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Posts Tagged ‘couching’

The thing I most enjoy about being on Instagram is connecting with other artists. I’ve ended up on the periphery of the print community via a customer who bought an upcycled pendant a couple of years ago, and was recently contacted by one of the lino print artists I follow asking if I would be up for an Art Swap. Definitely!

As this guy is a printer, I decided to go for the print theme in my swap items. First was this screen print on calico using a paper mask which I did at a workshop way back in November 2013 with Dionne Swift.

Then back even further to February 2012 to some experiments I did with ironing Angelina fibres onto rubber stamps. This was one of my favourites and the last one I have left of the batch. It sort of fits with the printing theme.

I chose some purple cotton and gold silk for the background and started by edging the motif in a goldwork thread. I’m not sure of the name of this type of thread, which is gold wound round a soft core. I think it’s either Jap or passing, but would welcome a positive identification!

Then I used a running stitch round the edges of the purple block to connect the layers of fabric.

Lastly, as it’s a big part of my practise, I stitched some found objects to the centre.

The third piece was a bookmark made from offcuts from a piece I printed using the same quatrefoil stamp as in the Angelina experiment at a Print to Stitch workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019.

I cut the six whole quatrefoils off for my Medieval tiles piece. and made the offcuts into a couple of book marks. One I gave as a gift last Christmas and the second just needed a Bondaweb backing and a blanket stitch edging to be completed.

I used an eyelet setter and a perfectly matching eyelet for the tassel.

Which was made from a slightly darker green stranded cotton than the blanket stitch.

They arrived safely last week, to the absolute delight of the recipient. It’s always lovely having glowing feedback from another artist, but somehow when that artist is someone who doesn’t work in the medium of needle and thread, there seems to be much more of a wow factor. Perhaps those of us who stitch have become accustomed to the wonderful textures and effects we can get from textiles and are less blown away by them. It was good for my ego, anyway!

Very much looking forward to the prints I’m getting in return which should hopefully arrive this week.

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Not much stitching this week as I’ve been dealing with the end of term in various ways, but the miniature garden now has some bullion knot lettuces in a very subtly variegated thread:

And I’ve started some courgettes. I think I might cut the leaves out of some fabric like I did with the pumpkin pendant…

…rather than embroider them as they are quite big. The only other way I can think of is to make them as needle lace slips and I don’t really want to go into that level of complexity. I’ve tried out an experimental courgette made from the tiniest raised stem band with a trio of lazy daisy stitches for the flower. Hopefully the head of the pin gives an idea of scale!

The wind sculpted tree has gone from this:

To this:

I needle felted a sheep for a birthday card:

And finished a doodle with some of my reticulated brass scraps and gold pearl purl on sapphire blue silk.

Must try harder!

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I was asked to come up with three cards for assorted birthdays and anniversaries in short order this week and having no time to start anything completely from scratch, I went delving into a box of assorted bits and pieces and managed to come up with five finished cards in a day!

First was a piece I started at a 2015 workshop on sculpting silk paper with Linda Rudkin. Sashiko stitching on a scrap of indigo dyed sheeting. This one was completely finished and just needed mounting.

Next a couple of cards created from some samples I made playing with a soldering iron. This one has been enhanced with a scattering of silk French knots.

I finished it by stitching it onto the blue silk backing with herringbone stitch in the same thread.

I’d already started couching a frothy white thread round this sample when I found it.

The layered spirals and slashes combined with the frothy white thread made me think of the way artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai represent sea foam in ukiyo-e prints. I carried on doodling with the couched thread and added some split stitch spirals with the cream silk thread I was using to couch it down and two nuggets of sea glass.

Finished as a card.

Next up a piece of crazy patchwork that I stitched at least ten ago. I had half thought about appliqueing it onto a shoulder bag made from the cut off bottom of a pair of jeans. But the upcycled bags I’ve made in past from jeans bottoms and patchwork panels had very little interest when I tried to sell them, so I decided a card was the more sensible option.

