Saturday, February 28, 2009

More On The Effects OF Color On Embroidery Patterns

I designed the above circular design as an accent for a beautiful old wood frame chair. The chair was quite fanciful and was being used as a decorative element in a hallway. Actually, it was a pair of chairs. I needed to do a classic pattern but instead of something so serious as a Napoleonic design or classical, I opted to do something a little more organic.

The circular vine with leaves and stems started out by dividing a circle into eight sections. I then created a section of leaves, buds and stems that could connect on either end. Once that was fine tuned, I could merely repeat it around the circle to create a total design.

The next thing I had to do was determine where I would have color changes. Once that was decided I had to build the pattern in color order, combining each section of color so that my computerized embroidery machine could work each color around the circle in an unbroken run. On linen, the final result is quite charming and if memory serves me well is about 12" in diameter; perfect for the chair seats of the beautiful antique chairs.

Upon reviewing the design with the designer, Peter Schifando and Jonathan Joseph of Peter Schifando & Co. we decided the effect would be better in one color - the same color as the beautiful blue silk being used for the chairs. The character of the blue silk version below brings a formality back to the design and just the right touch for the project.

A Visit To Venice and Fortuny

I'm back to having a Fortuny moment. I was reading the New York Times this morning, which had an article about vacationing in Venice during the winter and it of course, makes me think of the home of Fortuny fabric. I had the pleasure of visiting the Giudecca headquarters years ago and didn't see much, as the production facility is held in secret; but did get a look around the storage facility and saw bolts and bolts of wonderful Fortuny everywhere! It was a pleasure to see.

You see, I hear the name Venice - and my memories go to Fortuny and also Bergamo fabric headquarters. I visited their headquarters in Venice as well. It was such a wonderful trip.

Now back to pillows: The pillow front at the top of the post is hand beaded with bronze beads. The fabric is old. Most likely from the first quarter of the 20th century. The patina of the gold pigment on the surface of the fabric has changed in places to a rich gold/platinum. I purchased it from someone in Rhode Island who claimed it was left over from one of the rich estates around Newport.

I took one of the completed panels to New York to look for trim. I wanted something special, preferably something old like the fronts themselves and finally found what I wanted at Tinsel Trading Company. TTC has a really wonderful history and is a good resource for old stock. Click on the name and you can read about that history and take a look at some of that stock. I settled for antique ball trim in a similar gold/bronze color that had the right patina then used a beautifully subtle silk velvet for the backs.

While I was in New York, I made a visit to Fortuny headquarters in the D&D building and had a look at the same pattern which had just been newly released and purchased some yardage to make additional pillows which you can see here as well.

There are many, many reasons to treasure a trip to Venice and Fortuny is just one unforgettable aspect of that magical city.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Custom Patriotic Flag Applique' Pillows

A client came to me a while ago with an old worn out pillow version of an American Flag. It was purchased inexpensively, but as those things go, once stock is gone there are no more to be found - anywhere. The task was given to me to reproduce it. Now, there wasn't any way that I could reproduce it exactly but the thought occurred to me that I could do it in applique. I digitized a sample, which the client approved and I went about the process of developing the design.

Once I began my process, I found that I truly had bitten off more than I could chew. That is not possible with me and Cherry Pie (especially the Cherry Pie from Pie and Burger in Pasadena) but my ambition with the unreasonable is often one of my biggest challenges. This project proved to be a huge challenge.

I decided I would applique' everything to a ground fabric - in this case I was using a chenille and would applique' it to a muslin base. That worked well for the field of stars, but once I had those done, I couldn't work out a way to add my stripes within the framework of my embroidery frame; the pillow width being greater than the width of my frame. The client had ordered four pillows and requested the flag be on both the front and back, thus I had 8 panels to produce.

Each star and stripe on these panels was hand cut on the frame. The nature of the chenille and it's capability of unravelling proved to add another complication to the project. In December, I purchased a new Tajima embroidery machine which gave me a greater field of embroidery, specifically taking my width from 21" to 47" which gave me new hope with these pillows.

A short time later (relatively speaking) I had the panels done and off to my sewing workroom. As an added precaution because of the nature of chenille, I had my workroom fuse a backing to the panels giving them added stability which after all that work, I hope will give them a nice long life. I believe they are intended for a yacht - and hope they look great with the blue ocean water as their backdrop.

