This is the final piece of the 5 Ugly Gods series. I was using a few techniques in this one I hadn’t really used before. It was difficult and annoying. Here’s how I did it.
So when I was on holiday in September, sunning myself on the beach, I read some books, which I don’t normally do. I mean, I do read, but it’s pretty much always books about embroidery or folklore or witches or whatever. On holiday, I read stuff I don’t usually give myself the time for. Like The Mammoth Book of Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll.
In this book, which is a collection of stories and accounts of various musicians and their exploits, there was a story about Marc Bolan. I’m afraid I can’t remember the author and I’m really sorry about that. Anyway, in it this journalist talks about meeting Marc Bolan and describes him as being like ‘a little jewelled snake’.
I just loved this. And it provided me with the inspiration I was waiting for for my next piece. I was still working on the Raven at the time, and actually this little excerpt inspired me so much I kind of lost interest in the raven a bit.
So! A snake it shall be. A two-headed snake of such fabulousness Marc himself would probably wear it as a hat. Obviously snakes are pretty high on a lot of people’s lists of animals they hate and/or are frightened of, so it fit right in with my little pantheon of ugly gods.
As you can see I made my drawing and made my plan. This was a very tricky thing to draw because I really wanted the 3-dimensional quality of the snake to be correct, the loops and turns being in perspective etc. He also needed to be jewelled of course, and following my course at the Royal School of Needlework, I really wanted to incorporate a lot of metal thread work. So first I padded with felt to give different heights depending on the body position.
I have never embroidered with sequins before, and after doing my little scales experiment (above) I bought some special sequins in an oily, iridescent black, ‘hologram’ red, and glow in the dark!
It was quite tricky keeping the scales curving and the stripes helped to suggest the form and size and curve of the body as I went.
His head/s were actually the only bit of traditional embroidery in this piece. I used glow in the dark thread and cotton and filled the shape with split stitch, over sewing with rainbow madeira thread for the scale shapes and tongue, and then attaching smaller sequins over the top.
I like his face. He looks a bit naughty.
After all the sequins were done I had a few experiments with the silver metal thread I wanted to make up his belly. Realising I needed to couch down Pearl Purl for a smooth line, I unpicked what I’d done and did this first. Then I just repeated alternating lines of 3 in rough purl and smooth purl with a middle line of wire check all the way down.
This was a horrible idea and I hated doing it.
You don’t often see goldwork/metal thread work being used in large areas or with long lengths, and I now know why. It is very hard to manipulate, cracks easily, is very expensive and shows up every mistake. These shorter lengths on his tail and underbelly were a bit easier to do.
The finished little shit.
I felt like he needed to be ‘somewhere’ so, a cliché I know, but here he is in the grass.
Some very long detached woven picots and french knots.
Glow in the dark!
Well I gotta say, this is my least fave one of the series. Not really sure why. He certainly is a little jewelled snake though.