art love :: Akiko Ikeuchi : installations of thread and air
art love :: art made of thread

embroidery :: a pillow inspired by antique crewel work textiles


A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.  --  Chinese Proverb

Lately, I've been tidying and organizing my studio.  I don't believe I have previously shared this pillow
I made.  Inspired by traditional American crewel work of the 18th century, I blended embroidery stitches
on a scrap of wool fabric with some needle felting.  Crewel work is a form of free embroidery as 
opposed to counted embroidery such as cross stitch.  Linen and cotton fabrics are typically used, but
I thought this tartan was especially festive. 

I used a cardinal shaped cookie cutter as my needle felting form for the bird.  This makes it
quick and easy to develop an image with the added bonus of protecting your fingers as you stab
at the wool.  The eye is a black bead stitched into place. To give the wing and bead more definition,
I employed satin and back stitches.

The tree is composed of chain stitched limbs and back stitched leaves. I sketched their placement
on paper prior to using transfer paper to trace the pattern onto the fabric.   This saved me hours of 
guess work and ripping out misplaced stitches!  The thread is a single strand of Persian embroidery wool
that is more typically used for needlepoint.  I like its slightly rough texture.

To finish off my pillow, I knit an i-cord for trim.  The pillow is a basic knife-edge shape, so super simple
to work up.  I used another plain wool in navy for the back.  I need to make a trio for my studio couch.  Maybe
a robin next?  Or a golden finch? 

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