A Mother and Child Raised Figural Embroidery Part Three: Where to learn the Techniques

These Following books will help you on your path to doing this wondrous type of embroidery. It is not a beginners craft, and I often think I have gotten myself way over my head and out of my league. (Snort) I cannot think of any other type of embroidery that will kick my ass, and pick me up by the scruff of the neck and tell me to do better next time. As I learn more about the techniques and read more books, I will be adding them to the list, but for now, these will do. Oh yes, they will.

Where to learn the Techniques

Raised Figures

Mastering the Art of Embroidery by Sophie Long

            Sophie’s book contains a dozen techniques for the embellishment of textiles ranging from Crewel to Smocking. Each technique has samples in full-color glossy photographs and well-done drawings in a step by step sequence to give you a good start.  The relevant section of the book for this documentation is the chapter on Stumpwork. I found the usual needle lace, detached and raised surface stitches, but the really important part is the Figures primer. In the Figures primer, you find step by step instructions on how to do the raised figures that are the underpinnings of raised figure embroideries. She covers the body, face, hair, and hands.

Raised Embroidery: A practical guide to decorative stumpwork by Barbara and Roy Hirst

            In this book, Barbara and Roy Hirst guide you along the path of stumpwork embroidery with some history of the craft, pictorial examples and step by step instructions on the various techniques that make stumpwork such an art-form.

The Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery by Jane Nicholas

            Jane Nicholas is touted to be the best in her work and you can clearly see it in the examples she created to teach this technique. The title of her book is rather misleading, however as her book only covers the plants, animals, and insects but not the human figures that are often the central technique that people have come to know as stumpwork. The beautiful Elizabethan Figures that are central to her original piece are not covered in this book. It will, however, teach you the varied techniques needed to create the natural world in the background of your figures. She also helps you use those techniques in a variety of craft projects to beautify your home and needlework basket.

Stumpwork Seasons by Kay & Michael Dennis

            Kay and Michael Dennis give you a really good start to finish guide to stumpwork through the seasons. They start you off with all tools, materials, and threads needed to do the lovely projects pictured in the pages. Besides the stitches and techniques for the surface embroidery, they guide you to staining or painting the backgrounds to give a more natural and realistic look to your work. A good book for those that need color pictures to guide step by step.

Goldwork for the background

Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book by Erica Wilson

In this book, Erica Wilson brings together all of the techniques earlier published in smaller books. She is best known for the revival and popularity of crewel embroidery in the early 1970s. The most relevant is Chapter three, Silk and Gold threads. This chapter brings the history of silk and goldwork together with full directions, list of tools and supplies as well as stitch diagrams.

The Historical Aspects of Stumpwork

Stumpwork: Historical and Contemporary Raised Embroidery by Muriel Best

Muriel gives a good read into the origins and history of Stumpwork or Raised Embroidery from its beginnings to modern craftsmanship.

Tools and Techniques

Making a hand jig

While bending wire is fun all by itself, making hands for raised figures hand be a chore. You will need the following: 1 large hunk of corrugated cardboard saved from an Amazon box, Glue, box cutter, steel ruler, heavy weight. Cut 5 squares of thick corrugated cardboard or 8 from regular and glue them in a stack. Put a heavy weight on them and let the glue dry overnight. On a clean side trace out the small hands needed for your figures.

To use your hand jig, you will need steel pins (Not the ball topped pins), strong needle nosed pliers, and 28 gauge wire or finer. Place a pin in your jig pushing the pins in deep, but not too deep. starting at fingertips, then between fingers, and at wrist points. You can see the dark shadows showing the missing pins.

Now its time to wire up your hands. The wire wraps in and out around a pin to form the thumb, fingers and finally the full hand.. Remove each pin carefully so that the wire doesn’t lose its shape. Put them back in and do the other hand. Until the hands are wrapped in silk or cotton floss it’s nothing to worry about, Right and left are the same form.

When you are ready to wrap the fingers and thumb, use the needle nose pliers to pinch the tips of the fingers and also the insides between the fingers, but not the space of thumb in the larger hands, that will form the webbing important to showing the difference between thumb and pinky.

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