Monday, 26 June 2017

Incoming Tide

This one happened in something of a flurry! I started it in the afternoon of Studio Saturday and completed it Sunday evening!! It's only a little one, stitched in a 15cm hoop, and is so cute with its snazzy beach hut. The name, if you haven't guessed already, is Incoming Tide.

I'm not quite sure what made me bring this one to life. It was one of those, spur of the moment, must-come-out-of-brain things and the fabrics sort of fell in the hoop... sort of. I loved the chance to use my beautiful ocean print fabric which is complete with frothing sea spray and deep blue waves. There is something quite delicious about the first cut into a new fat quarter (or even one you have been hoarding for a while waiting for the right 'scape to put it in). I liken the feeling to opening a new book and turning the first page, or walking out of the door to the smell of freshly cut grass. It's that sort of feeling.

I've covered part of the sea print with fat straight stitches, overlapping each other in two shades of deep blue. I really like how these criss cross over each other, creating satin waves that do almost appear to shimmer. The bubbly sea horses are my favourite, French knots!

I also really love the beach hut. The fabrics really lent themselves beautifully to be stitched on. The red crosshatching of the body of the hut have been embellished with the finest straight stitches (amazing how different this versatile stitch looks depending on the weight the thread and how it is put together with another stitch). The triangular print fabric also has very fine straight stitches following the line of the beige triangles, and I really don't think it needed any more than that- well, maybe the door knob!
The roof of the hut has been edged first in coral stitch, and then the top stitches gone over again with pekinese stitch to help make it stand out slightly from the green background. I forgot how much I like pekinese stitch, and it looks even better than usual going around the knot of the coral stitch! Must remember to try this one again.

I was channelling thoughts of Sea Pinks into my token floral display, although I think Sea Pinks are actually diddy little things, not like my tall wavy flowers. These are made up of the tiniest fly stitches in two shades of pink- they look almost like little bows don't they? Of course, this stitchscape is missing the trademark bullion knot flowers, but I think they would have been too much here. The fly stitch flowers are delicate and unassuming, letting the eye be drawn to the sea and the beach hut, which is what it is all about really.

It's amazing how quickly the layers build up in this size of hoop. I might stick to 15cm hoops for a little while and see what else I can create before my next upcoming show at Bridge Cottage in Uckfield on Saturday 8th July. Imagine a display full of tiny little stitchscapes! Now that sounds cute.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Gold Rush Stitchscape

I was hoping that today would be sunny so that I could show you the very special feature in this newest of Stitchscapes. Unfortunately we appear to have run out of sunshine for the time being, having used it all up during the week, and today is grey, overcast and windy. The photos and Studio Saturday must continue however, so I would like to introduce you to the most recent member of the 'scape family, Gold Rush!

I did mention in a previous post that this would be part of a secret project and that it was meant to be simple with fewer layers.... well the fewer layers part was right but it ended up being anything other than simple, and so has only helped my secret project in telling me what not to do (ie, get carried away with gold thread!). Not to worry, I shall just have to think again.

It was the gold and green print fabric that did it. I saw the gold in there as a 'golden' opportunity for some sparkle and bought some stranded DMC embroidery thread in metallic gold. Initially I was only going to use it on the special Japanese fabric, but then it looked kind of mean so the gold spilled out into the flower stems, making the ground sparkle and gleam in the light.

I have tried several different stitches in this piece, including blanket stitch, star stitch and coral stitch. The usual suspects; straight, satin, running (kantha), detached chain (lazy daisy), fly, whip, back, seed and cross stitches, couching, french knots and bullion knots are all in there too, mingling together in an embroidered explosion!

Originally, I wasn't going to have anything in the sky, it was just going to be two layers of blue. However, as the bottom half got more complex, layered and sparkly, something had to be done about the top half which seemed plain and empty. With the beautiful weather we have been having, I was reminded of the idea of the gold representing sunlight gilding everything in it's sight. It's a theme that often appears in my stitchscapes as I play around with how light and shadow might appear in the real landscape. These inspirations then took the form of sun rays bursting out of the top of the hoop- like when the day is overcast but tendrils of sunshine manage to force their way through that cloudy barrier to reach the ground.

