It’s Spring in Illinois, and the birds are living it up! As they hop from branch to branch and trill their arias, I listen to their birdsong so I can identify them. Of course, there is an app for that. The Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell Lab is a great way to identify the birds in your neighborhood. Try it!
So being in full bird-watching mode, I’ve decided to add a bird to the apple project. Without a pattern to follow, I’ve free-cut the bird from this gorgeous blue wool felt from Commonwealth Felt. We seldom see bluebirds in my backyard, but a girl can dream!
Tip: Place Elements at an Angle
The next step is to tack the bird onto the purple wool before stitching him into place. You’ll notice that he is tilted slightly down as he rests on the branch. One method of adding interest and movement to a design is to place elements at an angle. That slight tilt of the bird’s body lends action to the piece and brings the sweet bluebird to life.
I’ve also placed his tail off the edge of the design. His little tail acts as an arrow leading your eye toward the apple. It’s a way of showing the interaction between the two elements, the bird and apple. Will he peck the apple? Will he sing to the apple? I’m not sure. I’m just happy to have him in my neighborhood!
Some design moves are easy when making artwork. For instance, I’ve embroidered an apple on this swatch of wool. So without using a pattern or drawing, what do I improvise next to add interest to the design?
Simple answer- stitch a branch for the apple. With a branch, you can imagine that a tree supports the apple. By adding the bough, the background fabric now evokes the sky. And in my case, the apple looks ready for picking, and apple pie is in the future! The yellow branch is the next element that supports the story of this design.
Tip: Be Fearless!
And just like any good story, now comes the scary part! Suddenly you discover there are no easy design moves, and the word “improvisation” jumps out to grab you! You entertain self-doubts, indulge in second-guessing, and cringe at your little chicken ways. Improvisation stops a lot of us cold.
But I ask you to be fearless! Cut that fabric! Snip that thread! Bravely use a color with no name!
And that’s what I did. I bravely trimmed the square edges from the purple wool into a loopy border. It was scary! And now I need a really big piece of apple pie.
Is there a half-finished project lurking in your studio? Maybe it’s time to reimagine how to complete that piece of artwork, time to look at it from a different perspective. Here’s an example. Five years ago I stitched this swatch of wool as a step-out for the Tasty Apple project in my book Joyful Stitching. Now I’m using it to jumpstart my next free-form embroidery project.
Notice that dashed line around the leaf, stem, and apple? That’s a back stitch. I’ve embroidered the back stitch with a light green thread (Sprouts size 8). This thread not only outlines the shapes but is in high contrast with the background fabric. Contrast of color or value defines shapes and projects them from the background. So if you want something to show up, use colors that are in sharp contrast in color or value.
Now that I’ve shown you mine. Can you show me yours? I’d love to see what you’re working on in our reimagination series. Email me at laura at artfabrik.com.
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