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.