Procrastination is the art-killer.
Who said that? I did, just then. I would believe it too, up until about 4pm yesterday I was having a very unfocused day, distracted, starting things, stopping, forgetting what I was doing. All quite annoying and not very me. But then I obviously got my shit together and did most of the Crab apple you see above. Other things I did/was distracted by:
Moving house chaos in the spare room.
More tidy and lovely light-filled lounge. So much floor space!
Fox in the garden! I never seen one before. We call him Oscar.
Having a little wood burning/staining session in the kitchen.
All varying degrees of usefulness. I think really I was putting off doing the Crabapple because initially I thought I would get a bead and wrap it in silk to make a completely detached 3D apple. But then I couldn’t find the right bead and had a little fret about the composition. As you know I don’t do sketchbooks, and I barely ‘design’ anything; I have an idea and I make a rough shape or transfer pic and then I stitch it freehand. But because I wanted this to be a pendant, I didn’t want to have too many elements in it and also, having an apple-type element is a bit of a gift – easily recognisable, able to construct simply, nice colours etc. I scratched my head. I puzzled.
Here’s what I came up with:
Decided to do a detached slip for the leaf, in lovely variegated silk on to some calico. I did these before on the Hawthorn Blossom, and nice to see that I could actually remember how to do it without looking at my own instructions.
Put that to one side, now do the fruit (the POME if you’ve been paying attention)
Picked some nice hand dyed wool viscose felt in a rosy colour and stitched it down in a nice little puff, stuffing it with cotton batting. Then I started satin stitching over it in silk a bit like I did with the Acorn Pendant.
It’s slightly haphazard because of the puffiness of it, so the long stitches don’t want to lie regimentally flat. All the while I’m pondering on the nature of a crab apple that they’re not all uniform red, and I want to get some more russet type colours in. So I got some orange silk and started randomly weaving over the top of the red silk. This is what happened:
Photo doesn’t do it justice (when does it ever?) but it actually is very pretty. Then I sewed a little brown root out the bottom. Then I cut out and couched down the leaf to the top:
Not bad really! I need to get a felt tip and colour the edge of the leaf where the white calico is showing, and it’s not finished yet because I want to put a little stalk on there too.
Migo deciding if she likes it. She started trying to eat it after this so not sure if that’s good or bad.
I know I seem to always say this, but I’m really pleased with the way this one turned out. When I had decided on the construction I thought that as it was going to be so simple, it might not be so effective. I also wasn’t sure about how the detached woven picots would behave as willow leaves, and whether they would give that twirly, tendril-like appearance. They are in fact infinitely poseable. I wanted to achieve with this piece that soft, falling, almost ethereal quality that white willows have in the spring. And I’m also really happy that it has a catkin-quality too – maybe because of the yellowy green.
First I used a bit of crewel wool to make a line of stem stitch down the centre of the brooch, then added some french knots to mark the leaf buds. The wool gives a nice furry sort of texture, which I wanted to suggest the fuzziness that willow has at certain times of year.
Then I started with the willow leaves. My good friend the detached woven picot comes into his own again here. I used 2 different shades of variegated silk here – nice, pale, yellowish green and one with a more mossy tone – and tried to make the leaves as slim as possible.
Then it was a simply a case of filling up the branch with leaves!
It’s great how the construction of this stitch makes the final picot quite stiff and so you can twist them around and make the whole thing have real movement.
This was the look I was going for:
I’m very pleased with this, but it also feels a bit ‘un-me’ in a weird way. The whole thing seems very elegant and contemporary and somehow a bit of a departure from my normal style?
Now, the photos are as usual crappy, but I have a good excuse this time, as it’s because the embroidery is so pretty that the photos came out so shit. Because I used super fine super shiny silk thread, silver – naturally – this one in fact:
The silver one on the right and the ivory one on the left. They reflect the light like crazy! Having done a few stumpwork pieces I wanted to do something more 2-D, and in good ol’ split stitch. For the composition, I realised it is the whole tree, but very much the bark of the birch that is so iconic and so trying to do a whole mini-tree would have been unsuccessful. So I took this picture as the inspiration and used my new rectangle birch frame (ha!) and did a tight close up of a few trunks;
So started off drawing a few guidelines freehand: