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Nimue Creation Step by Step

A few months ago I wanted to write about the creative process either in general or the particularities related to a specific topic in progress. And as these articles are acclaimed by many of you, I continue…

In this part of the site you will therefore find articles that tell how a creation is developed step by step, mixing technical, economic and poetic questions.
And above all, do not hesitate to leave your comments at the end of the article. Good reading !

Viviane, The Lady of the Lake: episode 6

The original work...

Most embroidery creators are painters or graphic designers. They create an original work and transform it into a diagram. Many do not embroider themselves because it is not their job. Their job is to create an image.
My job is different in the sense that I rarely create the original pattern. I am an embroiderer and I interpret someone else’s work. That’s why I define myself above all as a colorist.
The artists/illustrators I work with also don’t create images on purpose for me. I draw, with their permission and for royalties, from their image repertoire. Every time you buy a kit or a grid from Nimuë, a percentage goes back to them. These are so-called copyrights.
This implies respecting the original work.
I have not often had to make a major change. In general I respect quite scrupulously what was imagined by the original artist.

That's why I define myself above all as a colorist.

Although eager to respect these works here are the constraints related to the materials of embroidery:
  • The canvas that becomes the weft and the frame of the embroidery
  • Yarns: milled cotton, silk, metal yarn, etc.
  • accessories: charms, beads, applied (other fabrics), jewelry or primers
All these materials bring volume. A painting is in two dimensions with a flat appearance. The light clings to the colors evenly (unless materials are added).
In embroidery none of this. We are also in two dimensions but with “redundancies” of wires or objects that will each hang light differently.
In other words: the light clings to the point, in several places that are:
  • the top of the point
  • the crown around the point in its roundness
  • the base of the point
Which could make us say that we have several colors in a single point.
The way we embroider will greatly influence the result. The points will be more or less large depending on the tension of the wires.
Personally I embroider without drum.
I lost the patience to use this tool when I created The Key a long time ago… in 2002 I believe.
It took too long to put it on and then remove it. I had to have a global view of what I was embroidering every 5 minutes and therefore remove it. I damaged my linen canvas a lot which did not support this bad treatment!
Banning this object had a strong impact on the result because my crosses became very round, very voluminous I would even say very voluptuous.
To take a culinary expression I would say that they are gourmet.

I lost the patience to use the drum when I created The Key a long time ago

The impact doesn’t end there: the back points.
The rear points are directly influenced by these “big” crosses, since they must either bypass them or cross them. This cannot make the same result as on stretched and flat crosses!
You now understand why I tell you every time that we must not respect the patterns to the letter because they can become approximate for embroidered works differently.
To each his embroiderer’s paw! No two embroideries are the same or two embroiderers are the same.
Nor am I telling you that we should stop using a drum because the most important thing is to do things as we please. I hate rules that constrain. Cling to your pleasure as it suits you,because it is the only one that has value. I am too independent myself to give rules to follow. It is up to everyone to see what makes them feel comfortable and gives them the most satisfaction.

Not all images, however beautiful they may be, are interesting for embroidery.

Let’s go back to the original works…

Not all images, however beautiful they may be, are interesting for embroidery. My first job is to know how to select them.

My subjects are characters. Most often they are “in situation” that is to say, they are in a setting.
However, in embroidery, we do not usually embroider the decorations.
The question then arises as to whether this character can exist without his décor.
For Viviane, La Dame du Lac, the evocation of the lake may be relevant.
But then where to stop? the lake is not going to be suspended on its own in space. It will have to be inserted into a décor itself.
Since the character is relatively simple himself, increasing the general work with a few set elements seems a credible option. But this can only be a secondary one.
That is not what will have to catch the eye in the first place.
This question will be dealt with at the very end while the character will be finished and I could judge his strength: will Viviane need a case?
For example, I’ve never found an off-set dragon that has enough appeal. Some subjects quickly become ridiculous or kitsch out of their gangue. So I prefer to abstain.
It is sometimes very frustrating because my embroiderer antennae awaken to the sight of wonderful images but I hold back because the adventure seems disproportionate. If I embroidered only for myself it would be possible because I would not have to explain or count the hours. I know, I know that some creators do not bother with this like the very talented Thea Gouverneur with her buildings and landscapes. But I made other choices. I prefer to keep the essentials and eliminate the superfluous.
My synthetic mind takes over… And perhaps simply this dimension of subject to embroidery, that is to say large portraits without décor, seems to me to be the right proportion in terms of time and commitment for each.
This is the idea I have but maybe I’m wrong?

See you for the sequel: Viviane Episode 7…

Don’t forget to sign up in the right insert to follow all the episodes

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

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