Wednesday, July 20, 2016

stitching snow

 making a little progress in my book, but ideas are swirling around in my head like a veritable blizzard and i'm running from one to the other, starting many, finishing only this so far...

 i don't mind though because i love this best 

paper, machine stitch, torn edges and appliqued circles in paper and silk

i considered adding hand-stitching to some of the open areas but in the end i decided to leave them plain; a nod to the unbroken swaths of snow found in the open spaces of a winter's landscape

 the thin edge of the upper right is unbelievably fragile so i have tacked this all the way around... unable to lift it to reveal the scene that lies beneath, as a child reading a story, you will have to imagine the rest for yourself...

and pale and faded as the page itself, i've added these little ghost trees to the inside of the back cover

it wasn't planned, doodling one in order to test a pen, i couldn't resist and so filled the page

i think it will be a good ending...

and it's just like me to turn to the back of the book first

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

inspiration versus limitation...

i've been known to be a bit scattered when it comes to all things creative

wanting to try almost everything i see, it can all get a tad overwhelming at times

not to mention the ensuing issues of cost and storage...

"artist's block" rarely ever happens to me - instead, i usually have more ideas than time, and that's certainly been the case with my latest online class

"stitching a story"

each of us have chosen a children's storybook and we're embellishing them in all sorts of wonderful ways... amazing stuff happening in this class by some very talented people...

my chosen book was "the bedspread", by sylvia fair... it's the story of two elderly sisters  who are confined to one very large bed, and, in order to ease their boredom, they've decided to each embroider their end of the white bedspread they also share

 the book is full of amazing illustrations which provided me with four full pages of notes - ideas drawn from both the images, and from the story itself - enough that it would take me a year at least to explore them all

added to that were all the scribbles done by a very young hand some time in this book's past
{i bought my copy from a book-seller on amazon, and it was an old library book, so well used}

i traced out some of the scribbles, identifying shapes within them that i could then take forward into more design work

below is an example of that - one scribble resembled a heart and so i stitched french knots all along it... love, love, love

 below is the beginning of a limited colour study

i had to set the book, as well as my pages of ideas aside for a few weeks whilst i concentrated on the quilt show our guild held back in early june, and though i thought i was keen to get back to class-work, i kept dragging my feet

i couldn't decide where to start

in looking over my pages of notes, and flipping through the pages of the book, i halfheartedly tried my hand at a small sample of tree-bark and colourful leaves

no go

overwhelmed, i think

and as i mulled it all over i remembered the book i'd originally chosen for this class, but set aside when i discovered "the bedspread"

"the red apple"
feridun oral

it had me at hello

soft brown and beige, off-white and red
trees and snow and animals

a winter's scene

in the end i'd decided against it because i thought there just wasn't enough design inspiration to work with... the scene rarely changes, only the animals do

it's always winter - bare trees, and snow falling incessantly

now i was thinking this narrow field of vision might be exactly what i need

today i dug it out of the closet and began what will be

"an extensive exploration of snow and winter trees"

 so far - a few simple french knots on the dedication page

one wrap, two wraps, sometimes three

a fabric bought a few years back - white, with raised star-shaped stitches arranged in circles - perfect for a tiny drawn tree

a scrap of fme lace makes perfect falling snow

 another of circle fabric circles, this one with the centre cut out helps define the fallen apple

 still trying to decide where to put thesnowball-tree

and what other shapes could be drawn in more of them - what kind of snow-storm to create?

a narrow focus this time, one with serious limitations, might be enough inspiration for me right now

 exploring limited shapes in unlimited ways has more appeal than dealing with pages full of glorious illustrations; a well-spring of inspiration can sometimes be far more daunting than working with one simple shape

"the bedspread" proved to be all too overwhelming... and i was always wanting to do something, yet never able to decide on just what that should be, and i ended up doing nothing

today all that changed - fabric and scissors flew, needles and thread all over the place, baskets emptied in the search for scraps of lace and paper-shapes

we're on a two week break from class, before it resumes for another 8 weeks, and no one in class knows i've pulled a switch-up... not even the teacher

 it seems i'll have an interesting "story" to tell about what i did on my two week vacation!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


really, that should read "finished"...

i made a little "art quilt" to display in the quilt show held last weekend by our local guild

but as there are things i added to make it look "complete" which i know i'll remove and re-work, "continuing" might be the better choice after all

i love that about pieces like this - they never have to be 'finished'

you saw some elements of this work a few posts back... pieces of silk and such

I basted, tacked, and stitched the silk background together using a very fine thread and tiny invisible stitches, a cotton diaper bought in the uk a few years ago is a supporting base

the only things i knew for sure when i began this piece were: there would be paper, and there would be queen anne's lace

if i was ever hard-pressed to pick a favourite flower this would be it

a very rough sketch

transferred to tracing paper, pinned in place

the design stitched with a very fine back-stitch and then the tracing paper torn away

some lace i made, some vintage
{since this photograph was taken another flower was added - i'll  show that in my next post}

much of the silk had subtle patterning, which was a perfect opportunity to add stitch detail

chain stitch to emphasize stems

fly stitch to bring forward "ghost" leaves

quilting stitches to lift surface design and add texture

the plant stems were stitched in a staccato-style - short, choppy stitches, layering different colours of thread, a single strand at at a time

trying for a "sketchy" look

plants printed on paper using water, steam and pressure, indentations providing stitching lines, the plants themselves giving colour

stitching these was a huge challenge - what to leave alone, how to add without taking away

creating fanciful flowers of my own

working with nature at a truly wonderful level

when i stitched these i felt like i only wanted to stitch on paper, ever again...

