Browsed by
Category: Stitching

Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

I have been continuing to slowly add bits and pieces to my tree ‘specimen’ book. You can see most of the ‘blank’ pages of the book in this post and some pages that have had ‘specimens’ added to them here.

This is definitely a ‘slow’ project that I am working on very intermittently. It’s been fun to pick it up again and just add a few things here and there without pressure to finish it or make it look perfect.

Mixed media book, front page painted watercolor background, machine stitched moss glued to background and definition of mossy torn paper glued down.

I added some more machine stitched moss to the first page and a definition of mossy.

Mixed media book open to left page painted cracked plaster on the left and torn sketchbook page with 'pine needles' on the right.

On this page spread on the left, I had one of my plaster coated pages but it had cracked significantly. I need to get some gesso to paint over these pages but since I haven’t ordered it yet, I decided to try something different. I layered different colors of paint on the cracked surface. You can click on the photo to enlarge it. The page on the right is a torn piece from one of my small sketchbooks. It kind of reminds me of pine needles. It was originally screen printed and I added colored pencil to enhance the look of the pine needles. Torn and messy is the point of this book so I ripped the sketchbook page and glued it down to a lightly painted background page. You can see the dark edges of the next page which is next up.

Mixed media book open to a page spread with an eco print of leaves and buds on the right hand side.

The page on the right is an eco print on paper that my friend Paula created. She has a big stash of these papers and kindly let me use a few.

Mixed media book open to page spread with blank plaster coated page on the right and back of eco print with cut out frame of painted paper and tea bag machine stitched skeleton leaf on the left.

This is the back side of the eco print above. I cut a window out of the painted background so you could see more of the backside of the eco print. I added a machine stitched tea bag leaf as well. The right side is another plaster coated canvas pages that needs to be gessoed and then drawn or painted on.

Mixed media book open to page spread with blank plaster coated page on the left and green painted paper background and stenciled/painted brown pine cone on the right.

This pine cone on the right was stenciled ages ago. I pushed some kind of thicker medium through the stencil to give a relief effect. It didn’t work all that well and got a bunch of bubbles in it. I painted it green at some point but didn’t like that either. I got it out of my paper stash and decided I needed to finish it. I added walnut ink, sepia marker and matte medium to get it to a point that I was satisfied with it looking like a pine cone. It also needed more strategic cutting out than I had done previously. I glued it down to the painted background letting a little bit of the pine cone stick out over the edge of the page. This is a testament to never giving up on a piece of artwork!

Mixed media book open to page spread with orange feathers woven into a gridded hand made paper on the left and an eco print glued to a dictionary page on the right.

Next to the feathers that I had shown you in my last post, I glued another one of Paula’s eco prints down on to the dictionary page. I can’t decide if this page needs something else but I will just leave it for now. I do want to leave more simplified areas where the eye can rest.

Mixed media book open to page spread, blank plaster coated page on the left and painted skeleton leaf on the right.

This one on the right is the last page that I worked on this time. It was originally a deconstructed screen print on paper all in the brighter green. When I was looking through the book, this page caught my eye as I saw a leaf in the middle of the page. I used Inktense pencils and then water on a brush to make the darker leaf appear more strongly on the page. I hope you can tell I am having fun with this. It is a very freeing process not worrying about the final outcome.

 

Stitching Some Trees

Stitching Some Trees

I am continuing with my slow(very slow) stitching. I have accidentally done part of the first-quarter challenge. Last time I showed you my tree trunk. Next, I got some of my handspun to make the evergreen part.

I pulled a lighter green first. it was much too light. I switched to t a much darker green that works much better. it is a thicker yarn too, which I think works better.

stitching an evergreen tree light green yarn test. stitching an evergreen, tree dark green yarn test

 

The practice one worked out well so onto the good ones.

 

stitched tree trunk stitched evergreen tree

The trunk on this one ended up a bit fat but I don’t mind

brown stitched tree trunk 2 stitched evergreen 2

2 stitched evergreen trees

 

And the third one

third stitched tree trunk  third stitched tevergreen tree

And this is how it looks now

3 stitched snow flakes and 3 stitched evergreen tree.

