Saturday, 13 May 2017

House Sitting

I had the studio, house and surrounding gardens all to myself today as my Grandmother has gone in to hospital for a new hip (which has so far gone very well by all accounts). It's a nice walk to the studio although I came across some chopped down Aquilegia flowers which some horrible person had cut from the hedgerow and abandoned on the pathway. They were the palest of pinks and I gathered it all up and took it with me to pop in a vase with some Bracken cut from the flowerbeds. Hopefully it will still be as naturally beautiful when my Grandmother returns home in a couple of days time.

We had been left with a list of tasks- mainly plant watering and how much to water each plant. Bonsai watering is crucial apparently and I had to water each one with rainwater, with a certain amount from a certain watering can. In addition to Bonsais we are also watering the greenhouse and surrounding pots, as well as encouraging the baby Chili plants on the window ledge in the kitchen. I said a few supportive words and complimented them on the greenness of their leaves whilst showering them gently with the purest of rainwater droplets.

Whilst I was wandering around the garden I noticed some beautiful flowers and plants that have popped open since I was there last weekend. There is a wide variety of plants, some planted by the previous occupant of the house who appeared to go in for dramatic versions of well known flowers- like giant Poppies with velvety purple middles contrasting against bright red petals, or multi-petalled small Poppies in light orange.

I really love Lupins, especially the way the colour changes as the flower heads open from the bottom upwards creating the most spectacular gradient of colour. They are such show offs!

Of course, the other reason I was there was because it is Studio Saturday! And I had some mounting and framing to do with my Dry Stone Meadow stitchscape. Once a 'scape is finished it is pressed carefully with a hot iron several times, and again just before mounting it onto card to remove as many creases as possible.

I use the same process each time; mount board is cut to the size I want the finished square to be, then I carefully lay the embroidery over the card and put one pin in the centre of each side through the embroidery and into the side of the board. This is to make sure that I have positioned the stitchscape exactly where I want it (usually centred in the middle) and I can move the pins around until I have the fabric in the right place.

Once I am happy with the positioning, I will then add more pins along the edges, working on opposite sides to stretch the fabric until it is taut but not buckling the mount board. If there is a section I'm not happy with, I can always remove the pins and start again. Turning the piece over, the backing fabric gets trimmed so that is about two inches or so wider than the card on each side. Using cotton sewing thread I fold two sides over and starting from the middle, make small stitches in a ladder-like way along to the edge, folding in the corners neatly and stitching them in place. I then turn and work the opposite way, out again from the middle. The process is repeated with the last two sides, folding the fabric over, tucking in the ends and stitching a ladder out from the centre. It is essential that the thread is pulled taught, but not so hard that either a) the thread snaps (always a bummer), or b) the mount board curves and you end up with a bent embroidery.

So there you have it, a beautifully mounted embroidery piece that is ready for framing! If you wanted to frame your own pieces in this way, I really recommend it as it gives a much nicer overall appearance. If you have used really bulky threads and have lots of ends going on at the back, a handy tip would be to sandwich a layer of interlining/thin wadding between the card and the embroidery which will help absorb lumps and bumps and keep your fabrics smooth.

I think this piece looks really sweet in its frame! A good job done!

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