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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Or, Surface Embellishment with Threads and Other Stuff

Embroidery is the textile medium I've pursued longest on a more-or-less continuous basis. I started in 6th grade with an envelope of iron-on patterns, some J&P Coats floss and a denim jacket that my mother had sewn for me. With the typical child's scorn of hand made, I didn't think it very authentic, though at least it never occurred to me to whine (because I knew perfectly well it wouldn't do any good) for the more expensive article. The yellow wax patterns included, as I recall, a cluster of grapes and a ladybug. I tried stitching the ladybug first, with all six strands of floss, and results were pretty horrible. Eventually I settled down to using two stranded satin stitch, a preference I still retain when using 25 floss.

It soon dawned on me that I could draw my own designs, which I thought were prettier. Certainly I could easily compensate for the limited palette available—my only source, at first, was Minnesota Fabrics, and this was before the days when they carried DMC, or even before I knew DMC existed –and the fact that I could never remember, without a reference on my lap, how to do anything besides satin, chain, stem or french knot stitches. I've embroidered for close on a quarter of a century now, and am pleased to say that within the last year or so finally managed to memorize the boullion stitch.

After the jacket, I turned to chambray shirts, decorating them with unicorns and other fantasy characters. I was particularly proud of a monarch I put on one shoulder, because one day my mother tried to brush it off. Nevertheless I longed for more hues, especially realistic flesh tones, and was therefore enchanted when a coworker brought in a cross stitch project (a bedspread, still in progress, as far as I know) in colors I'd never seen before. She said she'd bought the flosses at a little town in Wisconsin. I reasoned if a little town could support a such a market, there must, in a big city like Detroit, be a similarly stocked shop. I was correct, and my quest led me to Needlearts, Inc, where I was eventually to learn some basic precepts of traditional Japanese silk embroidery, and where I still purchase the bulk of my embroidery threads.


Sashiko, a style of Japanese folk embroidery, is for everyone. 11mar2022


``Quick'' bead embroidered pouch


2016 ladybug applique & beaded embroidery on shirt lapel. 15jan2020


Index post for beaded_embroidery pages. 23sep2015


This pouch features glass beads, embroidery, fabric dying and sewing by me; its semiprecious accent beads co-ordinate with the rosary (restrung by me...) it's designed to hold. 24aug2015


Inspired by stockings, this is the 2nd in a series of abstract wall-hangings/mini-quilts. Originally posted 27apr09. 27apr2009


Inspired by stockings, this is the Ist in a series of abstract wall-hangings/mini-quilts. Originally posted 23apr09. 23apr2009


Index page for Machine Embroidery. 14jan2009


These embroidered stockings are—surprise—in the Embroidery section of the site, but as they are a holiday craft as well, I've posted them here, too. Enjoy. Initial post 11feb05, last updated 23jan2014 24jan2014


Embroidered needlecase , probably made in the early to mid-90s. 07oct2008


a piece of black and white bead embroidery photographed over several years with 4 different cameras... 27aug2015


pastel bead embroidery for a hexagonal box. Still in progress 7 years later though the embroidery, at least, was completed in '08. 25aug2015


two very early embroidered and beaded pieces, meant to be pins. 22may2004


embroidered chambray shirt 22may2004


freeform sampler (posted 13sep02) 22may2004


A fabric mask embroidered with beads 22may2004


A third gift , a cape for a (different) brother, embroidered with perle cotton 22may2004


This shirt is one of a series of 4: a sailboat and still life featuring a violin or viola, both made for my mother; this one; and one a rejiquar, the last. My mother delighted me by wearing hers till they wore out, and so they exist now only in memory. This shirt's sleeves became worn, and so it ...


A hand made Christmas gift for my brother. 22may2004


Another gift using ombre threads and beads made around 1993. (needs photo update.) 22may2004


This (relatively) quickly done piece is part of an SCA costume , a tunic 22may2004


another embroidered chambray shirt (posted 13sep02) 22may2004


Two early beaded embroidery projects 22may2004


I've never regretted the discipline required by this technique-driven form of the needlearts; (though neither have I finished my piece) but I'm glad I taught myself most of what I know about embroidery. Much of my formal visual training has come out of the academic tradition, which has as one of it...


Navigation: Embroidery is a sub-index of Textile.


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