Friday, August 28, 2009

Crazy purple

Another crazy Bauble. This time the crazy patches were applied onto a 'couldabeen' ball - yes, I do sometimes recycle the failures! I used raw-edge applique, as turning the edges under makes too much of a ridge. Don't you like my snail?
And of course there has to be a spider, hanging from his web.
I could go on on with more of these, but it's time to move on to a new embellishment. (You'll remember the original plan was to devote the whole year to exploring the possibilities of Baubles - and it's almost September!)
These have re-kindled my love of crazy patchwork though; I'm thinking maybe it's time to start that crazy quilt I always planned to make... maybe next year?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It won't be long

It's raining as I write, and thunder rumbles around the hills. The dog is hiding under the bed. But it's not cold, a mild 10C tonight. Here in south Eastern Australia, the days are getting warmer and longer. Spring is on the way.
Wattles are flowering -
and the bees are busy among the Satsuma plum blossom.
All too soon it will be summer, lately known as Fire Season. We will undoubtedly have days of searing heat and relentless northerly winds, like those of last February, which culminated in the dreadful bushfires of Black Saturday, when 173 people were killed.
A Royal Commission is in progress, to investigate the causes of these fires and make recommendations to increase our safety in future fires. The State Government has compiled a list of towns considered 'vulnerable'. Our town is on the list.

Stuffing around

It would be nice if all I did was make lovely Baubles, photograph them, and post them on my blog. It's a simple process, after all - stitch the pieces together, leaving an opening for stuffing; turn right side out, stuff firmly, stitch up the opening; decide on a design, and stitch away happily. Then admire perfect creation, and repeat the process.
Ya think so? Then where did these come from?
There's so much that can go wrong, even at the stuffing stage. Overstuffed balls will stretch and become misshapen. Some balls just WANT to be lumpy. With the synthetic fibre-fill I've been using, closing the opening is a real challenge, as the fibre is springy and tries to escape, the opening gapes, you haul on the thread, which either breaks or cuts the fabric. The final seam is ugly.
I tried using a woollen stuffing, with little improvement. Jinny Beyer recommends cotton stuffing, but she's in America, where would an Aussie find such a thing?
At the local Futon Factory, that's where. Yes, the lovely Belinda was happy to supply a sample of cotton, which proved much easier to use. Cotton is kinda inert, lacking the rebellious spring of fibre-fill, content to stay where it's put, allowing for a nice tidy closure. And it's a natural fibre, which I like.
OK, now I have a nice round ball, all I have to do is embellish it. There are lots of possibilities. Let's see, I could... or maybe... no, that won't work. What about... or - no, I don't think so...
This process can take a while. Hours, days even.
Finally a decision is made, and work begins, with lots of happy anticipation. This will be the best yet!!!
Sometimes, everything falls into place, and I stitch away happily, watching my creation unfold in my hands. But not always. Oh no.
Perhaps, after a day or two, it doesn't look at all like what I envisaged - the colours/shapes/layout are all wrong. Should I press on, hoping it will improve with more stitching, unpick it, bin it?
Or maybe it's going according to plan, but it lacks - something... yaaawn... I'm bored.
Which is why I have a boxful of couldabeens...
Birthing a Bauble can be painful.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sweet and Crazy

I bore easily. After the monotony of the all that chain stitching in Aerial View, and Sea Urchin wasn't much better, I needed a bit of variety. So I returned to a secret vice of mine, not indulged for a while - crazy patchwork.
My usual taste in crazy work is of the gypsy variety, lots of rich colours, but for this experiment I chose a safer palette of pink, green and cream.
Each of the eight segments was foundation pieced before assembling and stuffing the ball, then I embroidered it. Despite looking 'crazy', the fabric placement had to be carefully planned. You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to achieve this. I made up a diagram using isometric graph paper, as each segment of the ball is basically an equilateral triangle with slightly curved sides. Even so, I made a couple of boo-boos, but I don't think you can tell.
The embroidery was great fun, and not at all boring. It turned out better that I'd hoped, and there will definitely be more of these!
Incidentally, for the very best of crazy patchwork, have a look at Robyne Melia's work - this is her old blog, worth exploring for some marvellous pictures.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sea urchin

I've always loved the delicate shells of Sea Urchins, and though it might make a pretty Bauble.

I did my homework, and discovered that sea urchins are divided into five segments.

This one is not quite correct in every anatomical detail, but certainly conveys the idea.

I chose pale creams and pinks for the embroidery - it was a good opportunity to practise my french knots!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aerial view

Another Bauble inspired by Aboriginal depictions of the land. I imagined a river flowing across the country, bordered by greenery, fading gradually to desert sands and rich brown hills.

Worked with stranded cotton, using chain stitch throughout.

I think I achieved what I set out to do with this, but it took a long time to cover the ground!
And while as a decorative piece it succeeds, but as Art? No, I don't think so.
It reminds me of an earlier Bauble which I needlefelted with variegated wool - decorative, but lacking in a focal point, and not interesting enough to hold the viewer's interest for more than a minute or so.