Monday, January 23, 2012

Week 14 - Textured Stones

College this week was all about stones. We experimented making different textured stones by sticking objects onto circles of cereal box with PVA glue and then covering them with scrunched up tissue paper.

Clockwise from top right I used:

  • magic maize (didn't work as dissolved under the PVA used to stick down the tissue paper)
  • various leaves
  • strands of cotton string
  • egg box
  • lentils
  • shredded tissue and polystyrene balls
  • hole-punch waste
  • egg box
  • kozo plant fibre (centre - used in making paper)
The ones I made at college we are going to paint in our next class but as I made a few more at home I have painted them with acrylic paint and then highlighted the texture with gold rub-on cream like I did for the cover of my Colour Book (see Week 12).

It still amazes me how a bit of scrunched up tissue and 3 colours applied with a dry brush can produce such incredible results.

We then moved on to some handstitching, using stones as our inspiration. The challenge was to stitch a stone using mostly French Knots (the round blobs), Bullion Knots (the long blobs) and Turkey Work (the tufts). This piece of stitching is about 10cm x 10cm and has taken me most of the evenings this week to finish and I loved doing it. It is not taken from a real stone so I concentrated on making bands of colour to flow across the stone to mimic the strata that you get in rocks.

I first backstitched round a pencil outline to create the edge. Then I started stitching but the idea of it wasn't really flowing so I got the Brusho paints out and dry-brushed a random texture on it using brown, yellow and lemon yellow. Whilst it was still wet I got a minute amount of black Brusho powder on my finger and dabbed it on randomly. I think this is what made the greenish bits. 

When it was dry I carried on stitching. I could follow feint streaks of colour in the paint to inspire me, although I still had to use a lot of imagination! It is mostly worked in Bullion Knots, some densely wrapped, but most loosely wrapped, which is not the usual way of using this stitch. You can pile them up on themselves and make them cross over each other so it is very versatile. I put the odd French Knot in to break up the lines and also tried to integrate the whole with some seeding in straight stitches, mostly in the dark greenish-brown colour. The biggest challenge was knowing when to stop!

A really important part of the making of this for me was to use more than one colour in the needle to create blended colours. I only used what I had to hand, which was dark brown, chestnut brown, dark green, light olive and dark golden yellow normal polycotton sewing thread and charcoal brown and chestnut brown cotton stranded floss. The thinnest stitches are 2 strands of polycotton thread, the medium Bullion Knots are 4 strands of polycotton thread and the thickest are 1 full strand of stranded floss with 2 strands of polycotton.

I finally finished it off with a bit of bright green Turkey Work to imitate tufts of moss using 2 strands of polycotton sewing thread. This was surprisingly easy, stitched like backstitch but with every other stitch left as a loop. Once an area was completed you cut through the loops. I haven't seen this stitch used in any textile art I've seen or read about so far and it isn't in my modern Stitch Dictionary as an embroidery stitch but I don't know why as it is so effective.

Finally I came across a couple of Challenges that have started on other people's blog in January. Carolyn Saxby is running 'Tag Tuesday' on her blog 'Loves Stitching Red' where she sets a theme each week (the latest one is 'White') and people make a small piece out of anything they want in the shape of a parcel tag and post a picture on her blog. Look at this week's wonders at

I also spotted 'TAST 2012' on Carolyn's blog This stands for 'Take a Stitch Tuesday' and is being co-ordinated by a blogger in Australia on the Pin Tangle blog. She will set a different embroidery stitch each week for participants to try out and take it as far as they can and post a photo of their efforts. This will be particularly inspiring for the handstitch part of our course I expect - see

I don't think I will have time to take part in either challenge regularly but it will be interesting to follow them.

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