I’ll be honest, although the Brecon canal runs through the village where I live I haven’t walked along it very much in the 15 years that I have lived here. Whether it’s the busy road I have to cross has put me off or I just haven’t thought about walking that way, the need to lose weight for the up and coming wedding of my eldest Son has spurred me to get my walking shoes on and lose those pounds that have crept on over the years.
This part of the canal is so pretty and there is a woodland reserve you can walk through as well. I have lived in the country all my life and sometimes you take for granted what is around you, but I do, and always have, appreciated the beauty of nature especially when it comes to stitching. I sometimes fight not to include it in my work but try as I might I find it hard not to revert to nature for inspiration. This little project is no exception, the trees along the canal and through the woodland reserve are so full of character I couldn’t help imagining that these trees would be homes to woodland nymphs and fairies.
I have been doing another little project on Japanese stab binding and I wanted to make an embroidery to put on the front of the book. May be my next blog I will show you how to make a journal using this method of binding pages together. Unusually I didn’t draw my design first. It was one of those moments when I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I just went with my instinct and watched it grow over the next few days. The image was printed on my brain from my walk along the canal.
When I start a new embroidery I like to think about the subject and how I want to represent it. I have been doing some needle felting and making some cushion kits. I love using the natural fibres and the process of using the fibres like paint. I made myself a palette of yarn out of a recycled Christmas box and toilet roll tubes in true Blue Peter fashion and it works really well, I do like to organise myself so that I don’t waste time looking for things and spend more time doing the actual project.
If you know me, then you will know that I am a bit of a craft hoarder and I could probably do with another 2 or 3 of these boxes to hold all the Merino wool I possess. The other reason for using this method is, I have come to love using these fibres because you can create a lovely 3 d effect to your work, you can sort of sculpt them to create a naturalistic effect. It is also a very satisfying craft, the action of using the needle felting tool to gel the fibres into the background fabric is very soothing and rhythmic, almost trance like but do be careful the needles are extremely sharp and if you do catch your fingers it is not a pleasant experience at all.
This is where I began, it doesn’t look very promising and at this stage I am often thinking “will this turn out how I so desperately want it to”. Even though I have been creating pictures and embroideries for many years now and teaching others I still get that nagging feeling of doubt, that what’s in my head will not end up as I imagined. I always have to remind myself to push past that first stage and to be confident, that as I add the layers the picture will come to life.
I wasn’t exactly sure at this point what I wanted. I knew I had to start somewhere and this was just going to be part of the background. Then it dawned on me that I wanted to make a fairy house in the base of a tree where the roots flow out into the ground below where a secret world of tunnels and rooms were home to a fairy family snug and warm away from the winter chill.
The little woodland home needed a door!
I had fun making this, a piece of picture mount board and Inktense water colour pencils and voila! I am definitely inspired now to carry on, I love the door and it deserves it’s place in my picture. I continue to build up the background, putting in the base layer of the tree.
I have used quite a coarse sheep wool for the first layer of the tree, this will help to build up the 3d look I’m looking for to emulate the bark of the tree. I add some more layers in different shades.
Layer upon layer.
Now I have added some extra layers to greenery to the left of the tree and added some green scrim to the trunk for the lichen or moss growing on the trunk, the detailing has begun, my favourite bit!
It’s all starting to come together and I’m a happy fairy. Adding something here and a little bit there brings it all together and adds that little bit of magic.
Snowdrops and Celandines in 1 ply crewel wool, grasses and stems in Stef Francis perle 5. Felt is so lovely to stitch into!
Adding more stitching to the tree trunk and leaves of the trees in a variety of threads.
Here is the finished picture, it has taken me the best part of a few days, maybe 2 or 3 hours a day. I have mounted it on the front of my Japanese Stab bound journal and I have thoroughly enjoyed making it and thinking about my walks along the canal with my husband and youngest son Tom. It has been lovely to go out walking to break up the day and get a little exercise too, it certainly restores you and there is so much to be inspired by. I am so glad we decided to walk along there the other day because not only did I get to make this picture but I have lost half a stone too!!
Win Win I say !!!!
Love to all