Color Changes And Pattern Character

I love seeing the effects of color changes on patterns. It can be huge; just as the color and texture of fabric ground can also have wonderful effects on the character of a design and in this case pillows.

Above you see a pair of boxed pillows with an overall design done by computerized embroidery in two colors. It is based on a pattern I found in an old reference book. I love the complicated yet primitive quality of the design which is reminiscent of some of the patterns from Suzani designs. The fabric used above is from Rogers & Goffigon and is a lovely linen fabric. I used a slim flat flange to accentuate the seams of these pillows.

A different version of the same pattern is below. Using the same format of a boxed pillow but with no flange I did the same pattern in one color below. The fabric is a rich deep brown velvet from Joseph Noble Textiles. The thread color was selected to match the color of the fabric and the flatness of the embroidery provides a beautiful relief on the pile of the velvet, giving them a very elegant look.
I have been toying with the idea of turning this pattern into a curtain leading edge pattern - so perhaps one day soon you will see it reconfigured and mirror imaged. I'll keep you posted on that process should it happen.

Clarence House Fabric With Embroidery

These are two of my favorite pillows. The fabric is a wonderful Clarence House fabric that has an aged quality in a rich deep rose red color. The image is a design that is built by different processes.

First, I run a digitized program on my computerized embroidery machine that lays down a series of satin stitches that makes up the color of the leaves. Once that is completed, a hand guided outline is next done using the Cornely machine followed by a moss stitch, which in this case is merely a modification of the chain stitch, where the loop from the chain is made to be longer giving a wooly texture to the flowers.

The trim, beautiful multicolored silk tassels attached to a wonderful woven header, is from Decor de Paris and was selected prior to picking out embroidery colors so that each color selected could be fine tuned to work together. The pillows are not overly large, just 18" square.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Building A Beaded Pattern On Fortuny Fabric

Many textiles inspire me to embellish, but the lure of Fortuny, with its exotic Venetian creation locale, historic references and characteristic texture is something special.

When I look at the pattern and color of a Fortuny panel, I select beads that I think will enhance that inherent beauty. Often time I move towards bronze beads, because they have a color and texture that provides an instant patina. I choose from bugle beads, seed beads, three-cut beads or other special shapes and sizes like English cut beads to accomplish the goal. The sample above is a study showing the project development utilizing antique beads that I found downtown Los Angeles on one of my shopping expeditions.
This sample has never advanced to a pillow unfortunately...as you might guess, I have several projects around my office and my home that are at best unfinished. The priority of order production and management collide with the creative process while at the same time sustain the creative process. But that is an age old story, isn't it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Outlining A Damask Fabric

The use of an outline to provide emphasis to a fabric can be a dynamic element in design. This is especially true with textiles. The above outline was accomplished using a Cornely machine to hand-guide the multi thread cord around the intricacy of the damask pattern. I have also used this process to enhance many other fabrics such as Fortuny. The result speaks for itself - the added touch of elegance. Below is a photo of the completed chair back. For a very close up view of the cording, click on the top picture.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Barbara Broccoli Family Crest

Some time ago, I was approached by designers Annie Young and Dot Spikings about reproducing a family crest. The crest was taken from an enamelled piece of glass, from the home of Producer Albert Broccoli of the famed James Bond series and Annie and Dot wanted it for the backs of bar stools in the home of daughter Barbara Broccoli.

This version is on a different fabric - this is a linen velvet from Rose Tarlow Melrose House, but the final version was done on a bright saffron colored fabric from C&C Milano with the thread colors staying the same. The colors were selected based on those used for the window pane - keeping quite true to the original was the goal.

Once again I called on my friend and digitizer Jerilee Auclair for the digitizing of this complex design and as always, I'm glad I did. Her articulation and layering of the areas worked extremely well and was a treat to watch sew on my computerized embroidery machine. As usual, I never did see the end result of my work - the completed crests went to the upholstery workroom, the stools were completed and installed. Annie and Dot tell me they were beautiful and a delight to Ms. Broccoli, thus another job well done.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another Villa Savoia Sighting: Architectural Digest March 2009

It is always such a pleasure to open a magazine and see something one embroidered. The creative process and producing a lovely, quality piece of embroidery is the reward but seeing one's work in a magazine is truly the icing on the cake.

