Browsed by
Category: Free Motion Stitching

Mark Making and Bear

Mark Making and Bear

My local group has an art retreat every year and it’s coming up soon. (We’ve all been vaccinated.) This year we are planning on creating some abstract art and I wanted to create some of my own mark making tools. I have been collecting feathers around my house for years and since we have a lot of wild turkeys, I find a lot of larger feathers. I also, collected some goose feathers when walking by my sister’s house.

The turkey feathers are on the left and the goose feathers (right) are from Canada geese. Now all I had to do was figure out how to make a brush from a feather. So Youtube is the answer. You can learn just about anything on Youtube. I found two videos and decided I would try both methods.

First method found on Youtube

The first method involved cutting the turkey feather in a specific way to get a “sharp” point. I had a bit of trouble with the hollow shaft cracking on this one. I’m not sure if that was because it was old and had dried out more or not. But I used some tape and attached it to a chopstick that had already been used for mark making in my studio.

Second method found on Youtube

The second method uses almost all of the shaft of the goose feather and you pulled the vanes of the feather off to just leave the top portion for the brush. This seemed to work a little bit better for me and this shaft didn’t crack. It was definitely a newer feather and wasn’t as dried out.

Then because I had a large piece of goose feather left over from the second method, I decided to use that to create a brush by using double stick tape, masking tape and a skewer. It actually gave me the “sharpest” point on all three of the brushes.

The last brush I created by making a tassel from black #5 Perle Cotton on a chopstick. You can use any kind of stick for the handle and next time I plan on using some natural found sticks which will be more interesting. With this method, I created the tassel and then wrapped it tightly around the end of the chopstick. It seems to be very sturdy and won’t pull off too easily. I left the tassel ends long but you could cut them to any length that you prefer. Or you could cut them very raggedly so that would produce a different type of mark.

Then I tried the brushes with a bit of black paint to make some marks. I need to play a bit more and try some different types of movements with the brushes but I was happy with the start of making my own brushes. More to come!

This is Bear, my friend Nanci’s dog who has since passed away. Nanci has been so kind to collect our mail and papers while we travel. So I wanted to create a gift for her that was meaningful. I have been doing paint and stitch portraits of my dog Edgar for my class homework so I thought I would try one of Nanci’s dog Bear. Luckily, I had a photo of Bear on the computer because Nanci used to work for me and we used various pet photos in our social media campaigns. The photo was really dark but I was able to put it into Photoshop Elements and add in more light so that I could see the outline of the dog. I then traced the outline on to lightweight cotton muslin with a pencil. Now on to painting.

Here is Bear after painting. I used guar gum and watercolor pencils/crayons to paint. The guar gum is a thickener that keeps the paint from spreading too much on the fabric. I was happy with the result and almost left it like that. But I decided a bit of free motion machine stitching would highlight the furriness of the dog more.

I added a tear away stabilizer and did some stitching in black and darker red brown threads. Bear is complete. I gave the portrait to Nanci recently and she loved it. Come to find out, she loves this photo of Bear as it is the last photo ever taken of her. I had no idea that this particular photo meant so much to Nanci but it was what I had on my computer. Serendipity, I guess.

Service Berries Appliqued Nuno Felt

Service Berries Appliqued Nuno Felt

I showed you earlier the nuno backgrounds that I had created. I decided to try using the idea of the layered photos that I created in Photoshop Elements.

So instead of going with what the background suggested (pine trees), I thought I would try some fused machine applique over the nuno felt.

I printed out my service berry photo and got out my light box, tracing paper and a pencil. I completely ignored the background in the photo and just concentrated on the branch with berries and leaves. I simplified the design as I went.

Here’s the traced design that I came up with for my applique. Now I needed to choose a piece of fabric, get out my fusible (Wonder Under) and transfer the design to the fabric.

Here’s the piece of fabric that I chose on top of the nuno felt. The photo is not the best as the nuno felt looks black. I fused the Wonder Under to the back of the green fabric with my iron. It’s easy to do but if you haven’t used fusible before, make sure to read the instruction of the type that you have. All of them are a bit different.