And last, one of the back ground pieces from our teabags workshop with Fran Holmes in October 2019. This literally only needed about a dozen stitches into the lace border to finish it!

So not only did I manage to deliver the three requested cards, I actually have some in reserve for upcoming celebrations. Makes quite a change to be beforehand with the world instead of chasing my tail!

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I’ve been stitching various experimental pieces recently and enjoying different ways of working. I’d seen someone on Instagram who had been embroidering fantasy aerial landscapes and I really liked the idea so I printed out a satellite image of part of a walk I enjoy along the River Ancholme between the villages of South Ferriby and Horkstow and decided I’d stitch the section from Horkstow Bridge along the lane to the road.

I drew it free hand onto some calico and then started to fill in the fields with satin stitch and the hedgerows in french knots. I used a slightly slubby silk on the longer field and an odd almost cord-like thread on the smaller one.

I then moved onto stranded silk which gave smoother looking fields. I like the contrast of the slightly textured silk but not so sure about the corded thread…

I also realised that I needed to vary the shades of green in the hedgerows and copses.

The lane from the bridge to the road was added in split stitch. Really not liking the corded thread at all now, but as the French knot hedgerows went right through the edges of the stitches I wasn’t going to be able to easily undo it at this point, so I’m living with it!

Lastly I added the River Ancholme and the drain that runs parallel with it in split stitch. Horkstow Bridge, which is a very early Victorian suspension bridge, is two French knots and a couple of satin stitches (bottom left corner) and I included part of the fields across the river. Off the hoop the tension isn’t great, but it was a lot of fun to do.

Back in 2010 I stitched a piece for our Embroiderers’ Guild Summer Challenge, for which we were given some blue thread, aida and the prompt ‘Blue Pot’. My response was to create some cross stitched ‘shards’ of Victorian blue and white china lying in the ‘soil’

I don’t have it any more because it’s on the cover of the 2010 scrapbook but I do miss it.

So I decided to stitch a mini version featuring the most iconic part of the willow pattern design – the birds.

Once I’d stitched it, I laced it over a couple of pieces of pelmet vilene for rigidity and started to couch various fancy threads around it for the soil.

I also added some patches of split stitch to vary the textures as I’d done with cross stitch on the original.

I wouldn’t normally stitch the same idea twice, but it’s good to have my own miniature version.

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After having stitched the next section of ribbon for the glazing bars of the Temperate House at Kew down with stab stitches, it was clear that the original blanket stitches had to come out. Much better.

This has made it less bulky, so I decided to take Rachel’s (VirtuoSew Adventures) advice and run the bars right across the background.

Next I need some white thread for the thinner vertical bars, but there is white and white, as I found out a few years ago when I stitched a whitework piece and discovered that the threads I thought were identical under artificial light certainly were not in daylight! So I’m leaving the thread matching for a day with good natural light.

I’ve just added this sweet little upcycled sea glass brooch to my Etsy shop. It was one of those satisfying moments when after having trawled through a large pile of sea glass finding pieces that were almost but not quite right, I picked up this gorgeous green oval and it clicked into the vintage brass brooch setting like it had been made for it.

As if I didn’t have enough projects on the go, this week I’ve started a little or nué design of an acorn. I painted it onto some indigo dyed calico, left over from the Persian Chandelier piece with my Inktense sticks, which I love.

Then I started couching down the gold threads, using Pearsall’s ‘Gossamer’ thread. It’s so thin, it’s literally like stitching with spider’s web, so perfect for the job. It was a bit challenging to make the gold thread turn as tightly as possible at the ends , but so far, so good.

As I approached the edge of the acorn, I realised I hadn’t made things easy for myself. I was going to hit the acorn at an angle, rather than straight and this was going to potentially make it more difficult to get the shading right.

However, considering the amount of time it had already taken me to get this far with the gold, I have decided to keep on and see what happens. If nothing else, it will be an important lesson and remind me to do a bit more research before I blithely jump into a brand new technique!