 

I like it so far but I am not sure what to put in the blank corner. I thought maybe a branch so I did a test one. I may try to add some cones or snow. I am not sure what kind of tree it looks like. What do you think? what would you put there?

stitched evergreen branch, half done evergreen branch finished

 

 

Adding Lichen to the Mossy Driftwood

Adding Lichen to the Mossy Driftwood

My next step in finishing the driftwood piece was to create lichen. I had made lichen before from Tyvek but alas, I had none in my stash. So I looked for other materials that could be shaped with a wood burning tool and that would shrink and make interesting shapes with a heat gun.

What I found was a fusible lightweight Pellon interfacing and nylon organza. The interfacing does not need to be fusible to work, it’s just what I had on hand. I can’t remember why I bought it but hopefully, it would work so I wouldn’t have to buy anything else.

Painted pastel blue green interfacing and nylon organza on white background

I painted the small pieces of interfacing and organza with a light layer of acrylic paint. As you can see here, the paint was not heavy and the shade of blue green was very light in value.

wood burning tool burning lichen shapes into painted interfacing

Next, I got out my wood burning tool and a piece of glass to burn on. I made random lichen shapes in the interfacing. I also did the same with the nylon organza. Once they were cut out, I held the small pieces with a pair of tweezers and used the heat gun to make them shrink up and get curly. I also added a bit of brown marker to the edges of the lichen as there are definitely brown bits on the real stuff.

Here’s the result. Yay, it looks like I wanted it to. Success. Now to add it and the dead teabag leaves to the mossy driftwood. I glued the lichen in place as it was mainly on the wood itself. I stitched the leaves down to the felt in a couple of places.

Textile Art Piece - driftwood covered with felt, stitched moss, stitched tea bag leaves and lichen from interfacing and organza

Here’s the result. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

And the close up views. I’m happy with how it turned out and it was a really fun project.

Adding Dried Leaves to Mossy Driftwood

Adding Dried Leaves to Mossy Driftwood

I have been continuing to add more stitching and other bits to my mossy driftwood. You can see the progression from just felt to adding stitch in these two posts:

Moss on a Piece of Driftwood

Mossy Driftwood Continued

Driftwood covered with green felt and hand and machine stitched areas of moss.

The moss has been getting filled in by hand stitching and adding the machine stitched moss I created. I am trying to decide how much more hand stitched moss to add. I think it needs more “trailing” knots in the “bare” felted areas. But I also need to add lichen in places but I haven’t created the lichen yet. I’m thinking I will try Tyvek lichen.

Leaf shapes created out of tea bags and machine stitching.

The next step was to create dead, desiccated leaves. I found a tutorial for making them out of tea leaves on Youtube.  I had made them out of Lutradur before but not tea bags so I thought I would give it a go. I drink tea every morning so I started saving the old tea bags for this project. In the video, she used some type of stabilizer but I decided to try without one. I layered two flattened tea bags together and just started free motion machine stitching the veins. As you can see, you don’t want to stitch the outer edge of the leaf as it looks more natural without it. Then I cut them to shape with scissors.

Tea bag leaves, machine stitched veins and burned holes/edges.

The next step was to burn the edges and the holes. I found it was easier to get a more natural look when I was looking at photos of dead leaves. That way the leaves don’t all turn out the same. I used a wood burning tool for this operation (the video uses an incense stick). Obviously, you need to be careful when you’re burning things and it is pretty stinky too, you need ventilation. So I took mine to the stove and turned on the overhead fan to draw away the fumes. Plus the stove top is heat proof and won’t be burned or damaged.

Fiber art moss on piece of driftwood with three tea bag dead leaves.

So here’s the full piece with the leaves just placed on it. I will be stitching them down at some point to hold them in place.

Here’s a couple of close ups. You can click on the photos for a bigger view. I am happy with the progress and it is definitely looking very “forest floor”.

 

Mossy Driftwood Continued

Mossy Driftwood Continued

Last time I posted, I showed you a piece of driftwood that I had covered in green felt to represent moss. It definitely needed more work to achieve the natural look that I desired.

