Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Cow Parsley Stitchscape

It was whilst I was walking home from the studio on Saturday that I came across this gloriousness! (Is that a word?) A frothing mass of dancing Cow Parlsey which has totally invaded an outdoor seating area at the back of a local primary school. The sun was shining on the little flowers in a way that made them gleam and shine like clouds that are trying to hide the sun but blush silver and give the game away.

I knew then that this was exactly what I wanted my next stitchscape to represent. The design popped right into my head- a little 15cm hoop with layered greens and creams in the background and leaves and french knots in the forefront.

As soon as my Bluebell Stitchscape was finished I was rummaging around in my ever growing fat quarter baskets for the perfect prints. I picked out several and sat playing with colour placement, rolling the fabrics and laying them next to each other to try and visualise how they would work in the layers. This is generally how I start all of my 'scapes; theme, fabrics, composition and stitching.

With this piece I snuck another silver space dyed fabric between the two top layers after I'd cut my shapes as there wasn't enough fabric to fill the hoop. I really like the wavy look of these fabrics, soft and undulating like the layers of the Cow Parsley heads. There is movement there I think.

I also played with adding some lacy ribbon for added texture, the green lace reminded me of the leaves, and the cream lace the flowery tops. You can also see that I'm starting to think about what I could possibly use for the actual flower heads themselves and where they might be positioned within the hoop.

All of the fabrics and ribbons get tacked down to hold them in place and the fun can then really begin! I've mentioned before that I tend to tackle one layer at a time, and will generally either work my way up or down from top of bottom. In this case I started at the bottom, filling in the polka dots with little crosses and adding a layer of french knots to the top to secure the raw edge of fabric. The leafy print fabric was filled in with little seed stitches then the stripe fabric was followed with back stitch and running stitch as suggested by the print itself (using a single strand of embroidery thread for the back stitch and two strands for a heavier line on the running stitch). I filled the feathers in with single threads, and added to the lace with more french knots. The chevron stitch fabric was followed with a double strand embroidery thread simply following the lines of the pattern. Nothing fancy, just simple, wholesome stitching that is pleasing to the eye and mindless and relaxing for the hands.

Of course, all of this relaxing stitching then leaves time for the mind to ponder on what comes next! I had been very daring in my quest for lace ribbons and had ventured into the unknown realm of the craft cupboard.... (pause for dramatic effect). It is one of those spaces where things are so crammed in there, they leap out at you when you open the door and you have to quickly shove everything in and slam the door shut, minding your fingers of course, to close it again. Luckily for me, it was a successful mission and I discovered bags of beautiful pearl and cream beads left over from my university days, and some white lace leaves which would be perfect. White wasn't really going to cut it for me in the leaf department though so I got out some watercolour paints and painted the green on which has turned out rather well I think.

These I kind of threw onto the hoop and stitched them down where they landed- no only kidding, I sat and arranged them for ages, trying to picture how the flowers would look around them, then stitched them down and added some stems using three strands of embroidery thread in a kind of loose satin/long stitch. After finishing the main stems I worked some strands of thread in a kind of star at the very top of each one to show where I wanted the flowers to go, although you can't really see these in the finished piece. The flowers themselves were made with french knots in DMC tapestry yarn (adding extra blisters to my fingers along with texture to the embroidery!), and I added 'sunshine' with my beautiful beads. So, are you ready for the finished piece? .....


It's quite a bit different to my other stitchscapes as this is a much more close up view of my subject than the others which look on from more of a distance. It also uses more 'stuff' and doesn't focus so much on the fabrics in the background to create the images. I have worked these fabrics in my usual way but they only peep through the leaves rather than being the bigger picture.
It's funny, this piece happened so fast from inspiration to realisation to completion. It's how I imagine a poet would feel as they spontaneously spit out prose inspired by a muse. My work doesn't usually happen so fast but I'm jolly pleased it did (even if the blisters are bigger than ever!).

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