Perfect Love by Carolyn Pearce
9th August 2019
In 1554, Ogier de Busbecq, ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor to the Sultan of Turkey, sent a simple flower bulb back to Vienna from his travels. This bulb, purportedly the first tulip in Europe, started what was to become a mania. Centred in The Netherlands, the tulip mania led to what many say was the first recorded financially based speculative bubble. At its height, a single bulb could fetch up to ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsworker, a high price indeed for a flower.
Different tulips carried different values, with the most sought after being the Bizarden or ‘bizarres’. These sported yellow or white streaks on a red, brown or purple background. The colouration of these flowers only formed after years of cultivation and as a result of a specific virus, which was one of the reasons these rarer forms of tulip became such a sought-after commodity.
It almost seems ludicrous that fortunes could be made or broken on this beautiful flower which can now be purchased in bulb form at most local garden centres. And better still, not only can we grow them ourselves, but thanks to Carolyn Pearce, we can also immortalise the delicate petals and mosaic like colouring in needle and thread.
Carolyn has employed her enormous skill in threadpainting to bring us a dramatic project worked on black fabric.
Used to create an embroidered book cover, the front displays an example of that rare, sought after streaked tulip which would have been the envy of any seventeenth century merchant. All of your skills in blending thread and colour are required for this project.
Carolyn has combined realism on the front and back with a delightful stylised version of the flower on the spine and inside the cover where the stems and tendrils snake upwards to form a perfect art-deco shape. The whole project is then brought to sparkling life with a gold and beaded border, perhaps nodding to the opulence of the past when this tulip would have held pride of place in the homes of the nobility.
We were, of course, delighted to see Carolyn’s characteristic snail edging towards the bloom on the back cover. He would have been banished with horror in the 1600s, but today he’s a welcome addition to the project, adding a little touch of whimsy to what is otherwise a complex and rewarding piece.
If you’ve never tried threadpainting before, don’t be afraid. Once you’ve secured the padding in place, the secret is to manage the angles of your threads and ensure you pierce the previous stitches to achieve the required blending. Fortunately, you are working with wools which offer a pleasing softness and help with the blending. Adding highlights afterwards simply brings the flowers to life.
Carolyn is also known for her construction, and this project is perfect as the cover of a handmade book. Imagine it adorning your coffee table. You can almost see your front room transform into a Dutch parlour, filled with merchants haggling and gold coins jingling, all arguing over your serene and beautiful tulip.
While the Ready-To-Stitch kit contains everything you need to create the actual book cover itself, the real value is in the number of threads it includes. Carolyn is famous for using a huge array of colours and a variety of threads in her projects, which is all part of the magic of her designs. And Perfect Love is no exception with the kit containing: 8 x Anchor threads, 3 x Au Papillion threads, 7 x Au Ver à Soie threads, 2 x Cascade House wools, 3 x Cottage Garden Threads, 1 x DMC, 14 x Gumnut Yarns wools, 2 x Gumnut Yarn silks, 1 x Needlepoint Inc silks, 1 x Tentakulum Silk, 2 x YLI threads and 2 x B&J metallic threads. Then there are the 9 different needles and 9 different types of beads without even listing the fabrics, felts, interfacing etc.
So whether you’re planning on re-creating the design as a book cover, or using the threads in the kit to stitch the design on the pocket of a jacket or cardigan, or feature on an evening bag or as a framed piece, the Ready-To-Stitch kit will save you a LOT of running around.
Make Your Own Perfect Love
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Perfect Love by Carolyn Pearce is a stunning artist book cover featuring threadpainted tulips.
Inspirations Issue 103
Perfect Love – i103 Digital
Perfect Love – i103 Print
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Perfect Love includes everything you need to re-create this beautiful book cover: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacing, bag batting, wool felts, fusible webbing, embroidery threads, beads and needles.
Special Note: Instructions are not included with our kits. Please refer to the magazine for detailed information on how to create the project.