Once I had the fusible in place, I transferred the pattern to the paper on the back of the fabric. I had to remember that the pattern would be reversed when cut out and applied to the background. I used the tracing paper to do this by flipping my drawing over on to the fusible paper and drawing on the backside of the tracing paper to transfer the pencil line. This works best if you enhance the original pencil line with a softer lead pencil, I used a 7B. Once the pattern was transferred, I cut it out with a pair of short, sharp scissors. I left the paper in place until after everything was cut out.

Then I applied the cut out fabric to the background by ironing it in place. The fusible melts and holds the fabric in place so that it’s easy to stitch down and add details.

Before I started stitching, I decided to add a little thickened water color to get a bit more definition and shading in the leaves and berries. Then on to the sewing machine.

Here it is after stitching (free motion) on the machine. I used three different greens and a couple of reddish brown threads. It’s hard to get an accurate color representation in the photos as the dark red seems to throw the camera off very easily. This was a fun project and different than most of my other nuno landscapes. Now to figure out what to do with the other backgrounds. More to come!

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.

I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.

Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, has an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.

The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.

After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!

Maggie went her own way with an Owl.
Dorothy and Debra painting their backgrounds.
Ann laying down the background for her tree silhouettes.
Melanie painting her background layer.
Rachel’s background is painted and now she’s working on her foreground layers.
Sandra adding detail to her foreground trees.

With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.

Hilary’s background has been painted and now she is starting to layer fabrics to create her forest.
Rhona’s moon gazing hare is taking shape.
Dorothy’s forest is pinned and ready for stitching.
Evelyn’s work in progress.

I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!

Melanie’s lone tree is starting to take form.
Rachel adding her gate and railings.
Ruth is beginning to add hand embroidery to her tree.
Debra used lots of free motion stitch on her version of a tree canopy.
Using the same image as Debra for inspiration, Carol chose to give her tree canopy autumnal colouring.
Judy’s version of my Walk in the Forest.
Hilary made good use of zig zag free motion stitch for trees in the distance.
Margaret’s version of my Three Tall Trees.
Dorothy added hand embroidery for foreground grasses and flowers.
Melanie’s finished work…..fantastic to think this was her first attempt at machine sewing and hand embroidery!
Rhona’s moon gazing hare…..what this image doesn’t show clearly is the addition of black beads which adds texture and sparkle when you see it close up.
Close up of Sandra’s finished trees.

What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!

I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.

The EYE’s class of 2021.
Twilight – Nuno Felted Landscape

Twilight – Nuno Felted Landscape

I recently sold several pieces of work at Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center in Bigfork, Montana and I took a new set of framed pieces down. But summer, the tourist season is upon us and I needed to stay ahead and create some new work. I found some pieces of hand dyed silk that I had in my stash and put a stack of prefelt and the silk together so they are ready to felt.

I started with this piece of silk which has been nunofelted to white prefelt. I fold over the edges and what doesn’t stick to the back with felting, I hand stitch in place so I have a nice edge. This piece is approximately 7″ x 11″. Once felted, I look at the piece from different angles and “find” my landscape.

Next up, I free motion machine stitched the background picking out the mountains in the background and some rocks in the foreground.

Next, I decided to add a foreground tree, my go to foreground. I used a variety of hand dyed cheesecloth layers for the main branches and trunk of the tree. But the result wasn’t what I wanted. The background didn’t have enough depth, I needed more change in value and contrast. So I peeled off the tree which luckily came up in one piece.

Then I used a thickened acrylic ink to add darker values and contrast to the landscape. That definitely adds more depth.

Now to look at the tree in place on the background. Much better! Now to stitch the tree. I tacked it down with hand stitching to keep the cheesecloth in place. You can skip that step but it is harder to keep the foot of the machine from moving the cheesecloth out of place. Once it was hand stitched and holding in place, I went back to the machine.