I took a small pair of sharp scissors and cut out some holes as well as making the ends not so uniform and straight. I then decided to use the left over cut out pieces as padding for stitching. I added the left over pieces in a couple of places and hand stitched them down.

I then decided to try adding more texture with needle felting. I had a pile of little wet felted scraps which you can see on the left and I needle felted those down. Then I added some wool from my carded batts that I had left over after wet felting. I needled those down but not too firmly. I still wanted the texture of moss, which you can see in the right photo.

Driftwood covered with green felt, stitched layers of felt added, needle felted layers added

Here’s what it looked like after I finished the lower layered bits. I left hanging threads as this will be the “grassy” looking bits sticking up between the moss.

Work bench covered with variety of green thread and driftwood covered with felt.

Next was looking for different green threads. Here’s what I came up with. You can also just see on the left side that I found some of my photos of moss and printed those out for reference.

Close up of French Knots stitched on green felt covering driftwood.

I then started adding some hand stitching. These are “wonky” French knots with hand dyed lace weight wool thread. This is going to take a while. I have another “slow” stitch project on my hands.

Next up was to try some machine stitching. I made a sandwich of the threads on the left between two layers of water soluble fabric. I then machine stitched a random branching pattern. The photo on the right shows the result after washing out the soluble fabric.

Close up of machine stitched threads on top of felted driftwood.

Here’s a small piece of the machine stitched moss by the French knot section. I haven’t stitched it in place as I think I will do more of the hand stitching first. I’m loving all the different greens as that is definitely what you find in nature. I will keep you updated on my progress.

A patchwork repair for a friend.

A patchwork repair for a friend.

Thankfully, the before and after experience of the abdominal surgery I had in July was not as bad as I thought it would be. But, there were some surprises with the things that we all take for granted, for example, it can be a big surprise to discover that sneezing, coughing, laughing, or even the thought of these things, will remind you to hold onto your belly for dear life, for fear of it splitting open. Similarly, turning over in bed, or getting in and out of bed will have you puzzling about the safest position to do these manoeuvres without your belly once again splitting open. Now, several weeks later, the anxiety of a split belly following a sneeze has gone thank goodness, and only the odd twinge remains to remind me.

 I needed some stitching to keep my mind occupied while recovering, and I had some simple meditative stitching to keep worries at bay. My friend helped me a lot with the usual distractions. She also had a bed coverlet – given to her by ?, but now forgotten relative – and it needed to be repaired. It was a handmade hexagon top stitched onto a background fabric, that was folded over (top, bottom and sides), to the front and the corners mitred. There was no wadding or batting in the middle. She thought this would be a good project to keep me occupied, no time scale, just to do something if I could.

I laid the coverlet on the  floor, there were quite a few missing hexagons, and some torn fragile ones. I was most struck by the variety of fabrics used to make the hexagons, how small they were, and what on earth had I agreed to do anyway? It is difficult to see any missing hexies from this photo above, you just have to believe me. I have placed a 50p coin to show the size of the hexagons.

                     

I separated the hexagon top from the background fabric and set about replacing to torn, missing and damaged hexagons. I found one complete ‘paper’ and that measured 3/4 inch, measured against one of my 1 inch hexies. I replaced about 30 hexagons, and probably restitched that many again where the stitching had come undone. The hexagon top measured 84 inches x 45 inches, and the whole coverlet measured 104 inches x 65 inches when back together; it covers a single bed easily. The green background fabric is 2 pieces joined in the middle, and I think the width of each length is about ?40 inches.

Photos of some of the damaged areas, and fabrics in the coverlet.

                 

 

When I finished the repair, the coverlet needed stabilising somehow, otherwise it was at risk of further damage. I decided to stitch the hexagon top to a piece of cotton – actually, part of an old duvet cover. This worked well, and then I stitched the top back onto the background fabric, this was probably the most difficult part of the job, trying to keep it straight, and prevent any tucks happening on the back. I wanted to do a sympathetic repair, the fabrics I chose from my bag of scraps fitted in very well, and I really had to look very closely to spot them when I had finished.

