How to Challenge Yourself Improv #5

When you work small you end up with a lot of scrap fabric that is too wonderful to throw away. During the month of September, I gave away a bag of felt scraps like these with each order placed in the Artfabrik Store. Then I challenged myself to create something from one of those scrap bags.

I’m not a big fan of using brown in my work but this brown fabric was the largest piece of fabric in the scrap bag. So it served as a background or canvas for the work. Slowly the warm brown color won me over.

With the central design complete I’ve cut away the surrounding brown felt leaving about 1/4″ of fabric around the edge. I like how this outline of brown creates an organic border that embraces the design.

Bridgehouse #1 by Laura Wasilowski

To complete the piece, I’ve stitched it to a wonderful green batik. It measures about 6″ x 6″ and is named for the Bridgehouse Museum in Chicago.

Making this piece has taught me a few things. First, challenge your use of color and appreciate those colors you usually shun. Second, give yourself permission to improvise. It stimulates and entertains the brain. And finally, a small piece of artwork can give as much joy as a gigantic wall piece.

Details Count Felt Improv #3

Don’t you love how hand embroidery defines shapes and adds detail? Take the house above for example. Without the hand stitching, you’d never know that the residents love a blue door and a tile roof. The roof, by the way, is stitched with Fly Stitches joined together to make the tile shapes.

And then there is the stitching that turns the surrounding felt shapes into a tree and shrubbery. A few stabs of the needle and a plant is born! The tree shape is embellished with Back Stitches for the trunk and Couching for the branches. The jovial shrubs are made with Stem Stitches and lots of Lazy Daisy Stitches for leaves. Finer threads like size 12 pearl cotton work best for this detailed work.

I’m not sure what the next steps will be for this improvisational piece. But it gives me something to think about as I mix dye and hand dye even more thread this week. A stitcher’s work is never done!

What’s Easy is First: Felt Improv #2

My small composition (6″ x 6″) made from odd felt shapes is stitch-tacked into place. The running and cross stitches secure elements to the large background felt so I don’t have to use hazardous straight pins. Later, I’ll remove the stitch-tacking as I add the decorative embroidery stitches.

I’m also thinking of trimming the 2 round green shapes. They look peculiar to me.

The first embroidery stitches ideas come quickly. The sky and sides of the house are stitched with Blanket Stitches using a size 12 thread. And the top of the bridge is done using a size 8 thread. For the other shapes, I’ll need time to think up more interesting stitchery. Rome was not stitched in a day!

While I daydream about how to embellish the design, I fill in the bridge shape. Horizontal curving rows of Blanket Stitches are placed right next to each other to make boxes. When combined they resemble the brickwork on a bridge and create a wonderful texture at the same time. At long last, my desire to be a bricklayer is fulfilled!