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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Learning shishadur.

Every year, I try to make new decorations for the Christmas tree. I originally started this new tradition the first Christmas after Eldest was born. I didn't want to have to worry about her getting into the tree and breaking things and hurting herself, so I went hunting for nice, child safe decorations. Unable to find any I liked, I ended up crocheting an entire collection of balls and spirals. We still use them. Since then, I've tried to make decorations using new techniques or styles every year. We use them on our own tree, as well as pass them on as gifts. This year, I've decided to make decorations featuring shisha mirrors.

I don't have a local supplier for them, though, so I've substituted small craft mirrors. Usually, shishadur is done using small, irregular circles of hand made mirror (originally, they were made with chips of micca). They're grayish blue, semi-transparent, as well as being thinner and lighter than manufactured glass mirrors. Instead of glass mirrors, large sequins can be used, but I'm not big fan of them as a substitute. Eldest had a skirt beautifully decorated with them, and they all fell off. :-( They're just too flexible.

So today, I practiced a bit of shishadur with the craft mirrors that I have. Here are the results. (my apologies for the rather bad photos - my lighting sucked and I didn't feel like setting up the tripod.)

For my first attempt, I tacked the mirror in place using a total of eight straight stitches. These serve to both hold the mirror in place (some instructions recommend using fabric glue or double sided tape, but I don't want to mess with those at all), and to form a base of guide threads to stitch on.

There are several variations of stitches that can be used to border the mirror. This is the method I used. After bringing the needle back up, right next to the mirror, I tucked the needle under the guide threads from the centre, out, making sure the needle went over the working thread - kind of like a button hole stitch.

After taking the needle to the back a short distance from the mirror, I brought it back up so that it went through the loop of the working thread. I continued this pattern all the way around.

Here's the finished mirror. It looked nice enough, but as you can see at the bottom of the picture, the mirror is starting to slip out of the stitching. The opening is just too wide.

So I tried again. This time, I made the stitches so that they crossed closer to the centre of the mirror. It didn't work. Perhaps I made the stitches too loose or something, but I didn't even get half way before I could tell the mirror was going fall out.

In this picture, you can see both my second and third attempts. This time, I used only 4 stitches to hold the mirror in place. The first two were placed parallel to each other, then the next two were wrapped around each of previous threads as they crossed at right angles. This seemed to work much better, as the guide threads seemed to hold each other in place, rather than being pulled too far out as I stitched.

Here's the finished mirror. I am a lot happier with this. That mirror is *not* coming off without a lot of help! I thought at first I'd have to cut the stitching to reclaim the mirror for when I made the decorations. It took some doing, but I was able to get it out without resorting to scissors.

So there's the basics. For these, I used 3 strands of ordinary embroidery floss. For the decorations, I'll most likely be using the shiny rayon floss.

I think this will work out just fine. :-D

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