I used a few stitches to secure the top to the back in random areas. The above photo – on the right – is from my friend showing the coverlet on the bed in her spare room. I am really pleased with my efforts. I think this must have been started in the 50s or 60s, or even earlier? Maybe some of you can recognise some of the fabrics. I dread to think how long it took to stitch, but I am full of admiration for whoever did spend the time making this beautiful item. I am calling it a ‘coverlet’ because there is no middle layer, as there is with a quilt. However, if any of you know differently do let me know, I would love to have a definitive answer.

 

Small Autumn Meadow Piece

Small Autumn Meadow Piece

I have been thinking about creating a meadow themed landscape for a while so I decided to do a smaller piece (about 8″ x 10″) to try out some different ideas.

I found a nice background from my stash, that is nuno felted and has an upper plain felt portion. The only problem was it wasn’t 8″ wide. I want to be able to frame this piece with a standard frame so that it doesn’t have to have a custom frame. Looking through my boxes of felt pieces, I found the upper darker blue piece that would add enough to the total to get to 8″ in height. I think it is a screen printed piece but I really can’t remember. Some of the stuff in my stash is really old and needs to be used up.

Now to connect them together. The simplest plan was to needle felt them together. I made the light blue felt uneven by cutting it as I didn’t want to see a straight line working it’s way through. Then I needle felted the two together and this is the result.

Next, I looked through my many boxes of yarn bits. These are the ones that I decided to try. I want the scene to look like autumn grasses and seed heads. Some of the choices didn’t get used but now I needed to sample them and see how I wanted the stitching to look.

Luckily, I have more of the nuno background to use as a sample. This piece is about 3″ x 6″ as I only wanted to try out the different colors and practice a little free motion machine embroidery before I started on the main piece. I did put a thin interfacing on the back to stabilize the felt. I like most of these ideas for grasses and seed heads except for the one that looks almost white. I think I will skip using that one. The purple one on the far end is a small piece of purple felt that I stitched down with a lighter thread color. I’m only going to have a few flowers that are still blooming in this piece. The tentative name at this point is “Late Bloomers”. Hopefully, I will finish this before my next post.

The First Leaf – Nuno Felt Landscape

The First Leaf – Nuno Felt Landscape

Before I get started on my new nuno felted landscape, I wanted to share the changes that I made to First Light, which I posted about several weeks ago.

This is what it looked like on the last post. I had a comment from Ann B. that it lacked shadows. I had hemmed and hawed about adding shadows. I had convinced myself that the marks on the background could serve as shadows as it was a bit abstract. But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with Ann that it was lacking something. So I decided I would audition shadows with sheer fabric. And once I saw it, I knew the shadows were necessary. How could I call it First Light if I ignored the shadows?

And here it is after adding shadows. What do you think? Better or worse? I would suggest that you don’t rush whether a piece is finished or not. It was a bit of a challenge stitching the shadows down after the piece was already laced to backing board 😉

Now on to this piece. It definitely had beautiful autumn colors, so I decided I would add some silver birch trees with their fall leaf color. You will notice that I turned this around so the darker area was closer to the top of the piece.

I cut out some tree trunks from silk paper that I had made a while ago in preparation for trees. I hand stitched these in place.

Then I added some branches so the leaves would have somewhere to live.

Next up, I needed some background foliage. I didn’t want it to be too dominant but just needed some texture. I decided to use nylon organza and then burn it back with a wood burning tool to give it a leafy feel. Then I stitched it in place. You can click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the details better.

Next up was to cut out a bunch of leaf shapes in two colors of silk organza. I hand stitched these in place but the leaves were still too transparent and weren’t giving the effect I wanted to achieve.

I looked through my stash and had this bright yellow in silk habotai. That would perfect from a more opaque leaf. Once cut out, these leaves were stitched down. The photos above show the progression from left to right. Then, I put the piece up on the wall and studied it. That leaning tree trunk on the far left was bugging me. I didn’t like that it took your eye off the edge and it matched the same lean as the tree towards the middle. So I did a bit of unstitching and removed it.

