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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.

Getting Creative in Cosby

Getting Creative in Cosby

Last week I was invited down to Leicestershire to visit the Cosby Quilters to give a talk on the Tuesday evening and run a textile workshop on the Wednesday. The workshop they chose was “Tall Trees”, based on one of my early art quilts, which involves painting fabrics such as cotton, interfacing and muslin which are then layered with organza and free motion stitched.

Normally this is a two day class but occasionally, as with Cosby, it’s booked for one day with the students happy to finish in their own time. The ladies have made a great start with their pieces and I’m looking forward to receiving photos as and when they get finished.

Pat Screaton, one of the Cosby Quilters, lives in the village and is also heavily involved with the Cosby Yarn Bombing. It’s a joint effort by members of the Cosby Crafters & the social enterprise Gather Create Grow, which uses arts & crafts to improve wellbeing & reduce isolation.

When the workshop ladies stopped for lunch Pat said she needed to pop out for a few minutes to go round to “the barn” and suggested I go with her to get an idea of the scale of their yarn bomb activities.

The barn itself was crammed with box after box of knitting/crochet wool and there were ladies sitting on the grass all around knitting, crocheting or sewing granny squares together…..it looked a proper cottage industry! It turns out that there are regular sessions for folk to attend as well as the group reaching out to the wider community, including schools, to get everyone involved. What a fantastic enterprise!

They don’t appear to do anything on a small scale, all the characters, animals, plants, etc, etc, that they create are life size.

Everything is carefully stored between events and everything gets recycled over and over again, being reincarnated as something, or someone, different the following year.

This is their life size model of our Queen, complete with Corgi’s, made to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee…….I love the detail they include such as the Queens monogrammed gloves and the royal “posh poo” bag!

…..and a few photos from last years Nativity Scene……

The local community are currently well on the way with their 2022 ‘Make a Splash’ themed installations which will be decorating the beautiful village of Cosby this August. Back at Pats house I was given a sneak preview of a few of the pieces and they are looking impressive…..including schools of fish, a massive crocheted coral reef and a huge wet felted Lochness Monster!

The “Make a Splash” Yarn Bomb will run from 13 August to 4 September 2022 and will stay up for 25 days. It’s all outdoors, it’s going to be spectacular, and it’s completely free so if you are in the Leicestershire area it’s well worth a visit.

Another Nuno Landscape Completed

Another Nuno Landscape Completed

I have been working away on my nuno felt landscapes this winter. I always sell more work in the summertime, so it’s good to get ahead of the game and get work ready to be framed in the spring. So what to do with this background. I felt like the diagonal lines of color felt too “tie dyed” and needed to break them up. The colors reminded me of summer flowers so that’s where I decided to go with this background.

I played around with a variety of cotton fabric and cheesecloth and laid these out on the nuno background.

I added a small bud to the small, lower right hand flower.

I pinned the pieces in place and added interfacing to the back to provide support for the machine stitching. I could have fused them down but I find that I don’t like the way the fusing flattens the fabric and doesn’t allow “movement” of the fabric with stitching. This is a personal preference and it is easier to stitch if everything is fused in place but I prefer to pin or baste the pieces in place. I also was looking at possibly bringing some of the dark blue up into the area above the flowers. I tested this out by cutting some small bits of #5 perle cotton and laying it down to give the impression of blue flower stalks.

I free motion machine stitched all the green first. I used two different shades of green to give a little depth to the stems and leaves.

I used three different shades of thread in the centers of the flowers and two colors on the petals. I decided to bring a bit of the burnt orange down into the petals to give a look of a bit of shadows near the centers. Last, I added dark brown to the bottom of the centers which definitely helped define the centers.

Lastly, I added blue French knots with #5 perle cotton thread. I then stitched it down to the background “matte” fabric and laced it on to card. So it’s ready to frame. I decided to call this one “Summer Fireworks”. I have run out of nuno felted backgrounds so I guess that will be my next project.

 

Tamarack Trio Landscape

Tamarack Trio Landscape

In my last post, I showed you this nuno felted background and asked for suggestions. Everyone’s ideas were so interesting and different than what I see in this randomly dyed piece. I loved hearing your suggestions but to me, this was definitely an autumn forest scene. I wanted to try and make it more abstract and less “real”.  So I started off just adding some lines in free motion embroidery that were to symbolize tree trunks. I forgot to take any in process photos. Once I get started on the machine, I get engrossed in the process. Then I got to the stage of “really ugly”. Do you find when you’re working that you go through that stage of “this is awful and I should just toss it”? But I kept going and ended up going more realistic than planned but that was the only way forward that I could see that would work.

I added tamarack trees, a fallen trunk and some foreground leaves in the upper right corner. The small trunks in the back left were too white so I took a gray colored pencil to them so they wouldn’t stand out too much. I then hung the piece up on the wall so I could look at it from a distance and to see what else it needed.  I decided to add more foreground leaves so they came down into the distant aspens in the lower right.

Here it is with more leaves added. That pushed the aspens back further into the distance and made the piece feel a bit more cohesive.

