Old Favourites and New Twists

I’m so excited about all the new product development I’ve been doing. Some new things and some tweaking of old things.

First, here’s the new: New custom birch frames for embroidered jewellery.

**Disclaimer  – I know I know. I always say this, but I just AM comfortable putting quick and dirty camera phone pics on my blog, and saving up my glamour shots for a proper photo shoot day when I get the proper DSLR out. Photography bores the shit out of me. Soz.

And I celebrated with setting the three new Poisonous Toadstools into them.

I rubbed natural soft wax polish into the wood, and they’ve been finished with antique bronze fittings. The chain is fabulous – all the links soldered, a really beautiful quality. The bails too, heavy and sturdy and lovely. You’ll have to take my word for it for now, the pics don’t show it. Here’s me modelling:

SQUEEL! I am just SO pleased with them. They are so lovely and solid but also really light to wear and feel really special. So then I had to get to making some more embroideries for a new collection. I returned to the classics: This guy had sold in my Etsy shop:

Limited Edition Human Skull Pendant, on 25″ Silver plated chain

And I wanted to make some improvements anyway.

I used a finer fabric (still rocking the bed linen for that), a single strand of cotton rather than 2 ply, and a lighter, more balanced and subtle colour pallette.

The whole way through I was all like ‘oh I don’t think he’s gonna turn out any good’ and it took me all day to complete him, but in the end I am really pleased actually.

He will be the first of a trio of skulls going in the new wood frames. What do you think so far?

Poisonous Trio #3

This final Toadstool I am the most happy with, especially as I tried a new stitch out on it and pulled it off. RECKLESS.  This one is Amanita phalloides – Death Cap.

So far so same-as, but I decided to give myself a break and quit the bullion knots here as A – the shape of the mushroom means less of the fins are visible so it would be difficult, and B – I JUST DON’T WANT TO DO ANYMORE. So I used a darker colour and satin stitched it. Then I started with the new stitch – Turkey Rug.

So it’s a series of loops knotted in closely together, and when you’re doing it it looks like a right mess. But then you fill the space and cut the loops so they’re tufts instead:

Then you get to stylin’!

I trimmed them down quite a bit, now they’re lovely and fluffy and fuzzy. The padded slip had a bit of artistic license with it since I know of no Death Cap with hot orange and coral spots, but hey ho.

Finishing french knots. Next – I will mount them up!

Poisonous Trio #2

Although snazzy, snazziness isn’t everything, so I decided to talk you through the construction of the next toadstool (rather than a slideshow), which I declare to be a juvenile Devil’s Bolete.

I chose this nice subtle variegated silk (nauseatingly and wrongly IMO named ‘Pot Pourri’) for the stalk and fins on this one as it was the most neutral of my fine silks. Unfortunately it turned a bit more stripey and yellowy than I thought it would. Oh well. I won’t be able to use it again, seing as it has been half way down my cat’s throat:


Made nice bullion knots though. Now this is to show you things that do go wrong despite the best intentions! I have a couple of patches of beautiful space-dyed velvet that I thought would be awesome as a bit of applique for the cap here. I tried it:

It sucked. Mainly because the colour just didn’t go with the silk I’d already used for the first bit. I actually really liked the velvet but considering the difficult relationship I have with the bullion knots I hated the idea of picking them out more than the idea of picking the velvet off. Plus the velvet pile frayed quite a bit. So I swapped it out for felt:

The felt is quite pinky/mottled which works well (better in real life). Then I french knotted the base in a lovely autumn leaves kind of variegated cotton. Nice!

Next, Death Cap!

Poisonous Trio – #1

I guess I’m making up for an absence of work as this will be a trilogy of posts on  my new little mini-collection. Plus I just discoved the slideshow function on WordPress so you can see all the stages of work without so much space! But really I just wanted to try it out…

I had intended to do some more toadstools for AGES but something always seemed to put me off when I actually sat down to do them. Maybe it’s the fiddlyness of Stumpwork. Yea probably that. Hadn’t done a bullion knot for a while and they make me cry sometimes. Now that I am working on the new collection using the new custom birch wood fittings, I had more motivation for doing several designs at once. Plus I ran a poll on my facebook page and out of toadstools and skulls, toadstools won. So there you have it! I consulted my old field guide and off we went.

This first one was the same classic shape and pattern as the first Fly Agaric I have in my shop but I wanted to do it in a different colour. We will call this one Tricholoma aurantium, as it is often seen in Fairy Rings :) It looks rather tricksy in my opinion.

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So I constructed it in basically the same way as the original in my shop – added french knots to the purple wool-viscose felt cap, then a simple satin stitch stalk, chain stitch frill and bullion knot fins. The cap isn’t padded, so technically it’s just aplique, but I just stitched it down so than the finished effect was 3-dimensional. Finally green french knots provide the forest floor. The bullion knots are still little bitches.

Next: I will show you the Devil’s Bolete!

The Red Death

I have thought about doing a full skeleton for ages, but obviously not something that can be executed well on a teeny scale. But as soon as I looked at my new doilies I knew the time had come.

I started in the normal way – found the ideal skeleton illustration, sized it up and traced him. I knew transferring it would be a one-shot thing as there would be no way I could reposition such an intricate image. Unfortunately it didn’t go well, and I ended up with a legless skeleton. Sigh.

In my mind’s eye he was to be a classic black skeleton, picked out in simple backstitch. But my love for colour and weakness for my silks overruled as always, so he is in Poppy coloured variegated fine silk.

As this was a larger piece I was really careful about the framing, and so tacked the whole doily carefully to a pillowcase, and stretched this on my roller frame. I embroidered thrugh both layers which really stabilised the whle work and gave me perfect tension.

In some ways I feel the effectiveness of this embroidery is a bit of a cheat on my part, the equivalent of colouring within the lines; back stitch is a basic stitch and I cannot claim the design of a human skeleton as my own.

Yet the compostition is lovely to mine eye :)