Recently I have been working on preparing pieces for a workshop taking place later this month at the Sevenoaks branch of the Embroiderers' Guild. The request I received was for a workshop based on Kantha embroidery which I have been exploring on and off for many years. Kantha embroidery originated in Bengal and was used to decorate quilts and, basically, is a running or darning stitch. The quilts are sometimes called ripple quilts, the effect of the quilting/running stitch. Most Kantha quilts would have embroidered motifs, such as a wheel, flower or lotus motif and then perhaps a tree of life design in each corner, which could vary in style and then various border patterns added to the kantha edges. The background would then be entirely quilted giving a surface that was covered in stitch which gave a textured effect to the whole piece. All the embroidery involved in the quilting is based on running stitch and is quite incredible - it is all about the placement of the stitch and the variety of effects is fascinating.
However, in this workshop I have decided to take a different approach to show that the same running stitch variations can be used to embroider a still life.
The sample below, that I worked some years ago, shows traditional motifs worked in running stitch and the effect of the running stitch worked to fill the background.
This second sample shows more running stitch variations - for the sample above and this sample I have dyed the fabric and thread myself, the only difference is that for the sample above I used Procion dyes and for the sample below I used natural dyes - if my memory serves me well I believe I used cochineal.
These next samples show the same stitch variations used to create the still life subjects.
This following photo shows a detail from the sample above - this pattern has been worked entirely in running stitch and can be used as a filler or as a border pattern.
Below is another still life worked in running stitch - the fabrics are collaged first onto a layer of soft fabrics (the layers are a well washed light weight calico and a layer of muslin). The top layer is a collage of fine fabrics such as muslin, habotai silk, silk organza, cotton scrim and sari ribbon. The effect of the running stitch variations is to give movement and life to the picture.
Below is a detail from the sample above.
The sample below shows how a sample starts, collaging fabrics - this piece still has a long way to go, more fabrics and a lot of stitching.