There are quite a few of these beautiful, cheeky little animals living in the garden. Lots of hidey-holes, ground cover and places to set up home, plus a never-ending supply of birdfood to pinch makes mouse heaven apparently!
This bold wee thing let me get so close that I needed my macro lense!
Just a few quick sketches so far, but I`d love to try some mousey embroideries.
I`ve been working on lots more little stitched birds over the last few weeks. I love making them, especially as I invested in a new sewing machine a couple of weeks ago (a wonderful Bernina) which is an absolute dream to work with. I still feel that I`m gaining confidence with each one, and really enjoy going to town layering all the differnt coloured threads to create little paintings in stitch.
Here are a few recent birds, I must admit that I was especially pleased with some of them, but I think the little coal tit is my favourite so far.
I think this one is my favourite.
And of course, a few more blue tits!
I love this one!
I think it is the vintage fabric backgrounds that really help these little birds come alive, and a big part of making them is selecting just the perfect piece of fabric for them to perch in. Then I stitch in a twig or two, layering little scraps of fabric to look like bark. I like the layered, tangled look this gives, as if the birds are living in an overgrown garden– just like mine!
Happy New Year!
My first working week of the year has been all about bluetits.
First came some scribbly drawings in my sketchbook, inspired by all the bluetits in my garden:
Next came three embroideries inspired by the drawings:
All three embroideries sold straight away in my Etsy shop, which was a lovely start to the New Year. I`m feeling much more confident with free machine embroidery and really enjoyed stitching these little birds, layering fabric and thread to echo the original drawings. I was really pleased with these little bluetits and I want to work on lots more, as well as all the other birdy visitors to my garden. I`m so lucky to have a garden that is always filled with birds, probably because it`s really overgrown and filled with bushes and trees… I always keep the feeders topped up and I added another little bird table this Christmas which I put outside the kitchen window. Birds are always a bit wary of something new, but bold little coal tits visited first, and now there are all kinds of garden birds flying in for a snack all day long.
Last year was a great year for me, my work took on a new direction and I finally started to bring together drawing and sewing. I started an online shop and began to get the hang of Etsy, and also realised the wonders of selling and networking online. Now I`ve got lots of lovely customers and wonderful support and encouragement via Etsy and Facebook. This week I passed 1000 likes on Facebook which I was really amazed and happy about. I`m so excited to see what this year brings… I`m going to begin with lots more drawings and stitching of birds.
My sketchbook has been filling up with drawings of robins recently, which will be used as inspiration for some robin embroideries. This is my favourite way of working now- scribbly drawings first, then echo the colours, marks and line of the drawing in fabric and stitch. It was important to get the colours right- so many depictions of robins at Christmas time show them with dark brown backs and scarlet red breasts, but they are really more orange and grey than red and brown.
At this time of year, robins seem to be everywhere- as soon as you step outside, their song fills the air- little bright beads of sound. They look so cute but are actually tough little birds, and fiercely territorial. I`m sitting at the kitchen table while writing this and I can see a robin bossing the sparrows about on the bird table.
Here are a few of my favourite robin drawings so far:
This one is my favourite!
I finished this little stitched sampler of ladybirds last night. I`d been meaning to try some ladybirds for a while, but hadn`t really seen any about. But yesterday a little one hitched a lift on the back of my car and I found two more at the back door.
I did some very quick sketches then tried some stitched ladybirds. As usual I used lots of layers of fabric and stitching to give texture and a sketchy feel. I tried to keep them quite loose and had fun with them, especially when it came to stitching in their little legs. I`ll make some ladybird brooches, but I`d also like to try a larger piece with an all-over pattern of ladybirds, I really like the way they look scattered over this sample piece.
I`ve started working on some little bird embroideries, inspired by my drawings in my sketchbook. So far I`ve finished a blackbird and a bluetit, and I plan on doing lots more. I`ve enjoyed the process of creating them, taking time to select fabrics and stitching them in layers to echo the scribbly marks, tones and colours in my drawings.
I set the first two into embroidery hoops, using vintage fabric for the backgrounds.