In the March 2009 issue of Architectural Digest, on page 96, you see in the foreground two concave sided stools. The tops of these stools are embroidered in a rich complex fill of a design that resembles the plan for an old English garden maze. The fabric is from Manuel Canovas, Inc. and is a wonderful texture in a pleasing shade of blue. Many of the Canovas fabrics are woven with a percentage of rayon - combined with the rayon embroidery thread used with my computerized embroidery machine, the stool tops turned out quite nicely.

The interior designer is Thomas Pheasant of Washington D.C. The project is a home in St. Michael's Maryland on the eastern shore. The client mentioned her love of blue so Mr. Pheasant incorporated that color "the perfect color to pair with the water" says Mr. Pheasant in the article. Of course having the opportunity to participate in this project was much appreciated. Below is a photo of the room's entire two page photo.

Interior Artist, Muralist Kaveri Singh Paints A Kitchen

Watching a large scale interior mural project take shape is an interesting process. I had the pleasure of doing just that when my good friend Kaveri Singh and her husband TJ went to work on a difficult octagonal kitchen recently in Beverly Hills.

Starting with measurements and photos, a layout was created in the form of a rendering. This happened after conversations with the client deciding the main content of the mural. The client wanted the outside garden brought into the kitchen and flowers-she loves flowers and color; so Kaveri created a rendering that illustrated a framework around the room that gave the mural structure, then defined the areas spatially with flowers in the foreground and landscape in the middle ground and sky in the background.

I hope you agree that the final result is pretty magical. The colors are soft enough to keep the mural in the background of the room while still covering every inch of wall space. The client was delighted and the time it took to create was kept reasonable because of the planning and renderings which maintained a discipline and order to the process which involved scaffolding and long hours. Be sure to click on the above photograph to get a larger view of the walls shown.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Traditional Monograms



I am often asked to design monograms. People have many expectations when they ask me to work on such tasks and it can result in great embroidery and yet sometimes not. The task can be extremely time consuming and I really work to research past examples from a large resource I've put together over the years, but sometimes one's initials do not make good embroidery.





My favorite monograms have an ability to look like a graphic design first, a monogram second. These are tricky but so rewarding to make when possible. A client and friend has the same three initials - three J's as his first, middle and last name and it is difficult to find a plan that pleases him. The above monograms were created using historic graphics by my expert digitizer and friend Jerilee Auclair. Her hand with these beauties is remarkable.

The blue monogram above was created for Michael Hampton, a designer of the team of AD100's Thomas Pheasant, Inc. Michael has an amazing gift for creating wonderful architectural drawings and watercolors. He has a blog that focuses on his work, please click "Michael Hampton Watercolors" to take a look. The monogram below I digitized for my good friend and designer Brenda Fox Wilson for a client. It was used as upholstery on a bench at the foot of a bed.




I utilize established monogram programs that are available to the embroidery community and I also digitize my own. Many of my monograms are large - about 10" - 14" high and wide, and I have even created 18" high Roman Numerals for chair backs which were really wonderful. The trick with large letters is determining a way to articulate the graphics in thread so that one can create interesting stitches and cover the area of the letter. A combination of pattern stitches along with satin stitches is often the way I handle the project when doing pillows, chair backs or bench upholstery. The above photos are some examples of my custom work that I feel worked beautifully.

Eleonora di Toledo Embroidery


For years I have been fascinated by Renaissance paintings and the depiction of clothing by artists. Specifically, the paintings of Bronzino and the portraits of the Medici have really been inspiring. This led me to many searches and reviews of different sources of information and finally a new book which I adore. " Moda a Firenze 1540-1580: Lo stile di Eleonora di Toledo e la sua influenza" is that book. Written in side by side text of Italian and English, it is full of information and beautiful photographs that document the period mentioned in the title. Being the wife of Cosimo di Medici, Eleonora had an amazing impact on fashion in the city of Florence and the evidence is beautifully documented with portraits.


