Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Silk Landscapes and Cushions

One of the things I most enjoy doing is exploring landscape and its rhythms, colours and shapes and I find silk so useful for evoking the landscapes around me. I machine stitch on it, weave with it and hand stitch on it and with it - it is so versatile.

Glastonbury Tor from Baltonsborough, Somerset
The piece shown left was inspired by Glastonbury Tor as seen from the garden of a great friend. I chose the colours of the silk strips to give a sense of perspective and then couched on the spun silk yarns for foreground interest and texture. The fact that the silk - especially if it is shot silk - frays in interesting ways is excellent for suggesting trees or hedgerows or even a range of hills. This piece was bought at exhibition and is now privately owned but it remains one of my favourites as it evokes strongly for me the sense of space and distance seen from my friend's garden.

Geology sample ... or book wrap?
I've recently been experimenting with machine stitch on silk strips for a piece I am working on that describes the geology of the local Cotswold area and its effect on landscape. I've been trying out several of the built-in stitches that come with my Silver machine to see if they will give the effect I want. I've found before that these can be stretched and distorted over the fabric by pulling the piece through under the needle at a faster rate than the feed dogs would deliver.

This was quite fun to try again, but I think I'll need to develop the main piece in other ways. Because the strips are narrow, it all looks too horizontal and similar in width. It may well be that this sample will ultimately become a book wrap - even though that will mean I have to finish it off properly and zig-zag the edges - the most boring of jobs! But before I do that I will handstitch a little to resolve the piece further.

Green and Red cushion
 On the rare occasions I find myself making something useful (rather than just decorative), I again raid my stash of silk - in the case of the photo to the left, to make a cushion. The colours are easy to exploit and develop with the help of other yarns and machine threads. I often combine the strips of silk and the spun yarns with ribbons and wools and then stitch heavily to give texture and a hard-wearing surface. Using metallic threads and yarns increases the surface appeal still further. This - and its twin - were made for a friend and now sit on her sofa.

Now to work on that book wrap ....

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