Lichen – Part 2 – Continued experiments put to work!

Lichen – Part 2 – Continued experiments put to work!

In my recent post (  I made the statement….

‘Having admitted that I can’t do ‘loose’, I was born unquestionably inquisitive so my forté is experimenting. This seems to get around my inner critic & certainly fuels my more serious endeavours.’

In hindsight I should be more forthcoming and admit that I have an almost insatiable curiosity of the world around me – anyone who knows me will be nodding emphatically – as my curious child within has never stopped….’Why?’, ‘How?’, What happens if….?’, ‘Can I just ask?’ etc, etc.

The result – I’ve learned (sadly, age, now means I’m forgetting much of it!) and witnessed a lot, even wandering off in foreign lands (to the consternation of others, but fortunately to no harm!) and experiment endlessly….often tweaking the ‘rules’….🤪 no surprise!

So here I’ll show more of my lichen, Mottainai experimenting….

As I’ve said many times, I’m often to be found pondering….Mmmm, what happens if? Then of course I go down yet another rabbit hole….Is this a sign of a creative mind? – but I digress!….Playing with plastic milk bottles has been a typical example of not only disappearing into the rabbit hole (the point I was at in my last post!)….

….but of getting waylaid exploring it’s warren!

When I’m out and about I’m always stopping to take photos.

An aside – Six months ago I joined the ‘modern’ folk and got a replacement to my 12-year-old mobile phone (the salesman was almost hysterical with laughter as was I 🤣). It has been an exponential upward curve of learning (and still is)….BUT, having done my homework, it has given me a brilliant camera….yay…no more lugging a separate camera around!

Of the many genre of photos I take, Mother Nature always takes the biscuit! I see something, my mind races and then I’m off down another rabbit hole!

Many of my experiments are something I can do whilst TV chillin! The crochet rings above, whilst time consuming are effective & relatively easy. However not all experiments work well – crocheting over the commercial lace, another ‘what if?’, became a….’NEVER again’

Having now shown several of my experiments I can hear you shouting – ‘How are you going to use them?’

So in answer to that question, and before I send everyone to sleep, I’ll present one example of how I’ve pieced together a few of the 100s of elements to create a lichen inspired textile piece.

The finished work attached to the backing matt
The finished piece mounted proud of the backing matt

Creating this piece I re-purposed as much as I could including –

  • a surplus to requirements, circular piece of felt – I love circles.
  • some crocheted waste yarn that was left over after buying a commercial jumper from a charity shop for the sequin yarn that was fashionable a few years ago….it took me so long to unpick the jumper and separate the plain and sequined yarns! Next time I might just buy the expensive sequin yarn new!
  • Manipulated plastic food bags and crisp packets – all cleaned of course!
  • Viscose staple fibres from a community store (selling ‘waste’ products from industry)
  • Oh yes, even some felted dog hair!

All combined with machine stitching, hand embroidery (incl – colonial knot, my favourite knot, bullion & sorbello stitch) and some beading.

And finally….framed (I’m delighted to say I won a 2nd prize for textile work in an area competion), using an Ikea Sannahed 35x35cm frame.


A post script to make you smile – when you are on your own, with have no extra hands to help unwind a hank of yarn….

No extra hands - so use feet!
No extra hands! And a bemused furry canine!

21 thoughts on “Lichen – Part 2 – Continued experiments put to work!

  1. I’m a lichen lover too, I just find it all fascinating, all the different textures and multiple colors that it produces, and also how its form changes when it dries out. Its a real hobby of mine to save pieces of wood, sticks and stones that have it on the surfaces and I copy it in watercolors or my own version in embroidery/felting on the items that I make and have quite a few sticks around the home with some form of lichen ,that will keep for ages if you just give them a spray of moisture occasionally when they start to dry out. I think we have two things in commom lol lichen and foot -ball winding . Also, your framed piece of lichen art is beautiful.

    1. Up with the Lichen Lovers!!! They truly are wonderful. A woman looked at me totally bemused yesterday….well I was in the middle of a car park intently studying a tree trunk! Later a very small fallen branch came home with me….the crustose lichen world will be studied under a magnifier!

      Do you have a website with your work? I’d love to see how our ideas cross over.

  2. Great work again Antje. If you ever have the time, a tutorial on how you actually manipulate various plastic things would be very helpful. I have used plastic milk bottles as the basis of a theatrical mask or two, but that was just the “underpinning” no manipulation other than cutting and stitching fabric/felt to it. I’d love to know how to work with the plastic “foil” bags that my teabags come in for instance. It seems such a waste just putting them in the recycling.

