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Embroidered Portraits Ideas, Inspiration and Techniques

by Jan Messent

Embroidered Portraits Ideas, Inspiration and Techniques Synopsis

With a different and delightfully practical approach to a traditional, time-honoured subject, Jan shows how to create a wonderful selection of portraits, all in realistic style and created using raised embroidery, applique and decorative hand stitches. Simple instructions for shaping different-angled heads, creating faces, adding features and stitching the hair are just the start. She goes on to show different hairstyles and wigs: straight, wavy, curly, free flowing and unkempt. Scale is important and there are full instructions on which threads and stitches to use. Moving on to poses, arms and hands, garments and accessories, there are full instructions and illustrations every step of the way. You learn how to personalise and embellish portraits with fabric, felt, lace, beads, braids and cords, and there is plenty of inspirational advice plus many new ideas. Whether you are new to stitching or an experienced embroiderer, you will find much here to enthrall and excite you in this very special book.

Embroidered Portraits Ideas, Inspiration and Techniques Press Reviews

Nov 12 Faces are notoriously difficult to achieve in embroidery whatever the technique, particularly on a smaller scale. This does not appear to have daunted Jan Messent whose latest book goes a long way to refute this theory. Raised embroidery (stumpwork), applique and decorative stitches are all used by the author to create an album of faces historic and modern. The extensive photography is extremely clear and sometimes brutally close-up, but essential for the reader to understand the execution of the techniques and their effects on the fabric. As ever with Jan Messent's books, this is a remarkable publication and one that many embroiderers will find an inspirational addition to their bookshelves. * NEW STITCHES * Nov 12 This is one of Search Press' rare and special hardcover books, by one of their most re-printed authors. Now the author of such needlecraft classics such as Have You Any Wool? And the recently re-imagined Knit The Nativity (both reviewed on this site) turns her attention to hand embroidered portraits. These are all portraits of historical people, none are modern. Most of them come from Britain's history, from mediaeval up to Edwardian, although there is a Japanese lady at the end. All are dressed in their best, making them good subjects to really go to town on; this is a book aimed at the more advanced embroiderer, who wants a challenge and a good, meaty project to get stuck into. It starts with a brief look at embroidered figures through the ages, and shows many sketches of heads from the author's sketchbooks to inspire. There are sections on how to make a head of padded fabric, hairstyles, features, hands, garments etc, all with copious examples and notes on how to achieve the various looks. Of course there are also projects to work through so you can hone your skills - to name the main ones: Bess of Hardwick, Anne of Cleves, an Edwardian lady all in white, and Once Upon A Time. This latter shows a pair of portraits that look like a book and then open to reveal Cinderella and Prince Charming. At the back is a section full of lush imagery from the author's own collection on how to compile your own sourcebooks, and on ways of using them. All in all a visually stunning book to have on your coffee table and proclaim to your visitors that you are an embroiderer of some skill, as this is definitely not a book aimed at or anywhere near beginners. If you have a repertoire of stitches and techniques and want a challenge then look no further. * Myshelf.com * Nov/Dec 12 For centuries portraiture has been intrinsically bound up with drawing - and drawing figures, faces and hands can be especially challenging. In Embroidered Portraits, Jan Messent sets out to demystify the process, providing a series of foolproof instructions for drawing facial features and hands. These are then translated into a range of simple fabric portraits, which are enhanced with embroidery. Messent offers a boundless amount of detail so that anyone should be able to follow the simple step-by-step instructions - from shaping different-angled heads and which poses to choose, to the best stitches and fabrics with which to represent hairstyles, garments and even accessories. The jacket image, which presents an embroidered image of Bess of Hardwicke is slightly misleading, as this is the only portrait that is embroidered in its entirety. Inside the book, Messent uses a combination of painting and stitching on padded fabric shapes to create her portraits. Painters have had centuries to perfect the many forms of portraiture and Messent offers embroiderers solid advice on creating stitched portraits on a small scale, providing instructions on which threads and stitches to use. If you have ever hesitated before attempting to draw to stitch a portrait, or been frustrated by drawing faces or hands - even if you have never picked up a pencil before - then this book is the ideal place to start. * Embroidery * Nov 12 Jan Messent takes a traditional art form and puts a new slant on it by producing fascinating portraits in stitch. She explains the best materials and methods for stitching both clothing and faces to create real characters. She has been inspired by a host of historical characters, such as Bess of Hardwick and also dips into fantasy with a `book box' which opens to show Cinderella and Prince Charming. The faces appear in relief and Jan Messent shows how to develop the 3D qualities transforming flat drawings into realistic modelled forms. She demonstrates her methods of raising and padding features to suit different angled faces and in doing so, gives them a lot of character. There are instructions for making curls and ringlets, clothing such as Stuart ruffs, Gentleman's wigs and Edwardian bonnets. This is another fascinating book by Jan Messent who clearly loves her embroidery and is only too happy to share her expertise with her readers. * Merseyside Embroiderer's Guild (megonline.co.uk) * Oct/Nov 12 If you're embroidering a portrait, stitching the face can be tricky, but Jan Messent's needlework displays a real artistry. Combining painting with padded stumpwork techniques adds realism and finesse, but the process is adaptable and there are methods for making full-face, profile and even the trickier three-quarter view portrait. There's a wealth of ideas for creating all sorts of