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Having finished Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s tail with the white circles…

…I decided to add the details to the head section next. Extending some of the outline to give him a jawline and define the ears was straightforward, as was adding the highlights around his neck, ears, mouth and nose. Then it was the eye. The eye more than anything gives him his personality and I really didn’t want to get this wrong, so I cut out a paper template and moved it around until I was happy before I started stitching. It’s amazing how even a small alteration in placement can make a big difference to expression and personality. After a reassuringly small amount of unpicking, I was pleased with the way he looks. Definitely cheeky!

I had a pair of trousers to hem yesterday and while looking for the right colour sewing cotton, I bumped into the Bayeux Stitch mushroom I started last January during panto.

I’d got as far as putting the gills in but they were going in the wrong direction. I knew they were wrong but simply couldn’t work out what the right direction was, so I put the hoop aside and left it – I didn’t even bother to finish unpicking the gills. So this was what appeared as I moved my mending pile:

As I picked up the hoop I could see instantly where the lines needed to go! Trousers were postponed and gills were couched in place. I also outlined the spots on the cap and next stage is… the highlighting. I really need to get over my nerves about stitching highlights on these pieces!

I’ve also been adding some more upcycled jewellery to my Etsy shop. These drop earrings I made in January from a fragment of Art Nouveau pressed brass frame in the shape of olive branches is similar are available here. I’ve added faux pearl drops and new gold plated sterling silver earhooks.

The broken silver ring I shaped into two Celtic motifs has been teamed with a couple of iridescent Czech glass beads to become this rather elegant pair of earrings which are available here in my Etsy shop.

Then a couple of beachcombing pieces. Several years ago I found four glass beads which had obviously once been part of a necklace or bracelet on a tattered piece of thread at a Cornish beach. I love the way they have been worn by the sea and have been looking for just the right project for them ever since. Inspiration struck when I came across an odd earring with a hanging loop inside. I made a piece of silver wire into a headpin and two of the beads fitted perfectly. You can find it here in the Beachcombing section of my shop.

I had a silver pendant which had a very odd looking flat part under the garnet. It was a little while before I realised it was a backing plate and whatever had originally been stuck on it was long gone. Perfect for a piece of sea washed pottery and this fragment of Victorian spongeware worked perfectly. The finished pendant has a new silver chain and is available here.

And the final highlight is the upcycled mourning locket I wrote about in last week’s post.

Within an hour of listing it on Etsy it had sold! A great boost on a cold and snowy day.

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I thought I’d started the Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon in 2018, which would have been bad enough, but the blog post from September 2018 when I moved him from a hoop to a frame and really got going, says I started him in 2015 – July 2015 to be precise. I did quite a lot of work on him in 2019 and even got as far as starting to couch the outline but then, like so many things last year, he lapsed and it wasn’t until last week that I picked him up and finally finished the couched outline. The next stage was to add the split stitch highlights. I’m always worried I’ll put them in the wrong places and it will look odd, so I usually prevaricate at this point, but I decided to just get on with it.

The result was a lot less difficult than I thought (it usually is…) and so his lower tail is nearly done!

I’ve also decided to get on with the last two pieces for my Kew Memory Journal. I want to base one on the beautiful Chihuly Persian Chandelier that was hung in the Temperate House.

I thought the wavy edged circles could work either in needlelace or crochet and while I decided which one would be most effective, I started a small sampler of needlelace stitches.

Corded Brussels Stitch is my go to needle lace stitch and after having worked the Single Brussels – twice – I know why. The Corded Brussels is always worked in the same direction. When you get to the end of the row you run the thread across the front, back to the start and then work over it, incorporating it into the stitch. It makes the lace firmer and because there is something to work over, more even, and the stitches all run in the same direction.

The Single Brussels is worked from left to right and then when you reach the end of the row, back from right to left. I’m not very right handed and can work most stitches both right and left handed but I could not for the life of me get the rows even. On the left to right rows I could make the buttonhole stitch loops stay open but right to left they just wanted to flatten down to the stitch underneath. The second version is better than the first, but not by much.

