I failed to find my inner Matisse....

So here are some pictures of the fairground carousel that I've been talking about for so long - still unframed, but finally finished. It's odd as there is normally a gap between what I had in my head for something and what eventually materialises...but with this there wasn't a small gap, more of a gaping crevasse! By the time I'd decided that I didn't want to applique it, which had been my initial thought, I was envisaging something resembling a Matisse line drawing of a carousel (oh the delusions of grandeur!) created entirely with gold thread - perhaps 10 or 11 graceful lines that would suggest at the atmosphere of the fairground, the magicalness of the horses, and the blur of them as they went by....hmmmmm.....and then I found that actually my inner Matisse wasn't just refusing to step up to the mark and translate what was in my head onto the canvas, but that it just completely wasn't there at all!

I find this Matisse line drawing fascinating - in just three simple lines you can see that she is fixing her hair, and in not many more there is enough suggested to allow you to imagine so much about this girl; where she might be going, what her dress is like. The angle of her head, her features - they are all so perfect and so expressive....anyway, perhaps I should stop there...but hopefully you can see the disparity in the style I was going for and what I ended up with and that's this: there is no subtle suggestion of a horse...there is just a bloody great horse! But anyway, I'm now trying to forget what I wanted it to be, and will focus on what it is, and when I do that I'm not too displeased with it.

On the right is a picture of the things I was using as horsey inspiration (and even used for a bit of horsey tracing from the far right picture). I love all of these pictures and so it's ended up a combination of the three of them.

I haven't done a huge amount of embroidery in the past - and when I have it's tended to be much more chunky - so I quite enjoyed the challenge of doing something finer and even learnt a few new stitches.

I'd bought '100 Embroidery Stitches' produced by Anchor, a while ago - it is more of a pamphlet, with black & white diagrams of how each stitch might be executed, than a book...and it's probably a fantastic reference for anyone who follows instructions with more ability than me, but I think I would have been better with something that had more illustrative pictures and broke the stitches down into more steps (any suggestions of good books would be appreciated!). I would have loved my horse to have a French Knot for an eyeball...but alas, that was not to be...

Anyway, I'm planning to find an old goldy-coloured frame in a charity shop to put it in and then it will be done!

This post will be the last of my equestrian mutterings, I promise.


  1. I think your stitchery is wonderful! You dont need to be Matisse, I love what youve done!

  2. Hi Rosie

    Thank you for such a kind and lovely comment!

    Florence x

  3. I think your horse looks great - so much detail. About as fas as I've gotten with embroidery is embroidering some of my children's artwork (that way if it is messed up, you can't really tell!).

  4. Well I think it's lovely - the details on the saddle are beautiful. I don't have the fingers to produce anything as fine as that, but I know what you mean about seeing the flaws in your own work - happily though we can't see what was in your head so we can't see where you fell short of that. We just get to like it for what it is It's satisfying to pick up new skills though isn't it?

  5. Hi just come over from french knots. What a lovely blog you have. There is something so evocative about Carousels. Last Sunday Alice and i took the kids to Hollycombe steam fair. We were so moved by a sweet lady who must have been in her 80's who, saying 'if my husband could see me', climbed with great effort on to a horse. Her face during the ride spoke of memories and her delight was obvious. Very moving. Your embroidery is beautiful.
    Will be back to read more later..
    ginny x


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