If you have been following my posts for any length of time, you will know that I am a lover of trees, leaves, bark and anything forest related. For my Level 3 Stitch course, I have been working on a variety of types of applique. So I wanted to try a combination of felt and applique to create a bark piece.
Specifically, Ponderosa pine bark. We have many of these trees on and around our property and I love taking photos of the bark as well as collecting the pieces of bark that this type of tree sheds on a regular basis. The pieces always remind me of puzzle shapes. Lyndsay wrote recently about creating bark and I was inspired by her piece. But I wanted to include applique in my bark. So it was time to try a sample or two.
I laid out black wool as the base. Then I added a cut up strips of felt that were in my box of samples from some of my online classes. I decided to use a variety of thicknesses and colors of felt to see the differences when felted. I then added a brown/tan felt over the top. I just used what I had on hand. I did make a smaller sample later to use for sampling stitch ideas.
This photo shows you what the real bark pieces look like. I laid them out on the wool for inspiration. I have a big bag of these bark pieces. It was tempting to either glue or stitch them in place. That would still be applique, right? 😉
One of my original thoughts was to use complementary fabrics or sheers in orange and blue to create a more colorful effect. I tried a variety of these ideas but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. This idea would have worked better if I had included orange and blue in the felt base. So other samples may be forthcoming.
This is my small stitch sample. I used every square inch of it to try out different ideas. You can see that I tried machine stitching down the orange/blue samples but I didn’t like the “pillow” looking result. I tried some raised chain band to hold down the fabric but that didn’t actually hold the sheer fabric well. The fabric kept fraying under the stitches and pulling loose. I then tried some brown and neutral colored silk fabrics using different hand stitches. The assignment was to be a combination of machine and hand stitching. The machine stitching was done between the thicker felt strips in a dark brown. I decided that the final hand stitching would be small straight stitches and a few French knots.
I forgot to take a photo after I completed the machine stitching. This photo shows how it looked after fusing down the pieces of silk. I used a powdered fusible just to get the silk to hold in place. Then on to the hand stitching. I ended up using wool lace weight thread. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any that was dark enough for the darker value needed. So I used a heavier wool yarn for the darkest value.
Here’s the finished piece. Next time, I think I will try nuno felting the silk in place. I’m not sure it will look as “peeling” as the laid on silk does though. But that’s what further experiments are for, right?