Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Surgery and embroidery

Fleur's Cube from Paul William Craddock on Vimeo.

 I have previously described some of what I have been doing on this piece , 'The Epiploic Cube', but now you can see it doing its thing......
 It was made in response to watching not just surgery for three years but the surgeons hands; how they move and respond to their 'materials'. It is not something that just anyone is allowed to watch and certainly not something that many would want to. However it is so fascinating that I felt I had to try and give people an idea.
 In June of 2019 I wrote a coupe of posts describing the process of designing and embroidering the cube and although there is already a lot of it over on 'Thread Management' here are a few images of the completed piece.

A trimming I made inspired by the tassels for Caselguidi embroidery in the 'Wordsworth Country' range of silks from The Silk Mill


A bud in detached buttonhole stitch on taffeta,  all woven silks were from ' The Silk Route'

One of the embroidered and elasticated straps which hinder the movement of the cube,

 A collapsing cube made in organza with an embroidered dorset button inside. If folds up and tucks into a pocket on one face of the cube but has to be removed before you can 'operate'.


  The side of the cube that surgeons don't like, it turned out that the colour has a dark significance for them. The embroidery is incomplete because I then went on to distress the fabric, repair it and distress it again.


Plans and notes for each side, I like to make a shade card for each piece of work that I do.

In the background here you can see a copy of Therese de Dillmont's Encyclopedia of Needlework! 1886 (a link to the Gutenburg Project online copy)

Friday, 24 January 2020


I have several long term projects on my desk at the moment which means a mental log-jam .....

so here are some stills from a little film I made of what I see from my desk,

and yes I did tidy up a bit!

....and then this is my other desk (seen in the second still) with all the medical projects in progress.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Wasp's nest

 This has been ongoing for a while now! I am trying to make a wasp's nest in raised lace. The stitches aren't difficult in themselves, it's trying to think like a wasp that is hard. Do I work across the surface in layers or do I make each cell completely before I move onto the next? I am trying a staggered surface because of the risk of crushing each part as I go with my fingers.

I was given some coarse linen thread a while ago and it has a good 'chewed paper' colour and is robust when stitched. The down side is that it wears very quickly.

 It is starting to build quite nicely though..

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Studio stuff

It's getting very warm in the studio and it's not always easy to sit and do white work with hot hands!
One little tool that I've been given does make things a lot easier, a pair of toothed tweezers. They are a medical tool, inexpensive, but they are brilliant for getting rid of bits of fluff and holding the thread securely when you are doing fine work. The ends have tiny 'teeth' which grip but do not damage,perfect for needlelace!

..and this is why. I am doing a large piece of raised lace with lichen like growth and sometimes I just need more grip. This one is being done on vellum in the traditional way but there is nothing else traditional about it. The threads will be unusual and so will the presentation. However, it will take a while to get this one made so in the meantime I have several small pieces on the go to stop me going mad!

Friday, 14 June 2019

The Slashed Doublet

  I have always been drawn to Tudor costume and the slashed patterns in the fabric. Some years ago I went to an exhibition of costume at the Queens' Gallery and there was a beautiful little jacket with bound edged slashes all edged with french knots.The level of detail was extraordinary and I squirreled it away in my mind for another time! Five years later the opportunity arose to have a go and so I tried to put as much detail into my little panel as in that doublet. The panel is part of a piece of work made for my medical residency where I have created objects to draw parallels between the worlds of textiles and surgery.

 For this panel I layered organza over taffeta to create a shot effect. There were three smaller panels which formed the final square and each piece was hand bound, gathered, slashed and embroidered. The panels were then laced together with silk ribbon tipped with silver aiguillettes.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Lots to tell

  It is very rare that I talk about the medical work on this blog for fear or frightening people away ! but I can share some details of my new piece with you now as it's all about embroidery and colour. I have created a folding cube toy which has nine embroidered or raised surfaces inspired by costume detail. It illustrates how surgeons understand some of the body by using conceptual space, if you need to know more then click here for my medical blog. I will devote a few posts to this beginning here with some 18thC trimming techniques.
 Above we have a tiny length of passementerie known as fly fringe. I was looking at this on a dress at the V&A museum and have discovered that they were made by people who lived and worked near the silk weavers. They often worked together to provide matching trimmings for a customer as each length of silk was made in very small quantities. The button makers would be nearby too and I love to think of these creative and skilled communities working together, albeit probably unappreciated by the client!

  There is a pocket flap on this panel so it required a button. I made a covered bead as I often do for my stumpwork pieces and looked for some buttonhole inspiration. I settled on a couched buttonhole with metal thread set back slightly from a bound edged.
  The book I used for most of this piece was the V&A's 'Historical Fashion in Detail, the 17th and 18th Century', now in another format.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

So long at the fair

   I haven't forgotten this blog, it's just that everything is being made but nothing finished! Did I mention the wasps nest that I'm making or the tiny box of stones or the lace...…….
Well, here is a sneak peek at something much more mysterious, others will appear on the 'other' blog soon.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Tree light

 My absence form this part of my blog universe has two causes, one medical one personal. The ability to work can be thwarted by the actions of others and as the world seems to polarise between madness and sanity I have found myself caught in that breach.
 The space left by a tree is a sad space. When a tree is cut down the light that was is now no more. The light that was filtered and cast by that tree is a nuanced ever moving joy. When the tree is gone the light is flat and still. Who can live without the dappled light of trees? The cathedral sound of birds in the high trees is high art, it is transcendence. After rain on a May morning the light and sound of trees are God's eyelashes.
 My studio trees are gone and my fox came and smelt their absence.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Imperial Festival

 As you may know I am one of the artists in residence with Imperial College London working mainly with the vascular surgery unit. On the weekend of the 28th April I will be taking part in their annual festival where the public are allowed in to see what happens in the college.


  The work that I have done called 'The Textile Body' will be there on show to discuss and explore with the public.
  I also talk about this piece and my experience as an embroiderer working with surgeons on this blog,


and I assure you it is suitable for the squeamish !!!! and it is the fact that it is not squirmy that we will be demonstrating  in the Queens Tower rooms at the South Kensington campus near the Victoria and Albert museum.

Please come and say hello!


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