And here’s the finished piece. I am calling it Twilight as it reminds me of a sunset in the mountains. I’m happy with it and I’m glad that I took the time to add some depth to the background before I stitched the tree.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Annie (rosiepink)

For the 4th quarter challenge I made a few different things because once I started thinking about it I came up with lots of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to make!  I ended up making:

a stars themed table mat

a Christmas pudding decoration

some stars on sticks to poke into my houseplant pots

and a wreath of holly & stars

I needed a mat for the side table in my hallway because people always put keys etc on there and it gets scratched.  I was going to make one in the summer but didn’t get round to it and now that it’s winter I went for a theme of dark inky blue sky with white stars for a festive feel. I had a disaster with it when it wouldn’t felt, but that turned into a triumph when I rescued it with the embellisher because the mat not only felted but also became reversible where the pattern migrated through to the back 🙂

There is more detail about it over on our blog if you are interested: https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2020/12/starry-night-hand-felted-table-runner.html

When trying the mat on the table I saw my simple felt “flower” on a stick that is poked into one of my flower pots, and it gave me another idea.  I thought some stars on sticks would look nice and festive scattered in my plant pots. The flower is just a circle sample of felt from the odds box that I stuck on a wire one day and pushed into the soil.  A friend commented that she really liked it so I left it there.  Also, I had promised my plants I would make them some name tags this year and I didn’t, so they can have a star each instead 🙂

Since making the Christmas Podding a few years back …

https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2014/12/christmas-podding-and-the-chocolate-thief.html

… I kept thinking I’d like to make some more wired twisty holly leaves, possibly made into a wreath.  After some experimentation I made 3 sheets of colourful felt to cut the leaves from…

…but then decided it would take too much time to make all the leaves, so I decided to make a flat Christmas Pudding instead that could stand as a decoration and then I’d only need to make a few leaves!  The pudding is stood on a plate but leaning against a hidden glass jar.

To make the holly leaves I pinned some fabric to the back of the felt for stiffness then free motion stitched a few holly leaf shapes round 3 times in black thread and twice with white.  I also used some old felt to make some other leaves to mix up the colours.

To make the pudding I raided the scraps box. From scrap felt I cut out two main shapes – a 20cm diameter circle for the pudding and a wavy “topping” for the custard. I backed both pieces with fabric then stitched them together.

I cut some little “raisins” from orange felt and stitched them on then free motion stitched a pattern around them on the main pudding.

I attached the holly leaves and added some felt balls for berries. I had already made these a long time ago but they were perfect for this project.  Lastly I added a few little yellow stars for extra sparkle.

I had originally planned on making holly leaves using a base of green fibres plus a lot of other unusual colours to make it a bit quirky. I made a big sheet of felt to cut them from, but found I had used too many dark greens and not enough of the other colours so it wasn’t quite right. I decided I wanted to go more colourful, resulting in the felt I made above.  However, it is a lovely piece of felt and has some interesting passages in it.  For example, I can see lots of little landscapes in it and I will revisit it at some point because I think it has potential.  For now it’s one for my pile of “Ideas & Projects in Progress”.   Again, there is more detail on our blog about this if you are interested because this post is way too long as it is!

https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2020/12/from-felted-holly-leaves-to-landscapes.html

Then in a sudden swirl of enthusiasm I decided to make a big bunch of holly leaves after all to see if I could cobble together a wreath of sorts.  Here are some in progress photos:

After making lots of holly leaves (but sadly no wire, no time!) I hit a problem in that I couldn’t get the leaves to attach nicely to the metal wreath ring I had. I didn’t want to glue gun it in case I want to take it apart and repurpose the bits at some point.  What to do? I had a look around and rediscovered a narrow felted “scarf” that I had made in the summer.  I had been far to impatient when making the scarf and it turned out nothing like I had hoped (basically lovely colours but a complete disaster!). I kept it in the hope that it would come in handy one day, and it did.  I wrapped the ring in the scarf which gave me something to stitch the leaves to:

I mixed in some felted stars and some yellow glass beads as berries (yellow, red, who cares?!)  The stitching is appalling as it was done in record time, but it’s on the back so it won’t be seen.  My patience has limits especially on something fiddly like this when I’m running out of time!  But I think the overall appearance is fun and a bit different and if I ever make another wreath I have learnt a lot along the way for next time!

