Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sample for a series of Beaded Pillows

This approved sample will be the basis for a series of pillows. Swarovski crystals have been added to silver matte seed beeds and gold lined crystal beads.

Billiard Room Bar Stool Chair Seats

I totally embraced the opportunity to rework one of my old patterns. Years ago, for a "Snooker Chair" for Mimi London, we made Billiard Balls using chain stitch on Gretchen Bellinger's "Billiard Cloth." They were whimsically charming and made a nice custom accent for the chair.

Recently, when asked to make them for some bar stool seats, I decided to rework the design and do it on my computerized embroidery machine. There was a tightness of design I felt was missing in the previous version that I thought could be addressed by digitizing a new version.

Here are the results. I wish the photos were better but I was on a very tight deadline and had to deliver the work as soon as it was completed. The colors work with other materials in the room yet still maintain the basic color/number correctness of the standard. There is shading to the balls accomplished with the help of my Balboa training cd's which gave the work a truly unique dimensional feeling.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ashanti Curtains

Recently I posted a photograph of a curtain sample for approval. The design, based on an image in the Fortuny "Ashanti" fabric is colored per the designers request and laid on a beautiful (and heavy) Rogers & Goffigon linen. (Click on Fortuny to see their new website)
The wall of curtains is worked around 3 pairs of french doors. The first and last of the 16 total panels consisted of 2.5 widths of fabric, with the remaining two panels five widths each. Leading edge and hem were highlighted with the embroidery - the above photo is 5 folded panels showing two leading edge treatments and 3 hem sections. Each panel in the photograph is 1/4 of the actual width.
Because of the complexity of the panel joins, I have grouped the four sections and named them A,B,C & D. Within each letter, each panel is then marked according to a corresponding drawing - 1 through 16. Next stop, Valley Drapery...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outlines Provide Impact

I am an avid collector. My collecting passions are many but one of my most consistent efforts has been finding and buying antique textiles; especially embroidered or otherwise embellished textiles. I've run the range from Arts and Crafts era pieces to antiques and also more modern pieces.

There are textiles I have found irresistible from the mid-20th century. Moving from Arts and Crafts and Art Deco to Moderne, some of the textiles I have collected are indeed fascinating. The design above is one of my favorite prints.

It was found during one of my usual scans of textiles on eBay. A short single curtain, this linen was obviously unlined as it had sun wear on the back but the front looked great. With no identification on any selvedge giving me a clue about it's origin, I proceeded to deconstruct it's pleats. Once I had it in a flat panel, I determined it to be stable enough for a gentle hand washing. It was filthy!

Finally, I decided to embellish the design with just an outline on some of the major areas. It didn't need much but I guess I wanted to leave my own mark. I then used some Rogers & Goffigon fabric for the backs of a pair of pillows seen above. One day I hope to take my fabrics and reproduce them, creating a line of textiles.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Fine Art of Trapunto

Years ago I graduated with a MFA in Weaving and Textiles from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Prior to that I received a B.S. in Art Education. I've always been a teacher personality and I hope to be able to teach again sometime soon.

During my time at school I learned about trapunto. This age old technique allows one to create wonderful relief patterns on the surface of a textile. Often times it has been used to enhance a design on the fabric or in some cases creates the design on a plain fabric

The method of doing trapunto was to top stitch a pattern onto the surface of a fabric - either with machine or by hand - using a secondary fabric underneath so that one would have two fabrics being joined with the stitching. Once the areas of relief were determined, one only had to make a cut in the backing, stuff the area with fiber, and hand sew the cut to create the desired effect.

Through the years, I have discovered a much better way of creating trapunto. There is such a thing as a hollow needle that when combined with the use of an air compressor, can pierce the backing and shoot fiber (string) into the pocket created by the double layer of fabric and produce the same effect with much less effort and a much cleaner look. The needle is a bit flexible and allows one to get into the corners and tight spots. The above photo is a detail of one of my favorite trapunto patterns. This one is on a beautiful Rogers & Goffigon wool twill, which adds a beautiful directional pattern to the work. Be sure to click on the photo - it will give you a good look at the results.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jansen's Curtain Border Interpretation

When I first glanced at the beautiful book "Jansen" by James Archer Abbott, with it's striking red jacket, I found it compelling. Then, on page 219, I saw a beautiful drawing of a window treatment for the bedroom of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Allen Jr. The simple but graphic border along with the beautifully articulated valence, soft blue gray color against the black background just captured me. Needless to say I bought the book.

