Tuesday 14 August 2018

Finding inspiration in nature...

Nature inspired...

Even as a little girl, I always had my head stuck in a nature book - whether it was about birds, bees and butterflies or foxes, badgers and hedgehogs.

Nature still excites me...and inspires me.

I've been watching a family of wrens in our garden over the last few weeks - there are two or three youngsters who scuttle around like mice in and amongst the shelter of the plants 'peeping' away and waiting for a very diligent parent to return with food.  I've tried very hard to take some photographs of them, but they are quite rightly very wary of me and my camera and without a good zoom lens it's tricky to get any close up shots.  I probably looked quite comical creeping around the garden trying to get closer to them! They move so quickly, darting and bobbing around - a wildlife photographer I am not!!

I'll share just a couple, but the images aren't very sharp, and bearing in mind they didn't keep still for a second I hope you'll forgive that!

Giving up on the wrens, this sparrow seemed quite happy to sit still to have his photo taken!!

However, I love our little Jenny Wrens and I was inspired to do a little needlefelted version - perhaps I'd have more luck with that!

I had already created a background of layered, printed chiffon which I had stitched to a piece of blanket.  I hadn't planned a use for this, but it seemed a perfect backdrop for my birdy.

Chiffon layers stitched down

Starting my woolly sketch

As I didn't have a good enough photo of my own to work from, I used one sourced from google (hooray for google images!).

Whether it was because it was all a bit spontaneous and unplanned I'm not sure, but it worked out really well!  I made it on the small side to keep it manageable, but that does have its challenges as it's quite fiddly to add detail with the wool and needle at that scale.  The finished picture is 4" square.

A bit of embellishment with french knots, scrim and buttons

I'm super pleased with it - hope you like it too.  I've framed it up in a little white frame which sets it off really nicely.

Framed behind glass - forgive any reflection!

I'm quite happy to give this wren a home, but it is up for sale if anyone would like to purchase it.  Please do get in touch if you would like any more information.

Staying on the bird theme, I'm in the process of making a similar small piece with a blue tit.  My background was initially a little piece of nuno-felt that I made especially - I have a beautiful chiffon scarf that I had picked up in a charity shop a while back and I cut a small piece and felted it to some wool fibres which creates that lovely crinkly effect.

Can anyone else see the creepy guy in the blue shirt?

I began my blue tit, but I just wasn't happy with it - I think it was a combination of needling into the nuno felt and the pose of the bird with its head facing forward was proving tricky for me to get detail to stand out.

Loose wool sketch - but not happy with its progress!!

So I have made a new background, in the same style as the wren picture, simply stitching the chiffon onto some blanket - this has given me a much firmer surface to work into.

Chiffon stitched onto blanket

I chose a different pose for my blue tit as well - this is just a picture of it in progress, there's a lot to do yet.  I'm still not sure of it though...I might put it to one side for a bit and come back to it. I think I've given it the head shape of a great tit or something silly like that.  So frustrating when something's not going quite as planned!  Perhaps I should have been more spontaneous as with the wren!

Blue tit in progress - lots more to do yet, but still not happy with it!!

Something I sometimes struggle with is the 'drawing' element - I'm really not sure it's where my strength is!  I think that's why the textile collaging keeps calling me back - it's much more free and easy, whereas the needlefelting is quite painstaking and fiddly.

I've shared successes and failures on this post - I could so easily show you just the great bits but in reality for every one thing that I'm pleased with, there are probably four or five that I'm disappointed with!!

Anyway, as long as I'm creating something there are always new things to learn and enjoy...and that's part of the journey.

Photo inspiration...

Whilst I may have failed to get 'that' photo of a wren, I have been taking photographs of things that don't move.  Walking the dog down to the estuary at Lelant, there are lots of different colours and textures to take note of along the shore line.  These images are great to refer back to as inspiration for surface design and background ideas - I've shared a few of them below, some taken along the estuary and some out walking around the farm.

Boat moored on estuary at Lelant

Love this blue and the contrasting buoy xx

nice bit of flaky paint on the side of the boat

More flaky paint! Would make a great background

Sea battered wood - and that lovely pop of yellow lichen

Seaweed and lichen

Nice pattern in the stone wall

That green!

Saturated the colours on this one a bit - old, sea worn wood

 Had to include a little picture of Rufus, who thinks he's an otter and just casually swims along whilst we walked along the shore!

Walking Rufus also takes me along the country lanes and fields of our farm, and there are already those wonderful colours of an approaching autumn xx

Grass heads

Dock flowers drying out

Gorgeous seed heads

Grasses blowing in the breeze

The camera flashed!

In sepia - some treasure that I brought home in my pocket xx

Other news...

I've started on a sample for the 'Crafternoon' I have in mind for the autumn - keeping it really simple so that hopefully anyone that wants to come can more or less finish it in an afternoon.  This is really fun to do - embracing the lovely naive look of it and the simple shapes and stitching so that anyone can do it, regardless of sewing experience.  It's amazing what you can do with just a running stitch!  Hopefully I'll get some takers for the session and raise some money for MIND in the process!

In progress - buttons and words to add yet!

Allotment news...

Well, we are pretty much self-sufficient in salads and veg and potatoes which is wonderful - and our sprout and leek plants are looking really good for autumn/winter.  I think the recent rain did everything the world of good.

However, I'm surprised I haven't turned a shade of green with the amount of runner beans I've been eating!!  We have beans with everything and are giving a lot away to family and friends as we have such a glut of them...but I'm not grumbling, they are delicious!!

Until next time...

Thank you for reading my ramblings, and although there's not as much creating as I'd like going on (too much to do and enjoy outside during summer!) I do have a number of ideas milling around that I hope to get my teeth into soon.

Best wishes

Tanya xx