I haven’t been very diligent about exercising my pen and ink skills, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve given up. I recently signed up for the newsletter from the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and got my second issue today. I began what will hopefully be a regular* practice of drawing the bird they highlight. [*”Regular” is defined in two ways: 1. wishful thinking of weekly engagement 2. practical reality of whenever the mood strikes; Note: definition 2 is more likely.] Today, ABC showcased the barn owl (the one seen in Labyrinth!). I do not see this around my home, but I have heard it in the not so far distance at least twice.
I originally wanted to just spend 30 minutes on a pencil sketch, but I didn’t even look at the time. When I decided to bring out the pens, I decided only 15 more minutes, but it took a total of thirty or so. I am guessing this took me around one hour total, but honestly I have no idea. I don’t want to spend a lot of time working sketches because I know that if I force that, I will burn out or not make the time and it will fade out. But, if I don’t notice the time passing, that is celebration in itself! Therefore, the agreement I made to myself is a minimum of 15 minutes – a small chunk of time to hopefully keep the definition of “regular” closer to number 1. With the ABC newsletter delivered every week as a reminder, I think I can make this work (which will also mean I will be sketching things not local to my home, but every practice will get me better at live sketching!).
I wonder if this will turn into watercolor practice also. Or, maybe I will look into colored pens… I have pencils… Hmm… …
Shortly after making my first “Everything is better with” sign, I put this one in the queue. I gifted it to my sister-in-law, who contributed “sunshine” to my list.
I wanted this to be light and “sunny”, so taking inspiration from the sky, I chose a light yellow fabric with small white painted stars against a vivid teal-esque blue with white polkadots. The shades really “pop” each other! And per my M.O., I used stem stitch for the text, in the same shade of blue.
The sun rays are teeny chain stitches and straight stitches in about six different colors (yellows through oranges), topped off with a vintage button combo; the orange button has a nice texture that reminds me of fire! I used bright yellow ricrac to set off the front from the back, and a light yellow paper twine for the hanger. The back sports the same felt as in the original sign.
What I am learning for myself in all this is how much I love foamboard and thread with a twist! Because floss is what is widely available, and many embroideries do call for stranded floss, it is what my collection is mostly made of. However, the more I sew, the more I turn to my Sulky petites or pearl cottons instead. I have both of Sulky’s petites dream assortments and the color choices are pretty stellar. I also have Coats & Clark’s 50 pack assortment of dual duty quilting thread, and am always fascinated that I can find nearly the perfect color match for any of my fabrics when I need to hide a seam (I mention this here because I had just the right yellow and just the right blue on hand). Now, if only I had more foamboard… :D
At one of my guild meetings, I picked up a small dimensional embroidery kit by A Candle In The Cellar, aptly named “woolly worm on a leaf”. I put it away for a time because at a glance, it looked like it used bullion knots to make the worm and I wanted more practice since the threads in the kit are specialty (EdMar’s Iris and Bouclé). But, when digging through my stash for a small project, I read the directions and actually this only involved wrapping threads around a straight stitch – not bullion knots!
The pattern asks to sew the leaf to a piece of fabric in a hoop, but I wanted this to stand on its own. I used floral wire and there was enough felt to cut out a second leaf to hide all the knots between. Doing the feather stitch on the leaf without a ground fabric was a bit tricky, but when I whip stitched the two leaves together in a matching green thread, I was able to anchor the feather stitch in place for the most part.
It was a little fiddly because it is quite tiny, as you can see with my cat Maya for scale (she was very interested in this little bug!), but I am happy with it!