hairstyles, from unkempt locks to plaited hair, curls and ringlets. For period pieces, there are also a number of ways to make tiny wigs. Hands can be a troublesome body part, but Jan makes lovely applique hands that are a million miles away from the unattractive wire-wrapped digits that are often a feature of historical stumpwork. The felt portraits are worked in a similar way to the padded stumpwork, but the designs tend to be simpler, and it's the carefully placed stitching that transforms each figure into a real character. Demonstrating a finer embroidery approach, a meticulously stitched portrait of Bess of Hardwick is worked mainly in straight stitches in a technique usually described as needle-painting. Anyone posing for a portrait would be immaculately coiffed and dressed in their finery and you can really go to town when it comes to dressing the figure. There are lots of tips, techniques and suggestions for creating the right clothes, and every idea and process is beautifully illustrated with stitched samples. Whether you want to reproduce a historic portrait, copy a family photo or stitch a modern ms or mr, this book has all of the techniques that you'll need. * Stitch * March 13 Jan Messent's immense talent has a worldwide following. Her inspiring book offers a practical approach to a very traditional subject and it's packed with exquisitely worked pieces. Jan gives a contemporary twist to this traditional subject and offers expert guidance on materials and methods. Whether you're a new stitcher or experienced embroiderer, you'll be enthralled and excited by this very special book. * Machine Knitting Monthly * Sept 12 Jan Messent's latest, and eagerly awaited, book focuses on creating portraits in a variety of styles. Embracing the human figure, mostly in head and shoulders, this work is cleverly presented as a mix of the inspiration, the execution, and finished pieces. Jan Messant takes us through a short history of portraiture from early ages, using studies from various museums such as the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. Using a mix of reproduction and sketch, we get a panorama of portrait styles, which forms a good basis of what is to come. Our introduction to creating faces comes through a description and series of fine pencil drawings outlining head shapes and proportions. This moves onto working in fabric, with basic patterns given and a series of pictures of faces in progress so that you can see the steps clearly. Annotations are set out on the facing page, so they are easy to refer to. The portraits in the book are mainly created from painted features, using stitch to highlight features and create hairstyles. Detailing is key here, as the weight of the thread can overwhelm the figure if too heavy. The beautiful samples are presented in varying styles and time periods, so that you get an excellent variety of approaches. The showcase pieces in the book - Anne of Cleves, Bess of Hardwicke (which is featured on the cover), and the White Edwardian Lady are printed in their actual size, and a small illustrated summary of how the pieces were embroidered is given. The photographs show the painstaking work that was needed to achieve this level of detail, and the text reveals hidden extras (such as a knot garden to reflect Anne of Cleves' love of gardening) that enhance the piece within the context of the period of time they represent. But just when you think it's all over, with the tutorials, focus on certain portraits and finishing touches, you are presented with more portraits - of different styles to what has been seen previously. Klimt, Japanese Art and a postcard book bring a modern end to the book and present work which looks more contemporary. This is a full and detailed book, with plenty of embroidery to be admired and celebrated. * Workshop On The Web * Aug 12 If you have seen any of Jan's work before you will know that is has the wow factor, and this book certainly does. The amount of detail and the work that must have gone into the embroidered portraits is amazing. But Jan also does a wonder job of breaking it down into achievable steps which make you feel that you can also produce such wonderful work. She takes you through the various components of the pictures, in detail and step by step coving faces, hair, bodies, hands and clothing. Thoughout the book she also showcases portraits of historical figures that she has embroidered explaining the techniques she used to help inspire your own creations. At the end of the book she has included a stitch guide and a whole chapter of inspiration to get your imagination firing. Another breathtaking book from Jan Messent. * Sewing Directory, The * Sept/Oct Workbox With different and delightfully practical approach to a traditional, time-honoured subject, Jan shows how to create a wonderful selection of portraits, all in realistic style and created using raised embroidery, applique and decorative stitches. Simple instructions for shaping different-angled heads, creating faces, adding features and stitching the hair are just the start. She goes on to show different hairstyles and wigs; straight, wavy, curly, free flowing and unkempt. Scale is important and there are full instructions on which threads and stitches to use. Moving on to poses, arms and hands, garments and accessories, there are full instructions and illustrations every step of the way. you will learn how to embellish portraits with fabric, felt and lace, beads, braids and cords, and there is plenty of inspirational advice plus many new ideas. Whether you are new to stitching or an experienced embroiderer, you will find much here to enthral and excite you in this very special book. * Workbox *

Book Information

ISBN: 9781844487417
Publication date: 16th July 2012
Author: Jan Messent
Publisher: Search Press Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 128 pages
Categories: Embroidery crafts,

About Jan Messent

Jan Messent qualified as a teacher in the mid-50s and, after teaching Art, History and English, became deeply involved with embroidery as an art form. As a member of the Embroiderers' Guild, she taught embroidery design to its members, wrote and illustrated design books, and lectured worldwide. Her last embroidery book was about the Bayeux Tapestry. She became interested in the experimental use of knitting and crochet and hoped, by her books on the subject, to open up new dimensions in the creative use of yarn. Now, having retired from lecturing, Jan writes historical fiction full-time, embroidering as a ...

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