The Surrey Open Art contest is running, with a deadline for submission at the end of February. I kicked around a number of ideas for what I could create for it, and whilst I was strongly attracted to 3 or 4 different ideas, in the end I decided to work a screen/panel based on this picture:
I took this picture along the Basingstoke Canal in the summer of last year, and I love it’s textural qualities, and the way the Anthriscus dominates the foreground. I thought it’d make a good base for the project because it’s local, primarily, and because it made an ideal subject for a double screen, with the background worked on one screen and then the Anthricus embroidered over the top screen on a sheer fabric, similar to the ‘White Wisteria, Rain Meadow’ piece I did last year:
I’m working it, sticking to my practice of only using vintage fabrics, recycled garments and other found objects, though of course the embroidery silks have to be new.
The frames: I stretched a piece of chocolate-brown suede from an old skirt for the background, and used a piece of organza left over from another project for the sheer top-screen. They are stapled onto the frames and reinforced with pva. The dimensions of this piece are 24″ by 12″.
The background gets done first. My starting point was a vintage tie, deconstructed and appliqued onto the suede to form the opposite bank. Over that, I used a piece of lime-green organza with embroidery and beading detail to make an impression of the water-weed and lily-pads, shirred and ruched and then appliqued with stab-stitch onto the suede:
The next step was the background trees above the opposite bank. For this, I’ve used a variety of different fabric manipulation techniques:
Clockwise from top left:
1) Vintage green silk scarf fragment, machine random cross-tucked, with snipped fringe effect.
2) Background layer of vintage tie-dyed silk
3) Vintage green velvet with double ruffle
4) Another fragment of the green silk scarf, this time with the reverse side of lattic-smocking
5) Vintage upholstery fabric sample, with flower-pattern variation smocking
6) Yo-yo in the same upholstery fabric
7) A small flounce, layered in four rows, from a piece of dark-green polyester dress-lining, salvaged from the scrap-bag
8) Another fragment of the tie-dyed scarf, with taper-tucks and snip fringing on alternate rows
9) More of the green velvet, in straight tucks
10) The green silk scarf, this time with the ‘front’ of the lattice-smocking showing
11) Yo-yo made from the green lining fabric
12) Another section of flower-smocked upholstery fabric
13) Yo-yo from the tie-dye scarf.
My next step is to add some surface embroidery to these elements to tone them in better together, to embroider some reeds onto the opposite bank and some water-surface detail onto the base, but so far I’m pleased with how it’s going:
The organza has been bothering me ever since I started this – although it’s sheer, it’s also highly reflective. If light is shining on the foreground, then it’s impossible to see anything of the background detail … so this afternoon I ripped the organza off the frame, and thieved some net off a dressing-up costume I made for Honey a couple of years ago (even though it doesn’t fit her any more, she still complained when she caught me at it!! Minx!), and I’m much happier with the overall effect now. That, however, will have it’s own price to pay, since the more open mesh structure of the net will mean it’s going to be harder to embroider the fine detail of the flowers … but I think it’s a price worth paying.
I’m wondering, actually, whether to carry on and embroider the flower detail onto the organza anyway, and then shadow-applique it onto the net when it’s done. It’ll be a terrible fiddle, but possibly well worth doing.
Thankfully, I don’t need to decide right now, since I need to finish the background detailing first … but I don’t have much time left! I need to get it finished up soon, so that I can get it framed and ready to deliver on the 26th Feb.
Suddenly, the clock is ticking very and extremely loudly.
I see some late nights ahead!