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It’s New Year’s Eve and traditionally the time for decrying all the disasters and misery of the past year and making promising about slinking into the next year with perfectly coiffured hair, two dress sizes smaller, speaking six new languages whilst simultaneously completing an MBA and running an ultramarathon.
I’m not entirely sure whether to write 2016 off as a year of disastrous underachievement. There are still five billion works in progress that haven’t really progressed as much as they should, there are still projects and designs that haven’t made it off the pages of sketchbooks and the stash monster looks like it may be making territorial gains.
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Today marks the beginning of my Royal School of Needlework Certificate course with some Jacobean Crewelwork!
Jacobean crewelwork is a 17th century surface embroidery technique that typically depicts exotic flora and fauna and some very comic interpretations of what are allegedly animals. While you do see some squirrels, snails or native English wildlife, many of the beasts were stitched from second-hand descriptions or paintings so are what might be generously described as ‘stylised’.
One things I’ve noticed since I’ve started hunting for Jacobean design inspiration is quite how commonplace it is. Even my own curtains turned out to be Jacobean-inspired!
The beginning of the day involved sitting down and pawing through some of these wonderful books, making a note of any particular designs I liked or wanted to incorporate in my own work. A lot of these books come with their own templates which makes tracing and copying much easier, rather than trying to work out the outline of a shape from the photographs.
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It’s always a good day when you come home to find you have three rather exciting parcels lying in wait.
After playing around with the dyes last week, I’d ordered a few more acid dyes from Kemtex to make it easier to experiment with different shades. When I spoke with them on the phone they recommended longer steaming times (40-45 minutes) and using citric acid, as opposed to white vinegar, for its slightly lower pH. Vinegar is also relatively volatile, hence why it has such a strong smell when you use it, so it can evaporate while you work meaning the pH isn’t acidic enough to fix the dye properly, which isn’t an issue with citric acid. I think I might miss the smell though!
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