Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Tree Creepers

The theme for our member’s exhibition is ‘Five Minutes from Home’. The idea is to look for inspiration close to home. I did not even have to leave the house! A few years ago a large willow tree in the neighbouring school grounds was severely pollarded. It never recovered from the shock and died. The remaining trunk is slowly decaying but Mother Nature is quick to take advantage of every resource. Very soon the ivy began its invasion and I have watched it creep ever upwards. Of the many birds that visit the trunk every day is the tree creeper searching for insects within the fissures of the rotting wood. I decided to make these two 'Tree Creepers' the subject of my embroidery.

Photographing the peeling bark and ivy was easy. As the tree is opposite my bedroom window, I was elevated to the right height and close enough to use a standard zoom lens. Capturing an image of the Tree Creeper proved far more difficult. I spent a long time with the camera trained on a spot that he visited frequently – except when I had the camera set up. Even when he did come into frame, he moved so quickly that by the time I had taken the shot he was gone! Eventually I did get a photograph I could work with and managed to cut the bird from that and position him on the piece of tree trunk that I had photographed previously.

My picture was good enough for me to trace the outline of my design but I will be using better pictures that I have found on the web as a guide when it comes to colour placement and stitching the details. Armed with a printout of one of these and a list of the DMC threads in my stash I set off to a purchase more threads, especially browns, and some linen. I wanted a high count linen; the highest that my LNS had was 34 count. I purchased some anyway but latter decided that it was not what I wanted for this project. I sourced some 55 count Kingston linen on the web and ordered two small pieces in white and cream. I decided to use the white for this project.


I printed the merged photograph larger than the finished design and knocked back the colours so it was very pale. I drew an outline directly onto this copy, leaving out any parts I did not want and slightly altering a few of the ivy leaves. I then transferred this onto tracing paper and used the photocopier to reduce the tracing to the required size. Because I had traced the outline with a strong black line the reduced image was still clear enough to show through the fabric without the aid of a light box. I traced the design onto the fabric with a Micron archival pen. I was pleased with the tracing except for a slight bleed at the end of his beak – probably the worst place for it to happen. I may have to extend his beak slightly to cover the outline.

© Carol-Anne Conway

I have set the fabric up in my seat frame. I backed it with a light weight calico and placed a piece of cling film over the fabric before inserting it into the frame. I am very lazy about taking embroidery out of the hoop – I try to make it extremely tight which is quite hard work, once it is done I like it to stay put! I will tear back the cling film where I plan to stitch and hope that the remaining film will protect the ground fabric.

© Carol-Anne Conway

Happy Stitching

4 comments:

Elena Shamgunova said...

Great story, Carol-Ann! What a coincidence - I have just finished my "bird design" embroidery, using a photograph as a reference! Elena

Rachel said...

It looks delightful already - well done!

Lyrique said...

Thank you for describing so well and in such detail the entire process - from photograph to cling wrap - by which you prepared your design. I've learned much from your post!

Lyrique said...

Oh, and I'm particularly glad to know the details of your selection of fabric, too. Thank you.