The next step was to do a bit of stitch sampling on the tree trunks. I had been making some wrapped cords that I thought might look nice stitched down to give tree trunk texture but they were too large a scale for the size of the trunks as you can see on the left side. Then I started searching for a stitch that I thought would look nice as texture on the bark. After looking at some complex stitches, I suddenly remembered the KISS principle (keep it simple …). So I decided to try running stitch. It is a much better scale and simple to stitch, the winner!
So I stitched on both trunks. The left photo was taking a look at how they were going to be on the background. I decided they still needed more stitching and added a bit more running stitch. I used a lightweight wool thread as I didn’t want to have a contrast from the wool trunk to a shinier thread such as cotton or silk.
Now on to adding more of the foreground elements. Keeping in mind that I want to highlight the streak of “sunshine” from back left to right foreground, I placed three pieces of felt cut into perhaps rock shapes as well as adding some “moss” with cheesecloth. This is how far I have gotten. I think the rocks need some stitching to add a bit more shadow/darker values. That’s the next thing to sample.
I went through some of my sketchbooks/workbooks from my prior classes recently and found a few pieces that were inspiring. It’s nice to revisit old work and see if there is something there that will inspire new work.
Here’s the forest floor collage that I found. I thought that this would make a nice landscape in fiber/textiles. I can’t seem to find the original photo that I used for inspiration so I’m working from the collage.
Going through my pieces of already made nuno felt, I thought this piece would work. The top right corner made me think of “forest sky” and mottled light, so that’s a good start. The size is 12.5″ wide and 11″ high. Most of you will probably recognize this nuno felt as I have used it for several projects already. But the fun thing with this type of project, is that the background is just the start and the finished pieces will not look alike but would go together well if paired with one of my other pieces.
Next up was to look through my boxes of felt scraps and see if I could find something that would work for the more distant tree trunks. I started with the felt on the left but once I put it down, the value of the tree trunk to the background was too similar and the grey brown wasn’t very “exciting”. The middle felt trunks are actually the opposite side of the trunks on the right. The values were a bit better and I am leaning towards the ones on the right. I am planning on adding some stitched texture to the bark and can add more darkness into the trunks that way. I luckily have enough of this felt to do some sampling and see what kind of stitching will work best. Also, after I uploaded these photos and saw the tree trunks from a distance (smaller photo size), I noticed that it looked like the light was slanting through the trees. I need to remember to leave that lightness in the foreground to give that effect.
I continued to look through my felt scraps and dyed fabric. I found some nice greens, some “fallen trees” or “rocks” and some cheesecloth that will add texture. I kept looking for felt or fabric that would work for the flowers, I couldn’t really find anything that worked. I could felt some small white flowers but I’m not sure it’s worth that effort. The white flower I am showing is cut from watercolor paper (300 pound) and the center is a bit of yellow green cheesecloth. The paper would be simpler as it doesn’t fray and I noticed the contrasting sheen of the paper compared to the matte of the felt. The paper can also be shaped so it is 3D and coming off the surface of the landscape. As you can see in this photo, I have lost that brightness coming through the trees as I have it covered with green. This is just trying out colors and the final layout and shapes of pieces to applique down has not been decided.
Because the nuno felt is thin, I decided I needed to back it with something a bit heavier to hold the weight of the heavier felt I will be stitching to the front. So I cut a piece of rayon wool commercial felt blend to the same size as the nuno background.
Next up was basting these two pieces of fabric together. I don’t always baste but I have found that in general, it’s better to take the time to baste the backing fabric to the background fabric. The integrity of the piece is always better after basting. It holds everything in place and provides support while stitching the foreground items. This is especially true if you are machine stitching as the machine has a tendency to move the nuno fabric in different directions than the backing fabric. Basting rant is now over.
Next, I will be doing some sampling to see how I want to stitch the tree trunks and previewing the green fabrics. More coming soon!
This is the final installment of my large nuno felted autumn landscape, it is finally finished and I have even stretched it over stretcher bars so it is ready to go the framer next week. It is my entry for the 4th Quarter Challenge of the year long tree challenge. I’m way ahead this time. Yay!
In my last post, I was trying to determine how to handle the ground and prevent the background trees from “floating”. I decided to try leaf litter on the ground. I used the same fabric and paper that I used for the leaves on the branches. You can see on the left hand photo the first attempt. I had some leaves that were already cut out but these were much too big. It made the ground move forward since the leaves were the same size as the foreground tree leaves. Not the look I wanted. So I cut the leaves into tiny pieces and scattered them about. I didn’t want to bore you with all of the time I took arranging the leaves. You can see the progression from left to right. I had taken over 10 photos of this progression but thought I would show the first, middle and last photos. Perhaps you can tell a difference that way! Once I had the leaves where I wanted them, I glued them down with an archival gel medium. I don’t usually use glue but these pieces were so small, I thought that was the best option.
