OMG!!! I’m Going to be a Laurel!!!!

I’m still dumbfounded. People keep asking me how I feel or what I think, and I keep saying, “I have no words.” I do keep breaking out into spontaneous giggle-fits.

I kinda felt I might be, MIGHT be talked about, but I thought it was for feedback. I have not been blindly walking down the path the be a Laurel, but I did not feel that I was close. 3 more years – I even had the projects plotted out!!!

But it was cool! I could not have planned it better. My friend Olrun and I were called into court. We both assumed it was possibly a thank you because we helped make coronation garb for Their Majesties.

But nope! We both were announced!

Before I babble. . . . you can see it all unfold on Kungaloosh’s photos from the event.

My favorite:


Russian Cuffs – entry 2

Reality strikes home when admit that there are days, sometimes in a row, when I do not touch my computer! 🙂 Seriously! So, how can I blog everyday if I am not on-line?

The truth is that I can not. So instead of beating myself up for instantly flunking my own challenge, I will rework it. 10 blogs in the next month. More realistic for someone who can spend more than one day at a time in the sewing room and loving every minute of it!

Enough of that – now on to the cuffs.

To recap, my next project is to use all of the skills I learned this last year in Ubrus to make a pair of 16th century Russian cuffs. Here’s one:

Pic: “Благовещение.” Иконография восточно-христианского искусства. Web. 13 Apr. 2017

Last time, I worked on analyzing the design pattern. Jelena, my Ubrus art teacher, has spent the last few months teaching us to recognize and analyze the traditional scrollwork on period Russian art. We’ll see this pattern over and over again in Russian embroidery. The symmetry of the curls can change into different patterns, but once you start to look for them, seeing the scrolls helps to pick apart the repeats and re-create what, at first, looks really complicated.

To begin to make your own transfer, you need to make some choices. My arms are smaller than whoever wore the original cuffs. Do I shrink the elements or cut some out? I like to keep the feel as close as I can. As odd as it sounds, taking elements out keeps my work feeling closer to the original than shrinking it. One big reason is that I can not shrink the material I’m going to use. The kanitel (gold and silver purl) only comes in so many sizes.

First thing I do is to sketch the figure out on my cuffs dimensions and get as much onto something that will fit me.

After drawing out the size of my cuffs, I roughly sketch the scrolls onto an actual sized mock-up. Looking at the original, both sides are mirror. That means I only have to really sketch out one side and then flip it.

Taking out the middle figure gives me space to keep most of the flowers. Yay! It’s the flowers I really like. Once I get a good sketch for a transfer, I can use my cheats, aka tracing paper, to make the other side.

Please forgive the pencil smudges. 😉

I get asked a-lot if you can use my images for your work. Please do!! I want making art easier on all of us. If using something I sketched helps you, please do! The only thing I request (not demand) is that you share your work with me. That’s only because I love seeing what you guys are up to.

Sketching out my design was fun, but how will it looks when I start to fill it? Curiosity got the better of me, so I used some copying and pasting to give me glimpse of what it will look like.

I spent more time than I want to admit pasting texture into my sketch, but I like what it’s going to look like!

I’m trying hard not to spend more than 30 minutes or so on each blog. That way I don’t obsess over my writing and spend more time on the art. Today I want to transfer my patter to the green silk and pick through my supplies to see if I have enough. I may, if I’m ambitious, make my own green glass beads to use on this. A bonus is that torch-work makes my neck pain better.


Esperanza de Navarra

New Project: Cuffs, entry 1

After falling in love with Russian goldwork embroidery, I want to make something to really show off the art style itself. I want it to be something I can wear – after all, clothing is the best place to show others new ideas. I’m thinking cuffs since it doesn’t need to be washed and, unlike collars, they are not attached to the clothing at all. Plus it’s something I can wear with multiple dresses. Perfect!

After looking at many period cuffs, I found one I’m going to base mine one, but with some changes. Most of the cuffs have saints or religious figures in the center, after all, they are made for the church. I want something more ornamental, but still period – perhaps a cross.

The main piece for my inspiration is “The Annunciation,” a 16th century piece currently found in the Museum of the Monastery of Putin. It’s embroidered with gold thread, silver thread, silk and gold and silver kanitel. It also has pearls all over it and a few glass or gemstone beads. The base is a light green silk, and I have a perfect piece of fabric to use.

Pic: “Благовещение.” Иконография восточно-христианского искусства. Web. 13 Apr. 2017

I have the details. Now to sketch out the design.

Basic art style: Most of these cuff fall into 3 basic design types. All 3 types have a central figure or figures, usually saints, but sometimes a geometric shape, such as a cross. Two of the types are bordered by archways. I’m not doing those, so I’m not going to get into the specifics (trying really hard not to get off track). The third type has a central element surrounded by vegetative scrollwork. This is my type!

I’m going to take the basic principle of the layout, but change up some of the flowers and leaves. Everything needs to stay consistent with the time period and art style. Let’s take a look at the style.

The scrollwork shape is mirrored on the left and right. It can be divided up into two separate scroll sets. The first is more loopy and curves around the outside. Above you can see the basic shape of the curls.

Here’s the curls with the flowers and leaves added in. Once you get the basic design, the rest is just dressing. The second is simpler and surrounds the central figure.