More gold here, a touch of gold there, and this Stitchscape's claim to fame is the fact it sparkles in the light! I really love the effect, it makes it seem so special and reminds me of how beautiful everything appears in the summer time. Flowers glow as if lit from within, the sky turns every shade of blue on a daily basis, and every shade of orange and purple in the evening, the sea and rivers sparkle and wink like the ripples are speaking in morse code, and the colours everywhere are rich and vibrant. That is what this stitchscape reminds me of. Does it remind you of anything?

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saturday ♥♥♥

It's been a very productive Studio Saturday. I really love this special weekend time where I get to go into my own little stitchscape filled world, where there's just me and my 'scapes, chilling out together without a care in the world. This kind of escapism becomes even more valued after the recent horrific events in London- and the world in general- both accidental and intentional. Nothing bad ever happens in a stitchscape.

Today's 'chores' included taking an inventory of my prints in their various sizes, mounting up some more prints (after an enormous delivery of mounts yesterday!), stretching my most recently finished stitchscape (Emerald Isle), photographing the 'scapes not yet made into prints, and framing two of my larger 'scapes. So not a lot to do.... 

Someone once said to me, that the images I publish whilst stitching these embroideries, and even the photos of the finished pieces mounted, didn't make sense as an image until I framed it. It's amazing how effective a simple mount and frame around the image make it stand out so much more. I'm really pleased with how these two stitchscapes look in their frames. Poor Bluebell Woods (above) has been waiting for a while for a frame as my supplier was out of stock for a couple of weeks. I think it was worth the wait though- look how gorgeous it is now!!

Moon Flower Town looks very effective in it's black frame. I wonder if it would look as impressive if I'd chosen to use a white frame? To be honest, it had to be black, I didn't even consider the possibility of a white frame. 
After several hours hunger drew me out of the studio and home again as I'd forgotten to pack a lunch or snack, but I'd managed to achieve most of the things on my list, and had a camera full of images waiting to be edited- which is what I have spent the afternoon doing; glass of Prosecco in hand and all of the doors and windows open to let in the sunshine and gentle breeze. What better way to round off a Saturday in the studio could there be?

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Golden Glow

Yesterday evening had such a lovely golden glow about it, and I suspect today will be the same. The sun was smiling over the landscape, and I hadn't realised quite how hot it was having spent the entire day in an air conditioned office. The beauty of the evening really made me want to pootle around the garden and inspect enjoy the lovely flowers that are coming through in the flowerbeds and pots.

Now is the time for the stand alone, show-off flowers to appear. We've had the ground covering spectacular flowers (Bluebells and Wood Anemones), and now comes the age of Alliums, frothy Poppies, dish plate sized Clematis, Agapanthus and towering Foxgloves- just to name a few.

These Agapanthuses (Agapanthi?) are really something aren't they? Like frozen fireworks with those star shaped, bristle petals. You could recreate them with stitched crosses, or perhaps work fly stitch into a star shape with a bead or french knot in the the possibilities!

Dad works very hard on his hanging baskets and pots, the garden in general really, and on evenings like this it really pays off. Our front door is to the side of the house so you have to walk down the path through the front garden and wrap around the side to knock on the door- I hope our visitors appreciate the fine floral display that's been put on for them!

It works the other way too. When you leave the house you exit the front door, walk up the shadowy path, and turn the corner into glowing sunshine, surrounded by flowers of all shapes, sizes and colours. It's a very lovely, English country garden experience.

I have been channelling all of this colour and energy and life into my newest stitchscape, which is much simpler in terms of layering. This is because I have a plan! A plan born from a request I received at the Bridge Arts show. I can't tell you any more about it at the moment because it's a secret plan and I don't want to falsely raise any hopes in case it doesn't work out, but I really hope it does! You will know all about it as soon as I can say.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Emerald Isle Stitchscape


This little stitchscape is a real bundle of fun! So many colours, so many textures, so many stitches! My Dad came up with the name for this piece as I was struggling a little bit- it didn't have a specific inspiration or theme, but I really like what he suggested; Emerald Isle. 
Sounds kind of snazzy, doesn't it?

