it was an original story about a young girl who was learning embroidery from her mother.  Every two month for a year, the mother would introduce Laeta to another counted technique.  Again the book was small 3” X 4” with six pages of text and six illustrations.  The text was printed by computer on fine linen, embroidered with a few French know flowers on the edges, and pasted onto the pages.  Eventually a second book was added making a short series about the continuing adventures of Laeta when she was grown up.  In this book, the Queen of the Fairies invites her make royal embroideries for the court.  The illustrations were counted work and lace.

 Pages from The Fairy Queen

 The front and back covers of The Fairy Queen

Laeta Acus, the first book, was entered into the 19th EGA National Exhibit, garnered a couple of nice prizes, and was away from me for over two years traveling around the US on exhibition along with the rest of the exhibit.  Very gratifying.

Meanwhile I continued exploring books and even took a class or two on book making.

At the beginning of this year, I went to an Art of Embroidery meeting at Stephanie Sams’ house.  Stephanie was demonstrating how to print images by computer onto cloth for making books.  I already had that experience under my belt, and so was more able to concentrate upon making a book entirely out of fabric with no paper involved at all.

What an inspiration!  I grabbed that idea and tore away with it like a storm.  By the end of the half-day session I have one page almost completed.  By the end of two weeks I had the whole book completed and bound.  It is called The Needlekeeper’s Rooms, seven pages of text and nine pages of embroidery.  It is 9” X 11” and packed with stitching, beading, appliqué, ribbon appliqué, and lace.  In medieval parlance, it is my masterpiece.  Now Needlekeeper’s Rooms is in Los Alamos at a gallery show at Fuller Lodge Art Center.  The day that show is over, it is due for judging at the embroidery exhibit of Albuquerque Fiber Art Fiesta.

 Front cover of The Needlekeeper's Rooms.
Note the copper wire binding, the bundle of beads and charms at the top of the binding, and the ribbon applique of the cover.

 Detail of a page from The Needlekeeper's Rooms.
Beading, applique, and Battenberg lace.

Two pages, "Moon Woman Flying," from The Needlekeeper's Rooms.
The bead and charm bundle from the binding is showing between the two pages.  Note the beaded fringe at the bottom, ribbon applique, the moon charms and beading.

I want to thank Stephanie for the inspiration and I want to thank the other members of Art of Embroidery for their encouragement and smiles.