I have started a new work in my Heaven and Earth series. It began, as all my works do, with a pile of undyed silk and silk thread. First I constructed my base palette.
Here it all is looking pretty on the clothes horse.
This is the entire fabric. It is quite big at 70 cm x 55 cm. At this point it kind of looks a bit like the rag you use to wipe up spills while you are dyeing, however, remember my purpose is not to create a beautiful cloth in it's own right, but to create the base for the stitching that will cover it. Of all the photos you will see, this one gives the closest approximation of the true colour. To orient yourself for the following photos, I started work at the left edge and the work will be oriented vertically.
So, here's where I'm at after about 50 hours of stitching. (If you want to see bigger images, just click on the photos.) The stitched area is about 25 cm high x 55 cm wide, so I guess I'm already a little bit more than 1/4 of the way through. Like the other Earth works, this work is based on a false colour satellite image.
Let's take a little tour from left to right. The blue area depicts a river delta with forested valleys. The rivers are worked in stem stitch accented by seed stitches, while the wooded areas are represented by tiny fly stitches. I have never used fly stitch this way before, but I am well pleased with the effect, which is enhance by the gently variegated thread.
Seed stitches further emphasise the riverbeds.
A closer look at those seed stitches. The base fabric is a very tightly woven silk twill. this area is about 2 cm square.
Topographical features of the upper desert region are defined by mountmellick stitch, palestrina stitch, knotted feather stitch and French knots worked if thick and thin threads.
This is where nature and civilisation intersects. The round circles represent irrigated areas.
Roads and settlements abut pastoral land.
I totally raided my thread stash. In addition to the base colours that I dyed, I have used about 50 other threads, both single colour and variegated.
Photographed from a slightly oblique angle to capture all that lovely colour and texture variation.
This is the far right edge. Again, mountmellick stitch is used to define the 2 main ridges.
The photo above represents an area of about 2 cm square so you get a bit of an idea of how tiny the stitching is.
I think this work is off to a very promising start. I'm so excited by it that any time away from the studio seems like a torture. I hope you like it too.
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I am a hand embroidery artist living and working in the rugged and wild Central HIghlands of Tasmania.