I’ve been working on this piece for the past couple of days. First the dark green areas, then the various types of foliage. It’s been tricky because poppy leaves are long, thin, and fern-like so stitching them has required quite a bit of decision-making since it’s not possible to actually capture the precise detail – my goal has been to imply the structure using a number of different machine stitches to thread paint them.
Thread Painting – Under Way
This afternoon I started on the flowers themselves. I’ve begun working on the central pistil on the right-hand flower. I have finished the light areas. Tomorrow I’ll get to work on the stamens surrounding the centre – using some combination of greys/tans.
I’ve made progress faster than I thought I would – I expect to finish this piece over the weekend.
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!
And then the thread painting will begin….
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!