Oh my goodness, I've been having such fun lately!! Having finished my big Camber Sands Stitchscape I was still feeling inspired by shells and the seaside and being outdoors in the fresh coastal air; paddling in frothy waves and inspecting rockpools for creatures. Luckily when my family and I went to Camber last year, we collected a couple of tubs full of shells, plus I was donated some really pretty small ones, so I was fairly well stocked on the shell front.
There has been a small pack of 10cm embroidery hoops sitting on top of some shelves in my bedroom for a while now and at the weekend I decided to put together three new little hoops, each one with a seaside/shell theme, each one using completely different fabrics and each one trying to play with new techniques and 'stuff' from my 'stuff' collection.
I am so thrilled with the result you would not believe - I couldn't even tell you my favourite! (Although I would be intrigued to hear what your favourite is.)
This first one has a little slice of one of my favourite sky fabrics, which a lovely lady from my workshops gave to me when I lusted over a bigger piece she brought with her. I must try and find some more of this fabric because I only have the smallest of slithers left and it's just so sweet!
It's these bottom sea-weedy things that really steal the show though I think. Can you guess what they are?
They are actually stamens for when you embroider or create flowers and they've been hanging around in a drawer for absolutely yonks! I used to make ribbon flowers with wire ribbons and these would often be in the centre of them - I think I have other colours as well which would be fun to dig out.
All I've done to these stamens, which have the little bobble on each end of the wire, is to fold them into quarters so you end up with two bobbles on one side and the folded wire on the other then couch them down. They are so effective don't you think?
In hindsight, I should probably have stitched these towards the end of the piece rather than right at the beginning because the threads kept getting tangled up as I embroidered around them, but I was so excited at my idea, and then at my idea working, that I couldn't wait to see what it looked like!
They've been propped up a little bit with some pearl seed beads in and around the base of them, although a little bit of movement doesn't matter and they are fairly sturdy on their own anyway.
Around them I've got little satin stitches over the printed pebbles and french knots for texture.
The other layers are pretty self explanatory I think, two colours of single strand seed stitch around the Gulls, a single strand of running stitch stacked rows on the sandy bit, and not-very-neat satin stitch over each little blob on the blue dot batik layer. The 'string' comes from deconstructed wide jute ribbon that I've attacked and stripped.
This next piece, which was actually the last to be finished, has much more colour in it and basically all stems around the fact that I found a little tiny piece of Kaffe Fassett fabric with grey on it in the big stash I was bought for Christmas by my boyfriend (what a gem - the fabric, and the boyfriend!). I've carefully-ish cut around this one tiny section, which is part of a much larger fabric print, and teamed it with a smashing orange batik to help bring out the orange and yellow in the pattern above, as well as a lovely pale dashed grey fabric and my sandy print. The sand print has sort of disappeared now which wasn't intentional but I don't mind it because I love all of the frothy textures happening on top of it!
Before I come to that though, the top layers have been treated very simply (which is something I like to do when throwing masses at the bottom of the hoop - your eyes need somewhere to look for respite before diving back in). The grey fabric at the top does have very thin dashed printed lines on it so I've just followed that with a single strand of white running stitch. The gorgeous Fassett fabric has had the bolder coloured areas covered with satin stitch, and then a delicate single strand back stitch around the two grey areas.
For the orange batik I've gone around each white circle with a single strand of stem stitch - all very delicate and understated but still packing a punch when working together. The string stuff in this case is deconstructed hessian, pulled apart to just the strands of yarn.
There is quite a lot going on at the bottom of the piece - these fabulous shells were given to me by a work friend and they have such a lot of rich colour in them, quite unlike the pale shells found at Camber. They work so well with the stronger fabric colours and I love the ones that are more grey/black in colour as well to contrast.
The texture started off just being an icy blue bouclé yarn, which was a bit shiny and exciting, twisted and couched around the shells to inspire thoughts of water. Then the bullion knot barnacles were added to use up some of my lingering ends of threads and to fill in some gaps. I was going to leave it there but then thought that some darker contrast with the orange would be nice so I pulled out some silk throwsters waste in this gorgeous oily blue and ruthlessly stabbed down some areas between the shells.
