Category: Commissions

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Hello Friday, are you here already?

Matches and candles - Misericordia

It feels like I’ve hardly turned around and this week had disappeared in a puff of sulphurous smoke and a rustle of wrapping paper.

Brass menorah and blue and white ware - Misericordia

Hanukkah started on Sunday evening, and Dragon announced he wanted latkes every night (shortly before deciding he didn’t like latkes). I gamely carried on for four nights, but after suffering intense salad cravings, I’m letting it slide.

The craft fairs were successful, I sold some things and got quite a few enthusiastic commission possibilities, so I’m looking forward to seeing how those shape up.

Scissors and embroidery hoop - Misericordia

I have one piece to finish up and then I’m going to devote my holiday to regaining a bit of making inspiration. I’ve been finding myself aimlessly scrolling through the moderately entertaining dross of the Interwebz instead of making, so I’m going to pull out some family projects that have been neglected of late to see if I can get my needles dancing.

Knitting and Bunhilda - Misericordia

A Little Sketchy

I’m feeling a little becalmed this week.

I’m at the sketching phase with the next part of the Ark Project and I’ve been trying to use more 3D ways of working through ideas and potential problems before jumping in and cutting things.

I’m playing with some new things to start post-maternity leave, but they’re still very preliminary, so I don’t have anything to sink my teeth into.

But a little quality time with a sketchbook is good for the soul, right?

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Blast Off

Here’s the ark curtain I’ve been agonising over for a year.

ELJC ark curtain - Misericordia 2015

Sometimes large pieces take a long time because of the time it takes to physically complete them, and sometimes it’s the existential crisis that takes the time. This piece was particularly hard-fought, and took lots of both.

The initial design fell together really quickly, and the applique went very easily. I decided to see what it looked like at that point in the ark, even though it felt unresolved.

10th ark open

I wanted to combine elements which reflected the community’s place within the Scottish and Jewish artistic landscape. There are nods to trade union and suffragette banners as well as elements of the Scottish Arts and Crafts movements.

The skeleton of it was right, but it needed more texture and movement.

ELJC ark curtain - Misericordia 2015

I was particularly pleased with the banner, the silk is gorgeously papery in feel, and lets me give a feeling of flutter into the text, but that contrasted with the flatness of the tree.

ELJC ark curtain - Misericordia 2015

I stitched things, I picked them out again. I added hundreds of seed stitches to the French knots in the etrogim (yellow things like monster lemons). I pondered quilting techniques, tone on tone embroidery, trapunto, and finally did a little tentative leaf embroidery.

ELJC ark curtain - Misericordia 2015

I stood back, I looked up close. I hung it on a door, I laid it on the floor. I took photos in black and white, and in colour. I haunted Pinterest, I copied Art Nouveau drawings, paintings and furniture. Finally, I decided on the only sure thing and applied an Arbitrary Deadline, Little Lion’s baby blessing.

ELJC ark curtain - Misericordia 2015

I think it’s worked in the end. At any rate, I now have a template to base the other pieces on, so hopefully I’ve paid my debt to my muse in advance.

Ark design and construction: Sorell

Metalwork design: Lauren Fox

10, 9, 8, 7, 6

This piece has been a year in the making.


It will form part of the ark furnishings for the Liberal Jewish community in Edinburgh. This includes a curtain for the ark, a mantle for the Torah scrolls and a tablecloth to be put under the Torah scrolls when they’re out of the ark. This is the everyday set, there will also be a set for the High Holy Days.

I unveiled a preview of the curtain in September, but I wasn’t happy with the lack of detail, so I took it back and worked on it some more.

Having held onto it for so long, I’m a little apprehensive about letting it out into the wide world for good.

Part of my apprehension comes from the fact that this is the first of six pieces, three of which have to maintain some sort of consistent style over what is likely to be a fairly significant period of time.

However at the moment, I’m pretty happy with it. There’s a point in quilting where a piece ceases to be the sum of it’s pieced parts and becomes a quilt. I got a little frisson of that yesterday when I put the lining into the curtain. All of a sudden it was more finished than unfinished, and it gave me a definite push towards the last few stitches.

After a year of moving through my hands, I thought it needed a wash (plus there was the water-soluble glue I experimented with), but there was a little fear as the blue silk was still a bit runny.

But the pre-wash fairies were on my side, and it all came out unscathed.