i got to this point, what you see below, and then had to step back to consider

as always, i learnt a lot from doing this, much of which i plan to take forward with me to other projects

i still can't decide if the paper is my favourite thing about this, or the transparent effect of the embroidered flowers - that I really want to pursue, learning better how to achieve it whilst maintaining a focal point - tricksy stuff

so now the show is over, my guild presidency is also finished, teaching is done... it's summer vacation alright

i feel like i've been away this whole year, my poor sad blog suffering from massive neglect and blogging friends who haven't heard from me in ages 
it's my hope to be able to return to posting here a couple of times each week as i've very much missed this - my way of "thinking out loud"

i have so many new ideas, things i want to try, stitching experiments, new directions to travel in... summer is such a great time for creative explorations

there's an easy freedom in the air and a needle in my hand

Friday, May 20, 2016

patched and pieced...

my daily stitch practice is alive and well - i'm rather proud to say i haven't missed one single day

each morning i sit in my favourite chair and root through my small basket of scraps, choosing something to add

the choices stem from where on the cloth i find myself drawn to - i thought at the beginning it would be what i wanted to add, but the reverse has proven to be true

it often looks lop-sided but i know at the end it will be ok

above you see it in it's entirety, as of today

 i first began by using a simple running stitch, about 1/8" in from the edge

over time i got tired of all the little stray threads that kept working themselves loose
{as did he who does the vacuuming}

so i switched to a very fine overcast stitch - too much coffee though, and the stitches aren't quite as fine as i'd like... but there it is - just more evidence of "me" on each day

tiny irregular scraps, some larger more even ones - a true mixed bag

i rarely trim them, usually only if a wayward edge will cover something i'd rather it didn't

 starting dark, lightening toward the edges

it's my intention to go very light all the way around before bringing it back to dark at the outermost edges

 the blue-grey part is my favourite - as i'm sure many of you who know me well would guess

when the patch is placed and the picture posted, the cloth is folded neatly and placed back on the scrap pile, ready for the next morning

sometimes, if i have a minute, i'll play with a few more scraps, considering options

but no matter how good a plan i make, the next morning i begin afresh with where and what

 light and shadows play brilliantly on rumpled cloth

 blending colour, easing it across the cloth

 ragged edges that still shed but somehow eventually it stops and the cloth and stitching hold fast

 i use a favourite art book to support it on my lap, "the scent of ink"

they've become a pairing for me, the cloth and the book, so when the patches are done, and i'm wondering where i go with it next, i'll look here for inspiration

i must say that even though i planned the value placements with a mind of keeping it whole and embroidering on the surface,  there is a part of me that has a hankering to cut it up... the only thing that stops me from doing so is that it would surely create even more scraps!

 today i laid it out and trimmed and straightened the ragged edges of the muslin - tonight i'll baste a hem, and then have a real sense of what's left to do

there was a time i thought it would take two years to fill in but now i can see it probably won't even take one and before the year is over i'll be ready for the next one

the same, but different

Saturday, April 16, 2016

a coming together...

sometimes i feel as though what i've been doing has been completely scattered... disparate ideas and workings that leave me with a heap of random bits and pieces and the wondering of what i'll ever do with it all...

we're having a quilt show here in june and i've been wanting to make something for it, something of my own design

even though june is rapidly approaching, and the registration deadline faster still, i've refused to force the idea issue, trusting that the right one will come in time

the beginnings of it floated about in my consciousness this past week - snippets of ideas, random flotsam and jetsam of the mind
a thought, a quick sketch, notes scribbled here and there, letting it brew

 as that was happening in the background of my mind, i muddled along with the stitching on this scrap of paper i eco-printed last summer

silk ribbon and variegated embroidery thread

all the while thinking that this year i would like to dye more of my threads and ribbons, a process also flirted with last summer

below is my effort with lavender

it was then that all the scattered thoughts coalesced, cohesion in that common thread

a wall-hanging, using my favourite pieces of hand-dyed and printed paper, the threads and ribbons that stewed and brewed for months in the little jars that were stacked in the bathroom window for so many weeks

bits of silk fabric from sample packs from here

 and many of my random stitching experiments: dragon--scale smocking, stitched and slashed paper and lace cloth, lace snippets on silk, pin-tucked fabric, lace cloth

 a coming together, i think

 in short order my work table was covered with all manner of bits and pieces, anything with commonality to the central idea

even a fragment of stitched silk from a piece worked on for our show of three years ago

and so an idea grows...

Monday, April 4, 2016

button up

ever since i was very small i've loved buttons...

my mom had a wooden box filled with them - beautiful sparkly "diamond" buttons, pearly white ones, plain ones, pretty ones, not-so pretty ones

on rainy days we four kids would dump it carefully onto the kitchen table and one would draw their finger through the shimmering pile, first down the middle, dividing it in half, and then cross-wise, through the centre again

we'd pick our piles and then the sorting would again, looking for favourites, looking to see who got the "diamond"button

no wonder then that i love to make them

first i made snippet lace, a wonderful technique i learned in classes over at karen ruane's site, "contemporary embroidery"

attaching one piece to some lovely crinkled silk, the other to rustic linen

lines basted, embroidery next

little ribbon roses, tiny french knots

clustered here and there

a buckle for a form

and then two little buttons!

 the round white one is made on the usual snap-form available in many sizes in general sewing stores

no plan for these pretties - i made them not to put on something specific... simply because i wanted to

someday they'll find their way onto a project or two but in the meanwhile i'll just enjoy looking at them

and you can bet i'll be keeping my eyes open for other unusual ideas for button forms...