My first sight of a border used on a garment of Eleonora's was in a book by Janet Arnold. She studied and drew a pattern from remnants of a burial dress. From that documentation, I created a border I named "Eleonora" and have used that border for the leading edge of curtains as well as for pillows. Above and below this text you will see different uses of this border. For all those interested in Renaissance fashion, take a look at the book. It is costly but truly a rich resource that can bring a wealth of knowledge.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Victorian Pillow Reproduction


Some time ago, I found an antique pillow on eBay that is just too charming to believe. The pillow, Victorian, is embroidered on black satin and stuffed with horse hair. The back of the pillow - a deep fuchsia silk.

My good friend and extreme digitizer Jerilee Auclair was visiting one day and we reviewed that pillow and Jerilee agreed to make this reproduction of the pattern. She is an artist with her computer and she was able to interpret the character of the antique pillow with great authenticity. She uses running stitches in such an amazing way. Please click on the top photo to get a close up view of Jerilee's amazing detail.


The two pillow fronts shown are small, the same scale as the original pillow. The pillows are charming - the ticking stripe version is a linen from Rogers & Goffigon, the silk/cotton blend is a Rose Tarlow Melrose House fabric called Amalfi - one of my favorites. I used Amalfi for my own living room embroidered curtains - a separate post on those will follow soon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Custome Embroidered Curtains

The above photo is a production photograph of my recent panel production for a pair of curtains. The fabric is from Nancy Corzine; it is a silk from Thailand that is opulent and bold, the color is called straw but it is more like the straw that has been turned to gold.

The design is made up of computer generated satin stitches, pattern stitches and bean stitches in a series of squares and squares on point with interior circles and outlines. My friend and client Erika Glazer decided this design was perfect for her Foyer, and we used the same color tone for the embroidery thread.

You can see the efficiency of Darlene Dando's 4-head Tajima embroidery machine. Darlene is my associate and has her own company All Quality Stitches in Oak Harbor, Washington. The use of her expertise and machine brings speed while maintaining quality, a must in my world of top design.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Custom Chain Stitch Embroidery

This s a floral border that is made up of three colors of chain stitch. The chain stitch is applied using a hand guided machine and each row is done separately - one color after the other. In this case we worked from dark to light.
This pattern is going to be used in a master bedroom where it will be a leading edge embroidery on curtains as well as trim on a bed skirt. In the master sitting room, two chairs will also have this detail on the skirts and a balloon shade.


Antique Suzani Applique'


The pictures above and below feature newly completed applique' for Katie Leede of Digs by Katie. Katie and I share a passion for antique fabric and we love to rescue pieces that are a little sad from wear and tear and give them new life buy doing a "cut and paste" on them in the form of applique'. In this case, Kate used an older washed fabric - a linen - for the base of the applique, and the antique Suzani for the images. The large piece is going to be upholstered as a headboard and the smaller piece is a section of a bed skirt.

The contrasting ground fabric freshens the applique and the image has been repaired where necessary to complete some of the chain stitch that has been lost through the years. I can't wait to see the pieces completed by her workroom. Check out the work on her website by using the link provided above by clicking on her company name.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Villa Savoia Pillows Sighted in Elle Decor

I was skimming through the new March 2009 issue of Elle Decor Magazine when some pillows at a window seat caught my attention. Sure enough, they were pillows done a while ago for designer Waldo Fernandez for his client Director-Producer Brett Ratner. The house, once owned by Ingrid Bergman as well as Allan Carr is "one of the most famous residences in Hollywood."

The residence is featured on page 90-97 with my pillows being the two embroidered ones facing each other in the center of the window seat. They utilize the double self mitered flange and I think they were made on Rogers & Goffigon linen.

The Designer, Mr. Fernandez, has been one of my favorites in town for years. His style is strong and spare and contains a rich simplicity that I admire. If you have the opportunity to view the magazine, be sure and take a look - it may be a bit of an eye strain - so I've attached the above, a close up view of the seating area.

Below are four other pillows I made for Mr. Fernandez - I found this picture on his website. They are chain stitch technique in a floral pattern and coordinating leaf pattern. The room is beautiful and I'm happy to have my work included in such a lovely interior. I have also attached a close up view of one of the completed pillow fronts used for the sofa pillows so that you could get a good view of the lovely detail of the chain stitch floral motif.