I’m always up for getting two things done with one piece. So I decided to create a winter themed tree picture that I could prepare to take to the gallery which has sold three of my pieces. (Yay!)
I found a piece of nuno felt in my pile of felted stuff that seemed perfect for a wintry background. Since I had just finished framing The First Leaf, I immediately thought of birch trees again since the years challenge is to create the same trees in different seasons. So birch trees it is.
I cut the birch trees from my remaining silk paper and got the placement how I wanted it. I need to make more silk paper for my spring and summer birch trees. But this seemed a little ho hum. The plan is to add branches with free motion machining but I still thought it needed more. The left background felt like perhaps there were some pine/evergreens in the distance. Perhaps I could enhance that?
So I added some layers of tulle in vague tree shapes on that side. But it wasn’t enough contrast and the tree shapes were getting lost. What to do?
Here’s the start of the next idea. Burn the tulle into tree shapes with a wood burning tool. This is just one of the colors of tulle I am planning on using. I will still be layering the tulle but hopefully, this will give a bit more emphasis to the shapes of the trees in the background without overwhelming the foreground trees. Once I have the evergreens worked out, then it’s on to some stitching.
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.
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!
Here is where I was when I left off in my last post about my latest nuno felted landscape. I decided the next step was to create more evergreen trees to add to the left hillside.
I used some green wool sandwiched between two pieces of water soluble fabric and free motion stitched some trunks/branches. These were then soaked in hot water and gently felted. I started adding them into the foreground. I decided I didn’t have enough so I went back and stitched more several times until I was satisfied with the volume. I also added in a few areas of lighter trees to give a bit of contrast. Once I had those arranged and pinned down, I started looking at the yellow brown area in the middle of the picture, part of the closest mountain. It seemed to have too much contrast and due to being the same color as the foreground, it “moved” that mountain too far forward.
So I added a couple of pieces of sheer nylon scarves, one deep red and one purple over the area. That’s better! I try a lot of different things as I’m working and take quick photos on my phone. I’m not showing all the photos as it is hard to tell the differences in some of them. But I use the photos to see how the piece looks from a distance and find any glaring problems. At some point in here, I added some sheer black fabric behind the foreground mountain as there were bits of black wool that were drawing my attention too much.
After I stitched down the trees with a variety of blue green threads and a bit of feather stitch, I started working on the foreground. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the details a bit better. The grass is a combination of raffia, burlap and cheesecloth. I also was bothered by the “driveway” of green on the middle right. At some point, I tore some of the wool from the surface so that it wasn’t such a line.
I arranged the grass bits numerous times and then started stitching them down. The photo on the left has the “clumps” stitched but I was trying various pieces of raffia on the very bottom and had them pinned in place. I also decided the raffia was a bit too light so I colored it with a felt tip marker in light browns, greens and dark brown edges. The photo on the right shows the piece after completing the foreground. Next up was the sky.
I wanted to “move” the colors in the sky around a bit with some stitching. But how to do that? I first thought about couching threads to the surface. The photo on the left shows that idea being tested. I wasn’t happy with that but couldn’t decide what to do. So I reached out to Antje (who has authored posts here in the past), and she made several good suggestions. I decided to use running stitch. I used variegated colors and mixed several strands together to not have such a solid color effect. Click on the photo on the right to see the starting of the running stitch. The point of adding the stitching was to soften some of the harder transitions in the sky. Thanks Antje for your help!
Here is the finished Montana Sunrise (16″ x 30″). It definitely has a bit different feel using a mosaic type of nuno felt instead of one piece of dyed silk. I think it is much less abstract than some of my other recent pieces. Now I have to find the right fabric for it’s matting. What color would you use as the matte?
Having run out of already felted nuno backgrounds, I decided to try a large landscape and create it in a mosaic type of nuno process as opposed to one piece of dyed silk. I got out my remaining already dyed silks to see what was available. After looking at what I had, I decided on a sunrise or sunset with the sky being around two thirds of the landscape.
I started with a large piece of white prefelt, fluffed it up with a brush to make sure it would felt more easily. Then I added a very light layer of merino in the colors of the landscape. I used short fiber merino hoping it would help “glue” the small pieces of silk. I then wet down the wool before applying any silk.
I started with the sky and continued to wet down all the silk pieces as they were laid out.
I kept working my way down trying to make sure that there weren’t any completely straight edges on the silk. I did add bits of wool underneath the silk if there was more than one layer of silk. Once the sky was finished, it was on to the mountains and the foreground.
I added silk for the mountains and the foreground. I decided to add some green wool on top for some pine trees and to soften the edges between the foreground and the more distant mountains. Then on to felting.
Here’s the piece after it is partially felted. It did require a lot of careful rubbing but most of the silk stayed in place and adhered to the wool.
Here is the piece after being completely felted. I decided for now to call this piece Montana Sunrise. I am going to add stitching and more detail to the foreground but that’s for another post. The finished size of the piece is approximately 16″ x 30″.
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.
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!
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