Saturday, March 28, 2009

Westweek 2009 at Villa Savoia, Inc.

Westweek 2009 took place Wednesday and Thursday March 25th and 26th here at the Pacific Design Center. A busy time for all here, most showrooms make an effort to freshen their appearance and here at Villa Savoia, I too took the opportunity to make a few changes.

Wishing to feature my beaded Fortuny pillows and my love for Venice, I brought some of my treasures from home and my portable storage facility on wheels (my car) to help with the task.

One of my favorite pieces of art usually hangs over my living room fireplace. But for now, it will remain here at the showroom for a while. The charcoal drawing of a Venetian canal and bridge is a beautiful rendering framed with care by Memento, here in Santa Monica. Memento has framed most of my art and artifacts for years and the job they do is sensational. Much of what you see in the photos I have acquired over the years from Bonhams and Butterfields auction house. I love buying antique chairs and reupholstering them with embroidered textiles. It spotlights my work and is at the same time an economical way of featuring embroidery on beautiful pieces of furniture. What you see is the very front of my showroom; the other areas include my office space, cutting room and areas for two computerized embroidery machines. Those areas are not so neat and orderly!

My good friend interior designer Frank McGinley was kind enough to bring me the floral arrangement. Take a look at his work at this link

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Custom Options With Stitching - It Is All Good!

Recently a designer sent me three fabric samples and told me that pillows would be ordered and asked that I show some different options in treatment. The fabric is from Le Gracieux Textiles.

Once the color palette was determined, I selected different methods of embroidery to accentuate the pattern provided. The first method shown above is a fairly complete outline of the design using a tiny three-thread outline. In contrast to that, an added line of chain stitch highlights the green/blue chain that is present in the design.

The second sample is very similar in concept however approached using chain stitch outlines only. And the third sample utilized both above techniques and added a moss stitch for greater textural relief - which is accomplished by modifying the height of the chain stitch. All these techniques are created using the hand guided machines of the past.

I think they are all successful versions - my favorite and the one the designer chose is the first one, the three thread outline. When the final pillows are completed, I will post a photo. They are being embroidered on both the front and the back sides, and will have double moss trim and an inserted rope detail.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kidney Pillows with Satin Stitch and Bean Stitch Outlines

Kidney pillows are a great opportunity to express oneself. Mine are usually about 10-12" high x 20-22" long. They are fun to make - it is something about the intimacy of the size I guess. Many times they are more complicated than one would think. Above is a close up of a pillow; one of a pair on Rogers & Goffigon Wool Sateen - the other was sold to Madeline Stuart and used in a project in Malibu (Veranda July/August 2008) followed by another version of the same design but this time in a J. Robert Scott silk textile. The different effects one can achieve by using different materials is endless.

Below is a detail shot of the Red Square Pillow - showing how I utilized the texture of the silk in creating a textural element that contrasts with the satin and bean stitches made by my computerized embroidery machine.

Hawaiian Quilt Influenced Trapunto Pillow

My bookcase is jammed packed with books - all of which are a great source of inspiration. There are books everywhere in my home and my office; I can't get enough books - period.

One of the books I own I bought years and years ago during my first visit to Maui. Having taken the trip to Hana where there was a small store that carried some Hawaiian quilt patterns, I found the concept of building the image of a quilt on the profile of a plant, animal or other native object really fascinating. The book provided wonderful images, one of which I interpreted in a trapunto pattern above.

Worked on my computerized embroidery machine on a lovely putty colored wool sateen, the pillow has outlines of triple stitch that attach the fabric to a muslin backing which is used to create the pocket for cotton thread that fills the shape to give it sculptural form. The pillow was purchased by a designer who also asked that I make another panel in white linen for the back of her own office chair.

You might also notice the seat cushion on the chair is outlined Fortuny - an ever beautiful and classic covering for my classic French carved oak chair.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Discovering Italian Embroidery: The Work Of Paola Matteucci

The other day I was looking around the Potterton Bookstore as they were finishing their 25% off sale at the end of February and I spied a book called "Merletti e Ricami Italiani" Italian Laces and Embroideries. This modest looking paperback book is a snapshot in time at work from various embroiderers throughout Italy in 2007.

The work of individual artist is represented by one pillow per page with their location highlighted as well as techniques and local affiliations. The text was in Italian and English. The work of all the artists is exceptional but one pillow really caught my eye and frankly took my breath away; that of Paola Matteucci of Umbria.

The floral embroidery is at once rustic and elegant and so finely styled that it has a quality of a snapshot in time. It is as if she walked in a field then returned to her embroidery frame and recorded the moment. At once beautiful and nostalgic, quiet and peaceful; you are probably asking yourself..."all this in a pillow?" I wanted to buy it.

An email address is listed for Ms. Matteucci so I wrote. Using the translation of Outlook - I wrote in English but include a translation. To my great surprise I found a response from Ms. Matteucci telling me that she is a teacher of embroidery and that she wasn't sure which pillow I was referring to. She suspected it one that is currently in a local museum and included the photo for confirmation. She was correct.

Respectfully, I asked if she could make one for me. As an embroiderer myself, I explained, this inspired piece of work she did was something I wanted to own. Her response was like reading poetry. Following is my general interpretation of her response:

"The pillow design is inspired by our Umbrian landscape in Winter, when the colors are warm and gilded in rest, the rose hips interlace with the copper of dried oak leaves and the dried clematis flowers. I work on cotton tulle with silk that is spun and natural dyed by local hands and the clematis flowers are embroidered with white cashmere. This pillow has not only the colors but also the scent of my Umbrian Earth."

She went on to tell me she is currently working on a wedding veil commission which must be done in May but would make a pillow for me. She said that she normally does not like to make the same pattern twice but in my case she would make an exception to that rule.

The chance of such an encounter is rare, isn't it? I happen to see a book in a store which leads me to an email connection with someone I consider one of Italy's National Treasures of Embroidery and one day soon I will have that piece of art and always the connection to Ms. Matteucci.