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Temari balls are a terrific example of a colorful Japanese thread craft that anyone can learn. Temari are made of yarn wrapped around a soft core, and embellished with DMC pearl cotton. As your skills grow, so will the complexity of the Temari you create.
The name means hand ball in Japanese, and the balls were originally created for children. Today, they are a symbol of good luck, and are given as gifts on special occasions, or to decorate the home.
All of the balls shown here were created by designer Barbara Seuss, and were featured in her book, Japanese Temari, a Colorful Spin on an Ancient Craft, available on her website as well as online and local bookstores. You can also see dozens of inspiring samples in her Temari Gallery.
Orna Willis has been one of my favorite needlework designers for several years now, and I’ve had the opportunity to do more than one interview with her. A member of both the EGA and ANG, Orna uses a variety of brightly colored materials including DMC Embroidery Threads in her unique designs.
Today I am sharing our latest chat, offering insights into the way Orna designs her beautiful pieces of needlepoint art.
Orna describes her designs as Contemporary Ethnic and her heritage plays an important role in her designs. She states, “Whether intentionally or subconsciously, I clearly see my heritage in my designs. My pieces have an ethnic feel to them. They repeat certain elements such as arches, crescents, and stars. I also tend to choose strong vibrant colors, and add beads and embellishments all with a very Middle Eastern vibe. Elements of places I know are reflected in my work. Examples are: Window in the Old City, my take on the old city of Jerusalem and the beautiful arched windows in some of the ancient homes. Hamsa is another example; the hand that wards off the evil spirits is a well-known motif in both Judaic and Muslim cultures.”
You can learn more about Orna, her patterns and kits on any of her web sites. Check out Adorn by Orna to shop for patterns and register for a cyberclass (like the one for these gorgeous Dolci Beads!). Visit Orna’s inspiring blog for her thoughts on making thing by hand and her Adorn Atelier for a wide variety of handmade crafts including felting, paper cutting, wirework, knitting and more.
Here’s more from my interview with Orna:
When did you first discover that you could create art with a needle and thread?
I stumbled across needlepoint accidentally. I had always sewn, making clothing for my sisters and then my daughters, but never needlepoint. In 1994 I bought a needlepoint-charted design and jumped in, head first. I found it very addictive, and immediately I tried another charted design. After the second piece, I decided to play on a piece of canvas with no guides, just following where the needle took me. I wasn’t interested in creating images, I wanted to create geometric shapes and fill them with patterns, textures, and colors. It wasn’t long before I had bits and pieces of stitched canvas all over the house, like tiny vignettes of fiber combinations. I couldn’t get enough of these experimentations and soon they got bigger in size, clearer in intent and were complete compositions.
Are you self-taught, or have you taken classes?
I began as self-taught. I was too impatient and curious to stop for instruction. Later, over the years, I’ve taken classes from some wonderful teachers and designers.
You create wearable art that is stunning, like this beautiful quartet of designs sitched with DMC threads to the right, and the “Kanya” cuff bracelet to the lower left. Do you often wear the pieces in public, and what type of response do you get?
Thank you for your kind words! I wear my pieces when I go out to an event a bit more dress up than what I wear around the studio. I particularly like to wear my earring pieces but also my cuffs.
The first response is almost always, “How long did it take you to stitch that?!” I’m never quite sure of the answer but I explain that stitching is very therapeutic for me. The next question is how hard would it be to try stitching a piece. I love encouraging people to give it a try and have converted quite a few newbies to needlepoint.
In addition to needlepoint/thread on canvas, what other types of needlework do you enjoy?
I enjoy embroidery and felting but I must say that when I have the time I usually go right to needlepoint. It’s probably where I feel I can make the most happen. I have been working on smaller and smaller count. While the majority of my design work is done on 18 count canvas, I have done quite a bit on Congress Cloth and now I am focusing on Silk Gauze, 32 and 40 count. The detailing that can be achieved on this tiny count is amazing.
How much of your day is spent stitching versus designing?
For me stitching and designing are the same. I always design on canvas, never on the computer, so designing is stitching. Once I have stitched a new piece I then go on to chart and write the instructions. This is the part that takes up too much of my time – this is when I’d rather be stitching. However, it can’t be avoided… When the design has been written, charted and illustrated I have someone else stitch it again, a proof stitcher, someone who makes sure the instructions are correct. Most of the stitching I do is in the evenings. During the day I work on my computer and in the evenings I sit and stitch.
Where do you seek inspiration on days when your muse is taking a break?
I “hoard” inspiration everyday, for just those moments when I think I have no muse in me. I am constantly browsing online, looking at sites that focus on interior design, fashion, the art world and the craft world. Everyday I make sure to find at least one new site that excites me and offers ideas for a new direction, a new design. I live in the city and while others look at nature for inspiration, perhaps go out to their gardens or hike near their home, I walk the streets, look at people, shop windows, and the city skyline for inspiration.
If you could create one design that would become your masterpiece and spend 100% of your time on it, what would it be?
If I had all the time I could ask for, I would take a huge piece of canvas and I would let my needle guide me. I would not make any determinations in advance, but rather just pick a fiber, a color, and plunge into the canvas. Then I would like to never have to chart the piece, just let it sit across from me. I will make that day happen at some point.
Easter Sunday is fast approaching, and families everywhere are preparing for the Holiday by dyeing traditional Easter eggs.