So here is The First Leaf. I haven’t found the correct background fabric for it yet so I will have to go shopping for that. But that gives me a bit more time for it to hang in the studio and make sure that it is really finished!

 

GLORIOUS DEVON Part 3

GLORIOUS DEVON Part 3

Back in June last year, at the end of my 2nd post on this felt painting, having remixed the fibres for my palette and removed the fibres I had already needled into the far background of the picture, I redid that bit of work and left you with this picture of where I had got to then:

Starting work

I am pleased to say that I have made considerable progress since then and here I’ll take you along for the ride!

On my next visit to the Hideaway Workshop – my friend’s place where I tend to do most of my work on my pictures – I set to to blend fibres for the palette for the main part of the picture.

Blending Fibres for Palette

I worked on the picture for about 4 – 5 hours once a month, until I was able to take this photo of the results on 26th February 2022.

This was still work in progress and I carried on and in May I was able to take further pictures of details – Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields; sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance; the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance; and the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind.

Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields
sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance
the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance
the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind

By then I had done pretty much all I was going to do for the landscape until the final details just at the end, and I needed to get on with the horse.

Now, I was toying with a new idea about how to do this. For some time I have been considering experimenting with the type of scenery often seen in simple stage sets like our typical panto village scene with shops and other buildings. Almost all of which were flat with one side showing a village shop and the other some other building for a different scene. These would be set about the stage facing square on to the audience so that they could see only the side applicable to the current scene, with further buildings painted on the backdrop. Cast members would appear from behind these and various other scenery flats like rocks, or bushes. I don’t have any suitable photos that would illustrate this, but I do have a couple of photos of children’s toy paper theatres which also demonstrate what I mean.

Toy Paper Theatres

I thought I might be able to do something along these lines for the horse in my picture.  By affixing a fairly stiff piece of felt in the shape of the horse to the picture but leaving it’s head and the top of the body unattached and slightly proud.  I was hoping that this would give even more depth to the whole.

Knowing that if I was to needle felt a “flat-ish” horse to the required size, I would actually have to start off with a slightly bigger image – as the more it was needled, the more it would shrink and become out of scale.  So using my copier I enlarged the image of the horse by 10% and then made a tracing of the image.  As I did with the actual landscape picture, I then stitched the outlines of the horse through the tracing onto a piece of thick white felt.  This was a piece of the felt that I used for the background of the landscape, but folded into three.  I needled it and then wet felted it so that it was a solid piece of felt which would if necessary stand up on its own.

starting to stitch over the tracing
ready to colour in

I blended some fibres to make the palette I would use, having decided that the picture I had taken would be a guide to shape only and I’d have a slightly different coloured horse in my picture.

Horse palette

I had by this time removed all the guide stitches from the landscape picture, except the lower part of the Golden Mean lines to guide me where to place the horse when completed.

Here is the horse, substantially finished, about to be cut out of his background.

And here he is having been cut out. 

I have left the top part of the body with the original depth of the backing felt and have shaved down the backs of the legs, the belly and nose so that they will be more part of the picture as opposed to appearing to stand proud of it.  I have also added coloured fibres to the sides and the rear edges for the whole horse so that no white background will be visible when the horse is attached to the landscape.  The final shape of the legs and neck will be refined at that stage, and more grass added around the muzzle and hooves.  I have left the tail and the forelock un-needled to emulate a slight breeze blowing some hairs around. I have also attached some linen threads to the back which I will use to secure the body to the picture. If I don’t do this it is possible that the horse might fall off the picture if he’s only attached by his hooves and his muzzle.

back view

And this is where I have come to a (“shuddering”) halt.

I was hoping that this would be the last post in this series; that I would have finished my picture of the horse on the Devon hillside. However the recent very hot (to us) weather we have been experiencing here in the UK has meant that I’ve had to stop work. So I was getting very behind. In addition, I seem to have acquired an RSI (repetitive strain injury) to the shoulder of my dominant right arm – to be exact “rotator cuff related shoulder pain”. Although I don’t think it was as a result solely of needle felting, I suspect that the action of frequently stabbing fibres for several hours at a time may have contributed to it. It certainly hasn’t helped it. Whatever, it has resulted in my having to put aside my needle felting for the moment. I will post again as soon as I can get back to work and finish this, which has fast become a labour of love. In the meantime this where I have got to.