Next up was to determine the color of the “matte”. This is the fabric that I stitch the nuno felt down on to hold it in place for framing. I decided to go with the darker grey fabric. Then I stitched along the edges of the nuno felt to hold it to the background fabric. Normally, I would then lace the fabric over matte board or foam core but this piece is big and I decided to use stretcher bars instead. The stretcher bar frame is 23″ x 34″. I wrapped the fabric around the stretcher bars and stapled it in place. The hardest part of that process is getting the nuno felt landscape in the right position since you staple from the back side.
Here’s the piece on the stretcher bars ready to be framed. I will use my usual slim black frame. Did anyone notice anything else that was changed at the very end? Calling Down from the Branches is now ready to go to the framers and then off to the gallery.
I have been continuing to make progress with my large autumn landscape.
I began by looking for silk fabric in the correct colors. I found a yellow orange and a yellow green. But I needed a lighter mid yellow. I didn’t have that in silk fabric but I remembered some rice paper that I had painted yellow and coated with matte medium. I could use that for leaves too. To prevent the silk leaves from fraying as much, I ironed a light weight fusible to the back side of the fabric. Then I cut out a variety of leaf shapes. The secret to making leaves look more natural is just cut them out freely by hand. The shapes will be all different and the sizes won’t be exactly the same but that is what you want. I found a photo online to give me an idea on how the leaves should look and used that for inspiration.
When I was stitching the leaves down, I wanted some movement and the feeling of the leaves about to fall. Therefore, I only stitched them down with one or two straight stitches. This allowed the fabric leaf to come out from the background and be more three dimensional.
Cutting and stitching individual leaves takes a bit of time but I liked the result.
Here’s the piece after adding leaves. I may add a few more in a couple of places but I am evaluating now to see what else the piece might need. I haven’t cut off the bottom edge but I will be doing that shortly. I could add fallen leaves at the base of the background trees. Or I could add a bit of grass here and there. Or I could leave it alone. What’s your vote?
My idea for a name for this one is “Calling Down from the Branches”.
I have been continuing work on my large autumn landscape. I added the large tree trunk and branches and was planning on adding leaves to complete the piece.
However, I decided it need darker branches on the larger, foreground tree. I had some black wool yarn that I decided to use for machine cords. I twisted three pieces of black yarn together and then zigzagged over them by machine with a near black thread. Some of the yarn pieces I left apart so that there were narrowing branches of either two or one yarn diameters.
Then to start stitching them in place. I didn’t have a specific plan as to where they would go, I was just winging it. I couched the cords in place and in the thicker areas, I used two machined cords couched side by side.
Here’s the piece after I had couched all the machined cords in place. You might also notice that I have folded the bottom of the piece up to see what it would look like without the bottom four inches or so. I liked the look of it better. It feels like a better scale to me. I haven’t cut it off yet, but I think I will soon.
Then I decided that I needed thinner branches coming off the thicker foreground branches. So I used the same almost black thread in size 12 (Sulky cotton machine thread) and stem stitched the other branches. Click on the photo to see the branches in more detail.
Next up is leaves for the foreground tree. I will be cutting those out of yellow, yellow orange and yellow green silk. My plan is to add fusible web to the backside of the leaves so that they will not ravel at the edges. Then I will probably add a bit of grassiness at the base of the backgrounds trees and call it good. But you never know, I will evaluate to see if it needs anything else when I get to that point.
I added free motion machine stitching to the distant shore. Whenever I start FME on a landscape, I always think that the first few areas where I have stitched look like it’s too much. But I keep going and usually, once more stitching is added, the initial lines don’t feel excessive.
The next step was to stitch the rocks across from the tree. I considered adding some stitching into the foliage above the rocks but decided to leave it as is.
Then on to stitching the tree. I added the dark bits to the trunk and stitching through the felted paper was a breeze, no problems at all either by machine or by hand. The dark branches were added next and then decision time on how to add a few more leaves. I considered needle felting some smaller leaves on the dark branches but then decided I would hand stitch the leaves.
I then hand stitched leaves on to the dark branches using hand dyed lace weight wool thread and detached chain stitch. I added a few bits of grass at the bottom of the trunk as well.
The miracle is that I found a backing fabric, stitched the felt to that and then wrapped/laced the piece around matte board so it’s ready to frame. Since the piece is small (matte size 8″ x 10″), it went quickly and now I have two pieces ready to take to the framers. This piece counts for the year long tree challenge for spring. I have to think about the summer one as it wouldn’t really look different than spring, a few more leaves perhaps?
The winter birch piece is also ready for framing. I used a darker gray hand dyed fabric for the winter birch as it felt “colder” that way. Now on to the next landscape as the gallery wants me to replace the one that sold last month. (Doing a little happy dance!)
This is the piece that sold called Remembrance. Yay!
I have had this mulberry paper with leaves embossed on it for quite a while. I loved the paper but never used it for anything. It is fairly thick and the embossed portions are really thick. The question was whether it would felt easily to the surface. I tore out a single leaf and placed it over a small torn piece of green, short fiber merino batt.
The wool and paper were then wet down (sorry for the blurry photo) and I felted as I had on my previous paper samples, treating the paper as if it was fabric as in nuno felting. I wondered whether I would lose the embossed lines of the leaf, whether the paper thickness was too heavy to felt in easily and if it would felt differently than the thinner papers I had tried previously.
