box of birds 3rd panel

Panel number three is the pied wagtail, balancing on a fence post.

The fence: lollipop sticks cut to size with a craft knife and coloured with wax crayons. Posts connected with craft wire. The fence is held in place with a few stitches and a spot or two of fabric glue at the base of the posts.

The purple flowers/grapes: see yesterday’s post.

Tendrils: thread dipped in fabric stiffener solution then wrapped around a wire. Uncoiled when dry and stab stitched to fabric.

Grasses: Chopped up scraps of free-machine embroidery from a few years ago.

 

box of birds flowers

This past week I’ve been working on the background for the pied wagtail but it’s not quite finished so you’ll have to wait a day or two for the main reveal. The image shows little triangles of colonial knots with a few french knots in between, stitched onto water-soluble interfacing. I tried colonial knots a long time ago but couldn’t easily convert from right to left-handed instructions so gave up on them until The Left Handed Embroiderer’s Companion by Yvette Stanton made me think again and with my hoop clamped and both hands free, I find they’re not difficult at all and I’m now a fan. I can’t make up my mind whether these triangles are less like wisteria (my original intention) than bunches of grapes but I don’t think the wagtail will mind either.

box of birds 2nd panel

The robin is now stitched to his perch. I stretched sufficient silk over a base layer of muslin on my Millenium frame to give enough room for another panel to be stitched before the fabric comes off the frame so I’ll have to cover up the robin so it doesn’t get damaged while I stitch the next bird. The branch is soft cord with a wire inserted along the core and then wrapped with knitting yarn. The wired leaf was made a couple of weeks ago using Appleton’s crewel wool.

box of birds 1st panel

I’ve really enjoyed adding the extra touches to complete the nuthatch panel of the box of birds.

The background fabric is a pale green silk which I backed with a fine calico before applying any stitches. The stones of the wall are made from pieces of heavy duty interfacing coloured with wax crayons. The bird’s legs are jewellery wire wrapped with thread and the toes (do birds actually have toes?) are bullion stitches.

box of birds tree stuff

After I’d posted the branch samples, Joyce of Little Felt Houses asked if I’d thought about using wrapped wire. I had discounted this method but Joyce’s comment prompted a rethink.  Thank you Joyce! It was quick and easy to do and the wire can easily be manipulated into shape. It needs finessing a little but the method is a definite keeper.

 

I also made a 4cm long wired leaf this week. Any wired leaf instructions I’ve ever read have not specified a particular fabric to use but I’ve never been entirely happy that it’s virtually impossible to trim the fabric back to the edge of the leaf without leaving a few stray fabric threads which then have to be camouflaged by colouring with a marker pen or glued down. A eureka moment came last week when I watched a YouTube video showing a stumpwork leaf being worked on organza. Naturally, I had to try it for myself. My organza was a cheap polyester variety but it held up quite well and because the organza fibres are fine, it was fairly easy to trim them back. No colouring or gluing required! According to the RSN Stumpwork book which arrived in the post yesterday morning, any fine fabric can be used for wired shapes. Why have I never considered this myself?

 

I couched the wire in red thread so that it would be easy to see when unpicking it and then realised when I was actually doing so that the couching thread should have been the same as the leaf, since the fabric and the resultant leaf would never be separated. And yes, it was difficult to unpick. Two strands of green DMC embroidery cotton used throughout. Buttonhole stitch around the wire and a row of badly applied split stitch along the inner edge.

 

The front of the leaf. More un-fabulous stitching, this time satin stitch with overcast stitch for the central vein.

 

The back of the leaf with even more rubbishy stitching and can you spot a couple of organza fibres? I didn’t see them until after the image was taken with the camera’s macro setting. They show how fine the organza fibres are but now I know they’re there I could easily snip them off.

 

 

box of birds branches

I made ten samples for a tree branch and the final choice is between #2, #3, and #4.

For anyone interested in the methods employed:

#1 Soft cord wrapped with a scrap of furnishing fabric and stab stitched to the calico background.

#2 Soft cord wrapped with crinkly dyed muslin and stab stitched to the calico background.

#3 Couched lengths of knobbly yarn with scraps of green crinkly dyed muslin applied to suggest moss.

#4 Portuguese knotted stem stitch in various sizes with three strands of Anchor tapestry wool stitched onto onion netting and then applied as a slip.

#5 Soft random-dyed yarn stitched as a raised stem stitch band.

#6 As #1 but with different fabric.

#7 Silk scarf scrap wound around polyester toy filling and stab stitched to the calico. Moss as in #3.

#8 Same yarn as #5,  various stitches with over-stitching also to suggest roundness.

#9 Wire inserted into a cotton rope and overcast with Anchor tapestry wool.

#10 Rope as #9 with different sized straight stitches close together.

box of birds robin

More than half the robin is sewn and I’ve already sorted out threads to stitch a blue tit simply because I’m enjoying embroidering birds at the moment.

I don’t want to use the traditional stumpwork needlelace method to make three dimensional branches for the birds to perch on so I’ve sorted out a few bits and pieces to try something different.