Research and Inspiration
I start all my designs by collecting images and inspiration. I spend a lot of time walking or cycling in the countryside around my home, as well as tending my garden. Sometimes I will take a few quick photos, if that is what time allows. Otherwise I will gather bits and pieces to work from at home. One simple specimen might generate many drawings; each small change of angle or viewpoint showing a different shape. I am always trying to capture the character, the essence of the plant, and it is only through spending quiet time studying each one that the ideas for various designs appear. I have many sketchbooks full of variations and possibilities.
Developing the Design
From my initial sketches, I will choose some of the drawings to develop as design motifs. I will change the scale of some elements; make stencils and cut-outs, and finally I will create templates or line drawings which will be used to transfer the motif to fabric.
Colours and Fabrics
The colour scheme is sometimes determined by the natural appearance of the plant, and I will chose fabrics which most closely replicate this. Sometimes I might just follow my particular preferences, and gather fabrics together that I want to use. Of course, when I do a commission, the client is very involved in this process, and colours and textures are selected to meet their requirements. Either way, it involves me going through my stash of recycled fabrics, picking out whatever will be best for the job.
Before I start to work on the final piece, I will often make a small sample, using a small part of the design, and incorporating the fabrics and threads that I have picked out. This allows me to see that the colours, fabrics and threads are the best ones for that piece of work and, in the case of a commission, it allows the client to see more clearly what the final outcome will be.
Once everything has been decided, and confirmed, I will start on the final piece. All the pieces are traced, cut-out, carefully placed, and finally appliquéd to the backing fabric using free-motion embroidery. This is a great part of the process. I love the way the machine will ‘draw’ with the stitched line. It is a deceptively simple technique, but very effective. Not only does the stitching fix the fabric in place, but it also adds great detail, embellishment and texture. Even if I am reproducing a design, using the same motifs, each piece is unique. The details are never the same twice.
Mounting and Framing
Once I have finished sewing, the piece is ready to be framed. I stretch the fabric over a board which is then mounted onto a backing panel. I then make a frame to fit this. The mount and frame are hand painted in colours which best compliment the work, and to suit the space where the picture is to hang. As I make it I can therefore adapt every aspect of the process and am able to create bespoke artworks in all shapes, sizes and colours.
“Beautiful detail and presentation. A joy to see”
“Unique and beautifully done”