Back into the Project bag
Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch Exhibition

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch Exhibition

The ‘Bachelor Buttons’ in the midst of setting up the exhibition. (Maureen couldn’t be there, but her beautiful work was.)

I recently completed Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center and we held an in-person and online exhibition. Gail’s courses are similar to City and Guilds in the UK. If you’re close to the Seattle area, there is a new session of Level 3 Stitch beginning in September. Just click on the link above for more information. (And you really don’t have to be that close, I live almost 600 miles away.)

We had a busy few days setting up the exhibition and I thought you might like to see a few set up photos.

And then it was the day of the exhibition. We had around 80 people attend over the two days in early July. It was wonderful to be able to see all the hard work accomplished by my fellow students and to share our work with other interested people.

I asked my fellow students if I could share their work and I’m happy that everyone agreed so that you can see some amazing fiber art. These are just a very few examples of their work produced in class.

Maureen Goldsmith

Maureen Goldsmith wasn’t able to come to the in-person exhibition but was able to send her wonderful work.

Covid Birds © Maureen Goldsmith

Covid Birds by Maureen is a framed wall hanging, you can see it in the first photo behind the group photo on the wall, to understand the size of the piece.

Covid Birds – Detail © Maureen Goldsmith

Here’s a detail view so you can see the stitching more closely.

Val Gleeson

Val has an interest in historical embroidery and needlework.

Pleasurable Pursuits © Val Gleeson

Her piece “Pleasurable Pursuits” is based on historical needlework studies that she pursued during the class.

Pleasurable Pursuits – Detail © Val Gleeson

Here’s a detail shot so that you can see the amount of hand stitching in this piece.

Acer Macrophyllum Book and Samples © Sheila Asdal

Sheila Asdal created a machine and hand stitched book about the Big Leaf Maple and the creatures that find shelter and sustenance in the tree.

Acer Macrophyllum Book © Sheila Asdal

Here’s a side view and front cover of the book.

Acer Macrophyllum Book – Detail of Moth © Sheila Asdal

And a detail view of the stumpwork moth she created.

Catherine Sloan

Catherine’s interests are from nature, including rocks, plants, seed heads and the winter garden.

The Winter Garden Series © Catherine Sloan

She used her original photos of her winter garden to create this handstitched series.

The Winter Garden Series © Catherine Sloan

Each of the individual pieces are about 6″ x 6″.

The Hanging Garden © Bobbie Herrick

Bobbie Herrick is also inspired by her garden. She took on a tremendous project in creating The Hanging Garden light.

The Hanging Garden © Bobbie Herrick

Bobbie’s lamp was created with machine and hand stitching and cut back applique. She found it interesting to work with light during this process as it changed the colors immensely when the light was turned on behind the fabric.

Ethereal Bottles © Alana Koehler

Alana Koehler was inspired by a row of bottles on her windowsill. As she worked through the process, she became intrigued with the difference between the hardness of glass and the translucent fabric that she ended up using in Ethereal Bottles.

Ethereal Bottles © Alana Koehler

The sheer fabric in Ethereal Bottles float away from the wall and the bottles are created with machine stitching. It is definitely ethereal in person.

Ruth Lane with The Language of Trees © Ruth Lane

And lastly, there is me. The Language of Trees is based on the concept that trees and other forest plants, have a vast communication network underground.

The Language of Trees © Ruth Lane

This wall hanging is mostly machine stitched on a dyed and painted background. The little bits of orange are words that I selected from tree poems to express the trees communicating with each other.

And because I have had a few people asking, I have also included my book about my dog Edgar. Here is “The Book of Edgar”.

Thanks to all my classmates for their camaraderie and support. Thanks to Gail and Penny for all your expert guidance and perseverance through a challenging three years of class.

%d bloggers like this: