Yesterday, I started by adding fusible web to background fabric. I also did slight enlargements for a couple of parts of the image and printed them on fabric (adding fusible web to those fabric printouts). Today, I started building the background. I had laid out a piece of muslin 20″x24″ and backed it with batting; I serged around the outside to hold the layers together, then marked the horizontal and vertical centres to use for marking the 9″x12″ layout for the image. The muslin/batting functions as a canvas for the fabric/thread painting that becomes the art piece. I’ve purposely made it quite a bit larger than the image to give me lots of room to frame, then trim the piece.
Rather than trying to piece the hosta in the upper left corner I elected to use the image printed fabric and I will add definition with thread painting. Same with the poppy leaves – they are very fine and frilly and I didn’t have any fabric that implied the texture so I also chose to use the image printed fabric for them as well. The taxus, the grass, and the blue house are filled in with printed/batik fabrics. I pressed the elements into place leaving an opening for the poppies which, for the moment, are being shown with an outlined paper cutout.
Background In Place
Once the background was set up, I traced the poppy petals based on the lines marking petal edges on the paper flowers. So far I’ve cut out the templates for the larger flower and begun cutting out fabric using the templates – I’m about half-way around the flower. I numbered each petal element both on the template and on on the paper so I can easily reconstruct the flower.
Templates Created For First Poppy
I will set up the poppy using a silicon press sheet so the fusible web on the back of the petals won’t stick to my ironing board. Once assembled, I’ll iron the completed flower in place – that’s after I build the other flower because the flower on the right overlays the smaller, one!
I started these socks two weeks ago. I decided to begin using yarn leftover from other socks – I have a basket full of balls large enough, when combined, to make a pair.
I selected two yarns I thought might blend reasonably well and began knitting by alternating the yarns – the effect is an overall colour progression in alternating rows.
Here’s how I do it: To start, I knit three needles using the first yarn, then go back to the first needle and knit two needles of the second yarn. After that, I continue knitting two needles of one yarn, then two needles of the second yarn – the second yarn is always one needle behind the first which means I never have to worry about crossing the yarns and I get a continuous smooth alternating spiral.
What’s interesting about this pair of socks is that while I was able to match the start point on one of the yarns, the colour changes on the other were too subtle to worry about but it turns out the yarns were in synch and both socks knit up with essentially the same pattern! That was a lucky outcome, I didn’t expect that to happen. The areas of dark and turquoise matched up pretty well.
Here are the original socks made from these two yarns.
Original Turquoise Socks
Original Gray/Magenta Socks
The yarns combined to produce something quite different yet interesting.
I’m now working on another pair amalgamating two yarns – I have enough leftover yarn to keep me going for many months!
I finished thread painting yesterday afternoon. I added a muslin backing and hidden binding. This morning I hand stitched the hidden binding in place. After all this time (I actually started this raw-edge appliqué piece on May 17, 2018) I have it completed – absolute done!
Tropical Flowers – Finished!
The project sat around for months while I worked on other things. I started thread painting this piece on Jan 8, 2019 because I was teaching a class on thread painting and had to have something to work on myself. I got into the thread painting seriously after Jan 17 – when I completed the framing (I’d done that early in the process because I wanted the women in the thread painting class to see how I go about finishing my work). I spent time filling in leaves, then flowers. In the beginning, each leaf took a day or three to complete.
I was sure I’d taken on more than I’d expected when I started out. But as days went by I could see I was making headway. Jan 20 – one leaf finished; Jan 22 – a second leaf; Feb 11 – I got back to the piece (after working on some new quilts and planning two wall art pieces) and finished an Anthurium; Feb 12 – more progress; Feb 13, Feb 17, Feb 18, Feb 20 – I continued thread painting elements until yesterday when I stitched the last of the Plumaria!
People often ask – “How long did a particular piece take”? It’s not a simple question. As you can see, I started this piece on a whim back in May, it sat around for several months before I returned to it. The thread painting was slow going to start with but as I made progress I was able to stick with it for longer. When nearing the end I worked on and completed elements in a single sitting (although I felt tension in my neck and upper back).
You can’t see the thread painting in the upper photo – here are photos of the detailed work:
Epiphyllum – Detail
Plumaria – Detail
Anthurium – Detail
I feel a weight lifted having finally completed this work. The gals in the thread painting class are meeting again on March 5 – my piece is done. We’ll spend time that day working on framing and finishing, even if their thread painting isn’t completed. I want to create motivation for finishing their projects.
Tomorrow I’m going to return to Poppies which I began Feb 4. Time to get back to that and to Two Men in Cortona.
A friend sent me a link to some wonderful textile art:
Bisa Butler – detail from – “Three Kings” (2018)
You must take a look at her work: “Artist Bisa Butler draws from an array of vibrant patterned fabrics to create portraits of everyday people. She eschews representational colors, favoring layered jewel-toned hues to form the skin of her Black subjects, and often groups figures together into strong silhouettes.”
Her pieces are breathtaking – wild bold fabrics done as raw edge appliqué and quilted rather loosely following the contours of the elements of her figures. The pieces are large so you’d need huge wall spaces to hang any of them.
