Those of you who follow me on Instagram will probably already know that after months of work I am releasing the first in a series of Textile Art Boxes by Mother Eagle. Yes they are embroidery kits, but they’re hopefully offering you a little bit more than that, hence why I’m calling them Art Boxes.
Because embroidery is art. Because the kits are about technique focus. And because first and foremost I am an artist and I’m bringing you the same art, in kit form, as I do for galleries and shows in my art practice.
How so? Well, several months ago I put a shout out on Instagram to anyone who was up for helping me with some market research so I could really dig into what you would want in a Mother Eagle version.What I learned is what I’ve produced here, so read on for more details, and how you can buy one!
Why the Stag Beetle?
It was important to me that this project line up with my artistic voice in my normal practice. To wit, that I would be telling stories of lost and endangered species. The stag beetle is a beautiful and iconic beetle that is now extinct in most parts of Britain and Europe, and is certainly endangered elsewhere.
This design invites you to experiment with embellishment, with the added challenge of some basic goldwork (using coloured metal threads). With a little patience and care, I believe everyone can create this design, no matter their embroidery experience.
The first key point I want to highlight about these boxes is that there is no plastic packaging included whatsoever. Sequins are plastic, so I will make that distinction! But as far as throwaway or single use elements in this design, it is 100% plastic free.
The other key aspect of these boxes is that I have included a charity donation with each purchase. As I hope these kits will make my art and design more accessible to a wider audience than my main practice does, I felt strongly that they should support the real work going on to support endangered species. With this design, £1 from every box sold will go to The People’s Trust for Endangered Species, a small UK charity with a specific stag beetle campaign. Future designs will make similar pledges to appropriate causes.
What do you get in the kit?
• 6″ Embroidery hoop
• 10″ square piece of cotton fabric
• Black felt
• 2 needles
• Gutermann black cotton thread
• All the professional-quality beads, sequins and special threads you’ll need
• 30-page fully-illustrated instruction booklet, full of my Pro-Tips for getting that extra polish
• Full colour Stag Beetle trading card with info on this amazing and endangered species
But wait there’s more!
You’ll also get my illustrated guide to mounting your work like a pro – FREE!
The only thing you don’t get are embroidery scissors, and I also *highly* recommend a seat frame or barrel clamp to hold your provided frame, or to use instead. If you don’t have one, or can’t source one, working at a table where you can set your hoop down will work okay.
Orders placed at pre-sale won’t be shipped until mid-October (I’m going on holiday!) BUT in return for your patience, I’m giving you FREE worldwide shipping AND doubling the donation to charity. After the pre-sale ends, shipping will be charged and the donation returns to normal.
Please join me this Thursday for the Private View of my first solo show, Natural Fibres.
The show will feature my entire body of work since 2015 – the year I started working big! This is such an exciting event for me, to see all my work hanging together in one place.
Plus, I will be showing 5 brand new pieces from my current series Hallowed Ground.
But wait, there’s more!
In honour of this special occasion, I have had some amazing prints made of my three most popular pieces from the Extinct Icons series. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook (if you aren’t, you should, it’s great) then you’ll already have seen the little videos I’ve posted of each one available. So head on over there and have a look.
All sales of prints will be handled by the gallery, and can be shipped worldwide.
Here’s what you can expect:
Giclee art print on archival 330gsm Somerset velvet stock with hand torn edges.
My unique logo stamp on reverse.
Glow in the dark hand embroidered initials. Each hand embellished by me.
There’s 2 of The Witch of Saint Kilda (all posters of this piece are sold out), 2 of Saint Celia, and 1 of Saint Benjamin (1 has sold already!). I also have 1 of each print available framed, which can be shipped to UK locations. I know you’d expect me to say this, but I very very rarely make prints, and when I received these I was so impressed with the quality. They look like they’re 3-dimensional, the image is so crisp.
Honouring lost and threatened species and ways of life, this group exhibition features my work, photography by Megan Powell, installation by Clare Whistler, textiles by OX Art, specimens from the Booth Museum of Natural History and accompanying poetry.
See here for more information about the project and accompanying events.
Right back in January, I had intended this to be the second Icon I was to make. But some friends and my better judgement persuaded me to enter the Women’s Hour Crafts Council prize, and this was my entrant for the piece I would display if successful. I wasn’t. Here he is.