However, as a sampler and a learning exercise, it’s been very useful.

The last old favourite is the final two kilt pin brooch kits.

Forest green, golden yellow, and brown.

and

Orange, bronze, brown, purple and gold.

Listed today in my Etsy shop with free UK P&P.

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Bullion roses first. In fact this is quite an old finish (early lockdown rather than later!) but one I haven’t blogged about at all. I began another tiny locket insert on silk carrier rod well before last Christmas, using silk buttonhole twist to make bullion knot roses.

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It stalled as other projects took priority but finally at the end of April I decided to crack on and get it finished.

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I was aiming for an asymmetric look but without it appearing to be unfinished and I am very pleased with the result which you can find here in my Etsy shop.

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Back to the Tattershall Castle memory journal. ‘It Rained’ is completed and I am really pleased with it. First the split stitch leaves and couched perle thread stalks.

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Then I added the raindrops. Flat backed teardrop shaped beads with an iridescent coating. They were the perfect finishing touch and I think this might be my favourite of all of the Tattershall pieces.

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This meant that I was now ready to assemble the memory journal, put it away and move onto the third one, documenting my visit to Kew last summer. I blanket stitched a border around the bollock purse…

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…and stitched into it with tiny stab stitches to attach it to the page.

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Everything else went on really smoothly but then I came to the canvaswork piece…

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Unfortunately I trimmed it really close to the edge and this has given me no leeway now I need to stitch it in place. I’m pretty sure that even if I try to invisibly stitch it down the handling will be enough to loosen the last thread on each edge and in any case, I don’t want the spiky bare canvas as an edging.

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So near and yet so far! So, dear readers, any thoughts, ideas or inspiration? All suggestions very gratefully received!

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First I added the couched outline in dark green. I always find this part of the process a bit nerve wracking. On one hand, the couching neatens everything up but on the other hand, I always worry that I’ve chosen the wrong colour and it will end up having too much or too little contrast.

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I used couching rather than split stitch for the folds of the purse as it gives a smoother line and french knots represent the knobbly bits on the edges of the belt loop and purse lid.

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Then it was time to add the highlights in cream split stitch – I was so nervous that it wouldn’t look right! The highlights on the yellow knobbly bits are done in silk rather than crewel wool. This is another very small piece worked in a 4 inch hoop and the wool was just too thick.

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It took a while before I was happy with the highlights on the purse lid and then there were just the yellow dots on the belt loop to add.

I’m really pleased with it as a representation of the original design.

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And it means that there is only one Tattershall piece left to create – back to the bricks!

 

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This month’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a talk given by the very talented Jessica Grady, whose vibrant work includes embellishments made from all sorts of upcycled materials.

In the summer, to link with this talk, our chair gave us all an identical pack of bits and pieces to create something. I did blog about the start of my piece back in September when I hadn’t read the instructions and thought it had to be done for October’s meeting!

My starting point was the pale green tubing and a huge metal ring, to which I added a copper coloured earring middle and a holed limpet shell.

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There were more jump rings in the pack which I stitched down with random straight stitches to echo the big one…

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…and I also found a broken agate slice pendant which was a good colour match for the copper earring.

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Next I added turquoise coloured beads from the pack.

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Using the same metallic gold thread for all the stitching helped to bring it together. A few more smaller jump rings from my tool box and some gifted flat beads completed it and I even manged to get it mounted three days before the meeting!

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Needless to say, all the entries were amazing and incredibly different, give that we all had the same starting point.

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The other finish for the meeting were the embroidered Folk Art doves that will decorate our Christmas tree at the local Festival of Trees. They were a lovely fun, relatively quick stitch. Mine looks like this:

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And these are some of his friends:

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Even though a few more arrived later, there isn’t enough here to fill a six foot tree, so the chair has been frantically stitching over the last couple of months to add extra additions to the flock!

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