Here’s the end result. You can still see the leaf. It felted very easily and doesn’t seem much different than the thinner papers. I think if I had done a lot of wringing of the felt it would have distorted the leaf but I was careful to avoid fulling in that manner.
Hmmm… how can I use this leaf paper in a design? What would happen if I added ink or dye to the paper before felting? What if I dry brushed paint over the surface of the paper after felting? What else could I do to the surface to enhance the feel of leafiness? How would hand or machine stitching look on the surface? Will it be easy to stitch through? Any other experimental ideas for me? Obviously, more samples to follow.
Next on to experimenting with paper in my landscapes. This is the layout of wool and a paper birch tree. (This also works for my spring tree for our year long tree challenge.) The piece is pretty small and ended up about 7″ x 9″ after felting.
Here’s the piece after wetting down and curbing the edges a bit before felting. Again, I treated this gently to allow the paper to felt in.
Here’s the piece after felting. I plan to add some free motion machine stitching to add more interest in the tree and more branches as well. I will probably add a few more leaves to the tree as well and perhaps a bit of detail to the rest of the landscape. The tree worked well and the paper really stands out to make the tree the focal point of the landscape. I definitely need to do more experiments with landscapes and paper. How else could I use the paper besides tree trunks? How would scraps of green paper felt in to make foliage? What would a variety of colors of paper layered over each other and then felted look like?
I love asking ‘what if’ and trying out these ideas, which lead to new ideas and further experimentation. I haven’t even begun to scrape the surface with how paper and felt can be used together. I would love to hear your ideas for experimentation so please leave a comment with your “what if’s”.
I have been working on my winter birch landscape. Here are the posts for part 1 and part 2 if you missed them.
I finished appliqueing the birch trunks and adding the machine stitched branches. I’m happy with the trees, now on to foreground snow.
Most of the comments on my last post thought it would be a good idea to add some snow in the foreground. I found a piece of white prefelt which I tore apart and auditioned in the left photo. The middle photo is with wool locks and the right photo is with wool slubs and nepps. I’m not happy with any of them. The one I like the best is on the left but I don’t have a good way to adhere the wool. I could needle felt it in but I really don’t like to needle felt into the silk of the nuno felt. I am thinking the foreground snow is not happening.
Another suggestion was to add red twig dogwood bushes. That seemed like a good idea to add in a contrasting color. I made a sample here on another piece of the nuno felt background. I used wool thread in dark orange, red and darker red. I first tried two threads, mixing the colors. The branches felt too fat. So I switched to one thread and decided to use the red and dark red threads. I hand stitched the bush using stem stitch.
Next came stitching it on the piece. I do like the addition of the red. Now I am letting it rest for a bit to decide if I want to add the red in one other area of the landscape. I think it might look more balanced if I had a few bushes further in the background. What do you think?
I made more tulle trees in the same manner with dark green and navy blue tulle. In theory, it seemed like a good idea to overlay these over the black tulle trees. But then when I did that, the trees were just a mish mash and you couldn’t really see them. So I decided to just use the black ones.
Here are the black trees with the birch in place before I stitched them down.
I hand stitched them down with a dark variegated thread and used feather stitch. It added a little bit of green but nothing you could see from a distance.
Then I moved on to the birch trees on the left that are in the background. I hand appliqued the silk paper birch trunk in place and then free motion machine stitched the branches. I want the branches to overlap and not appear all on one “level” so that is why I am stitching each trunk and branches separately.
Here is the progression of the stitching on the background birch trees. This always takes longer than I think it should. But I did like alternating between hand and machine stitching.
Here I am auditioning the foreground trees over what I have stitched so far. I think I will probably stitch down the background birches on the right side first but I do like to see how the overlapping trees affects the piece. I am also trying to decide if I should attempt adding more snow to the picture. What do you think?
This is the nuno background I showed a while back. Surprise, surprise, I created another landscape!
I started by adding some yellow orange sheer fabric to indicate the sky and then started auditioning trees cut from dyed silk organza. The trees went through many forms as I went along auditioning colors, sizes and placement.
I began making the foreground trees darker and the background trees lighter. It felt like the sun was coming from behind the hill. So I continued to emphasize that light perspective as I went along.
I was getting closer, adding more shadows and light.
Then I decided that the ground felt too light in the foreground. So I auditioned some sheer scarves in this area. These are light nylon scarves, you can see the edge hasn’t been removed here. Once the edge is cut off, the scarf can be easily frayed to blend into the background. Then on to stitching everything down.
Here’s the piece after I finished hand stitching the applique pieces in place for the trees. I also use a very small seed stitch to stitch down the sheer scarf pieces.
I decided I need something more in the foreground. The darker marks in the middle foreground reminded me of these plants. I think these are a type of wild orchid. This is a photo I took on one of my morning walks in the woods.
Here are the foreground plants. They are a combination of torn black tulle, couched yarns and pistol stitch in perle cottons.
I felt that the bottom of the orchids was a missing something so I added in some grasses which were couched down.
Here is the final piece on it’s fabric background. I have decided to call it First Light. The coloring in this last photo is the closest to the original. Now all it needs is framing.