 

Here’s a couple of close ups of the free motion stitching. I don’t usually use the zigzag stitch when doing free motion but I liked the more abstract effect on the tamarack trees. If you don’t have tamaracks (also called larch) trees in your area, they look like pines/evergreens but their needles turn a bright yellow orange in the fall and then they shed all their needles. So they are a deciduous conifer. They are a gorgeous addition to the landscape in the fall.

I continued my new “habit” of finishing the piece at the time I made it. Here it is stitched down to a tan matting fabric and laced over matte board, another piece ready to frame. It does have some abstract qualities to it and I like the end result. Sometimes, you just have to keep pushing through and ignore that inner critic.

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.

1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.

First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.

I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.

Next was the light green thread. I just used it for  a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.

Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.

Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.

Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.

Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.

So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!

 

Cuffs and Stuff

Cuffs and Stuff

A couple of years ago a friend alerted me to the wonderful Australian magazine simply called “Felt”. It’s only published twice a year but I look forward to it eagerly as it’s always crammed with interesting photographs and articles including artist profiles and project tutorials.

One of the artists featured in the latest edition is the Canadian born feltmaker Christianna Ferguson. Christianna’s work is very colourful and textural and, as well as teaching and exhibiting, she also creates what she calls “more functional art: scarves, purses, cuffs, tea-cosies and wearables.”

Examples of the colourful and textural work of Christianna Ferguson

So, having read about her work, when I turned the page and saw the tutorial for making her fabulous little Nuno felted and hand embroidered cuffs I had to have a go!

The fasteners are particularly cute and make an interesting feature but I struggled to get them as firm as I would have liked. For an added twist I’ve included some hand stitching and a bead to my fasteners. I added some hand embroidery to my green cuff but wasn’t happy with it…..looking back at Christianna’s examples I can see that my stitching wasn’t subtle enough! I much prefer the grey one which I left plain.

The good thing to come out of this exercise, having made two in this style, is that I’ve been reminded how much fun cuffs are to make. I designed several Nuno felted & free motion stitched cuffs for my sales tables last year and this has encouraged me to get on and make more.

Some of my earlier cuffs – can’t help but think of bacon rashers when I look at this photo!
Nuno felted and free motion stitched cuffs

I also got thinking about other possibilities and how much more sculptural I could make my cuffs. The next set are based on the design of one of my bangles, using a felt ball as the fastener and keeping the little beaded element.

The bangle that inspired the cuffs
The slits have been filled with half balls and metal buttons

They were all fun to make but I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer the irregular shaped, Nuno style with the stitched edging (from last year) so I’ve come full circle! These are two I started this morning…..

Pre-felts laid out and wetted prior to felting
Using differential shrinkage creates an undulating surface

And this is them finished. Christianna said that when she makes hers “each cuff feels like a little piece of abstract art” and I couldn’t agree more. Although I love creating larger pieces of work there is something very satisfying about making these little cuffs and ending up with a totally unique, wearable item.

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?

Fabric Collage Landscape Part 4

Fabric Collage Landscape Part 4

This is the last in the series of posts about the fabric collage landscape that I have been creating. If you have missed the prior posts, just click on the links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. I began working on the foreground by fusing the green fabric to the foreground and creating some rocks.

I used a dark purple fabric for the shadowed parts of the rocks. Then I created some paper patterns for the sunlit areas. I wanted to try and get the perspective and shape of the rocks correct before I cut any fabric. I only had a small amount of the light purple fabric and didn’t want to run out because of poor cutting choices. So I kept refining the paper pieces as I went along.

Once I had the rocks started, I began stitching the trees along the near shore line. I used cut up bits of dark green fabric and then stitched over them. As I said in previous posts, the fabric shifts around and so I wasn’t able to be precious about placement of the fabric. I think this is why it looks more natural because I didn’t have a lot of control over where everything ended up. You can see in the photos above the progression from left to right of the trees and then added a few more moving into the foreground. I actually probably should have done the ground cover first but I didn’t think of it.

So then I added in the ground cover. The part that is further away used a duller color and I used a piece of cheesecloth that had also been rusted. So that gave the rusty color which I think really adds to a more natural look. I kept testing the rocks as I went to see how everything was coming together. I also added a brighter green ground cover in the center foreground where the rocks are sitting. Again, it was a combination of chopped up fabric, thread and yarn.

Next was to create the rocks with fabric. The center photo shows how I added a sheer layer of painted nylon organza to achieve shadows on the rocks. The right photo shows all the rocks completed and fused down. Now on to add stitching details to the rocks.

I started with a dark grey thread in the shadowed areas of the rocks. All of the stitching is done with free motion machine stitching. Then I added black thread as the rocks definitely needed more darkness. The last thread I used was a light purple thread for highlights. I did go back in in several areas and add more grey to get the effect I wanted.

The last step was to add greenery to the rocks on the left. I used chopped up fabric again and carefully stitched it down. This was a bit tedious as the pieces of fabric were jumping around all over the place but I managed to get them all stitched down.

So finally, I have a finished fabric collage landscape. It was a lot of effort and took a long time but I am pleased with the results. I am still contemplating what to call this one. I am planning on framing it with a matte board and black frame. Thanks Antje for giving me the “push” to create this piece. I had a great time working out how to do it and I think I will be doing more of these in the future.

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