This week I started on a new work and it is large and ambitious! The dimensions are 70 cm x 48 cm. That might not sound all that large, but when nearly the entire surface needs to be covered in stitches it starts to seem very daunting. My source image is a satellite photograph of the Turpan Depression, a mountainous region spanning from Tadjikistan to China. The image inspired me because of the fabulous textures and contrasts.
(Remember to click on the photos if you want to see larger images).
Dyeing the ground fabric was a challenge. I usually have no trouble matching my dye colours to my original conception, but somehow, every colour I mixed came out brighter than what I wanted. In the end I decided to go with what I had. I figured if these are the colours that my brain wants to use, then I should just go with it. When it came to dyeing my threads I was able to achieve colours closer to my original conception. I think the contrast of the muted colours of the threads against the brighter colours of the ground fabric will make the work more vibrant.
The central area is crucial to the cohesion of the whole piece so I began by laying down the whisper silk. I then embroidered a couple of small areas just to mark out the proportions I would be working with later.
I then started stitching the area representing the highest mountain peaks that lie above the snow line. I knew that if I could make this work then I was going to be able to pull the work off as a whole. I started by stitching in the mountain ridges using long armed palestrina stitch. I then defined the valleys with lines of stem stitch. The intervening areas were worked in fern stitch and oriented so as to give the impression of a descent into a valley.
This is a close up of the palestrina stitch showing the lovely ridge of knots that is characteristic of this stitch.
Yesterday I added the snow capped mountain regions. I wanted it to be well contrasted with the areas surrounding it, so I worked it in short sections of closed feather stitch. The bold geometry of the white stitching works well against the more organic red area.
Today I will finish the white area by stitching in brown thread between the white sections. This will make it a little less stark and link it to the next section