To Marge: Message of a Flower Cart by Fran Guttman

2nd Place, Non-Professional Japanese Embroidery
Popular Choice

Marge was a passionate stitcher of Japanese embroidery; she left her stash to a friend and this piece found its resting place with me. The printed silk did not come with any specific instructions, only a list of JEC colors and a copy of the finished embroidery per JEC guidance.

From the picture, I believed the lack of depth and ornamentation on the cart, wheel, and basket did not do justice to all the possibilities Japanese embroidery techniques have to offer, and so, several changes were made.

Basket: Switch from silver to gold for surface embellishment (basket weave stitch) and for the ribs. Treat the “ribs” as partitions, not just a surface treatment. Use the partitions as individual sections, allowing for sectional foundations work with different shading within the section and between sections, going from light to dark to give volume to the basket.

Wheel and cart: Add different gold thread techniques to increase the ornamentation, like the use of multicolor gold thread for short stitch holding over black foundation. Apply couched gold to the thickness of the wheel using couching threads black to light grey to give it more depth, Add nails to the spokes. Use cotton padding and gold outlines for the hub to give it more volume.

Vanishing “window”: once the basket, cart and wheel showed their new colors and shades, the window frame appeared “in the way” and I decided to “design it out.” Some creative stitching for new leaves and stems allowed me to cover all the original lines.

Flowers: Follow the original design maybe with some personal colors interpretations. Long and short flat silk is one of the superb techniques of Japanese embroidery (applied to Peonies), and shading leaves always add some dimensional effect.

I greatly enjoyed stitching this piece as I found more artistic freedom than with classic phase pieces. I would like to particularly thank Shay Pendray for all the mentoring and support. Her ability to go over and over and over again the fine technical points of these Japanese stitches is what drives us to look for the perfect stitch.

Marge, here it is, all framed up. It is said you did not like the window effect either; I hope you approve.