There has been one of my all too frequent gaps in posting. Again it is because I have been doing a lot of making, mainly on my inspired by Fabergé eggs. I have also moved on to working with wook appliqué and embroidery and have gone back to my old highly decorative and surface worked style. This is one of the new series of eggs (and I will post about all of them eventually). It is worked on a thick but light Welsh woollen background, with the egg itself made from an Irish tweed from a sample pack. I chose the tweed to try and echo Fabergé’s trademark guilloché enamel. This involved many coats of thin enamel over a tooled metal base. I believe it is called Guilloché after its inventor M. Guilloché. This is an egg showing the technique.
Strangely whereas enamel is cold and hard and durable, the soft, thick highly susceptible to moths tweed seems like a brilliant way to render the guilloché in textiles.
This piece, which I have called the Turtle Egg, also shows what I mean by being inspired by Fabergé rather than copying him. I don’t particularly like the neo-classical style of the eggs, but I find them endlessly inspiring for my own ideas. I heard an interview with the singer PJ Harvey yesterday in which she said she does a lot of research and reading for her albums but when it comes time to write the songs she puts it all aways and just writes what comes out, in effect her own response to the material. I think this sums up what I do much of the time. I do my research, look at the picture books I have amassed and then wait to do what the cloth tells me to do. I find this a highly satisfying process.
After choosing the delicate tweed I found a leftover circle of cloth from another project, already pressed over a paper form. I appliquéd that and then started to add the beads around the edge of the egg. Tweed and wool in general don’t fray particularly badly, unlike silk, but they still need gentle treatment until the edges are secured. After that I stitched on the turtle, which is a charm that I bought for three pounds in a bead shop. It was a happy accident that the cloth circle and the turtle fitted together so well. As I was sewing I became aware that I was working in bronzy tones, but that the tweed was a very soft blue, green and pink blend, and so I put a ring of turquoise beads around the inner circle. I finished by stitching colonial knots in a beautifully variegated perlé cotton around the turtle.
I made this one in an evening and it was really relaxing to make. One of those pieces where everything comes gently together rather than having to be wrestled into place, which is a story for another day.
Were there an award for the nicest person in the world, I think my friend Alison would be a very strong contender. She noticed the above Gucci chicken in Florence and kindly sent me a photo to go with my own Fabergé attempt. Of course, this could just mean a lot more work: a series of chickens in the style of – Laura Ashley, Cath Kidston, Gudrun Sjødën and so on.
My last post was about the fox piece that I started at the Mandy Pattullo workshop I attended. I really like Mandy’s work and I wanted to do a bit more with some of the ideas that we discussed at the workshop, so here are a couple more pieces. They are worked on top of a variation of a hexagon rosette all done in Laura Ashley fabric and then applied to a base. These were then washed at 90 degrees and tumble-dried. This gives a nice antique-y feel to them, but it also makes what is already pretty dense fabric almost impossible to stitch into. I live and learn. I thought just embroidering through the top layer would be okay but the furnishing (decorator) weight, if anything, got denser rather than softer. Still, the end results were pretty and confirm me in my view that more is more with regard to decorative pieces. A few tasteful marks would have been useless.
First is this piece which has a vague look of seventeenth-century crewel work to me:
Compare it to one of Mandy Pattullo’s pieces and you can see the influence:
The second is rather more folk-arty, I think:
It reminds me a bit of Pennsylvania Dutch art which I have always loved since my mother’s penfriend sent me a tiny PD pendant when I was a very little girl:
This one is applied to an IKEA linen tea towel cut in half. This would be lovely to stitch into were it not for the upholstery weight rosette behind it. I am particularly proud of this piece for an odd reason: I managed to find my set of yo-yo or suffolk puff makers which I bought years ago before I realised what a fruitless task making suffolk puffs is. But on this they really work and the gadget makes them quick and easy to make. I had three go-s at the plant pot before this finally worked.
I am really enjoying making them, and the medical profession is very keen on my doing embroidery at the moment, and so everyone, temporarily at least, is happy.
These are really not very good photographs of the work I did on the new Laura Ashley piece. I have had a big burst of interest in this quilt, and I am wondering if it is because the other large piece has gone. There is a lot about at the moment on the subject of decluttering. One idea is that you have to clear out old stuff to let the new in. I wonder if I had to let go of that piece, which had every technique I knew at the time in it, and completely wiped out my bead collection, in order to produce something new.
Anyway, I spent a couple of hours yesterday working with scraps of cloth to put together the foundation for two panels. Again this is mainly fabric which would be in landfill if it hadn’t ended up on one of these pieces, although the Regency prints are commercially produced.
I wanted a record of how they looked before I started really working on them. The pinkier one has some embroidery already, but the bluer one is at the very beginning. The minute the embellishment starts to go on they really change. All of my embellished quilts are like Vegas showgirls – nothing much until they put on the bling and step out into the lights.
I will post again when I have made some progress on them, and it’s good to have some hand-stitching to do again in these long, dark winter nights.