It is also mirrored and left and right sides.

Here it is with the flowers and leaves added in. The basic shape of the scrollwork is more important than the flowers and leaves. Once you get the basic shape of the design, you can pick and choose the ornaments.

Both stem from a base that is under the central figure. The left and the right cuffs (I don’t know which is which) have the same basic scroll patterns even though the flowers are different.

I like this scroll design! I’ve seen several that are similar in other Russian goldwork pieces and in many other pieces of Russian art from the same time period. None are exactly alike, but the elements seem universal. I’m going to use this basic design.

Now to find flowers and leaves!!

I’ll be sketching some rough shapes out and will hopefully have some progress to show tomorrow.

Until then, do some art! 🙂

Esperanza de Navarra

10 Day Challenge

I’ve been neglecting my blog for months, and not in the ordinary simply not having anything to share way. I have so much I want to share with you! Time has been the factor.

On the way back from Gleann Abhann coronation this last weekend, the thought to renew writing about my projects hit me. For a few moments, I was passionate about it. I have a ton of information just waiting to be posted and talked about. New sketches. Ancient Russian embroidery designs. Tutorials. All sorts of stuff!

In that passionate moment, I decided to do a 100 day blog challenge. About a moment later, I realized that once again I was attempting to eat the elephant in one swallow as opposed to one bite at a time. Instead of 100 days, I’ll start with 10.

For the next 10 days, I will post something I have not posted or shared before. I’m going to try and keep the focus on medieval Russian embroidery. I’ve been so engrossed in my classwork for months that I had not realized how little information there is about Russian embroidery written in English. If I have to single-handedly change that, I will!!!

Happy art-making!
Esperanza de Navarra

My First Video Tutorial!!

I wanted to show a friend a way to sew pearls on the edge of her silk veil, and figured that the easiest way was to make a video.  I’ve never done it before because I felt that my voice sounds like that of a two year old!  But it came out pretty well.

Here it is:



My Russian Embroidery So Far . . .

I’ve been a student at Ubrus ( a Russian school of ecclesiastic and gold embroidery since the beginning of October.  It seems like much longer. I have learned so much!!  It has been since my early days at university since I have studied so hard or worked so much to learn something.  As much as I complain about the work being tedious and difficult, I am exhilarated to learn.

In the next few months, I will be able to teach some of what I have learned.  I can not copy the schools curricula or lessons, since that would be a breach of trust as well as infringing on the ownership of their material, but I can teach it in my own way and share the wonderful world of Russian embroidery.

What I have done so far:

Our first few lessons had to do with stitching gold cord onto fabric.  I learned to make my own cord. My Russian online translator translated  the name of this cord as “waste of time.” It’s one of many possible translations for a word that does not translate (sewing terms do not translate!), but it is the one that has stuck at this house.  “Mom’s making some more waste of time,” the kids say exasperatedly.

My first work. It seems simple, but the new concepts and the new way of stitching was the main focus of this lesson.

It is not only stitching that we learn. One teacher focuses on stitching, while the other works with us on our art skills.  Until we can see the harmony of good art, our embroidery will always lack something.  Art is my weak point in all of my endeavors.  In high school, I was asked by the art club not to help them paint the school windows for holidays.  My work was so bad that it took them more effort to correct it than to do it themselves from the get go.

But I do try, and I am willing to learn. Our first few lessons incorporated doodling.  Looks random, but it is meticulously planned out in hopes that it will spark creativity and encourage artistic thinking.

JosieSewell 1.2..jpg

Besides, it’s fun!

As much as I would love to sum up nearly 3 months worth of work in one post, I’ll post more later.

Until then, happy art-making!
Esperanza de Navarra

Being a Student

On top of everything else I have going on in my life, I decided to go back to school.  laugh Crazy, I know.

Here’s the twist. In typical Esperanza fashion, I did not choose a school in America, or even one that teaches in English.  Instead, I found a school in Saint Petersburg Russian that teaches ecclesiastical embroidery using methods that date back 1,000 years.

I’m in my 6th week of classes. These are 6 Russian weeks, which seem to last anywhere from 4 to 15 days.  So far, I love it!  The work is challenging, especially since I do not read or speak Russian, at least not yet.  I’m using the Rosetta Stone software to learn Russian, but I just started.

Even if I were fluent in Russian, sewing terms do not translate!  For example, the name of the twisted gold cord we use for the first few classes translates literally into “waste of time.”


My first application of the first “waste of time” I ever made.  (I did get better after this 😉 )

So far, my favorite assignment has been a 3 dimensional flower.


I told you that I got better!

As you can see, between the week one assignment (making and attaching the “waste of time”) and the week 3 assignment (the 3D flower) there was a heck of a-lot of learning.

Setting aside the excitement of learning new things, what excites me the most is being able to share this experience with my fellow English speakers. As far as I can tell, I’m the first non-Russian (or non-Ukrainian, non-Slovakian, etc) to be in this school.  Thankfully there is another student in my class of 14 students who lives in American, although she is Russian born.

I feel honored to be a student. They only open up their online course roughly once a year and each class has around 12 students.  To be part of this . . . I have no words to describe how blown away I am.

As I muddle along in my learning, I’ll keep you posted!

Esperanza de Navarra