The background was cut and tacked together before my holiday to Sorrento as a possible plane project, but I didn't start it until I got home afterwards. It was also the demonstration piece at the Bridge Arts show at the weekend so it's a well travelled little embroidery!
The bottom half is my favourite bit, all that texture layered on top of itself- the zesty green bottom layer gives me great joy to look at and run my fingers over as it has so many textures just within that one fabric! The satin stitch bumps, both big and small, are so smooth and contrasting against the really tight, chunky whip stitch which follows the outline of the batik print. Add in some rows of running stitch, and a cluster of bullion knots and it's stitching heaven!

Moving up the piece, I really enjoy the fun little pink dot flowers. They are chunky french knots, using three strands of embroidery thread and about six twists of the needle, and they perch oh so daintily on top of those turquoise fly stitch stems. I felt that a little bit of grounding was needed though and added detached chain stitch leaves in a light green just to make them look a tad more realistic... if you can make them look realistic.

Right at the very top, just above the final sky layer, I've added a few little kisses as I was so pleased with the stitchscape reception at their first outing! Perhaps I should show my appreciation a little more with hidden kisses in my 'scapes- what do you think?

I'm also very chuffed with how my dense detached chain daisy flowers have turned out. The fabric print has the flowers represented as lines around the central spot, and I have used these as a template for the stitches, trying to start and finish each chain stitch on each side of the lines. I've also tried to follow the colours as closely as I could which has made for some interesting colour layering.

I would love to see how this one turns out as a print! My work is cut out this weekend, I have so many stitchscapes to try and photograph (hopefully it doesn't rain), and I also would like to start putting small original pieces and stitchscape minis in my Etsy shop, so keep an eye out for that!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Bridge Arts In Uckfield

What a weekend! I am still riding the adrenaline rush of my first big event with the Stitchscapes and feeling heart-skippy happy about how it went and the lovely comments people had about my humble embroideries. I didn't think I would be nervous, it's not like nobody has seen the work at all, but I was a bit shaky to start with- probably because we were surrounded by very talented and experienced artists who do this sort of thing all the time and know that people love their work.
I had a couple of hours in the studio on the Friday morning, framing the last couple of pieces and gathering everything together in bubble wrap. When we got to the stand I was staring at the space which looked absolutely enormous, telling The Mother that we weren't going to fill it and it was going to be a disaster! Five minutes later, having unpacked the boxes, there suddenly didn't seem enough space and that was going to be a disaster because it would be too crammed! Tension was relatively high.
Eventually we sorted it and tweaked it, and got the 'scapes hung on the wall, and I was really chuffed with how it looked! Those Hobbycraft crates which I have lined with scented draw liners really set the space off and added a great dimension to the table (we had lots of comments about those crates).
I didn't sell any large original stitchscapes, but lots of postcards and prints have been sold, and some lovely comments on social media have come in from happy customers. I also have lots of inspiration for new ideas based on the comments received; what worked well, what people would be happy to buy, what Stitchscape themes were most popular etc. So all in all, it was a big success for me, and thanks must go to The Mother for being such an excellent sales lady.

During the quieter moments of the fair, I was working on the other Stitchscape that was taken to Sorrento but never made it out of the box. There isn't really a theme behind this one, I just loved how the fabric colours worked together with the different prints, and that gorgeous green/turquoise blend. One of the comments made from one of the punters, was that it looked almost like it was under the sea- a coral bed perhaps? I can see where they're coming from but will definitely need help with naming this stitchscape for when it's finished- any suggestions?

