Many embroiderers want to add something extra to their work - to make it seem more three-dimensional, more real.
For some, the answer lies in stumpwork or dimensional embroidery, but others find these techniques too difficult, or dislike the look of them.
There is another, easy way, to add dimension to your work.
Simply use different weight of threads.
Sounds a ridiculously simple idea? Like all the best ideas it is. The knack lies, however, in planning your piece so that the look is natural, not contrived.
The main thing to bear in mind when planning on using different thread weights in your work is that a heavier weight will result in denser embroidery - giving a shadowed effect - and a lighter weight will result in a lighter effect.
Just like painting, it's no use using shadows on something you want to stand out - it will make your piece look unnatural.
Take a good look at the piece - which way does the light seem to fall? As an example, look at the colours used. Darker colours will be used for shadowed areas, and lighter colours for highlights.
This technique is best practiced using a pattern with different shades of the same colours so that you learn how to use shadows to effect, but using only the one colour, substituting different weights for darker and lighter colours.
For example, say you are using yellows. For the "real" yellow, use say three strands. For lighter shades, use two or one strand, and darker use four or five.
Experiment graduating these different weights on your sampler piece, and you will find that they give a very different shade, and give your piece more natural looking shadows and highlights than when you use different shades of the one colour.
Where this technique comes into its own, however, is in Blackwork, where different weights of thread and different density of pattern give massively different effects in the design.
If you want to take it a step further, you can include perle thread in the design for very deep textured effects.
A favorite of mine is to do the main piece in silk thread, and the background in perle or wool, giving a completely different contrast to the actual design.
This can be especially effective if you are doing buildings or gardens, as you can use heavier threads to show wood or brick and lighter ones for plants, etc.
Experiment yourself, and discover that textured effects aren't difficult, and add a whole new dimension to your embroidery.
Is there anything that you would particularly like to see an article on? If so, please e-mail me with your suggestions.
Đ 2001 - 2005 Megan McConnell