I even got a little sunshine to dry it in. Being a particularly paranoid person, I popped a towel over it on the line, just in case of bird strike or (more likely) a little rain.

I’m afraid that due to a hungry baby and other delays this is a two part post. I’ll unveil the final piece next week, but you can see the evolution of the design in previous posts.

N+S Wedding Commission

I got just about the perfect email the other week.

N & S hand embroidered wedding hoop - Misericordia 2015

It was from a lady that had seen my work at Out of the Blue Arts Market in December and talked to me about her sister’s wedding. She wanted me to make a piece based on the wedding invitation, and was very organised in sending me some photos of the invitation to look at.

N & S hand embroidered wedding hoop - Misericordia 2015

It was nice to be able to work directly from something the couple had designed themselves, and being the font geek I am, I had to modify one of the fonts to match the rather unusual Western/Art Nouveau font used on the invitation (even though the really interesting letters don’t appear in the hoop text).

N & S hand embroidered wedding hoop - Misericordia 2015

I also got to use a new 20cm sized hoop, which is nice and big for pieces with a lot of detail or that need some space around different elements.

I want to start to tweak my craft fair stands to show more of the commissioning process. Given the other constraints on my time, I need to start to concentrate on that part of my work. Do you think I should recreate the mess on the table next to my side of the sofa?

Marking Time

Sometimes you’re the chalk, and sometimes you’re the sandpaper. At the moment, I’m definitely the chalk.

I’m trying to get the curtain of the ark project finished and I’m mired in the doldrums of the middle third of a project where it’s obviously not finished but the novelty has worn off.

I’m slowly picking away at it, but it’s a struggle…

Commission – Ladybug

This commission has a sad story behind it, but I wanted to share it with you.

Ladybug Commission - Misericordia 2015

It’s a memorial piece for a wee girl who recently passed away after battling serious health problems for most of her life.

Her nickname was Ladybug, and while the obvious thing to do was incorporate that into the piece, I wanted to make sure that there was a little more to it than just an illustration.

Ladybug Commission - Misericordia 2015

Once I’d decided that the ladybird should be about to fly away, the rest of the colour choices fell into place.

The leaves are birch, which has symbolic meanings of youth, regeneration and the bridging the gap between this world and the next in several cultures.

Ladybug Commission - Misericordia 2015

Commission – Samuel William

Another baby present today, this one turned out as a bit of a surprise, even to me!

Samuel William hand embroidered hoop - Misericordia 2015

I was thinking of Fairisle knitting when I chose the colours (cream, burnt orange, royal blue and emerald green) but in the end it didn’t look anything like knitting.

If the colours don’t show up very brightly in the photo, it’s because I had a window of photographing opportunity between 8.00 and 8.30 one morning to get it shot. I thought I was being super-organised, I set everything up the night before, took a few preview shots and went to bed feeling like I’d cracked this photography thing.

Morning came, there was the usual endless discussion about what toys were or were not going to nursery and by the time I lifted my head from my cup of tea I realised that it was in fact still dark in Edinburgh on a January morning at 8.30! So I stopped right up and hoped for the best… I’m calling it atmospheric!

Commission – Imogen Ann

Sometimes I have a very strong idea for a commission, either the fonts, colours or both.

Imogen Ann hand embroidered hoop - Misericordia 2015

This was a hoop that just fell into place with almost no prevarication. The lady who commissioned it showed me a photo of the mum and baby (I love that, it’s so nice to picture the recipient as I work) and the nursery was a lovely combination of buff, cream and gold.

I’m not very good at sticking to a colour scheme in my own decorating, so it’s nice to be able to play at interior design with someone else’s scheme!

Sarigami – Commission

I don’t know if this is universal amongst people who work on commission, but I have a very loose mental wish list of things I want to make.

For instance, I’ve never been commissioned to sew anything rude or sweary (Dragon is very close to starting to read, so if you’ve been pondering any embroidered profanity, please do it soon!) or marriage proposals, both of which I quite fancy.

However, I have now embroidered a logo for a fellow maker, which I’ve been desperate to do for ages.

Sarigami logo - hand embroidered hoop by Misericordia 2014

This rather lovely purple is the logo of a French artist who goes by the same of Sarigami and creates gorgeous origami jewellery and decorative objects. She’s based in Paris and is in the midst of some exciting changes, but do have a look on her website and Facebook page for more information.

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