Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Travelling Sketchbooks June - The Humble Running Stitch

So for June's sketchbook pages I have turned to the humble running stitch for inspiration or more precisely a bargain book I picked up (yet another book on stitch!) called Machine Embroidery: Stitch Techniques by Valerie Campbell-Harding and Pamela Watts. I followed a few of the exercises in the book based on running stitch which although the most basic of machine stitches can be overlooked as something more versatile. These then are my pages for June: 






I stitched lines of running stitch very very close together using a variety of metallic, rayon and variegated threads on artists canvas which is excellent for stitching on as it is thick enough to stitch into without the need to use a stabiliser underneath or an embroidery hoop. I must admit this exercise took ages and once started I felt I had to carry on although I was very pleased with the effect once it was finished, looking rather like a deckchair stripe I thought.


I love stitching onto paper so loved this exercise which used up torn painted paper combined with organza and then stitched to secure. Tearing paper rather than cutting with scissors always gives a more interesting and decorative effect and here the white torn edge forms a frame. I used Fabriano paper which is quite a thick artists' quality watercolour paper which comes in rolls. 


I keep a box of painted papers which can be anything from cut up failed paintings, old sketches, printing experiments or just messing about with paint and paper using various paint techniques using  watercolour, acrylic or inks. They will always come in handy to use in collage, sketchbook work or  to make greeting cards.  


Here I sandwiched threads and yarns of various thicknesses between sellophane then machine stitched random lines of running stitch to secure in place and cut an aperture placing the stitched piece behind it and then glueing to the page underneath to form a frame. 


I always like to give an explantion of my inspiration so again combining stitch with paper I have used cotton rag paper pressed with flower petals bought from Paperchase a favourite shop of mine for  hand made paper.  The humble running stitch really ain't that humble, the trick is how you use it! 


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Journeys # 6 - Blue Bird

For my latest Journeys rail ticket challenge I have used a stencil I got as a free gift from a sewing magazine.  There were quite a few included but the one that appealed to me most was of a bird which reminded me a lot of the logo used by the now defunct Blue Bird Toffee Company which used to be based here in the West Midlands. Blue Bird toffees (so named after the Blue Bird of Happiness from a 1908 play by Maurice Maeterlink) were a very popular brand of toffees around when I was a child which I absolutely adored. The factory was in Romsley about two miles south of Halesowen but on the tins the district was called Hunnington and I remember on numerous occasions when out for a ride in the car with my mum and dad we would drive past and I would always wish that we could pop in and look round to see how the toffee was made, just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.     The factory eventually closed down in 1998 when it was bought up by Needlers and moved to Hull. The vintage tins if you can get hold of them can be worth quite a lot of money. So here is my Blue Bird inspired Journey inspired by my child hood memories of those delicious toffees.



Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

When I was a kid I would get very annoyed with the grown ups when they wished for rain for their gardens in a dry spell or a heatwave. "This will do the garden good" was a phrase I often heard from my mum and dad when they would look through the window at a downpour with relish. I thought they were bonkers.   Now I am a grown up myself of course with my own garden that is exactly what I have been thinking these last few days so today's showers have been very welcome. So who's bonkers now?  Out with my camera today then snapping between the showers. I always think the petals on the flowers look so attractive with a few raindrops on them.  Here is what is currently in bloom in my garden.




The majestic Clematis Jackmanii  - the blooms can be as big as tea plates.

 Campanula - a rockery favourite. 

 And another rockery favourite Dianthus

Another species of Geranium giving a good display of colour to the borders.  

I love this Cistus but I have to say though that sudden downpours and heavy showers although keeping the plants healthy don't do the blooms any favours. This Cistus was looking lovely here but the heavy rain has now knocked off most of the petals. The best kind of rain is soft steady rain which soaks right into the soil to get directly to the roots, neither destroying the blooms nor evaporating off  too quickly with the heat. 

The rain of course brings the slugs and snails out in force. I wonder they dare show their face in view of the fact they munched their way through my lettuces and courgettes. The temerity!