Balthazar by Tania Cohen

21st October 2022

There are not many historical events that are celebrated with as much enthusiasm and pageantry as Christmas.

Based on celebrating the birth of God’s son, Jesus Christ the Messiah here on earth, the event is highly significant for the Christian faith. Accordingly, Christmas is celebrated with all the glitz and glamour one can muster for such an occasion. This even includes beetles getting in on the act! 

For anyone not familiar with the Christmas beetle, they are commonly found in parts of Australia around December and belong to the genus Anoplognathus. Quite large in size (up to 4cm or 1.5 inches) and able to fly, albeit clumsily, these beetles are most famous for their attractive colours with some species adorned in a green-yellow iridescence.

Needlework designer Tania Cohen has created her own version of the Christmas beetle, a majestic fellow named Balthazar, who is absolutely befitting of celebrating the birth of Jesus.

To help put everything in context, Balthazar is the name of one of the three wise kings who visited Jesus in Bethlehem, presenting Joseph and Mary with a gift of myrrh.

So, we have Balthazar the wise king and now Balthazar the spectacular beetle. This stunning goldwork brooch is Tania Cohen’s debut piece for the magazine and appears in Inspirations issue #116. 

We recently caught up with Tania to find out more of the back story behind her glorious Christmas beetle including how she chose his name…

‘The name Balthazar has always been so evocative of Christmas and all that it means. So, while I was designing and stitching my Christmas beetle, I just knew he’d have to be Balthazar, just as I knew he’d have to be clothed in green, red and gold as befits a royal.’

Your work is of such a high standard and beautifully intricate, can you tell us a little about the design process you work through?

‘I start with some rough sketches to get a feel for shapes and sizes. I then spend quite a bit of time refining those sketches to make sure the various parts will fit together neatly before drafting and transferring my final design outlines.

At the same time, I’m already thinking about, and making notes of stitches and techniques that I think will suit the project. Invariably that changes as I stitch my design, figuring out what best suits the space and the design, as a whole, as I go.

Then the real fun starts with me working my way through my rather extensive stash of threads, cords, wires and beads.

I spend many wonderful hours testing and discarding most of what I’ve chosen until I find the combination of stitches and threads that makes my heart sing.’ 

Well Tania you’ve certainly made our hearts sing with this design, so all your hours of testing and experimenting have definitely paid off! 

How long have you been stitching for and what originally drew you to needlework?

‘I have been an embroiderer since I picked up a needle almost 30 years ago. I have always found the progression of a piece as I stitch almost irresistible, I keep wondering what it will look like if I can just fill in that next colour or master that new stitch (I also admit to having a rather serious obsession with thread). I still have that same sense of accomplishment and joy when I finish a piece of embroidery.’

It’s so inspiring to hear that it’s 30 years in and you still have the same joy and passion, such is the powerful enduring quality of stitching.

In regard to inspiration for new projects, what are your favourite techniques or design styles?

‘I’m not sure that I have a single favourite design style or technique as I always seem to find something I’d love to learn from most design styles.

There’s nothing I like better than mastering a new technique and finding a way to use it in an unusual way.

However, if forced to choose I’d have to say my favourite would be surface embroidery, goldwork and raised embroidery. 

Everywhere I go I notice shades and combinations of colour, most especially how perfectly nature blends colours and textures. For me it’s always been the colours and textures of various threads that gives me the most pleasure and provides inspiration. Finding a thread in just the right shade and texture that I need for a particular stitch is a fascinating process to me.’

‘I am also constantly delighted by the endless creativity of my favourite embroidery artists, and that is a huge source of inspiration to me. The beauty of our art form is that the possibilities of what you can create with a thread and needle are only limited by your imagination and willingness to expand your knowledge and skill as an embroiderer.’

Well said Tania, we whole-heartedly concur! In fact, Balthazar is destined to become a huge source of inspiration for stitchers all over the world, as they too are beguiled by your stunning work.

Thank you for sharing your story and dedicating yourself to the process of combining inspiration with imagination and skill. You have indeed elevated all our aspirations by demonstrating just what is possible with needle and thread.

Make Your Own Balthazar

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Balthazar by Tania Cohen is an irresistible goldwork Christmas beetle brooch with superb details.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 116

Digital Patterns

Balthazar – i116 Digital

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Balthazar includes everything* you need to re-create this goldwork Christmas beetle: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felts, baize, leathers, fusible webbing, wires, brooch pin, sewing thread, embroidery threads, beads, sequins, paillettes and needles.


Balthazar – i116 Kit

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.

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