Monthly Archives: May 2012

Naked Lady in the Garden

The position of this doll is based on the shape of an orchid I photographed at the Botanical gardens in Montreal.  She is too big to photograph in my studio so I took her out into the garden.

Double pinned

In order to have a shapely body the sewing of the pieces has to very accurate.   I mark the sewing lines on the fabric and insert the pins along the lines and then pin again perpendicular across the original pinning to keep the fabric from moving in either direction.  This is takes less time than hand basting the seams together and is almost as accurate.

The clothes are all made with free motion embroidery on the sewing machine.  The patterns are traced on water soluble stabilizer which is washed out after the embroidery is finished.

Free motion pieces drying

I frequently use Ultra Solvy  because it is usually stiff enough that I don’t need a hoop.  This saves time and stabilizer.  However, it has been so humid  here that the Ultra Solvy has softened significantly and  I’ve had to make my patterns larger to account for  the scrunching up of the stabilizer as I embroider.   The red thread is hand dyed and the water here makes  the colour run.

I am also making some narrow ribbon in the same colour.  For this I have used left-over bits of stabilizer and sewn them together.

Using left-over bits of stabilizer

I then add a bridging stitch and more straight stitches to make two  lines of thin ribbon.

Ribbon made with sewing machine

Detail: Sewing machine ribbon

Give a Hand

I’ve just finished the hands on my latest doll.

Turning the fingers an sometimes be a chore but this time it all went smoothly.

The dark spots between the fingers is Fray Check to

Hands inside out

keep the fabric from fraying and the seams from being blown.

I use brass tubes to turn the fingers.  The larger tube goes into the finger and the smaller one rests on top.

Turning fingers with brass tubes

Then the fabric of the finger is gently manipulated up the tube so that the finger turns inside out and disappears  inside the palm.

Hands right side out

Once the fingers are turned it is time to insert pipe cleaners so that the hands can be posed.

Pipe cleaners give shape

Care must be taken so that you make a right and a left hand.

Posed Hand

Spring Flood Reflections

This watercolour is from a picture that I took a few years ago in the woods near where I live.  There is a little creek that appears every spring and floods the path. It doesn’t last long.

Spring Flood Reflections

Again, I have taken a few liberties with the colour.  The original colours are mostly grey and muddy brown.

Spring Flood Reflections – Detail -1

Spring Flood Reflections – Detail -2


Iguazu Falls

A few years ago, a friend and I took a trip to Brazil.  We started our vacation in Iguazu Falls, which proved to be the highlight of our trip.  The falls straddle the Iguazu River which forms the border between Brazil and Argentina.

There is a National Park in each country from which you can view the  275 cataracts.  Our hotel was in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil but we took the bus into Argentina so we could visit the falls on that side as well.

Iguazu Falls

Near the Brazillian Falls is a Bird Park where you can get quite close to the birds in walk-through aviaries.  I took lots of photos of birds but I also took some pictures of the vegetation.  One of those pictures was of a  Strangler Fig.  It is the subject of one of my recent  watercolour paintings.

After sketching the tree and the vines  I used a masking fluid to cover the areas I wanted to stay white. I then built up the colour with several layers of washes.


The original tree is quite pale and anemic but I wanted to have fun with the colour so my tree is much more colourful.  I did the vines towards the end just before I removed the masking fluid.

Fish Tales

I  have made two more fabric fish.  Choosing fabric was easy for the fish I did last week.  It’s relatively easy to match black and white patterned material.   It’s a little harder when you move into colour.  In going through my stash to find and match the right fabric, I realized that I could organize my fabrics a little better.   Right now I have one translucent plastic bin for plain coloured cotton and 4  of patterned cotton.  All the black and white fabric is in the same bin but that’s the extent of the organization.  One of these days I must figure out a better system and then reorganize.

So, after hours of sorting through the bins and auditioning different fabrics, I found 2 sets that would work.  Choosing the thread for the fins didn’t take as long.   I decided on a bright  pink for one set and, of course, I had a darker pink and a lighter pink but not the shade I wanted.  So I embroidered the fins with the darker shade and then changed the bobbin and top thread to the lighter shade and embroidered over the first colour, leaving a lot of it to show through.  The overall effect is now the right shade.

After washing out the stabilizer and setting the fins aside to dry I was all set to sew them onto the fish body. I couldn’t find one of the pectoral fins. So back to the sewing machine to redo the missing fin. Usually when this happens I find the lost piece as soon as I finish the replacement but not this time.

The second fish went a little easier.

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