So one craft fair down, and two more booked! (The bug has well and truly bitten.) All details will be published on my Facebook page, and under the events section on the homepage of my website; but the next event planned is for Saturday 8th July at Bridge Cottage, Uckfield, between 10am - 4pm. Hope to see you there!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Sorrento Sunrise Stitchscape

I've had a really interesting day at the first day of the Bridge Arts show in Uckfield. There are so many really talented artists in the show and it was a bit daunting at first, but happily, everybody is lovely and I'll share a few photos of my stand later this weekend after our second and final day tomorrow. I didn't need to start setting up until lunchtime today, so popped in to the studio this morning to finish mounting and framing a couple of my new Stitchscapes- namely my Sorrento Sunrise Stitchscape!

I was halfway through mounting and framing the piece before I remembered that I hadn't shown you chaps the finished embroidery- so I rushed outside to snap a few pictures on my phone to share with you.
I really like this piece; it is exactly how I found Sorrento to be- colourful, bright, interesting, almost sparkly with the bright white buildings and dazzling shopping streets. The best part about these Stitchscapes is that they all have a story to them- where the inspiration came from, the history of the fabric prints used, or the collections of objects (shells) used as embellishments.

I should maybe write a little blurb about each piece to display at shows so that people have the history behind them- or perhaps put together a little book with images and details for interested parties to flick through.

My favourite part of this piece is the sandy bottom with the hand dyed scrim, different beads, bullion knot barnacles, french knots and Sorrento shells. Having framed and seen this piece mounted on a wall, I also like the way the tiny clear sequins twinkle at you across the room- it is exactly like the flashes of light you get in the sea.
There are lots of holiday memories locked away in this little 'scape, and I hope it will remind others of their trips away as well.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Summer Wedding

It was my Godmother's wedding day on Saturday, and it was such a special day! They chose one of my favourite places to get married in, and one that features often on this blog- Southover Grange Gardens in Lewes. I have never actually been inside the building itself though as it is usually reserved for such occasions, so that was an extra special treat.

The Grange itself is 16th century and built from stones taken from the ruins of Lewes Priory (as many of the old buildings in Lewes are). It has a few connections to royalty, with King George IV being a frequent guest in the 1790s, even taking his secret wife, Maria Fitzherbert, there in 1793. Queen Elizabeth II planted trees in the garden when she visited Lewes in 1951 as a Princess, and as Lewes has quite a few historical royal connections (Anne of Cleeves' house is just up the hill), there may have been many other visits that aren't so widely documented.

The ceremony took place in a beautiful room overlooking the gardens, and was short and very sweet with vows solemnly taken and a poem read. Photos were taken outside amongst the garden itself, and if we could have ordered the weather it would have been the beautiful sunshine that blessed the day. The wedding dress was gorgeous with scroll lace motifs and a short lace train that hooked up to be carried when not flowing on the floor- traditional and pretty at the same time.

The garden was looking spectacular with colourful roses climbing the walls and entwining in the box hedges, and there were lots of archways for photograph staging. Different sides of family and friends were called upon one by one to be present in the many photos of smiling, happy guests sharing in the couple's special day.

The reception and wedding breakfast was being held at the nearby Shelleys Hotel which definitely did us proud with champagne ready and waiting on our arrival having walked up the hill (in high heels) to reach the hotel. The only problem with Lewes is that it is very old and built on a hill which means lots of very steep and cobbled streets- not good for posh dresses and stilettos!

There were canapes in the garden whilst guests relaxed and chatted, and the newly married Mr & Mrs could mingle and greet everybody.

We were eventually called into the dining room which was stunning with chandeliers, decoratively dressed windows, tables set with fabulous floral displays, and the wedding cake which features the couple's two dogs and had been made by a relative all the way up in Coventry!

There was a guest book to sign, and little wooden hearts to decorate and pop into a specially made frame for them to keep as a momento. I was asked to make a few decorative hearts to fill in the spaces which kept me occupied after the speeches (some very emotional) were made and the excellent lunch was being washed down with coffee.

It was a beautiful setting and a beautiful day, and I hope that they will be very happy together and make many more memories to accompany this one.