Within hours, I set out to capture the essence of that design using satin stitches on a Rogers & Goffigon wool sateen. Technically, I think I did a proper job, but I did not catch the pattern's romance in my first attempt. I put the sample away and moved on to orders.

Recently, Interior Designer Suzanne Rheinstein approached me about interpreting the pattern for curtains in her New York home. This time I took a different approach. The fabric ground is a handsome platinum colored silk from her own collection designed for Lee Jofa. For the image, I custom dyed a rayon chenille in a dark taupe and using the hand guided Cornelly machine applied the chenille and finished using chain stitch. The finished embroidery is finished above along with a detail for closer inspection.

The chapter on the Allen residence does not show the master bedroom and I am not sure if the curtain treatment was ever made but Suzanne tells me that she loves her curtains which makes me very happy indeed.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ashanti Curtain Border

Today I am reviewing this large sample which if approved, will be the basis for a curtain order. The design will be used along the leading edge and hem of the curtains. The design is pulled from an element in Fortuny's "Ashanti" pattern which I have admired for years and have hand beaded often times as decorative pillows.

The fabric is from Rogers and Goffigon, available here in Los Angeles at Cowtan & Tout Showroom. The embroidery is achieved by using the hand guided Cornely machine which gives the pattern a lovely hand made quality.

Below I am attaching two photos - one is the initial sample of the design which inspired the designer to customize the pattern in her colors and material and beaded pillows in the Ashanti pattern which I sold recently to Michael S. Smith.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Custom Sofa Embroidery for Michael S. Smith Inc.

This week I finished a project for interior designer Michael S. Smith. I embroidered an interlocking geometric pattern to be used for the deck of a sofa.

The project consisted of three panels; two side panels and one front panel. I made a right and left side panel and ended the design off rather than continue it to go inside the seam. This gives the side a custom, finished look. Each side panel measured about 44" in length - the pattern measured 6.5" high.

For the front, the fabric consisted of three fabric sections with two seams. Starting from the center, I worked towards the ends by framing the fabric in 3 sections, each time making sure that the pattern matched exactly by using registration lines that I built into the pattern. The total width embroidered for the sofa front was 108 inches.

The fabric is a beautiful woven silk from Claremont Textiles and I used a cotton thread for the embroidery. The pattern is a classic one that I digitized using my Pulse software for my TajimaNeo2 embroidery machine with the extra long border sash frame.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Custom Embroidered Tablecloth with Linens

The above photo was taken at my home. The tablecloth I hand-guided machine embroidery on J.Robert Scott Silk; the trim is from Decor de Paris. The Linens are from Sferra, the tableware is Cristofle, the dishes from Genori, the glasses are vintage Mirano.

The napkin is embroidered with a design taken from an antique embroidery I found on eBay. I had my good friend JeriLee Auclair digitize it for me. I used just part of the pattern, there is a beautifully articulated birds nest with eggs that is an optional part of the leaf pattern. It is also beautifully used with a monogram.

The border on the tablecloth is my Spanish Border, a border I have used a number of times for curtains. I is large at the corners and slims down on the sides. Taken from an antique piece of embroidery I acquired some time ago, it can be interpreted in many different ways.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Leather, Embroidery and Pearls

Leather can be such an amazing material to embroider. The acanthus pattern with pearl trim was a recent selection by a designer for use in creating two leather ottomans. The embellishment is placed on the oval shaped ottoman sides.

It is challenging making this because the material had to be completely seamed prior to embroidery. It will be placed on the ottoman form and more or less slid into place. This allows a beautiful finished seam in four places on the ottoman with the embroidery moving over the seams to give a wonderful custom look. The leather is from Edelman Leather.

The cording and the chain stitch are achieved using the hand guided Cornely machine. There are two sizes of pearls used here, the are applied using metal prongs that pierce through the back of the leather and firmly pierce the pearl and hold it in place. The effect on leather is really quite surprising.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Custom Embroidered M Monogram for Chair Backs

It seems lately I am doing quite a collection of monograms for upholstery. Having just finished the pearl encrusted S about a week ago, I am now finished with two inside chair backs. The M is modified from a previously digitized AL monogram, which for maximum decorative effect, was mirror imaged to form a beautiful emblem.

