These are some butterfly brooches that I`ve been working on over the last week.
It took a bit of trial and error to get them right at first, but I`m really pleased with the final result.
The butterflies are built up of layers of tiny scraps of fabric, handstitching and machine embroidery. I painstakingly snipped out tiny pieces of cottons, choosing fabrics in soft, muted tones of orange, yellow, blue and brown to echo the colours of wild British butterflies. I was influenced by the illustrations in this vintage wildlife field guide book. The layers of machine stitching softened the effect further, with the black stitching picking up details of veining on the wings, outlining the butterfly and drawing the antennae.
I wanted these butterfly brooches to act as companion pieces to my bumble bees and made them the same way, trying to keep quite a loose feel to them.
It`s been such freezing, wintry weather all week so I`ve really enjoyed staying cosied up in my sewing room, surrounded by scraps of fabric and accompanied by my cat and Radio 4, creating these tiny heralds of Spring.
I`ve been busy this week making some more round heart brooches. They proved to be popular for Valentines day so I decided to make a few more. I used more muted colours for these ones, with some thick, twill-woven vintage calico for the background. I was quite pleased with these, the rough texture of the calico gave them a look (I think) of little sandstone pebbles. I only have a small piece of this fabric, so I`ll keep it for more brooches. I`ll be making a few of these brooches for my stockists, these ones are heading into my Etsy shop.
I`ve been experimenting with bits of linens and lace this week and I bought a big piece of calico to play with. I used to use calico all the time and it`s fun to work with it again. It`s such a humble fabric, with a folksy, homespun feel and speckled with tiny imperfections, but is also really sturdy and versatile . I love combining the textures of calico, grainy old linens, homely ticking and frothy vintage lace. I`m planning to combine these in new work, using the lovely creamy, neutral shades as a nice contrast with embroidery.
The calico I bought was stitched together like this on the roll. I like the utillitarian, rough stitches.
My first butterfly… lots more to follow…
I`ve been working on some little keepsake hearts this week too. They are stitched from calico, vintage fabrics, vintage lace and shell buttons. They have a linen sachet of lavender inside as well as a bit of padding. I like the idea of making little one-off treasures and mini embroideries, something I`m hoping to develope over the next few weeks. I tried to give these hearts a collagey feel, and I`ve used both machine and hand embroidery.
My boyfriend and I were lucky to enjoy a short holiday in Rome last week. It was the first time there for both of us and we walked miles every day to see as much as we could. We concentrated mostly on the ancient city and museums and managed to cram in so many amazing things. We both love ancient history and Mark is getting to be quite knowledgable on all things Roman so it was wonderful to see everything ‘in the flesh’. Of all the inspiring things we saw, my favourite has to be the house of the empress Livia. We climbed the Palantine hill to see the remains of the imperial palaces. It was surprising how intimate some of the rooms and gardens were. You can still view the frescos in the house of Augustus- beautiful, elaborate paintings (which are still brightly coloured) in surprisingly small rooms, some quite tiny. It brought the past vividly alive.
In the National Museum of Rome (Palazzo Massimo alle Terme) we saw the beautiful garden room which is thought to have come from the house of Livia. It is simply stunning and quite took my breath away. The paintings completely cover the four walls and gives you the impression of having wandered into an enchanted, mediterranean garden. The colours have softened over time and are lovely, soothing shades of greens and blues. There are orchards and groves of trees and beautiful garden flowers everywhere. The flowers are all easily identifiable. Perching in the branches are lots of birds, all beautifully painted. Apparently the room was originally semi underground, lit by a skylight in the ceiling. It is easy to imagine what a cool, soothing sanctuary the room would have been, perfect for escaping the summer heat. I didn`t take photographs in the museum, but here are some images I found online…