One of my greatest joys is photographing beautiful embroidery.
I consider it a quasi-spiritual activity and it gives me quite a rush.
It happens to us all when we see something beautiful.
Our hearts race, our energy levels immediately get a boost, and we feel wonderful!
That's because looking at something beautiful releases all the same chemicals in our brains -- epinephrine, dopamine and endorphins -- as when we fall in love, achieve a runner's high or take drugs. These chemicals are largely responsible for our feelings of enjoyment, motivation and happiness.
Therefore, it follows, doesn't it, that photographing something beautiful might just extend the duration of those happy chemicals being released into my brain?
And not just that. As my eyes have aged, I have found that my camera's lens has better eyesight than me. Taking photographs allows me to linger over details and make discoveries about a piece that I wouldn't necessarily see from a casual glance.
Even when I think I'm staring at a piece and taking it all in...my brain really isn't. I don't even realize how much I've missed until I upload the pictures to my computer and begin reviewing them. It's then that the "oohs" and "ahhs" really reach their climax.
I'd like to blame it on our modern world where we are barraged with information delivered in quick spurts and sound bytes. I believe my brain has been re-wired to scan quickly and move on...even when I think I'm being deliberately slow!
And so today, I hope to share my happy chemicals with all of you as you gaze upon the photos I've taken of Bettye's gift. This antique embroidery is a fragment from a chinese coat and was gifted to me by my needle friend, Bettye Fennell.
She asked only that, when I take pictures of it, that I give them to her.
Taking pictures allows me to capture the luster of the silk thread.
And to realize that there were five different shades of pink used to create the petals of this flower.
And it inspires me to want to try this ladder approach to embroidering a flower. I've never done it before. I've also never added front legs to my butterflies like the guy below.
And I enjoy seeing the staggered diagonal stitches used to make those curly antennae.
Photographing this piece, captures a moment in time. It's Spring and the peonies have started to bloom...
The peony is considered the Queen of Flowers in many Asian cultures. And the embroidered peony is stunning on this piece...
From a distance, we can appreciate the beauty of the entire piece...
But the camera gives us pause...letting us fully slake our thirst for its detail and artistry.
And we notice that those flower centers just might be buttonhole wheels with satin stitch petal extensions...
And that the center is created by couching the spokes close to the middle and using a stiletto to create a defined hole...
And the endorphins surge again as I anticipate trying this new approach on my shell piece. For, if you remember this post I wrote about the happy chemicals your brain releases when anticipating a new project, you'll realize that now my brain has received another dose of dopamine.
Maybe it's why Pinterest is so popular. It allows us to collect beautiful images and re-visit them as many times as we like. It's addictive. Just like food. Just like sex. Just like drugs.
It seems to make sense to me that the more we can see beauty in everything, the happier we are likely to become. Seeing the beautiful compounds our happiness...it's all chemistry.
So, Bettye. Thank you for the gift of this exquisite embroidery. Thank you for the chemistry lesson. And thank you for the boost to my brain and my soul.
Not only have you shared a treasure with the world, but you're keeping us off drugs as well.
Happy Monday everyone!