Single letter monograms are generally not quite as emblematic, and in my search for the perfect historical document, I never found one that was exactly right. That said, I started to review others that could be modified and one that I already had seemed perfect for use. The size of this monogram is 10" wide by 8.25" high - it is a perfectly scaled size to rest on the back of the chair without taking over the chair.

This monogram was digitized by my good friend and digitizing guru Jerilee Auclair - she also managed the color change modification which now makes the M stand out in great glory. The depth of Jerilee's satin stitches is amazing. Next up is a letter A monogram which will be used on a foot board panel of a Michael S. Smith bed. I will be posting that in a few days.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chair Back Embroidery

A while ago I did a blog post on a "brand" I interpreted in embroidery for a chair back. Seldom do I see photographs of installations or of completed projects but National Upholstery Co. was kind enough to forward these shots of my chair back in place to my friend Luis at Mimi London, the Los Angeles representative for National.

The embroidered back is made up of a complex fill pattern using my computerized embroidery machine, that I digitized from artwork provided by the client. National is a wonderful furniture manufacturer from the San Francisco area that makes fine custom furniture.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Embroidered and Hand Beaded Custom Monogram

Recently I was approached by a colleague about creating a special monogram for a design firm that wanted to use it for the back of a vanity chair in "her" bath. As always, when broached with this concept, it takes some time to determine what the client is looking for.

In this case the letter S was needed and it was to dramatically fill the chair back(a huge 12" wide x 18" high) and was to be punctuated with gems and other beads, encrusting it with the look of glamor.

Often times, such exercises involve the never ending balancing act of when is the treatment finished: when are there enough beads - when are there too many beads. First I started with a strong foundation of computerized satin stitches. Based on a historic document the pattern is articulated with underlay and satin overlays that create a luxurious base.

Some of the bead placement is anticipated in the design process with the center area of the S singled out for large cultivated pearls. Other parts of the articulation are also natural, such as the use of crystals as flower centers. My goal was to work with the feeling of generosity with the beads but to hold the embellishing back a bit - and allow the satin stitches the room to capture light luxuriously. Alas, it turned out not to be enough for the designer, who had me add larger and additional crystals as well as more pearls. Here I show my first effort only and will reserve the final version for the client.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Making Pleated Flange

I have two 24" pillows that are embroidered and hand beaded using crystal beads and pearls that also require pleated flange. I used to have the flange pleated by a local company that has pleated fabric for designers and the studio industry for years but recently I found that pleating fabric jumped in price from about $150 to $600 - a great surprise to me that unfortunately, I had not covered in my pricing.

In order to keep the price of pillows down, I am now pleating the fabric myself. First, I have the fabric cut and over-locked by my seamstress. In this case, we decided not to railroad the fabric for the strips, so each one is 54" wide, the width of the fabric, a beautiful silk satin from Clarence House.The size of the strips vary depending on the size of the pleat, but in this case, the flange is going to be made using 1/2" x 1/2" sections. I had the pieces cut 3" wide. The first thing I do is iron the fabric in half so that the flange is self lined.

I then start the formation of my pleats, using a ruler to help start the strip, steam pressing each section before moving onto the next.

Continuing down the fabric length, I create the flange. The over-locked side will be inserted into the seam of the pillow. As you can imagine the steam so close to the fingers is a little hot!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Around The World

One of the best things about writing a blog is seeing reports viewable through my account on Google. Each time I look at the visitor overview map - it is as if I am suddenly a part of a world community that is connected through embroidery and interior design.

This morning my map told me that someone in Venice, Italy was looking at my blog - and there is someone in London who spends time on them too. I miss Italy, and I have never been to England. I have longed to see the architecture in Glasgow and have admired the works of Charles Renie Mackintosh for years and to see someone in that fine city looking at my blog is an instant thrill for me. India, France, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, China, Russia to name a few - so many countries I feel connected to in a way I could never have felt before. And of course, all my friends in the United States that take the time to look at my work are greatly appreciated.

