The featured image on this post is the very first embroidery I ever designed from scratch. It was done in 1974 in Mrs. Hall’s third grade class, and uses running stitch, satin/straight stitches and couching.
It isn’t sophisticated at all (I was EIGHT, people!), but you can see where my doodle stitching started! At the time, sea life was the only thing I thought I could remotely draw. (We had a cool boy in class named Joe who could draw realistic airplanes, cars and helicopters, and really made me doubt my ability to learn art at all…) now, of course, I think this piece is wonderful. I still can’t draw man-made objects really well… I need to focus on them for a while, I think.
It’s stitched on a piece of red jute burlap with a multiplicity of threads. There’s a LOT of acrylic in it! My couching threads were real linen, I think, and they haven’t entirely held up to the test of time. I think the water surface may actually be one of my own hair ribbons. Got to love the 1970s!
I remember Mrs. Hall bringing a whole table full of threads and multiple colors of burlap for us to choose from. Looking back, I suspect she embroidered in the style of some of Erica Wilson’s large projects and it was part of her own stash. I don’t remember her teaching us anything but couching, so I don’t know if I pulled my stitches from my grandmother’s teaching or learned in class. I DO know I went back to working on the sampler piece I talked about earlier after stitching this – and then moved into crewel work with my mother’s help.
All in all, I’m glad I found this. It’s a wonderful piece of my lineage, and I’m actually a bit surprised at how vivid the memories it evokes in me are. Including looking over Joe’s shoulder while he drew a plane and thinking “I’ll never be able to do that.” Goes to show that we can really stunt our skill-set by making those comparisons to others and creating limiting rules in our own heads.
Stitch. Draw. Have fun. Don’t worry about perfection in the final product. That comes with time and practice. 🙂