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.

Stitches Telling a Story: Improv #4

Every time I take a stitch I’m reminded of how hand embroidery brings artwork to life. How I enjoy these stitches that create a story on cloth!

With a few Stem Stitches water streams under the bridge into the river. Chain Stitches form a boat waiting for the owners of the house to take their trip. And a combination of Chain stitches, French Knots, and Fly Stitches create a sun rising behind the clouds to cheer them along their river journey. It is hand embroidery that brings this story to life.

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!