Here is everything together on the table in the hallway:

 

Holiday Card Exchange

Holiday Card Exchange

Each year on the forum, we have a holiday card exchange. It’s always lots of fun to see all the different cards created and to receive one in the mail. If you’d like to see other cards, you can see them here. Make sure to scroll down and then look at all the pages in this thread to see the ones posted so far. 

I was getting a bit concerned about the card that I sent to Janet in Canada. I sent it out on November 4th and she didn’t receive it until November 27th. That is one of the reasons that we have people send their cards early so it has more time to arrive safely during the busy holiday season. But at last, she got it! So now I can tell you how I made the card.

Here’s the layout. I used a piece of white prefelt for the background and then added short fiber merino in blue green for the sky. I left patches very thin to make it look more snowy. I used “white” mixed 56’s for the snow but it wasn’t very white so I added a bit of white cashmere fiber that I have been saving. It was very white. Then I added silk noil to create a more snow like effect on the ground and in the sky. Finally over top of this, I added white prefelt tree trunks. I started with only one layer of prefelt but decided to add another layer over the trunks in the sky section as I felt that the blue green was going to bleed through too much.

Here it is after felting. I liked how the tree trunks overlapped on the top so I left them for awhile.

Next up was to add a little free motion machine stitching. I used an off white thread to give a slight shadow and more texture on the trunks. It’s kind of hard to see here but you can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Then I added a dark grey thread to give the characteristic birch tree look. I don’t use black for this because it feels much too stark. I think the grey looks more natural. Then I had to decide whether to crop or leave it as is. I finally decided on the cropping because it was just slightly too big to fit on my 5″ x 7″ card. I trimmed it up with a rotary cutter and attached it to a greeting card to send to Janet.

So here it is. I do think it looks very wintery which was the goal. I am going to have to make some more of these to sell as small art pieces.

And this is the wonderful card that I received from Janet. This is Janet’s first attempt at making a fiber/felt card and didn’t she do an awesome job? Thanks Janet for this beautiful card.

Summer Sunrise – Nuno Felt Landscape

Summer Sunrise – Nuno Felt Landscape

I have been working on a set of nuno felted and stitched landscapes and I have finished another one. This one I am currently calling Summer Sunrise unless I come up with a better name.

Here’s how the piece looked after nuno felting. It reminded me of flowers so I thought I would go in that direction with the landscape. I googled Montana wildflowers at sunrise and found several photos to use as guidance and inspiration.

I started by free motion machine stitching a line of mountains and some tall, skinny pine trees.

I added a few lines of grasses so the trees didn’t feel like they were floating.

Then to add a few mid-ground lupines. I just kept moving down the piece as I created these from background to foreground.

Then the lupines needed a little greenery and leaves. Now on to the main attraction, the foreground flowers.

I created the foreground flowers and leaves with hand dyed silk organza. I fused them together and then fused them to the surface of the nuno felt. Here’s where I forgot to take many photos. I get involved in the process and forget all about taking any photos.

Here’s a midway photo. I used free motion machine stitching to add the details and lines. I kept layering and stitching the flowers and leaves.

After I got the two large leaves applied at the very bottom, I felt that they were too bright green and really drew your eye right to the bottom of the picture. So I decided to darken them up more. I added darker thread but ultimately, they were still too bright. So I used oil pastels to tone down the bright green.  I also used oil pastels in the mountains just to give a little bit more definition of the mountains in the distance. So this one is complete and I’m still working on the slow stitch one. I will have an update on that one next week.

Update on Nuno Felted Landscapes

Update on Nuno Felted Landscapes

I started working on some nuno felted landscapes in April. It has been stop and start on getting them completed. But I thought I would give you an update on the results so far.

I showed you Flathead Lake at the end of April. I got a few comments on perhaps adding more stitching to the trees. It took a bit of contemplation about whether I should add more stitching. The main reasons I decided to go ahead and add some stitching is to bring the trees more into the foreground and to hide some of the horizontal stitching that I did on the lake area.

I used a #12 variegated cotton thread and free motion stitched the branches. I do like the highlights that it added and it definitely helped cover the horizontal lines of “lake stitching”. Now I need to find a “matte” fabric and get it ready for framing.