Once I was on the roll nothing was stopping me and suddenly four different bead tubes were in my hand! There are two colours of petrol green/blue seed bead in the middle of the silk throwsters, and a combination of shiny tube bead, and matt white seed beads filling in spaces between the bouclé yarn to really look like bubbles and water.
This lovely piece is perhaps a little bit more sedate, although still incorporates some fun textures and techniques. I absolutely love this shell fabric, with the shells already printed on there, it works so well when combined with physical shells on top and around them.
Again the higher layers have been treated very delicately; a single strand back stitch around the pattern at the top layer, then two strands of seed stitch covering the plain (which isn't actually a plain, it's an odd plainly texture printed) fabric and a single strand of vertical whip stitch over those for a bit of interest.
The batik fabric splodges have been covered with matching satin stitch and the layer topped with a skinny couched leatherette cord that was tangled up in my, rather chaotic, working thread box.
The printed shells have sort of been loosely filled in with straight stitches following the faint lines of colour or definition within the shells, and highlighted with a dark brown back stitch to bring them out and help provide a shadow. Between the shells (printed and real) I've twisted a jute string which I was given as part of a paper making pack, as well as little pieces of dyed cotton scrim to add a more mossy texture.
It was all looking a little bit matte so I decided to add sheen with some light brown DMC silky yarn, which I've worked in moss stitch - I think it's called moss stitch; where you don't pull the thread all the way through on the top and leave a loop on the surface. You can either just eyeball it and hope for the best, or stitch over something to hold the loop in place for several stitches. I used an old reed from an oil diffuser but you can use anything that's about the size of the loop you want to end up with. Just don't pull too hard or the whole texture disappears into baggy seed stitch!
Different sizes and colours of bead have also been added between everything, there are some different sized seed beads and a light brown, shiny tube bead to match the moss stitch.
This piece you may have already seen as it was actually embroidered last year straight after the Camber trip - and features on my 'Adding Shells to Stitchscapes' Youtube video (which is linked here if you have an hour to spare and are interested). It doesn't look like I wrote a blog post about it though and I have added it to my triptych to make a little set of four shell observation Stitchscapes.
I love to stitch with Limpets that have had their tops knocked off, which you might remember from the Barnacle Bay Stitchscape but we only managed to find three small Limpets at Camber, as well as some super tiny white shells which are just so sweet. I've teamed these with the Stylecraft Moonbeam Lime fancy yarn, using both the wet look bits couched into loops and the matt bits stretched over and around the shells. Again the shell fabric has been used, but the colours embroidered over are much softer because there were less of them so they would seem odd to be boldly sticking out of the sand in this instance. Mixed beads and french knots help to add a sandy/rocky texture to this layer and bed in the seaweed.
The stripy sand fabric that was buried under the texture of the Fassett fabric piece has also been used, with a single strand of whipped back stitch along every stripe to bring out the texture of the print. More hessian strands were loosely couched on top of this because it mirrored that stitching so beautifully.
I love the layer above that, which had those arrows printed on already, I've just gone over them with a single strand of fly stitch, working from the top of the row down each time, and filling in those random little circles with satin stitch.
Running stitch is all the was needed for the top plain blue layer!! Nothing fancy or frivolous going on there.
So there we go!! Four little 10cm seascape Stitchscape observations! Of course the problem is that now I've discovered some new techniques and ideas, all I want to do is make more! And slightly different, combining them in different ways so taking the lovely folded white stamens and adding the tiny pieces of blue silk throwsters and beads for example. There are so many combinations and endless possibilities with Stitchscapes, they keep the ideas coming themselves!!
They look so tiny against the giant mammoth that is the Camber Sands 25cm Stitchscape though don't they? Just one of those big shells would fill about half of the 10cm hoop space!
I love seeing them all together though - I have quite a few different Stitchscapes that feature real shells now; White Cliffs, Sorrento Sunrise, Barnacle Bay, Camber Sands....and there's another one that was stitched at the beginning of last year that I can't find a post for that's stuffed full of Limpet shells!
I do have lots of shells left though...maybe there are a few more seaside themed Stitchscapes to come.....