I must look through my photos to see if I have anything suitable to try a piece like this.
BTW – scroll down on the link to Butler’s work – you’ll see lots of other unusual textile/fibre art work.
An end is in sight – I’m now working on the last elements – the Frangipani/Plumaria flowers. Are they ever tedious to work on. I’ve managed to stitch the dark red/medium red central elements of all the flowers. I’ve just finished the yellow petal colour on two of them!
That leaves two small clusters of two/three blooms and one larger cluster of 7 flowers/6 buds to do. I’m going to work on the small clusters first – getting those done will make the task seem smaller. I’ve reached that point in the project where I just want it done. I’m tired of the careful, meticulous stitching. I want to get on to other projects including a couple of pair of corduroy pants that have been on the to-do list for quite a while.
This is it for today. I’ll get back to this tomorrow – maybe I’ll manage to get the two smaller clusters done which will leave just the larger one to complete – maybe on the weekend. Yeah!
Taking a break for a moment – thread painting tightens the muscles in my neck and shoulders – I need to stop from time to time to exercise a bit, sit with a hot magic bag, until the tension in my body subsides and I can resume sewing.
The Epiphyllum leaf is done – I’m not going to do any more on it – I’m leaving the medium green unstitched.
Next is the Plumaria leaf at the top. Once that is done, I will have all the Plumaria flowers to do! Four clusters which I expect will take a couple of days. But then the piece will be done!
Because the framing has been finished, all that will remain will be to back the piece. Then I can to return to the Poppies and the Two Men in Cortona….
I finished shading the pale grey areas of the first Epiphyllum yesterday; completed the edging in off-white this morning. This Epiphyllum is done – phew!
Epiphyllum 1 – Completed
Epiphyllum flowers come in a variety of shades from white to quite striking red. I chose to interpret the Epiphyllum above as a soft pink – shading the petals from fairly dark to quite pale leaving the white highlights without stitching.
In case you’re interested here is some information on Epiphyllum – orchid cactus. Epiphyllum is a genus of 19 species of epiphytic plants in the cactus family), native to Central America.
My friend Marlene has a couple growing in her greenhouse – the blooms are short lived – the bud takes quite a while to mature but it opens and dies in one night – a wonderful sight. Because these blooms open at night, nocturnal creatures, such as moths and bats, are responsible for pollinating the flowers.
This Epiphyllum (also now completed) represents a pink one.
Epiphyllum 2 – Completed
I’ve started working on the two remaining large leaves now. They will both go quite quickly because the shading consists of quite long stitching runs that connect easily – this makes the stitching straightforward, unlike with the flowers where I had to plan the stitching so the short runs would flow from one spot to another. I’ve been working for two hours this morning – I’ve stopped for now. I hope to get back to the leaf I’ve begun, later this afternoon.
I wasn’t planning on working on this anthurium but I had the medium pink thread on the machine so I started stitching. Once that colour was filled in, it just made sense to carry on with the pale pink and then finally the white. My plan was to fill in the grey using colour and I think the shading works well.
To see the contrast, here is the panel before I’d done any thread painting – you can see this anthurium is almost entirely shades of grey. In the finished flower, a hint of grey is still apparent but the overall sense of the flower is rose pink.
Tropical Flowers – Before Thread Painting
I’ve made headway with the epiphyllums as well – here’s the lower one with the darker greys thread painted with the deep rose thread pair. Maybe later this afternoon (its a full-blown blizzard outside – not leaving the apartment today) I’ll get back to it.
Epiphyllum – Thread Painting In Progress
It really is a blizzard – visibility is much worse than the photo below suggests – I can’t really see the trees across from the parking lot. It’s turning to freezing rain – I can hear ice pellets hitting my windows. Expected to continue as freezing rain until this evening when the temperature will get above freezing but there won’t be much melting until Friday/Saturday when it will be warm enough to rain (which is forecast).
This is winter life in Nova Scotia – freezing rain followed by snow followed by freezing rain – makes for very hazardous driving conditions. Everything is cancelled today – no school, no university, the games centre is closed, and on and on. Good thing my freezer is stocked – lots of soup and chili. Just keeping my fingers crossed the power stays on!
I spent the morning working on this wall hanging again. Finished Anthurium 1 – adding the white and finishing the pistil:
Anthurium 1 Done
Completed Anthurium 2 as well, then began work on the Epiphyllum. I’ve started to stitch in the darker grey with the mid-plum/pink colour; the lighter grey will be a soft pink, finishing with a slightly pink white.
Anthurium 2 Done; Started on Epiphyllum
There’s a second Epiphyllum that’s printed in pinks – the colour choices for that flower are straight forward.
Then, I want to get to the two large green leaves – they’ll be fairly easy to stitch and then it will feel like I’m close to home although those frangipani clusters will take quite a bit of time because they’re small and each stitch run will be short which means a lot of twisting and turning while I’m sewing.
However I’m beginning to see an end to this project – although not likely by the date I’ve set up for the last class meeting day in early March.