I was so pleased with this little blackbird when I finished it and it sold instantly in my Etsy shop. I think blackbirds must be my favourite garden birds, but I love them all and try to encourage as many as possible into the garden. I`m lucky to live quite near woodland so there are lots of birdy visitors and lots who live in the garden all the time, including a huge colony of sparrows who live in the hedge. There are always a few bluetits busy at the feeders hanging in my apple tree. At the moment there are lots of young ones which are much paler in colour than the adults.
I think I`ll try a little wren next, I`ve just spotted one flitting in and out of my plant pots looking for a meal. But the choice and variety is endless…
This is turning out to be a bit of a butterfly summer for me. I`ve been developing my stitched 3d butterflies, thinking of them as little soft sculptures as well as brooches. My recent ones are all based on real butterflies and I`ve been trying to make them as realistic as possible, layering tiny pieces of fabric and stitch and even incorporating little pieces of calico that I`ve hand painted to just the right shade. They are miniature labours of love!
The butterflies have gradually been growing in size, culminating in my Red Admiral which measures just over 14cm at its widest point. This would be rather large to wear as a brooch, but would look striking perhaps pinned to a curtain. All my new butterflies would be equally at home pinned into a little box frame, or hanging on the wall just as they are, the brooch pin on the back will hook happily onto a little panel pin.
I`ve been adding a few butterflies to my Etsy shop, although some people have been buying them directly from my Facebook page where they`ve been having a wonderful response, which is really encouraging.
I`ve loved making these butterflies, especially with the gorgeous summer weather we`ve been having recently. I sit on an old quilt in the garden, with my butterfly books spread out for inspiration and surrounded by scraps of cotton, handstitching the first stages of the butterflies, then coming in from the heat to the cool of my sewing room to finish off with machine stitching. Perfect! I`ve been more aware of butterflies in general too, spotting lots in the garden and on walks, although I can`t always get a good look to identify them properly. I`d love to be able to identify them as easily as garden birds, I only know a few at the moment. I`m looking forward to making more butterflies and also perhaps incorporating them into larger embroideries inspired by their evocative names.
This has been a wonderful summer so far, in fact it`s wonderful to actually have a summer for a change! Long may it last, although the garden would love a little rain- maybe just the odd shower at night!
Here are a few of my new butterflies:
a special order blue butterfly
my favourite so far!
I`ve been filling my sketchbook with drawings of garden birds this week. I really want to include birds in my work, especially the ones that fill my garden every day. I try to encourage as many birds as possible to the garden- my apple tree is like a bird cafe, hung with lots of feeders, and the first thing I do in the morning is go out (in my nightie) to feed the birds. They are quite partial to crushed digestive biscuits.
There is a beautiful thrush that can be seen hopping about on the grass most of the time. Thrushes are really welcome, hopefully they`ll keep the large numbers of slugs and snails down a bit. I love to listen to their amazing song on summer evenings too.
Blackbirds are probably my favourite garden birds. The glossy black males are so handsome (they seem to know it too!) and I really love their gorgeous, liquid song. There is a pair of blackbirds that have become quite tame, especially the female, which I have rather unimaginatively called Lady (well she is a ‘lady’ blackbird…). She`s never far away when I`m in the garden and always lets her presence known with a friendly soft clucking noise. She`s quite demanding too and always appears first thing in the morning for her breakfast. They have built their nest in the hedge again this year, as close as possible to the bird table!
Bluetits are so colourful and cute. There are always lots of them around the feeders on the apple tree.
I`m going to continue this week, there are lots more birds I want to try to draw, then hopefully the drawings will inspire some stitched pieces.
Inspired by my forsythia drawings, I made this little stitched sampler this week.
The forsythia twig is ‘drawn’ on some loose woven, vintage linen, framed by scraps of toning cottons, vintage lace, cotton tape and shell buttons, all sewn onto a small piece of pale yellow recycled furnishing fabric. I want to experiment with lots more botanical stitching, based on drawings, I`ll just play around with little samplers till I feel I`m getting it right.
I love seeing forsythia at this time of year. So bright and cheerful, and just so yellow! The forsythia in my garden is growing on the wall behind the greenhouse, so is unfortunately out of reach, but looks great against a blue sky, like the one we have this morning.
Yesterday I visited my Aunt`s new house and there was a lovely forsythia bush in the garden, like a burst of sunshine growing up the garden fence. I picked a few sprigs to bring home to draw and ended up with four small sketches which I`ll pop onto my Etsy shop.