Show me the Monet; Something blue.
Oh hello there,
Nice to meet you. I’m JB & if you didn't know already, I love painting, abstracts, colour, textiles, & embroidery.
Welcome to one of my favourite commissions ever. Please brew a nice cuppa, and make yourself at home.
Let’s rewind to April…
..when I received a glorious wedding embroidery commission request; my favourite kind. Descriptive, a clear vision, and a whole lot of trust and freedom in my own creative vision and direction. The brief; Something Blue for a wedding gift to the bride. The inspiration; Monet’s water lilies (particularly the long artworks displayed in the Musée de l’Orangerie). Design; to be displayed as a small wall-hanging. Safe to say, utter no-brainer.
First things first, designing a composition that not only fits the brief & the budget, but compliments the abstract floaty nature of Monet’s water lilies and the creative vision of my lovely commissioner. These liquid landscapes that are dotted with water lilies, willow branches & cloud reflections give the illusion of an open space and an appreciation of the wider world outside. So, a gentle fading out of detail, with a few scattered stitches was perfect.
Next up - bring on that heavenly colour palette. Light blues, purples hues & some faded greens; heaven. If you’re into calming imagery just use this thread colour palette shot as your phone background for a bit (I did and super chilled vibes commenced).
The composition required some willow strands on the far left side, and I wanted these to appear as windswept and willowy as possible. I’m lucky to live very close to some willows and walking past them I noticed the way they move seems so feathery because of the large amount of leaves on each thin branch. In an attempt to emulate this, I used a very fine split stitch using single thickness thread (make things really fiddly JB nice one) which proved so effective. I’m so happy with these little details! After the first lines of strands were down, I added a second darker green for shading and depth.
After the willow strands, it was time to get really stuck in and fully JB involved with colour. Embroidery is such a time consuming process that often I’m itching to get onto the next bit, so the willow strands forced me to be really patient. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to move onto colour until the strands were complete, so when I hung up the green thread it was a colour explosion with no limits (well except for the fact there were definitely limits and the whole purpose was something blue…but you know what I mean!).
I started with deeper colours in the bottom corner, and tested lighter shades for the top for where the clouds would be reflecting. This was my loose guideline and after that I just added colour where I thought it sat best, almost like creating an oil painting. Little bit here, bit more over there, add a smidge here. Though not as fast and freely expressive as oil painting, this embroidery really lent itself well to an intuitive approach. Each small stitch is approximately 0.5 cm long, and I’d say it took a good minute to complete 10 stitches. This embroidery work alone took me approximately 5-6 full days to complete so there must be stitches in the tens of thousands in this piece. Every one as worth it as the last.
And then when the embroidery was complete it was a simple loop top & piece of wooden dowel. Nothing fancy at all, and I wanted to keep this as natural looking as possible, as with the frayed edges and decision to not add a backing (like all of my embroidered pieces). It’s so important to me that my textile work is as transparent as possible, for the giftee to see the amount of handmade creation that has been made. A machine couldn’t do this, only a wonky human being.
And the final stage; packaging! The dowel measured 30cm in length, and I sourced a lovely white box from Tiny Box Company which measured just a little over (what are the lucky odds!). Once I’d lined the box with my custom wrapping paper & tissue paper I thought haaaang on a minute, these are going to make the space somewhat smaller. A tiny breath holding moment later and, please. Look how satisfying this last image is. An utterly perfect fit. Yaaaasss.
I loved creating Something Blue so much. A completely new concept for me, and lots of creative buzzing going on in my brain. Thank you to the lovely human who commissioned this piece, you know who you are! I feel genuinely honoured & privileged to be part of such a special family occasion.