The influence of different cultures around the globe have been a great influence in my work. The top photo is from a famous arabesque document. The second is of hand beaded antique Fortuny pillows - fabric from Venice. The third is a detail of some hand embroidery that I did on a Claremont Fabric which became the basis of additional panels I had over-embroidered in India. There is always so much work to be done that it is difficult to find the time to travel these days. Having a new puppy also distracts me from that thought as well but the connections I feel to the world through this Internet life brings a connection that for now keeps me satisfied. Thanks for taking the time to look at the blog - please don't hesitate to drop me a line at or leave a comment. Cheers!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A New Mural by Kaveri and TJ Singh

TJ and Kaveri came to see me yesterday. I made them come by for tea and to remove a chair away that I wanted to give to their son, Angad. They have just completed a new mural for a home in Beverly Hills and had a camera full of photos. Since we both own the same camera, I was able to download their photos and have a good look at their beautiful work.

With their kind permission I am sharing some details with you. The spa room in the Beverly Hills home consists of many small walls with a variety of openings - a great challenge for the artists. Keeping the work in transition from one wall to the next was a must in the mind of the client and designer.

There is a glimpse of the impressionistic soul in Kaveri as you can see by the deft brushwork and the seemingly quick work in the landscapes - I can attest that it was not quick work - the planning of such an artwork as well as the painting itself is a true labor of love.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Evolution of a Design - Orientalism

I just completed the above embroidery for two kidney pillows. The fabric is from Cowtan & Tout and the embroidery pattern is based on an image I found in a book.

The book is "Alberto Pinto Orientalism" from Rizzoli and it has provided much inspiration. The design was created for a project I did for Interior Designer Kim Alexandriuk. The embroidery was used for the outside backs of some Michael S. Smith dining chairs - the inside backs were a Fortuny applique'. The fabric used on the project is a Claremont Fabric and here is production shot of the inside back.

The pillows are a wonderful accent that have great texture and over all design that add to just about any interior without trying to steal the show.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Reworking A Monogram

The above monogram has be altered to emphasize the letter M. Based on an antique lettering combination, this beautiful monogram was originally developed as AL. As with many antique letter combination, letters were often mirror imaged so that the design created a type of emblem.

Below is my original monogram in a single color. The version above is on a silk ground with the M in gold thread while the balance of the design is rendered in platinum; the change is subtle but of course it can be any color combination one can imagine. The monogram is 12" high x 14.5" wide - the perfect size for a chair back or pillow front. The version below is on mohair and the monogram is approximately 4" tall.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cocktail Time

I have embroidered tons of napkins over the years. Some of my favorites have been cocktail napkins. More of a conceptual entertainer than an actual one myself, I have a huge collection of antique, vintage and new linens that I've collected over the years.

The above photo shows one of my favorite cocktail napkins. I embroidered this particular Sferra napkin for a client who gave a set as a gift. That is my stemmed glass - I found that set of stemware at auction years ago. The embroidered set below is used with Richard Ginori china, one of my favorite manufacturers of fine china.

The beautiful monogram below was made for a designer - utilizing the couples last name initials H and K. The image itself was found in a journal of antique letter combinations. Also shown below is a napkin with a large coral red linen border on white that I made for my own use with my collection of vintage Fiesta Ware dishes. The design is traditional yet made lighthearted by using bright colors and accented with the simple yellow flower. Finding the time to use them is the biggest challenge.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Outlining For Emphasis

I am always amazed at the effect a simple outline can achieve in creating emphasis and definition to a fabric image. The above pillows are a good example of this concept.

The fabric used is available through Brunschwig & Fils, a wonderful source of great traditional fabrics, trim, wallcovering, upholstery and furniture. This particular fabric is a woven blend of rayon and linen. I did not applique' the medallion onto the fabric. It is woven into the ground of the plain weave ground directly during the weaving process. Often used as chair backs and seats as well as pillows, it is supplied with 2 images per fabric width, centered on the half width - with space between the images. The solid ground is also available allowing for larger areas of upholstery for a beautiful custom finished look.

The photo below shows the sample I provided the client. You can see half the medallion has been outlined and the other half left as purchased. Using the hand guided cording technique with threads the same color as the medallion gives it an added strength for the right finishing touch.