Friday, August 21, 2009

You’re My Inspiration

Earlier this week I posted some of the ink paintings that I’ve been doing in my journal, and I mentioned that I may look into taking them “off the page”.

inspired by ink paintings 

This piece is the first iteration.  It is based on the kantha embroidery technique I learned from Dorothy Caldwell.  I chose a 9” square of my hand-dyed muslin.  The piece was layered with two other pieces of fabric (for this one I chose a happy orange polka dot print from Robert Kaufman Co.).  To secure the work, I stitched around the outside with a regular length seam, then used a longer seam to sew an “X” from corner to corner. 

I used several types of pencils to draw the image, starting with a pencil designed to mark on fabric for the leaves.  I noticed the image was fading before I even got to the end of the leaves, so I tried a prismacolor before finally settling on a good old #2 pencil.  I knew I would stitch over the lines, so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t erase the lines.

The lines were stitched using three strands of DMC embroidery floss.  I removed the basting as more of the image was stitched, making the fabric more stable.  Currently I am stitching in the mountain area with purple floss.  It always amazes me how stiff fabric becomes when you do nothing more than add multiple lines of stitching.

I also taught a private class this week, and needed to make a sample.  Several years ago I took a class with Glenys Mann, and each morning she gave us a photograph to recreate, postcard size , in fabric before we could work on anything else.  I thought this would be a good exercise to demonstrate to my student, and I found this beautiful photograph in a gardening magazine I picked up at the free pile of the library.

reference photo green piece

I chose to recreate the tree trunk, starting with a base of my hand-dyed twill from the dyeing extravaganza of earlier this month.


The green lines are zigzag stitch over satin rattail cord.  I then layered a piece of red organza on top of the whole piece and stitched around the cording.  The trimming was a real pain, but I stuck with it and trimmed off the excess organza.  Then I re-learned the first rule of sewing: if the machine is acting up, first you rethread the machine.  I had taken the main thread out of the tension disc to run a bobbin of some metallic thread, and when I started to sew, I ended up with the fuzzy loops of threads you see above.  I figured out my mistake when I changed the bobbin to see the lines on the far right and far left.  Pieces like these are go with the flow when I do them, but I will remember for next time!

Inspiration can be found everywhere.  The question really isn’t “where can I find ideas”.  The question is “which ideas do I pursue?”

Bon appetit!