Make life-sized Easter eggs using pearl cotton, glue and foam, paper mache or wood egg shapes. The Killer Crafts blogsite will show you how to wrap colorful thread around the shapes to make these easy decorative eggs using an assortment of solid colors.
You can also try using Pearl Cotton Variations in spring colors for a variegated egg. Choose your favorite colors, coat with glue and wrap – it’s so easy! And, these eggs are sturdy enough to store and re-use year after year.
Make a few dozen of these eggs and hide them around the house for the kids to find.
While the models have candy as the treat, small toys or coins can also be used.
The folks at the Mod Podge blog have used a similar technique to make a beautiful Easter egg garland.
You can even add the eggs to a wreath to grace the front door, or fill up baskets as decorative accents during the Holiday.
The creative folks at Happy Hour Projects have used similar eggs to fill a canister as a seasonal kitchen display.
Any of these ideas are easy enough for kids and non-stitcher to make and are tons of fun to create!
The world is full of truly creative stitchers. This week I’ve been on a quest to find the ones who always think outside the box and produce amazing works of stitched art meant to inspire and awe.
Amy chose her colors carefully, and on her blog has placed a star next to the numbers that are truest to the original color.
If you look closely at her project, you can see how Amy has carefully blended the colors where they touch the next. Beautiful!
Next is Mary Corbet from the Needle ‘N Thread site. Mary’s current experiment with lattic stitch fillings is stunning, well-worked and inspiring.
Mary is known for playing with stitches and using them in unusual and creative ways. Here she has used a pallette of bright, bold colors in her design and has mixed them a way that evokes fun, happiness and joy.
And if you look closely at the stitching, you will find that each area of her original designs is carefully outlined with a variety of stitches or composite stitches, and each area is filled with a different lattice stitch. This sampler is gorgeous – and unique.
Third on my inspiration list is this exquisite French knot project from Fourteen Countess. I just love how she has used a bazillion French knots over a printed fabric, carefully filling the motifs in the fabric with matching knots.
The result of her effort is a stunning work of art that reminds me of a bas relief piece of sculpture. This technique would be fun to try with other geometric patterns as well, or with a billowing floral or children’s print fabric!
French knots are actually very easy to work once you get the hang of it. You can read more about working this stitch in a previous blog posting.
These three stitchers have inspired me to get creative this week. I’d love to hear about designers and bloggers that inspire you as well.
Earlier this week a colleague here at DMC found a tutorial on The Party Artisan site that shows readers how to make the simplest crochet hearts I think I have ever seen.
The hearts are easy to make using very basic crochet stitches. One magic ring (aka: magic circle), a total of 6 single crochets, 10 double crochets, 1 triple crochet and a slip stitch later, you have a sweet, simple heart.
I loved the idea of such a quick way to make the hearts, and decided to try out the instructions using DMC Pearl Cotton #3, one of our heaviest embroidery threads.
Size 3 Pearl Cotton (Art. 115/3) is available in 16 yard skeins in 292 solid colors, and I chose colors that reminded me of candy Valentine hearts.
In addition to the thread you will also need a tapestry needle, scissors and a size 2 (or equivalent) crochet hook.
It only took a few hours to work up several dozen hearts, but what would I do with them? Initially, I had thought of making a few more and placing them in a candy dish as a decoration as sort of a totally calorie-free snack. But after arranging them on my work table, I realized they’d make some terrific jewelry.
I twisted two colors of pearl cotton together to make a cord and, using a single strand of matching DMC Embroidery Floss I stitched a grouping of hearts to the cord to make a necklace A shorter length of cord was used to make a bracelet (with the knot on the cord hidden by a heart) and a pair of earrings using jewelry findings.
The hearts could also be glued to pin backs to make a brooch, attached to barettes and hair bands, or sewn onto a hat, gloves and scarf. In fact, these hearts can be used on just about anything, including paper crafts.
Need even smaller hearts? Use a smaller crochet hook and size 5 pearl cotton instead. Looking for some glitz and glam’? Try crocheting the hearts using all 6 strands of DMC Light Effects Floss and a slightly larger crochet hook.
I’m still thinking of crocheting a few dozen for the candy dish, though… It may keep me away from the chocolates.
The Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Winter Conference and Trade Show in Anaheim has been awesome and inspiring.
We’ve had a chance to meet up with retailers and designers and to see what’s new or up-and-coming in the industry, and we’ve come back with lots of new ideas for projects that you can make using a wide variety of DMC products.
Our new Emma Broidery Memory Thread How-to Guide 5×7″ spiral-bound book showing you a huge variety of ways you can use our popular Memory Thread was a hit. It earned the distinction of being one of CHA’s Hot 20 new products.
Here’s a photo of the display in our booth featuring some of the projects featured in the book… I love the mini me standing on the table!
Our new family members were also a hit. DMC has added three adorable new critters to our ready-to-stitch plush stuffed animals collection.
The Exotic Birds Collection features an adorable peacock, toucan and flamingo with tons of personality. You can customize them with stitching on their Aida bibs.
The birds will be available March 1, 2013 at independent needlework stores as well as major craft and fabric retailers nationwide.
Young crafters will love the new products added to the Prism Craft Products line.
The Prism Mini Packs and Prism Sparkle Packs containing coordinating assortments of 6-strand floss and Prism Mini Craft Box with extra bobbins and handy compartments will be available in stores in April of this year.
Each Prism collection contains an assortment of bright and bold colors or metallic sparkling threads, and will inspire endless opportunities for younger crafters to be creative!