    1. Thank you Ann.
      Manipulating the plastics & foil is not only time consuming but really one of trial & error, some might look the same but behave totally differently. Much of mine is heat source treated but that in itself offers a multitude of options. Just when I think I’ve got it cracked the manufacturer changes the packaging….sometimes to my advantage!

  3. Ha-Ha Antje! Love your method of making a hank into a ball! Very creative 🙂

    All your handmade lichen shows such ingenuity – thanks for sharing the photos.

    Your framed work is glorious and congratulations on getting a prize for it. The white frame suits it and shows it off well.

    1. Thanks Lyn. Fortunately, at my age, my feet still play ball….pun intended!

      For much of my work I do prefer a white frame….wish me luck I’m visiting a recommended framer tomorrow to discuss options.

      My one sadness when I submitted my piece – there was no opportunity to explain about 90% of it being in the spirit of Mottainai.

  4. We sound like kindered spirits! I love exploring too and just purchased a book on lichens. I have given myself permission to add all manner of non-wool supplies and found abjects ed to my felted pieces. Thanks for all the inspiration that you so generously share!

    1. You are welcome Sharon.
      I’m always dumb-struck seeing lichen in the flesh compared to a photograph….so many of them are a micro world needing one to get up close & very personal!

      Which book did you buy, and dies it help you?

  5. Is there such a thing as too many a rabbit hole, or too deep of one? Never, I say! Keep feeding that curiosity, Antje, because your work is lovely.

    (When I finally buy a property I might need something to decorate my studio… ahem, some Antje Lichen might be needed! 😀 )

  6. Leonor, it’s not just the rabbit holes but the additional extensive warrens we need to factor in! Also – storage space that accompanies our curious delving 🤪

    Hopefully my skills will keep improving to be worthy of your wall space!

  7. Antje,

    I love your curiosity! Your specimens are very very cool. I think you should explore, experiment, and discover, to your hearts content. I have been searching for some of the lacey fabric you showed us in our Zoom meeting a couple months ago. I believe you found it at a table decoration store in Germany? You were using it to create a certain lichen found in California, maybe?? Anyway, your work is awesome! Keep doing what makes you happy – life is too short to waste on something you don’t care about.

    My favorite things you did are those moss mounds. A zoom class/tutorial would be great!

    Hugs, Capi

    1. Thank you Capi, you are very kind.
      The lace was sold as a roll of table decoration fabric, the sort used along the centre of a table for a celebration. Then I trimmed & ruched it, inspired by the lacy lichen you saw.

      I’m glad you like the moss….a tutorial….maybe one day!

    2. Ann you are totally correct about them all being fascinating, sadly so many people don’t ‘see’ or really ‘look’ at them.

      I will endeavour to show the use of more in a later post.

  8. Lichen and moss and mushrooms are all fascinating up close. Congratulations on getting 2nd prize at the competition. I am looking forward to seeing how you use your other bits and pieces.

  9. I love this
    I really enjoyed reading your post about your lichen experiments! Your insatiable curiosity about the world around you is inspiring and I love seeing how you’ve transformed everyday materials into beautiful textile pieces. My question for you is, do you have any tips for someone who wants to experiment more with materials but doesn’t know where to start? Thanks for sharing your creative process with us!
    Anette Walsh

    1. Anette, I’m so pleased my posts struck a chord with you.

      Mmmm, where to start?….
      Depending on what you are wanting to manipulate a good starting point is to think about the elements of ‘fire, water & air’ ie Fire = heat = burning (think about the different ways of burning – incense stick, candle etc but please be safety conscience!), heat tool, iron, soldering iron. Water = perhaps soaking, freezing, dyeing, boiling. Etc etc etc
      Then think about manipulation & distortion, some of which may involve the above, whilst fabric can be stitched, twisted, tied etc.

      Just a few thoughts….hope this helps! Essentially it is a case of running with your imagination….ENJOY.

  10. I love, love, love these Antje! Such fun to see all your experiments and the use of recycled, upcycled materials is wonderful. The combination of the different pieces is what really makes it look real as nature has so many of these fungus and lichens all growing right together in their own little worlds. I see you in “lichen world” 😉

  11. Oh yes Ruth, I’m definitely in ‘lichen world’!
    So pleased you like my explorations in the spirit of Mottainai. My only problem is – too many ‘what ifs’ with not enough time!

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