Thursday, 4 October 2012

Review: La broderie de perles

Title: La broderie de perles
Author: Yukiko Ogura
Publisher and year: Les éditions de saxe, 2012
Sidantal: 64
Summary: Bead embroidery book with floral patterns  (comes with transfer sheet) and step-by-step instructions for basic bead embroidery techniques.
Pros: Clear step-by-step photos of techniques, great photos, beautiful and varied patterns, handy iron-on transfer sheet.
Cons: Bead sizes not mentioned, you need to know the Miyuki product numbers.
Recommended for: Those interested in embroidering flowers in the form of framed bead art and/or liked japanese bead embroidery. 

Yukiko Ogura is a japanese embroiderer that have penned a number of books on different kinds of embroidery such as bead embroidery and ribbonwork. In La broderie de perles, her work is described as a creative universe where the respect for japanese embroidery tradition is united with an innovative freedom. Many of her books focus on flowers and this one is no exception.

Despite the title, this is not the french version of the book that was translated into English with the title Bead Embroidery -- something I claimed in an earlier post and have since edited. Bead Embroidery is a technique book and La broderie de perles is a pattern book -- a book full of flower patterns, intended to be displayed mainly as framed bead art, in a japanese style.

The book suites beginners (including those that doesn't speak french) as the technique chapter is so clear a image heavy, but also those who already know the techniques and want patterns to be inspired by or bead after.

As I don't speak french, this review will not judge the text in the initial chapter. This chapter briefly discusses materials (fabrics, needles, threads -- but not beads), tools and techniques for transferring patterns and mounting finished embroideries. The transfer and mounting techniques are not illustrated, something that would've been helpful for beginners. If you haven't mounted an embroidery before, I suggest you borrow a good "embroidery bible" (The Essential Guide to Embroidery [Bonniers stora bok om broderi] is one of my favourites, Needlework School [Broderiskolan] in also good -- both are out of print, though so check you library or second-hand bookshop).

The chapter is followed by a technique chapter that in large, clear step-by-step photos show how to bead stem, satin, fly, back, lazy daisy, straight and rice stitch. It also shows you how to bead roses in staight stitches and make dimensional sequin flowers. Even if you don't speak french, it's easy to follow the instructions using only the photos.

The rest of the book is dedicated to the all in all twenty projects. Most of which are mounted and framed, but which could also be adapted to e.g. bags/purses or other items. A handy iron-on transfer sheet is included in the book, which makes it really easy to transfer the patterns onto a (light) fabric.

The patterns range from smaller once with single flowers to larger bouquets.You will of cause find roses, both small cabbage roses and larger stylized ones, and fantasy flowers (as above), but also various types of flowers such as sunflowers, tulips, cosmos, cyclamen, carnation, daisy, iris etc. One pattern that differs from the rest is Symphonie de couleurs, which is stitched using clear beads and variegated embroidery floss in different colours so that the thread colours shows through the beads -- an effect otherwise mostly used in bead crochet.

There are several beautiful photos of each finished pattern, often including a close-up. You also get a coloured pattern with bead chart, making it easy to see where each bead and colour goes. The instructions include a how-to of the order in which the embroidery is stitched and which floss colour is used for the different parts (usually the colour that matches the beads so not a big problem if you can't read it), type and colour of the fabric, DMC embroidery floss colour numbers and Miyuki bead numbers.

The only thing I really could complain about is how the beads are listed. There are rarely any mention of sizes for the Miyuki beads used, only a number. That's a good thing when trying to find the exact right nuance among the hundreds and hundreds of delicas and seeds Miyuki makes, but it means having to use a list or table to find out which size bugle beads or triangles are used -- and there isn't one in the book. In other words, you have to go to this page to find out that perles bâtonnet n°81 is 6 mm and for many other sizes, you have to go through the Miyuki e-samplecards. It's easy to improvise and substitute colours, but you do want to know the size of the beads in order to follow the transferred pattern.

But that aside, this book is a pure pleasure with beautiful and varied floral motifs, clear technique instructions and handy details such as the transfer sheet and big photos. While a complete embroidery newbie would benefit from being able to read the first chapter, the rest of the book with its beautiful, clear patterns and photos can be enjoyed whether you speak french or not.

If the previously reviewed A-Z of Bead Embroidery was a book especially for romantic flower lovers, this is even more a book for those who fancy beautiful flower patterns. I would very much recommend this book to any beader, french-speaking or not, with a penchant for flowers.

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