Monday, October 21, 2013

Honeysuckle finished...

... or so I thought.

It was my intention to post on Saturday and show you the finished 'Sweet Honeysuckle' but things changed.
The vineyard called for spring attention, family visiting and a fabulous trip to the theatre to see this. It was my first ever opera and it was rather spectacular. So what made us go to the opera? Well, embroidery of course!
Last week when I was teaching, one of the girls in class was also the wardrobe mistress at the theatre. She brought in a sample of goldwork for one of the costumes - it was amazing!!!!!

La Forza del Destino, Adelaide Festival Theatre.
And this is it - 18kg of dress! Isn't it just spectacular? All those flowers... Those who have tried their hand at metal thread work and working with cut purls in particular, will possibly not be surprised when I tell you that according to Bronwyn it took a group of specialist embroiderers in India several months to complete - the workmanship is just exquisite! Did I get a look through the wardrobe? Sadly no.

Anyway, I am side tracking, but I simply had to show you. That was the highlight - the low-light (is there such a word?) and the main reason I didn't post was my rather 'bee-sastrous' Friday.

This is what my work table looked like on Saturday morning....

... doesn't look very much like delicate embroidery does it. It was time to finish the wired leaves and those tiny delicate wings for Miss-Bee.  

The leaves were a pleasure. At first glance they look similar, but look closely. Can you see the difference on the edge? The one to the left was done how I have always done it - outline with wire first and then fill in. The one on the right is done in the opposite order, something I picked up from Jenny Adin-Christie (one of the most talented embroiderers and the nicest person you could ever meet). The difference might be minimal, but it is there and I think it will be how I will be doing things in the future.

Next on to Miss-Bees' wings. 

Yes they are tiny, but really as long as you don't try and rush it they are ok (which is really hard when you are so, so close to finishing a project)... and yes, you have counted correctly, I did stitch six. It is so easy to accidentally cut a thread when you cut them out, so I will often stitch an extra fore- and hind wing, just in case... 
The middle picture also shows just one of the many reasons why magic tape is a permanent fixture on my work table. It is way too easy to get your thread snagged on all those wire tails and sticking them down like this fixes that little problem.

So, leaves done and cut out... lovely. Wings done and cut out (and I didn't mess any of them up)... fabulous. I attached everything, secured the wires (very thoroughly!) on the back and turned it over to admire the final project. - Ready to take photos and go - 'look it is done......'

- it looked odd...

- something wasn't right, but what...?

Oh noooooo... the wings....... 

In my eagerness to finish I had accidentally swapped the fore- and hind wings. Did I kick and scream and jump up and down? No, I very quietly and patiently unpicked the wires and as carefully as possible pulled the wings off without doing any damage to Miss-Bee. 

When I was certain she was ok, I got up, left the work table in a terrible mess (it hasn't changed since) and went to sow some veggies - then ending the day on a high note, taking in a spectacular sunset while enjoying a home-made drop of 'grape juice', just relieved that Miss-Bee and the Sweet Honeysuckle had survived the ordeal and confident that Miss-Bee will fly...

Have a fabulous week,
Anna X


  1. LOL, oh nooooo.... Believe me, we all feel your pain, Anna! I am glad you were able to save Miss Bee. :)

    18 kg of costume! I had no idea they weighed so much. Imagine trying to sing with that on! But yes, it sure is gorgeous. Thanks for the photo!

  2. What amazing goldwork embroidery on the costume for the opera! Sometimes the costuming is the highlight a performance for me.

    Love your little stumpwork bee. Bravo to you for persevering with patience to insure that she "flies right". I hope you enjoyed your well deserved glass of 'grape juice'.

  3. Yikes! 18 kg is almost 40 pounds! (for us US people who still use the old measures). Miss Bee is lovely; and I'm sure you deserved that lovely "grape juice".

  4. So glad your bee is not permanently damaged. Why is it we don't see the mistakes until we are finished.

  5. Wonderful little bee. The wires, threads, effort, contrast, and size are just like a little opera moment.
    So glad you liked the opera. I love it but not too many opportunities come my way. I have actually performed with the Australian Opera, but only as part of the chorus. Opera is a total package, just like heavy metal. Magnificence, acting, costumes, music, stagecraft, noise, silliness, drama, interesting ending. It is always big. Opera exists in many cultures across the globe, with slight differences.
    Now get started on making something for yourself that is inspired by the glorious costumes you saw. Perhaps a cuff or a headband??

  6. I so admire your very professional and mature response. I would probably have said a few choice words! And then I would have had a glass of grape juice too :)))

  7. Thank you all for your comments - they are all welcomed like a nice warm hug. Trust me, Miss Bee will fly on Friday.

    Monica and Cynthis; yes 18kg (40 lbs) - lucky for her she only had to wear it for about 15min before the maids stripped her down to the most gorgeous underwear :-)
    Louise: interesting comparison between opera and heavy metal - I think I get what you mean about the spectacle, not that I have ever witnessed a heavy metal band... no wait, we did go and see 'the Zep boys' performing with the Adelaide symphony orchestra - that was pretty awsome.
    Starr White; Trust me, these were not the first words I uttered - I had had a couple of days to 'move on' :-)

    1. I can imagine that would be one of the few times that wearing your knickers in public would be a relief!

  8. Hi Anna! I was glad to read your comments about order of work on the wired leaves as, when I did a tutorial earlier this year on wired stumpwork elements, it sparked quite a discussion afterwards as I too had done it in Jenny Adin-Christie's manner - fill in first and outline last. That's always been my way of doing it and I'm glad to know I have fellow late-outliners in 'high' places!!!=)

    PS, Thanks for your nice comment on Sew in Love. Yes, I made it to London and will post about that soon.=)

  9. Hi Elizabeth, once I did it, it was kind of a no-brainer. It really makes so much more sense doesn't it and the edges are neat and well sealed.
    Good to hear you recovered in time for your trip.

    1. Yes, that's what I thought. It seemed so obvious to do the finishing off/edging last. If one didn't, then some of the edging stitches might be spoiled by the filling in work. To be honest, I'd never really considered doing it the other way. Up the revolution!!=)

  10. I think may fall in the 'kick and scream' camp - followed by some steady breathing to calm down ;)