This piece is called Untangling - the meaning is both literal and metaphorical: at the moment I am trying to get the various strands of my life untangled and sorted out and - the literal bit - it started with a tangle of hand-dyed twisty rayon thread - very strong (it was once used in the making of car tyres) but twists and coils like snakes when it gets wet; it is also impossible to take through any fabric that isn't very loosely woven - beautiful, with immense possibilities but intensely frustrating to work with (two of those could also apply to me, though I was quite pretty in my youth!). Started by simply attaching (machine zigzag) to the centre of the fabric sandwich that forms the base, then pulled out and couched down coils one by one. When I started I thought that was all I was going to do, but when I looked again it looked rather stark and unfinished, so filled in some of the space with free-machining in my favourite rayon thread, Natesh and various rayons bought from Asian shops in the neighbourhood: I find Indian rayon thread wonderful to use - runs smoothly, rarely breaks and costs a lot less than rayon thread I've seen elsewhere - highly recommended. I cut off the remaining threads at the centre and let them coil. It still needed more. Had bought some beads on impulse in the sales and dug through these, adding them a few at a time over a period of several days (one of the risks I run is overdoing things) until it looked finished. Here's a close-up of the beads:
The second piece is called Mellow Fruitfulness (I'm definitely in Autumn mode these days) and is based on a notion of seed-pods (don't bother consulting the botany books, this species exists only in my imagination).
The idea with this one was to try the approach I used with the previous one (do - question - respond -do and so on) but shorten the time-scale.
When I began it I had a very definite idea of what I was going to do - very simple fused cotton in autumn colours on bright blue - and I did get as far as making a quilt sandwich with the blue on top. At that point I started to play with fabrics, tried out a bit of scrim, ir0ned it and placed it on top of the blue:
Loved the effect of this so decided to use the combination as my base fabric. Auditioned various fabrics and eventually settled for some dark rust-coloured dyed cotton wadding - takes rich colour and really soft after dyeing: you can also get sculptural effects with stitching. Cut shapes directly into the fabric (fun - if it goes wrong it's only a bit of fabric and you can probably use it for something else anyway) and laid them on the base then stitched:
Next the seeds - what to use? The only beads I had were too big and looked clumsy. Felt was too like the wadding in texture. Could have made 3D seeds in fabric but difficult to do them in scale. Tried rolling some silk roving bits into seed-shapes but difficult to get them to stay in shape without lots of stitching or alternatively using fabric medium and waiting for them to dry (getting impatient by this time. Eventually settled on silk noils, which had the right nubbly texture - put a lump of fibre in each pod and used free-machining to anchor:
and then stitched in circles to suggest seeds using a polyester trilobal variegated thread which had touches of turquoise with a lot of orange which I thought would help bring the whole thing together.
Finally I quilted the whole thing with the same thread using a sort of free contouring (a doodle I've been doing since I was a kid - it used to fascinate me the way that by changing the contour slightly you could gradually change the whole shape. I left gaps in the contouring which I filled with shapes that echoed the groups of seeds.
I tried satin-stitching the edge - lazy thinking and it didn't work - but eventually used a chunky chenille thread I'd dyed some time ago which did. I used a blind hem stitch to couch it (I'd already brought the dges together with the satin stitch) which worked better than a zigzag in that it didn't flatten the thread.
All done in under three hours (including a very brief coffee-break). This is what the cutting/putting together area in my studio looked like when I'd finished: