When I finished the first modern flower appliqué wall piece a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to try a second hanging – this one laid out on the horizontal with a border but having some the flowers spill off the piece entirely. Also I didn’t just want to repeat the flowers in the first piece – this time I decided to use layers of offset circles, again with leaves flowing through the space.
Modern Flowers – II
Early in the week I took the black/white leftover pieces from the first hanging, created a centre panel, then added a white-on-white mitred border; next I backed the pieced fabric using medium weight woven fused interfacing to stabilize the panel so it will remain relatively flat through the thread painting process. That worked well on the previous piece – Floral Collage – I decided to try it again on this larger piece.
I had kept the pile of small fabric scraps I used on the first flower appliqué on my cutting table – I didn’t have to go looking for more. This morning I cut various size squares from the scraps, added fusible web to each square, then cut out circles from 1″-6″ in diameter. What I have at the moment is a tentative layout. I think I want to add stems and more leaves in a somewhat lighter green to complement the dark leaves I have already cut out.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow I’ll fuse the individual flower elements, cut out stems and more leaves, play with arrangement, next fuse the whole to the background. Then I’ll start thread painting. The temptation is to simple outline each circle using a narrow blanket stitch but I’m not sure I’ll do that – I may decide to use doubled embroidery thread and straight stitch several rows close to the edge – I’m sleeping on that.
I also finished the floral collage this morning. I resumed thread painting when I got back from Toronto (visiting family) – adding stitching to the leaves, flower petals, and using an embroidery stitch I modified to provide a shaped satin stitch for the stamens. It’s not obvious, but I did quite a bit of stitching on this piece.
Floral Collage -m Finished
I wasn’t sure whether I liked the “raw edge” appliqué – I began by stitching the edge with a very narrow blanket stitch but didn’t like how it looked (it didn’t work with this fabric as well as it did with the printed bark cloth I used for Tropical Flowers); in the end I decided to do just a couple of rows of straight stitching (short stitch length, single embroidery thread) as close to the edge as I could get. Up close the raw edge seems to add to the delicacy of the petals and leaves.
The lime green inner flange works well to tie the leaves and the greens in the bordering fabric together. While the batik is busy, the inner border separation keeps the flowers from being overwhelmed.
I’m pleased with the overall effect. In this piece I decided to have the flowers spill over into the border – this makes them stand out from the background.
The flowers look a bit like Cosmos, but the foliage is wrong. I’ve spent a bit of time trying to identify the blossoms but haven’t come up with anything definitive. The fabric designer may have just improvised.
The wall hanging is finished with a hidden binding. Final size: 14.5″ x 20.5″.
While I was working on “Flowers” I came across a fabric scrap from some zippered bags I’d made and thought the blossoms were interesting, sharply enough printed to allow some detailed thread painting, so I cut out what I could and here’s what I’ve come up with.
The previous collage was contained within the framed area. I decided to try a piece that extended the flowers beyond the inner border.
For some reason, the large floral batik seems to complement the colours and after auditioning several pieces for the inner border I finally selected the lime which ties the piece and the wide outer border together. I’ll bind this work with a hidden binding.
So far I’ve stitched in stems to give the collage a bit of flow. Next I’ll do something with the leaves, then finally the flowers. Not sure where a signature will go – I’d intended it to be in the bottom right but I’ve brought the stems too far down leaving me w little short. There are a couple of options – I Have to keep thinking about it.
It’s done – completed this afternoon. Binding the piece was more difficult than I expected. First I bound it as I would a quilt – but do you think I could get the corners to look alike? There’s often a bit of variation when I do a quilt, but because the project is rather large nobody notices the corners aren’t “perfect”. But on a small piece like this – a rounded corner, or a too pointy one is like a poke in the eye!
Flowers – Finished
So I removed my first binding (fortunately I didn’t have to trim the edges of the piece to any extent), then did a second one by binding the sides, then the top and bottom edges, turning in the ends to form the mitres. Definitely much better, if not completely “perfect”!
The challenging bit on this piece was creating embroideries of small circles which would fill the flower centres mimicking the fabrics I’d used which had small circles. I’m reasonably happy with how that stitching work turned out.
I do want to attempt a second piece like this – but I’ve got two others ready to work on before I get there.
A composite photo – three photos actually. the first is the top photo taken this past August on a grey day visit to Point Pleasant Park walking past the Black Rocks beach – you see the dark rocks which form one side of the beach. I was standing on the board walk which heads out to the end of the container pier – I’m cutting out the boardwalk and the birds standing there. The image also needs brightening.
The second photo was taken the same day but standing at the beach itself looking across to Dartmouth – when I combine the two I’ll blend the colour of the water and bring the shade/tone of the rocks closer to the colour of the beach gravel.
The third photo – David Lacey – was taken at Burntcoat on the Fundy shore end of October 2008. Another dull day. The image size and tones will work perfectly in the Blue Rocks setting! I may even include the young gull standing on the beach, positioned a wee bit further right.
Now to find fabrics with which to construct the scene!
I started today by stitching the leaves first, not straight sailing because there are breaks – a few of them come from beneath a flower. With all the leaves done, I moved onto stitching with turquoise – first the blue yellow flower at the top, next the turquoise centres.
Thread Painting Underway
Then on to working the bottom left flower. I’ve done most of the yellow stitching, although I intend embellishing that further tomorrow.
Thread Painting – Detail
I spent quite a bit of time creating embroideries of small circles for the flower centres – I’ll use my metal hoop so I can do the embroidery work easily. I want to position embroidered circles on top of the fabric circles at the centres. I suspect that isn’t going to be easy to execute. In any case, I won’t get to that until I have all the other thread painting done. Then I have to decide if I want to do any kind of stitching on the background! I may leave it alone…. I’ve discovered I can’t plan any of this out in advance – it’s all about one step at a time. It’s about improvisation.
I’ve been looking at pictures of quilts by Freddy Moran – large bold background with appliqué collage in strong bright colours. I decided to try something like that.
I set up a black/white fabric background, then began cutting out flower-like shapes in layers and bright colours. Nine large flowers later I thought I needed to connect them in some way so I included a long flowing branch of leaves. Then added a few lighter green leaves (from a floral print fabric) to just finish off the appliqué.
Now to start thread painting – here’s where I can use contrasting colours, particularly on the leaves and stem to make them brighter. No time to even start that today – tomorrow, for sure.
Finished this morning (well, I still have to hand stitch the invisible binding on the back but other than that, the work is completed). The burgundy batik used in the border/frame brings out the figure – I tried other contrasting fabrics but the burgundy worked best, I think.
Fall Day 2007 – Finished
After I’d stitched the trunks and branches of the trees/bushes, the fused appliqué was easy to apply. Once in place, I decided to edge stitch the small pieces in autumn shades that blended with the leaf colour. I had to think through carefully stitching the shading boundaries on the figure (it’s actually a photo of me, used with David Lacey’s permission) because mistakes would be undoable. So I opted for just the minimum of stitching.
I achieved quite a bit of texture with the fused appliqué and overall the finished thread painted work is more lively than the original photos printed on fabric.
Fall Day 2007 – photo collage
The whole work took much less time than I thought it would in spite of the large amount of thread painting I ended up doing. I started playing with the images on or around the first of April, printed the images on fabric and began the piece in earnest on April 7 – so I finished it in just over a week; not bad.
I’ve worked on this for the last four hours – first stitching in the tree trunks and branches on the left, adding foliage from tiny fabric scraps with fusible web on the back (applied to fabric before cutting it, then stitching branches on the trees on the right. Next, I added some definition to the landscape elements by outlining them. Last I added the figure, fused it in place, then outline stitched the figure and the shading on the clothing.
Fall Morning 2007
That’s as much as I can do for now. What I haven’t figured out how to do is stitch the foliage on the trees and on the ground. The fused scraps are very tiny so stitching around each outline doesn’t seem feasible but I don’t know what to do instead. I have to sleep on that.
And below is the image I started with – background and figure fused.
Here it is, finally completed. It looks like I was imagining it – with the help of some permanent markers and coloured pencils I was able to sharpen the men’s faces and clothing just a bit.
In the end, I created/modified embroidery stitches on my machine to provide a bit of texture to the hanging plant behind the men and on the bush peeking in front of the sign on the left. The thread painting in this piece had more to do with creating definition rather than filling in areas as it was with the tropical flowers. Nevertheless, it took quite a bit of time deciding just what should be stitched, what colour thread, what stitch size (I ended up using a 1.5mm straight stitch for much of the stitching)… And all within the limitation of being able to stitch just once!
The hand gesture is still obvious, the second man looks attentive, and the shop fronts turned out quite well – so even though I gave up trying to create reflections in the shop windows they have turned out quite well.
I found the framing fabric in my stash – from the Northcott Medici collection I used in the large medallion quilt. The dark fabric makes the sunshine and highlights stand out.
I began working on this piece February 4 – it’s taken me just over 2 months to complete it – a lot of contemplating time involved here trying to figure out how to simplify the image and create the street scene to showcase the men.
This is piece #5 for the Parrsboro show – I need still another 5-6 wall art pieces of some sort. My self-portrait on a fall day is up next – I’m still not sure how to texture the background on that piece but I’m sure something will come to me.