Early in my art quilting career, I became fascinated with ribbon work and serious hand embroidery. I took a class in ribbon flowers and cockades with Candace Kling and quickly began making enchanted with the delicacies of ribbon flowers. I collected a number of choice ribbons with which to construct my creations and in this detail shot of “Dreams of Pinot Noir“, you can see a lavender flower off to the left, a ribbon rose to the right of the middle, and a loopy burgundy flower draped around a button center.
At the same time, I became enthralled with Judith Montano’s delightful books on embroidery, especially those on ribbon work. I spent hours pouring over the detailed examples in her books. There were also a number of wonderful narrow silk ribbons that were coming out on the market at the time, so there was a wide range of colors from which to choose. The cluster of grapes to the middle left of the photo above were done in that technique. By using silk ribbons, I was able to lay down an area of color much more quickly than if I had used traditional floss.
Here’s another example of how hand embroidery can be used to enhance an art quilt. The feather stitches here on the sides and middle of a peach and red striped ribbon add to the flame effect in this small piece – “Elements – Fire“. The points of the stitches were angled upwards to give the effect of small flames rising from some embers. Gold plastic buttons to suggest areas of less intense heat were added for their textural effect. Clear glass beads were strung in lines nearby to add to the flame effect.
In this detail shot of “Undersea Garden – Blue“, tiny blue branched stitches were made with embroidery floss to suggest a type of blue-green sea weed. There were clear aqua glass drup bead with a pink insert that were used to create the illusion of the air filled bladders that keep sea weed floating upwards in the water towards the sun. White and medium blue long stitches were used to secure clear plastic rounds to suggest sea urchins.
In this companion art quilt, “Undersea Garden – Green“, medium green floss was stitched on the left of this detail shot. The short branches suggest one species of sea weed,while the yellow green floss in the middle of the photo simulate another kind. In between the two, a black and pale green twisted yarn was couched to the surface and is seen in the upper middle to portray a third kind of sea weed. I love the twisted wealth of undersea foliage swaying in the waves that were created with just a few stitches of hand embroidery. Throw in some shiny glass buttons and beads to suggest other plants and an undersea garden appeared.
Terrific effects in embellishing art quilts can be achieved with just a few simple stitches. By saving the scraps of yarn and floss left over from other projects, these snippets can also be couched down and employed to enrich the surfaces. The result is that the viewer is rewarded by closely inspecting your work, and as a result, they spend more time examining them. That’s not a bad idea if you’re trying to communicate with your audience on a more intimate level than big bold statements. I feel that the message I want to get across is to pause awhile and spend some time in examining all of the details that I’ve laid out for you.
Have you used hand embroidery to embellish your work. What are some of your favorite techniques or materials?
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You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com