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Nimue Creation Step by Step

A few months ago, more than a year ago, I realized that Nimue, although having an Arthurian name, had not yet created embroidery subjects from the Arturian Legend. What?
It seemed incredible that after more than 17 years of being called Nimue(The Lady of the Lake),nothing, no character, transmitted this culture that is the breeding ground of my inspiration.
 
An opportunity would allow me to embark on the realization of this Arthurian pantheon: an invitation to Moscow, as guest of honor of a fair art of the thread – crafts, Formula Rukodiela in February 2020.
 
The first cross-stitch subjects were Guinevere,then Arthur,the Royal Couple.
Now it is the turn of the beings of the Other World, the Enchanter and Enchantress: Merlin and Viviane.

Viviane, The Lady of the Lake: Episode 12

Viviane gold embroidery

The revelation

“In vain I look in the palette for which colors could be suitable to continue in two threads but I can not find anything. Everything is too much too intense. I have to find something else…” Viviane episode 11 extract

Because everything is too strong and too intense in 2 threads for the face, I decide to take it all back and try something else.
I undo the bust and try in a thread to see … Not bad.
So I un-embroider : the few points of the face, the neck, the bust. But I leave my hands in two threads.
I embroider the neck. It’s a bit pale. But hey, that’s what I want: a little diaphanous skin.
Comes the face. It seems both good and bad to me. I go out of my usual comfort zone by embroidering “pale”.
So I go on: mouth, nose, eyes. We must move forward!
At this stage nothing seems obvious to me.
I leave in suspense, I have to make the brooch.

Finishes

1-Pearls ….
Choosing the beads for the stick is really simple. The only requirement: they must be the same as for the spindle. We cannot multiply the references.
They are quickly embroidered.
2-Contours …
Choosing the threads for the outlines does not always make sense. On the original image it can be a taupe, or a gray / mauve but for the embroidery it will rather be a pink burgundy. You often have to free yourself from what you see in order to create something else, otherwise.
To keep the model’s spirit of lightness, nothing will be too outlined, except for the hair and the dress. The back points will sometimes be dotted and not continuous.

Sometimes you have to have a little nerve and dare to transgress.

3-Brooch / fibula …
In my many boxes of wool and thread, I find a lace braided with gold thread. The diameter is good. As soon as I see him I know he is the chosen one! It will be my choice.
To represent an object with different materials you must first understand the object . Once we have well recorded its shape and its points of tension, then we can attack the realization.
I make a first loop which I fix with small points, then a larger one and voila.
Same principle for the spike: one places and one fixes discreetly.
When I created costumes I often used this technique to enrich any fabric with original patterns. A mundane fabric can become precious with just a few small additions. With a beautiful lace you can invent all kinds of shapes.

.... I still haven't found a solution for the face.

4-Sleeve and Bustier ….
Comes the most delicate part it seems to me: the gold thread.
An idea that arrives quickly turns into certainty.
I imagined from the very beginning of this embroidery that I would use a flat metallic thread called lamé.
There is one that I really like about Au Ver à Soie. I’m counting on him to do the job!
I do some testing before figuring out how to use it to make the pattern of the dress. It works very well. It is neither too thick nor too thin. It’s perfect. Associated with a second copper lamé I get closer to the rendering of the illustration.
5-Ivy headband …
I thought for a moment to use a waxed cotton type lace or an original textile lace but I already have one for the fibula. Choosing an original yarn multiplies the risks of breakage and the hard times to find an equivalent.
Did you understand that making the choice of accessories and original wires are time bombs?
I already have 2 bombs, the belt buckle and the gold lace, I’ll stop there.
For this bucolic headband I’m going to create an effect with classic mouliné but using it very differently: I’m going to use the entire strand, i.e. the 6 strands together. Then I will work to give it the shape of a braid.
Three days earlier I went to consult an expert eye to see if I was right or not in my choices. If we met a few years ago at the shows, you and I must have met Gwen who accompanied me there then. This boy is always very relevant and helps me stay on track. When one is engulfed in his creation it happens that one is partly blind.
A fresh and exterior look is welcome.
I have complete confidence in Gwen. I can’t wait to hear his opinion.
This is something I always do right before I return my copy. This prevents me from hearing exclamations like: but you forgot that!
His first remark will be on the trees because they are really very beautiful, I promise you. It really gives a lot of charm to the whole. I had to eliminate elements of the original work that were very present. But much too kitsch in my opinion. I had to replace them with something that made them forget. And apparently it works. Sometimes you have to have a little nerve and dare to transgress.
He absolutely dissected everything and I was happy to see that nothing was missing. My choices were validated and complimented.
It’s not always the case.
Sometimes he makes me redo things or add more.
Most of the time I follow his advice. But not always….
As my braid is in place, I gaze at this face that’s supposed to be full of innocence and golden grace, it’s not what I see.
Something is wrong.
I did the eyelashes, the eyebrows.
At the moment, she is not there. Viviane is not there. I still have to look.
In a face it is played down to the millimeter. A little more contrast here, a tiny line there. A small point.
As long as I don’t see Viviane in front of me, I hang on and start again.
Finally, by trying to extend a line to try something more, here is that by clumsiness, I skip a point.
What I see will save me.
I understand then that I must not add a line but remove some!
And this is how, by removing an outline that had previously served me to move forward, I saw Viviane appear in front of me.
I assure you that when this happens we know it right away.
At 11:19 am this morning Viviane appeared alive, her eyes soft and poetic. Thank you.
Finishing is always difficult. Morally.
I always had a hard time finishing. Except when I have a deadline and I have no choice.
I have been living with Viviane since April I believe. We live together.
I don’t think I really wanted to finish it. This is probably why I took so long.
It must be said that this character is not trivial because Viviane is NIMUE. In Arthurian legend Viviane and NIMUE are avatars of the Lady of the Lake.
We can say that here end the adventures of the little NIMUE confronted with her VIVIANE mirror. It is time to break free from it and offer it to the world.
Merlin is impatient he is waiting for me …

It was the last episode of Viviane La Dame du Lac

I warmly thank you for following the episodes and giving me feedback.

Beyond the creation itself, this writing exercise will also have brought me a lot personally.

I hope that this veil opened on a creative journey will have also enriched you. If you in turn choose to embroider this work by Viviane, I wish you good hours of poetry with yourself.

Viviane, The Lady of the Lake, by Nimuo after an illustration by Elph’s Zephir.

Don’t hesitate to leave your comments below!

Annaïck Chauvel

Annaïck Chauvel

Welcome to the story of Nimue’s Creations. Here I share with you the How and Why of these creations.

Table of Materials

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