 

This is another background. I decided to hand stitch this one. I’m not sure why since it is the biggest one. It should take me quite a while especially since I have become disenchanted with it. I was working on it steadily but that has gone by the wayside.

Here it is after stitching the distant pine trees.

Then I stitched more foliage and aspen trees. I am using seed stitch and using a variety of colors. I was thinking it was similar to impressionist paintings with little dots of color. I think painting is significantly faster than stitching. So this is definitely a slow stitch piece.

Here’s a closer look at the stitches. I think I got discouraged because I still had so much to fill. I will be adding some different stitches into the foreground but I have to get the further distances completed before I can start on the foreground. What do you do when you get discouraged in the middle of a project? I have been working on other stuff, so it isn’t that I am not doing anything. But this one is not very appealing right now. Any suggestions?

Nuno Felted Landscape – Flathead Lake

Nuno Felted Landscape – Flathead Lake

After doing lots of machine stitching on the last landscape that I showed you, I decided to try a more minimalist approach.

This is the starting point after nuno felting.

I then machine stitched the distant mountains as well as the lines on the water. I considered stitching heavily again to get the variety of colors in the mountains but thought, why not use paint? I hadn’t tried much painting on nuno felt but I decided to just go for it. I used Dye-Na-Flow paint that I already had. I watered it down a bit as it turns kind of plastic looking when dry used straight out of the bottle.

Here is it after painting. I had to be careful applying the paint as it had a tendency to spread so I carefully brushed it on and didn’t get very close to the edges of the stitching. Now it looks more like mountains and a lake. What to put in the foreground? I searched online for photos of Flathead Lake at sunset and found some that I liked and the photos helped with the foreground choice. Add trees, now why didn’t I think of that?

So I stitched in the outlines of the trees.

Then added the paint. I am still deciding if it is finished. I might add some hand stitching to the trees to give a bit more texture and variation in color. What do you think? Does it need more?

 

 

Whitefish River Landscape

Whitefish River Landscape

I showed you the start for this landscape last week. It’s based on a photo of the trees in winter on the Whitefish river. I really like the way the orange branches look against the sky and in the reflections in the water.

Here’s the photo I took and then the layout of the felt on the right. I used what silk I already had to represent the sky and the water and then added a little wool for the land and for the large tree trunk on the left. The felted piece ended up about 8″ x 11″.

I then started stitching the most distant background features. I forgot to add any support behind the felt at this point but later on added a heavy weight Pellon interfacing to support some of the heavier machine stitching.

Now to add some sheer orange fabric for the trees. I also stitched in dark brown along the edge of the river and the shore.

Then on to adding in the trees along the shoreline. I did baste down the orange sheer fabric to hold it in place while stitching. I added more stitching for the reflections of the trees.

I cut back some of the orange in the trees to show the sky in places and added a second layer of sheer orange over some of the branches. I then stitched more branches in orange thread. I did the same for the reflected trees.

Now on to the large foreground tree. I added some bark details with my darkest brown thread.

And then stitched in the large foreground branches. I started from the top dark branches and moved downward. I added one layer of sheer fabric over the yellow in the bottom left hand corner by the trunk to tone it down just a little. After looking at this for a while, I decided to make a few small changes. The right hand corner was drawing my attention to much with the background trees. There was too much contrast between the white clouds and the dark branches. Also, the shoreline wasn’t quite right.

Lighter brown stitching was added to the background trees and to the shoreline. I used a small amount of oil pastel to make a shoreline reflection in the water. And it was finished. Or at least finished for now. I will need to find a background cotton fabric for it’s matte and then get it framed. On to the next landscape!

For those of you who wanted to see the end result of Penny Peters 25 Million Stitches piece, here it is. You can read more about it here.

We have also started writing a monthly newsletter and already sent the first one out last week. If you’d like to receive the newsletter, click on the link in the prior sentence and scroll down to the end of the newsletter. There is a link to click there to submit your email address. Or you can sign up on the right side bar here. Thanks!

%d bloggers like this: