New Shell Box Design

Published on 23rd June 2014

I've spent a very restful few days over in Grassington this weekend. My friend Colleen joined me for a couple of days stitching and we were kept company by my nieces' cat who was staying while they were away camping.

She spent most of her time outside in the sunshine, this is one of her rare visits inside to say hello. 

I took the Three Sisters design off the frame and made a start on a new shell box design which is based on one of my earlier designs - Autumn Shell Box.

Japanese embroidery - Autumn Shell Box

I've adapted this from the bottom section of the design.  The maples and chrysanthemums have been removed and I've reworked how the shells are done. I'm using the same fabric & have placed the design so it just overlaps the dyed maple. I transferred the design using chaco paper then stitched round it all using line of held thread.

Japanese embroidery - Shell Box transfer

I thought I would have a go at using some of the threads that I got in my parcels a few weeks ago. This is a very dark purple thread with a gold thread.  Both the silk and gold thread are very fine and they have a very slight twist. After some experimenting I decided on using 3 strands.

For the top of the other shell I used a very similar thread but this one is cream and gold. These threads give a very nice effect, I'm sure I'll use them again. The middle of the shells will have some superimposed designs on top.

I'm using Midori threads for this version of the shell box.  The thread colours are almost exactly the same as the original but there are very few colours so it's proving interesting to choose combinations. I was unsure about the blue and cream twists but persevered with it. 

Japanese embroidery, shell detal

After I completed the foundation I used a blue couching thread for short stitch holding on this shell.  It helped to blend the colours. It's difficult to see on the photo but it works quite well in reality.

Japanese embroidery, short stitch holding

One of the shells at the base of the box shows the outside of the shell.  Originally I was going to do this in a twisted metallic but then I changed my mind and decided I would try the technique which I used on the mallet on my JEC Treasure Ship design.

Japanese embroidery - drum details

I marked out the lines by eye.

Japanese embroidery - shell detail

This is quite a simple techniques which bends the rules of Japanese embroidery, you work from the back to the front and don't leave a one point open space. The first line of silk threads goes in then a line of couching thread along the inside edge. The next line of thread is stitched across this couching thread and forms a distinct line.  Because I wanted to follow the curve in the shell I put the silk in on a diagonal. I wasn't entirely happy with feel of this, the shell didn't look plump enough.

Japanese embroidery, diagonal layer

On the second side I started at the same end using self padding and worked it using the opposite angle. The self padding worked well but I'm still not convinced about this. 

Diagonal layer, more detail

I took out the work I'd done on the first side and re-worked it with the padding. I'm still not sure about this so have decided to continue with other parts of the design and I'll come back to it. It might need more padding, I'll have to have a think about it.

Shell detail

Back soon with more updates.

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