Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Salvage Textiles

Sometimes inspiration for a textile piece comes from found objects and materials.

I came across some beautiful antique nails in a market that were from church salvage in Malaga.
They were dated 1750 and I wanted to include them in some textile art.


I naturally dyed silk with flowers and leaves with some rust in dye mix to add depth and darken.
I also included vintage linen and some frayed scrim.

Bits of antique lace for further history, including some parts of French lace Edwardian wedding dress sleeves.


I made a few pieces each with added antique nail and the motifs I embroidered were of arches and doorways to echo where they were salvaged from.
I love that someone thought to keep the nails and hold onto a piece of historic craftsmanship.



I choose titles that reflected their history.
They are wrapped onto canvas and framed into box frames.









Thursday, 22 December 2016

Making an Embroidered Purse

This is my first embroidered purse ( a gift for a friend ). She was looking for a glasses purse that she could wear around her neck. I’ve wanted to make a purse for ages so this was my Christmas project !
My biggest problem was sourcing the purse frame as I wanted one that had two links to attach the chain. The only size I could find to order was slight smaller than I would have liked and I was worried that glasses might not squeeze in !!


First I eco dyed some silk noil as a background. The silk noil has more ‘bite’ that slippery silk and is easier to embroider into, also a lot hardier for use as a purse.
There are less blooms to choose from in winter but I have a kind local florist who had some roses and eucalyptus that were about to be binned. I wrapped and steamed my silk noil and left for a few days to dry. When unwrapped I was pleased that the flowers had given soft shades and the eucalyptus had blended with the rose leaves and given defined green shapes.


I gave myself a basic shape to embroider into and tacked the dyed silk down.
The base under material I choose was cut from a discontinued upholstery fabric swatch book - my purse was starting to be very eco ! The grey fabric had a slight sheen was a nice neutral starting point to lay the dyed silk over.
It is so easy to be nervous and take too long to pick the ‘perfect’ section to cut and this part of a project is the hardest for me. Once I am committed I enjoy the process but the first choices of colour and layout selection are often painfully long for poor indecisive me !
Really .  .   .  you have no idea how long I debate and agonize !!!
To help with this I usually photograph my fabrics in position and then print a few A4 sheets where I can draw some ideas for embroidery before I start to stitch.



Choosing the antique lace is much easier. I have a large collection of Edwardian and Victorian lace and I have divided it into shades and style and size. Old lace is very beautiful and so any choice is a good one. You can’t go wrong with antique lace.
I took inspiration from the natural marks that the flowers and leaves had left on the silk noil to layout the lace and build a flowerbed.


On one side I stitched wild lavender and daisy and a fossil spiral. The shades of purple and pink give a very vintage style to the purse.
The other side I embroidered an open pod with small scraps of antique lace trapped inside. Also some cow parsley as I always love to include french knots.


For an extra bit of colour I stitched a blue moth - an exotic little creature to sit in my antique garden.  The moth was born out of reused work .   .   even more eco! 
Years ago I had some designer knitwear in a fashion awards show and had silk painted a dress for the model to wear with it. It had swirls of marine colours and fish and has been a fantastic source of scrap silk for some time now. I have never been afraid to cut up past work to reuse and relove !


Stitching the purse together and onto the frame was certainly a learning curve !!
It was not easy and there are things I will change next time . . . but all in all I did very much enjoy making my first fabric embroidered purse.
I put it in some tissue and Christmas wrap and it is now ready to give to my good friend Barbara
.  .  .  . just hope her glasses fit !

Monday, 26 September 2016

Sea Queen finally crowned !


This year I was delighted to be part of the Irish Guild of Embroiderers exhibition at the Lexicon Library, Dun Laoghaire Co Dublin.
The theme was ‘Marine’ and the selection of embroidery and textiles by members was fantastic.
The exhibition from 10th September until 5th November 2016 (so still on while I write this blog post). Here are some photos of parts of the process.
Whenever I complete a complex large piece of textile art that has lived so long on my work table, on my sewing machine and on my lap
 .  .  .  it feels strange to stitch the last stitch and cut the last thread.
I do love making small portable pieces but every now and then it is lovely to get absorbed in planning and making a large one.
But I never think about just how much time it will take at the start !

The theme was ‘Marine’ and immediately I had the idea to make a sea lady with a dress made of a shoal of fish.


I eco dyed silk with flowers and rust and added this to indigo dyed silk and did a rough layout of the fabrics onto black felt.
The black felt deepened the colours of the silk and gave me a nice base to stitch to.

Next came the sketching and layout of my figure (which at this stage I had upgraded her to a queen). I wanted her to be at the centre of a deep underwater sea cliff.


I drew my figure onto some natural flat felt (using black biro actually!) and then painted shadow and tone with watercolour.


I choose a palate of threads and started to build up her face and arms with hand stitching.
I think this was my favourite part of the work and a total experiment as I had not embroidered a face before.
I realised that for this piece less was more and did not fill in everywhere. The watercolour shading was a huge help.


For her hair I used dyed wool fleece attached with tiny hand stitches ! 


I used some lovely blue tulle for her dress and stitched this flat before adding the fish.
I am lucky to have a friend who designs curtains and soft furnishing for period homes and who kindly gives me pieces of delicious high end silks from sample books and discontinued collections.


My shoal of fish were born in this way and after making some basic traced shapes I spent a few days cutting out fish. I them machine embroidered the edges, scales and details. I could then add them one by one to make the dress.


One of my passions is antique lace and it features in most pieces I make.
So here and there I added some, softening the whiter pieces with tea stain.
The main lace (Edwardian and Victorian) is in the crown and through her hair.

After all the main elements were finally in place I had fun with the other hand embroidered details. 


I made an anchor with some silk I had rust dyed - and  ‘aged’ it with stitched marks.


Then I ‘grew’ lots of underwater plants and algae to decorate the queen’s garden.


Rocks made with cut felt shapes, seaweed made with silk strips, embroidered shell fossils on the cliff sides .  .  .


and then an octopus cloak !
Each addition made the piece heavier and heavier to twist and turn !


I worked on my textile Sea Queen for quite awhile and the very last part I added was the antique lace crown !! She is stretched and wrapped on 50cm x 100cm canvas.