The Green Man started out as an exercise to use techniques that I learned in a Robin Foley workshop to build up areas of a face using batting. The original workshop used a carved styrofoam block as a starting point. For this project I started with a flat surface. Once I had built up the areas and “skinned” it, I needle sculpted the wrinkles and painted it with soft pastels. Then it sat for a few years and became lost in my studio.
My local doll club, All Dolled Up, had a UFO (UnFinished Object) challenge so I found my Little Green Man and decided to put him on a background. I painted a prepared canvas with pastels and attached the head to it with acrylic medium. Then, I made leaves with free motion embroidery.
I put masking tale around the edges to keep the stabilizer from wrinkling as I sewed.
I also found an embroidery project in the basement. It was based on a Mola, which is a hand sewn reverse applique panel made using several layers of cloth which are cut away to reveal the layers underneath. Mine is machine sewn and it is only one layer. The image is based on my cat. I sewed it onto a bag.
After a lot of hand sewing the once naked lady has clothes. She also has a name: Bellisima.
The arms were “dressed” before they were sewn on.
I think she is as showy as any orchid.
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.
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.
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.
I then add a bridging stitch and more straight stitches to make two lines of thin ribbon.
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.
This piece was inspired by my March trip to the Biodome in Montreal. There were fish in 2 of the ecosystems, but the ones in the Gulf of St Lawrence held our attention for the longest time.
I eventually want to do a fish with an embroidered body, but for now I thought I’d do a few in fabric with free motion embroidered fins.
So far I’ve only done this one in black and white with red fins.
I have completed 2 dolls this past week. Both are based on bottle shapes and have been seen here in their unfinished forms.
This is what the dolls looked like the last time you saw them.
For Passion I removed the panel and then emphasized the twist with beading.
Sherry involved a lot more work. I made free motion large flowers and leaves. I tried to do some smaller ones in free motion, but ended up using my embroidery software and machine embroidering them. They all had to be sewn on by hand with invisible thread.