rooster

The Chinese New Year brings in the year of the rooster on the 28th of January and I’ve made this one to sit in my son’s shop window. The rooster stands approximately 18 inches crest to claw and about 14 inches chest to tail tip. The body is papier maché formed over a balloon then cut and shaped when dry. The inner neck is a shaped cardboard tube. All the feathers are individually cut from a variety of cardboard, determined by the boxes I had waiting to be recycled. The claws are wire covered with floral tape. A hot glue gun was used to put it all together after which I painted it with gesso then acrylic paints. I saw something similar on the internet made from egg cartons but I didn’t have the time to save enough of those. If I ever made another bird this way I’d probably paint the cardboard first – it would make it much quicker to complete.

rooster

old mixed media piece

Humpty Dumpty isn’t quite finished so I thought I’d just show you something I did a long time ago and which hangs on a wall in Big Sis’s home. Nowadays I take photographs of nearly everything that I make but back then it just wasn’t thought of. Not having to consider the cost of film nowadays makes it easy to snap away at will and when I was last in Scotland I realised that I had no other record of this little piece but this is the best image I could get due to the reflections off the glass. It’s approximately A5 size and it’s a mixture of stumpwork, hand embroidery, stiffened fabric leaves and flowers, a little faint colouring on the fabric for sky, and handmade garden tools. It’s based on a black and white illustration in Thomasina Beck’s book, The Embroiderer’s Garden which I bought the same year I did this piece. I’m visiting Big Sis next week so I might try to take a better image of this garden scene but then again, I might be too busy taking pictures of Jasper instead!

garden embroidery

 

felt flower bouquet

I’ve been making these larger flowers and leaves this week and having lots of fun in the process.

felt flowers 1

felt flowers 2

felt flowers 3

scent-free garden

I’ve been making these flowers since yesterday and plan to make more but floral arrangements are few and far between in this household so a trip to the local charity shops might be in order to find a suitable container together with a book on flower arranging!

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portrait three

Yesterday I began a third stumpwork portrait, another man this time, wearing a striped blazer and carrying or wearing a straw boater. I tried the Jan Messent method for his hat-holding hand but I wasn’t happy with the result. To give the fingers form, the book says to use “cord or smooth string no thicker than 1mm (1/16in)” but I used a soft crochet cotton of a similar diameter which I only had in a green shade. It all went well until the final stitching around and between the fingers. I used fine 100% nylon lingerie and bobbin thread so that I could make really small stitches and the book doesn’t give any suggestion as to what to use. I’m not sure if the lingerie thread was the main fault or I just didn’t take enough care over it (I really shouldn’t watch television and stitch at the same time I know) but it’s not suitable for this portrait anyway. A hand in this position is more often seen resting on a lady’s lap and not for doffing a hat, which is my intention.

 

I promised photographs if I ever made a hand the Messent way so here’s three in one, showing the process. Top left: lay a piece of stiff vilene on a base fabric, draw a hand and fingers outline then lightly glue the cord fingers in place. Lower left: add a little light padding over the back of the hand when the glue is dry then cover with the actual hand fabric. Centre: stitch around and between the fingers using small back stitches. Cut out close to the outline stitching using fabric glue/fray stop on any raw threads.

hand

 

On the other hand (ha ha), here’s the stumpwork hand which is much better for my purpose. Each finger wire was bound with two strands of embroidery thread then the tip was bent over and the whole finger bound with thread from the tip all the way down to the “wrist” before securing the thread end. All the fingers and thumb were then bound together. With this method it’s possible to shape the fingers with small pliers to make the hand more realistic. I’d never made one of these hands before and I didn’t pay too much attention when I was wrapping the hand itself (blame Foyle’s War for that) so it’s a bit rough and ready. Still, it was only a test and I like how they could be made larger or smaller depending on the gauge of wire used or how finely or thickly they were wrapped. I still think that there’s something about these hands that make them look a little creepy, but we can’t have everything, can we?

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Stitched Safari

The Stitched Safari book by Tomomi Maeda was delivered on Saturday and I have no doubt I’ll be attempting one or two of the animals before long. The rhinoceros looks really appealing with his armoured hide made from varying shades of grey, brown, beige and off-white felt, and the flamingo is really sweet. Unfortunately there are only two dog patterns, a Pug and a Shiba, neither of which is my favourite type of dog but I’m sure the patterns could be easily adapted to a different breed.

 
The instructions are well written, accompanied by lots of diagrams and there are plenty of photographs taken from different angles, something which is often lacking in other similar books. 21 gauge plastic wire is used to give limbs stability and flexibility but I’d probably just use wire from my supplies as I’ve never had a need for plastic wire and therefore don’t possess any. The patterns are printed on fold-out sheets attached to the inside back cover with a recommendation that the patterns be photocopied rather than cutting the original patterns. The pattern pieces for each animal are grouped together with the name of the animal printed nearby but it might be easy to select a pattern piece that didn’t belong to the animal you were making since the pieces are not individually identified with the name of the animal, only the body part (see image below). If I planned to make several of these animals at the same time, I’d mark my copied pattern pieces with some kind of code to identify the animal, and store the cut pattern pieces for each animal in separate envelopes. DSCF8034

I’m looking forward to making my first animal but not just yet as I’m still enjoying the stumpwork and yesterday I began another one!

 

Thyme and Dill

The Golden Thyme leaves were causing me much grief and a great deal of silent cursing so I moved onto Dill, with an abundance of theraputic french knots and some wire wrapping. Quick, easy and enjoyable.

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There are eight leaves in the Golden Thyme project, all wired and needlelaced and you can see from the ruler showing centimetres in the photo below how small they are. The larger leaves are supposed to be constructed in a way that suggests veins but as you can see in (a), I hardly succeeded. I had already ripped out two previous starts and the cursing would have been vocal but for Big Sis being in the room with me. At that point I thought I might just not do Golden Thyme at all but that seemed like a cop-out so I then tried free-motion machine embroidery over a layer of organza and water soluble fusible web (b below), but although it looks more like a leaf, it’s not quite in keeping with the rest of the design. At that point I went away and did non-stitchy things for a while and then started on Dill but I didn’t want to be defeated by a few bits of wire and thread so I went back to the leaves, attempting one which doesn’t need to show veins (c below). This was more successful than (a), even though it’s smaller and therefore should have been trickier to sew. Perhaps I was just in the right place mentally. I haven’t finished all the whip-stitching around the edge which is why you can still see wire in places but that will be done in no time. I started on Santolina late yesterday afternoon and that’s nearly done but today I will make time to sew more thyme leaves and hopefully improve my technique before too long.

thyme leaves