Posts Tagged ‘sketchbook’

Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a whole day to look at and get inspiration from some folios we had received from Headquarters. There was one on plants and one insects and other creatures. All kinds of embroidery styles and techniques were represented and it was lovely just to mooch through these pieces and enjoy their skill and beauty.

This sort of very open-ended session doesn’t suit everyone but it’s right up my street and I soon found a little piece that I loved. Apologies for my phone camera which just doesn’t do even slightly close-up.

Grasses inspiration 1

Knowing the limitations of my phone, I also went for a watercolour annotated sketch in my sketchbook.  The note top right is a copy of the label on the back.

Grasses inspiration 2

I liked the idea of layered scraps of fabric and also the limited stitch palette and as I always have plenty of scraps to hand, I was soon layering up frayed rectangles of various heavier weights of hand-dyed fabric and hunting out single strands of silks and cottons to create my scene in lazy daisy stitches with long stalks and wheatear stitch.

Grasses inspiration 3

Grasses inspiration 4

There are some Krenik gold stitches in there too, but it wasn’t the brightest of days when I took the pictures, so they’re difficult to spot.

Grasses inspiration 5

One of the delights of this was how quickly it stitched up and it was well and truly finished by the end of the day, which for me, is almost unheard of! It occurred to me that the technique would lend itself to another similar picture, but instead of the grasses, a wildflower meadow with bright pops of colour for poppies, cornflowers, campion, ox-eye daisies etc. I even had time to piece the base for it, using very similar pieces to the first one…

Grasses inspiration 6

…but that’s as far as it’s got. Back to the reports for me…

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Definitely a lack of it. The Cornish holiday journal needs finshing.

Turquoise Cornish journal 16

The gold sea glass commission has stalled.

Gold sea glass 9

I’ve been trying vainly to get round all the blogs I follow, with very minimal success. Where I have been, I’ve seen so many inspirational things that I would love to be able to explore. I want to get back into my sketchbooks and do more of this:

Smocking sample


Onion dyed silk flower


Mixed media collage


Roving and seeding


Embroidered Japanese paper

and this:

Kantha on hand painted calico


In fact, I want that time to sit and create so much it hurts. Not spend most of my waking hours serving a job (primary school teacher) which thanks to the government and OFSTED, increasingly demands more and more of my life, like a monstrous cuckoo with an insatiable appetite.  I ought to be planning next week’s literacy at this moment. And reorganising my guided reading groups. And annotating my maths planning for this week. And doing the 90 minute online Safeguarding course I’ve been told asked to do (in my own time) for tomorrow. Certainly not blogging about it.

I know I’m not the only person out there juggling the demands of work with a busy family and somehow, in all that, trying to fulfil that deep, instinctive urge to be creative. So how do other people do it?

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Our first project is to create a piece of jewellery which uses some sort of linkage system, but something a bit more innovative than jump rings. I had several thoughts in my sketchbook but I really liked the idea of using bookbinding stitches and silk to join the metal and my tentative thoughts became this design for a bracelet.

Plaques of reticulated brass, pierced with holes and embroidered with feather stitch in silk and then joined using french link stitch.

Linkage system 1

I cut some pieces of card, painted them gold-ish and made some paper templates to pierce them so I could experiment with some mock ups. Different weights of silk.

Linkage system 2

Linkage system 3

And the french link stitch, which worked really well.

Linkage system 4

Then I tried the feather stitch and the french link stitch out on three pieces of golden card to get a feel for how the whole thing would look. Different thread for the feather stitch – rayon cord this time.

Linkage system 5

I was determined to get the hang of reticulation and with five pieces to reticulate I prepared for an evening at the hearth. It took a bit of doing, but I’m stubborn and I learn quickly and I cracked it!  Each piece was slightly better and quicker than the last.

Linkage system 5

Linkage system 6

Linkage system 7

Linkage system 8

Linkage system 9

Linkage system 10

You can tell that the last one was the first piece that I did!

I also had set my heart on having a piece of brass with a melted hole in it. Several other people had ended up melting holes in their brass instead of reticulating it and I really wanted to combine a hole with textured embroidery.

But could I get my brass to hole? Could I hell as like! It took me 45 minutes of heating, quenching, pickling and scrubbing, trying out different sized blowtorches and sweating and swearing in the heat before the edge suddenly vanished and I was able to run the torch up the metal to get this:

Melted hole in brass

Not quite the smooth, molten hole that other people had managed, but I can definitely do something with this. 😮

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I wondered what would happen if I took this scrap of fabric (about one inch by two) that I couldn’t bear to throw away, applied it to another piece of fabric (in this case some vintage evenweave), started stitching on the fabric with matching thread and then continued onto the evenweave?

Extended pattern 1

This was an out and about fragment project, using threads I had with me, hence the variegation in the stitching.  

Having had enough of cross stitch, I wondered what would happen if I tried the same idea but used long and short stitch?

Extended pattern 2

The way the pattern distorts into something more abstract is certainly an interesting outcome. Two more pieces for the sketchbook.

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I’ve been turning over the idea of embroidering on/through bark for a while and I managed to find a lovely piece some time ago that I left flattening in the garage. Until my husband had a tidying session. So that left me with only a slim strip – I decided to get on with it before it went the same way.

I used Bondaweb to back the fragile bark scrap and attach it to a layering of hand dyed silk noil and scrim. The Bondaweb wandered onto the front a bit, so the technique needs a bit of refining.

I’d need to check, but I believe birch bark was used by Viking cultures to write on and that runes, with their straight, angular shapes, were developed from that as it’s easier to inscribe a straight line on wood with a knife. So it made sense that my first attempt at embroidering on birch bark was a scattering of runes.

I had a rune reading a couple of years ago and turned the runes that I chose into a couple of fragment pieces in my sketchbook. The runes in this one are constrructed from very heavily whipped back stitch in variegated metallic Madeira.

And this one, which I know is not actually the right way up, but it’s the way it was oriented when I first saw it, is satin stitch over vilene on silk chiffon and silk velvet scraps.

I used the same shapes but simpler, more scratched straight stitches, to mark on my birch bark.

With larger versions in chain stitch to hold down the scrim and fill the gaps. Same metallic variegated thread though – one of my favourites.

Now, I really, really, really will get on with that job I’ve been putting off…

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