Needle Painted Eastern Blue Bird

I recently took a three-day needle painting workshop from Tanja Berlin , a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework. I have been wanting to learn this technique for some time but just never took the leap. I am usually pretty good at following instructions from books but for some reason this technique eluded me. Tanja is an excellent teacher. I would  recommend her to anyone wanting to put on a needle painting workshop.

Tanja Berlin's Eastern Blue Bird










She began by having us trace the blue bird pattern onto velum tracing paper using a pencil. Then using a pricking tool, pricked holes along the design. Then we placed the tracing paper onto the fabric. We then rubbed pounce over the pricked tracing paper. Next we drew over the pounce lines using a sharp HB pencil. This process took a half day to do.

Tools of the trade










Below is what I was able to accomplish during the remaining 2 1/2 days.

Eastern Blue Bird in Progress










Stay turned for updates on this project (one among many, I am afraid).


Persian Hand-Painted Garment

A while back, I took a textile surface design class. The theme was Persian motifs. We were to do some research on Persian designs and create some design patterns that we might want to paint onto our silk pieces. While researching, I came across this wonderful little book The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones, originally published in 1856. It was reprinted in 2001.

Product Details

When we think of Persian designs, the first things that comes to mind (at least in my mind) are Persian carpets designed with rich dark red and blue silk or wool threads. Most of the students chose Persian carpets as their inspiration. However, I was surprised to discover that the combination of peach, brown and teal/green were also colours found in Persian designs.

Here is a glimpse at a couple of pages from The Grammar of Ornament.

After creating both paper sketches and silk painted samples, the work began on the real pieces that would make up the Persian garment.

Before painting the design on silk I had to dye the silk with a background colour (this only works if your colour is light). Then the silk was stretched on a frame. Using “gutta resist” I traced the design by placing the design pattern under the silk. Then, using a clean paint brush, I applied water to each part of the design to ensure that the gutta was well applying. All it takes is a hairline and the dye will bleed out of your design. This did happen to me once where I had to rethink the design. This is what artists call an anomally…It  was more like “PANIC!” to me. But once I had it under control I realized I would have to replicate the mistake elsewhere to make it appear like it was done on purpose. It made for an interesting design element that I had not anticipated.

Once the silk has been painted and dried, it must be steamed for about three hours. The following website gives a very good explanation of how this is done and how you can make your own steamer .

After many, many hours of designing, painting, steaming and sewing my Persian garment was complete.


I really enjoyed the process. I think I would like to do it again when time permits.

Woodcut Print or Petit Point?

A woodcut  print is an artistic technique in relief printing. One carves an image into the surface of a block of wood, removing all the non-printing parts. By rolling black ink over the surface of the block, only the surface area will become the print on paper.

Nativity with Midwife

I received a Christmas card this year called  Nativity with Midwife , a woodcut print from Eric Gill’s Book of Engravings published in 1929. It  reminded me of how much I like the look of woodcut prints. In fact I have been working on a petit point project that resembles a woodcut print. I took a photograph taken by my son-in-law Jessie and turned it into a black and white image.  I then turned the black and white image into a needle point chart.

Aria & Olee

The photo is of my grandchildren, Aria and Olee, at the top of Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel overlooking the Baha’i  Gardens. I am using a 28 count Irish linen and black DMC cotton embroidery thread. I began working on this (on and off) since April 2008. and I am almost halfway there. You can see from what I have already completed how the project is taking on the look of a woodcut print. I am looking forward to completing it so I can frame it and put it on my wall. I will be sure to post the final results once I have finished it.

Petitpoint Project

Until next time, happy stitching!