Monday, March 5, 2007

Go Fish!

As many of you might suspect after reading about Harry, I have an entire other life that revolves around Japanese embroidery. Some of you have asked me to post some samples, so here is an embroidery that I stitched last winter. It is based on a famous drawing by Utagawa, who adored both fish and cats and made many charming sketches that included them.

I created the design below from a mouse pad purchased at the Tokyo National Museum.

(Click on the picture and wait patiently for a full-sized image).


Japanese embroidery is done entirely with silk and metal threads and is extremely demanding. Trust me--it is far more demanding than any sort of knitting, frog hair notwithstanding. It requires years of concentrated study before any work even approaches the professional level and the materials are very expensive, as well.

For these reasons, there are only about 500 people in the Western world who bother with it and surprisingly, not many more in Japan who pursue it either.

The discipline is further complicated by a lot of ugly backstabbing politics and a level of secrecy usually associated with, say NSA codebreakers or the formula for Coca Cola.

I have taken a short break from the Spider King to work on a sample for a class I will be teaching this summer. The original artwork is part of a very long and charming scroll called Frolicking Animals. The piece is attributed to the Priest Kakuyu (1053-1140), known by his honorary title, Toba Sojo.

I created this little design from a sheet of wrapping paper I bought somewhere. It was sketched in Photoshop and refined in CorelDraw, then printed directly to the fabric with an inkjet printer.

At some point, I will post the finished piece.



Jane, I do hope these little pictures take your mind off tinking the WRS and make you smile!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank yoy, Fleegle, for sharing that. What incredible, gorgeous work you do. You just amaze me.
L.

alice said...

Thanks for posting the fish! I love love love them! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Your embroidery is stunning! And the sketch is so full of energy and playfulness! Have you considered printing them to a high-quality canvas knitting bag and offering them for sale? Kate/Massachusetts

fleegle said...

Ah, no, anonymous. I don't think I could sell water in the Sahara. I will leave retailing to others better suited to it. But it is an interesting idea!

Larjmarj said...

That is just amazingly beautiful. Wow.......!

Holly said...

I am blown away! Awesome!

Batty said...

Wow! So much more impressive than any of my cross stitching... Just by looking, I can tell that the technique takes a long time to master. The color/fiber/technique combination of that fish piece just blows me a way.

Jane said...

Dear flegle,

Your Japanese embroidery is exquisite. I've always admired this type of needlework but I know better than to think I would be doing it. I just stand back and admire! Too bad the small circle of people who produce this type of work are not genial. I love the sketch of your next project. I am smiling as I type this. WRS is good for the soul. At least I keep telling myself that. Once again, beautiful and inspired work!

SheepsPyjamas said...

Quite meticulous and lovely. I adore the fish, but I'm totally enchanted by the frogs and bunny. I'm looking forward to seeing the final version...

loribird said...

Exquisite. Thank you for sharing!
The new Piecework magazine (Interweave Press) has a couple articles about Japanese embroidery. I'd never known anything about it until I read your post and then the issue arrived...

BigAlice said...

That's a beautiful piece. I tried needlework once - ONCE - and I'm far too clumsy with even big needles and thread. I have great respect for Japanese fiber arts and needlework.

eve knits said...

that is just beautiful!i have never seen anything like it before!

LadyLungDoc said...

That embroidery is beautiful! So sad that something that wonderful is tainted by "politics".

hege said...

Your embroidery is gorgeous! How fascinating that you are able to live in Japan part time and do this wonderful work! What an accomplishment!