It is only two more months until I start the Royal School of Needlework Certificate in Technical Hand Embroidery (RSN Certificate in short). As I want to be well prepared I have been getting some inspiration by looking at crewelwork designs in books and online. I have also made a slate frame bag as you will have seen in a previous post. Subsequently, I bought some new inserts and customised my Traveler’s Notebook for taking notes throughout the course.
The next thing to tick off the list was something I mentioned in my Finished ‘Flora’ post: to practise painting design lines to make sure they would be thin enough to cover. I thought it would be a very good idea to try practising this as I don’t have a very steady hand and I don’t want to end up with thick blobs that are just impossible to cover and which will ruin my work.
It is, of course, really unsightly to have design lines showing when your work is finished and the RSN has even listed it as one of the main points they check when grading certificate pieces. Drawing thin lines in (water-soluble) pen and pencil is relatively easy but the ‘ official’ way to draw designs on embroidery fabric is the ‘prick and pounce’-method. With this technique, you draw your design on a piece of paper and prick holes along the design-line with a thin needle. You then place this piece of paper on your fabric and rub pounce powder over it. This result in your fabric being covered in lots of small dots. Since chalk pounce does not adhere to the fabric you need to make the design permanent by joining the dots with a painted line.
For this, you use undiluted watercolour paint and a (very) thin paintbrush. I picked up a 0, 2/0, 3/0 and 4/0 watercolour paintbrush from Hobbycraft as well as a few different tubes of watercolour paint. I thought it would be a good idea to match the fabric or the thread colours with the paint so the lines would be even less noticeable. I got a lovely tin and mini-mixing pots for my birthday last week.
For my first try, I thought I would use a real design rather than try and paint straight lines or circles. I photocopied part of a design by Hazel Blomkamp from her Crewel Intentions book. I placed the photocopy on my Lightpad and traced the design on to a scrap piece of embroidery fabric by using a water-soluble pen. I then painted over these pen lines. I did use one of the darkest colours I had bought so I could easily tell where I was going, and where I was going wrong.
Despite my fear of painting, I actually think my effort wasn’t too bad. I did manage to do it quickly and there are no big blobs or splashes. The most difficult part is the loose fibres in the fabric, which when painted can move and transfer the paint to an area you don’t want it to be. I will try so more design in the next few weeks to keep practising.