It’s an interesting facet of working like that though: I designed it months before, and at the time I had envisaged all the icons having quite similar halos and design elements. But as always I evolved throughout the project and so when it came to realising my original design, I was initially worried it now seemed too simple.
As I’d progressed through the series, I had incorporated a lot of symbolism as I usually do, and now looking at and researching the Thylacine, I couldn’t find many threads to pull on, to weave into this design.
My original design took as its focus the physical appearance of the Thylacine, a brown and black stripy animal, as the main characteristic of the Icon.
By this point I had also amassed a wealth of bronze and copper materials and deciding not to second guess myself, proceeded with the shape and composition as I had originally envisaged it.
I actually found designing with these colours quite challenging, as balancing the metallic tones of rose gold and copper, and bronze and brown, with black was tricky to not have them fighting with each other.
It was the goldwork that was the star of the show though.
I was using a basic cutwork technique, but alternating copper wire check with smooth purl over felt padding. Each one of the rays took about an hour.
Truth be told, I actually started this piece before Our Lady of The Flowers but had to abandon it about this stage as I was waiting on materials to come which ended up taking forever to arrive. Not ideal.
Here I have edged the alternate rays in copper pearl purl and then used two types of check to fill them in chip work – copper bright check and bronze wire check – and arranged them in an ombre pattern.
Again I was worried about the two tones clashing but was actually quite pleased with the way the bronze picked up the tone of the bugle beads.
I carried on with this ombre motif with the infilling of bronze and black 3mm sequins.
The finishing touches:
Although I fretted about the apparent lack of symbolism in this piece as compared to the others, out of curiosity I looked up where Carnelian comes from, and was pleased to find one of its sources is Tasmania.
Knowing the obvious great stretches of time it takes for the earth to ‘grow’ these minerals, I felt quite moved when considering the (albeit remote) possibility that these carnelians could have come from Tasmania, and could have been in the ground when Thylacines still roamed wild there.
\\ Saint Benjamin //
The Thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial, and the last member of the family Thylacinidae. Also known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Wolf, it was a shy, nocturnal creature similar to a medium/large dog except for it’s pouch and dark tiger stripes on its back.
Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties, combined with the introduction of dogs and human encroachment into its habitat wiped them out in 1930.
The last captive Thylacine, Benjamin, lived in the Hobart Zoo for 3 years. He died on 7th September 1936 as a result of neglect – locked out of his sleeping quarters, he succumbed to exposure. Last year (2016) was the 80th anniversary of the loss of this species.
I now have poster prints and art-cards available of this series in my Etsy shop. The Witch of St Kilda poster is already sold out so be quick if you want to grab anything!
This one started differently, and with a lot of stumpwork again.
After it was confirmed that I would have my work on display at Onca Gallery for their Remembrance Day for Lost Species I wanted to make an Extinct Icon that specifically related to their theme for this year – Pollinators.
I knew immediately that it had to be a fruit bat. The importance of bats as a species has been close to my heart since I took part in a conservation project in Malaysia in my early 20s.
Bats are the bees of the tropical world, is something I’m fond of saying.
Three of the most important crops they pollinate are cocoa, banana and agave, amongst over 500 others we in the west are used to enjoying.
Bats are massively threatened by habitat loss – rainforests cut down for palm oil plantations being a big one.
So I was inspired by religious iconography from the tropical world, usually the Virgin Mary surrounded by very colourful flora and fauna (think Our Lady of Guadalupe).
I’ve not made detached slips so heavily beaded before and they were obviously a lot heavier than just embroidered ones.
I knew this one would be smaller given the comparative scale of a bat’s skull so I switched to my hoop.
The moon is a nod to the nocturnal habits of this species.
As is the starry sky here.
To combat the heaviness of the slips they were both plunged to the reverse as well as sewn along the sides, creating sort of cups.
In the United States bats provide an estimated $3.7bn in insect control, but in much of the rest of the world they are woefully under researched.
Many pollinating species of bats have already become extinct, like the Dark Flying Fox of Mauritius and Reunion, or the Guam Flying Fox, due to hunting from settlers, or habitat loss from mono culture farming like oil palm. But we just don’t know how many species may be threatened.
*** 25th November Masterclass is SOLD OUT!
BUT the good news is, due to popular demand I’m running another one on 2nd December! Only 3 spots left so move fast if you wanna make your own homage to the pollinators – details here!***