Free Embroidery and Needle Painting
Unlike counted embroidery techniques free embroidery resembles painting with coloring pencils. The artist does not need to count stitches and may freely choose the stitch direction and the stitch length. A variety of stitches might be applied to achieve the desired effects: satin stitch, split stitch, seed stitch, French knot, stem stitch, and chain stitch. Different materials may be used as canvases, and also more then one type of thread may be used and combined for a project.
The most beautiful and lifelike embroideries are stitched with natural silk threads. The finished needle painted piece of art reflects light. Rotating the art work at different angles produces different colored effects. The Chinese perfected this king of embroidery technique over a period of several thousand years. Needle painting is a very popular art form in China. New technologies have given this business a boost. Industrial computerized embroidering machines make 20 stitches per second, use multiple needles for different thread colors. It is faster to produce embroidery by machine but the most beautiful pieces are done by hand.
Although free embroidery does not restrain the artist, it is also considered the most complex stitching technique. It demands creativity, good color and dimensional senses. Silk embroidery is more time consuming then crewel embroidery with woolen threads, because silk threads are thin and it requires more stitches to fill out a canvas with color. Small details in the picture require shorter stitches and more precise stitching. Woolen threads bring warm and fuzzy feel to your project. They do not shine under the light, but have more volume that creates shadows around stitched details. Usually crewel design, if stitched with woolen threads, is arranged in the central part of canvas and the background part is left unstitched, this gives three dimensional appearance of the design.
Due to the shiny look of silk and three dimensional effect of woolen yarn, free embroidery can be done using only one tone of thread. Floral ornaments embroidered in one color look beautiful on tablecloths, portieres, pillow covers and other household items as well as on garments.
The original size of the shown peacock embroidery is 16 by 20 inches (40cm x 50cm). The Peony embroidery is 16 by 12 inches (40cm x 30cm). Both pieces done with silk threads on silk canvas.
At the present time, the Chinese silk embroidery kits and printed silk canvases are available on Ebay and Amazon. Any design from coloring pages books may easily be transferred onto a blank canvas using carbon paper. Dimensions, Bucilla, and other craft suppliers sell simple crewel kits for beginners and more complex kits for the experienced embroiderers. Those companies usually use woolen or cotton threads, and cotton or synthetic canvases for the kits. Ordering and completing small kits provided by Dimensions or Bucilla is the recommended route to go before purchasing silk embroidery kits from China. These projects are easier to complete and you will get the taste of free embroidery.
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