Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Charm School Week Six: Berlin Work


I loved this week in Charm School! First of all, the book I was "studying" was an absolute joy. The book is about 200 pages. The first 100 pages deals with the history of many types of embroidery in the 19th century and gives many wonderful historical examples of Berlin Work. The second 100 pages deals exclusively with patterns -- copies of antique, hand-painted patterns with some of them converted into a counted stitch chart for ease of use.

As I mentioned the other day, the patterns are what captured my attention the most in this book. The charts were hand-painted over a printed black/white grid and there is a subtlety of shading and mixing of color that you don't normally see on a counted chart -- kind of reminds me of pointillism.

Here's an example to give you an idea:

First thing I did, was separate some beads from my vintage purse fragment. Thank you to all of you who suggested that I save a rose -- I intend to take your advice.

I tested the beads over various count sizes of linen and finally decided on working on 40 ct. linen over two. This was the right size and shape for the beads to fit perfectly.

There was no stitching with this "bead dust", as Allie called it, without a magnifier. Frankly, I couldn't see the holes for the beads OR the fabric without it!

The rest was just counted work following a piece of a pattern from the book. I then used a button form and covered that with the beading, just like I learned from my mentor, Robin Atkins.

I had only one glitch which was that I misjudged the finished size of the button and so I had too much fabric around the rose which wasn't beaded. I chose to add clear beads to fill in the space and I wish I hadn't. Now the rose looks a little like it's floating out in the open whereas I would have liked you to see a true, smaller piece of a larger pattern. If I were to do it over again, I would have a better sense for the dimension of the beading and would use the pattern all the way around the edge of the covered button.

Overall, I'm very pleased with this little Charm I named "Devotion". It didn't turn out looking much like the antique button that I so love but that's a project for another day. The reproduction of that button is going to take me a little more prep time because I have to find a fabric that is slightly ribbed. I believe that the beads were couched in rows along the ribbed lines in the fabric...I think...

Oh and I almost forgot to mention how much I loved working with those teeny, tiny beads! Thank you to all of you who emailed me helpful hints and information. It was a real learning experience. I was also contacted by a woman named Nicole Belolan who did her Masters thesis this past Spring on Berlin Work -- and wrote this article titled Redefining Berlin Work in America: 1840-1865.

Next week I will be taking a blogging break for vacation but since I skipped last week's Charm School due to technical difficulties, I'm planning on posting Charm School on Tuesday anyway.

Next week, I'll be working from this book:

See you next week for school!


Vicki W said...

Another beauty!

Judy S. said...

'Twas a happy accident, I'd say. It's just perfect, Susan! I LOVE it the way it is!

Carol said...

Oh Susan, you weren't happy with a little part of this project...silly you. That's why they call it SCHOOL!

As always, your charm is beautiful. I can't wait to see what you are going to make from the tassel book!! I'm quite into them myself for purse fobs.

TattingChic said...

What a lovely charm! Your work is exquisite. That tassels book looks really cool!

Ati. Norway. said...

You have made a wonderful piece from the old beads. Now they begin a new life and that is good!
I have seen authentic rose purses with a black background, beautiful! The roses didn't flow then but seems to pop out of the bag.With our traditional costumes in the Netherlands goes a bead-knitted bag with a silver clasp and in that a bead-knitted coin purse. Some of the ladies have an antique one, some are 150 years old and have those tiny, tiny Czech beads you found lately. Lovely!

pam T said...

beautiful as always!
have a great vacation!

Allison Ann Aller said...

why I always thought of the Berlin work charts as being for cross stitch or needlepoint. I think they were MEANT for beads!
Beautiful job, Susan....

pam ehlers stec said...

Ohhh...How lovely this is, Susan! Those teeny tiny little beads are absolutely wonderful. Gosh, I'll bet they are hard to bead with though. I can see why you used a magnifier! I can't wait to see what you come up with next week.

flyingbeader said...

HOLY SMOLEY...girl that is awesome! I'd have to wear a pair of cheaters to work that small...I thought 15s were a challenge. I think it fabulous & what a way to recycle that treasured old purse. Can't wait to see what you do with tassels.


Tammy T. said...

I don't recall ever leaving you a comment but I just can't resist anymore.
I have yet to see you produce anything that doesn't just leave me feeling like I need to go take some lessons or something. You simple just amaze me with your multitalented self. Even your blog entries are passionately creative.
What a blessing it would be to have you as a personal friend that lived close by. Of course you would grow weary of my constant pleas of show me how to do that.
I am so jealous. But in a good way.
Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful works.

Cheryl said...

This is an amazingly beautiful piece that is a very creative use of this book. I've always loved this book too...especially the pieces with the animals!

Robin said...

Your button-charm turned out beautifully, Susan!!! I actually like the clear bead background. It reminds me of the tiniest petit-point flower buttons I found on my second trip to Budapest back in the early 90s. If I can find one in my stash, I'll send it. Many of them were a rose stitched with a black background, but a few were on white, which I liked.

Your idea of attending charm school this summer certainly has resulted in wonderful experimentation and learning for you, hasn't it?!!!!

Thanks for saying you used a magnifier... No way could I stitch with these any other way. Oh, yes, and also thanks for your reference to me as your mentor... just one of many mentors, I'm certain... You are naturally very open and willing to expand your skills, which makes you a joy to mentor!

Have a fabulous vacation!!!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful beading. I find it much easier to work on paper that's been pasted on cotton
Here's a great video of this type of ( peranakan )beawork

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