Monday, 30 April 2012

Mapping marks

Friday evening was the annual 'Spring Fling' at my local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild and we were treated, as usual, to a delicious meal provided by the Committee members. Fiona Wilson was the speaker and it was very interesting to hear about her methods of working as she took us on her journey from Business Studies to the Embroiderers' Guild Scholar and to being the practising artist she is now.  It is always nice to see work 'in the flesh' and Fiona bought some of her lovely textiles, her sketch books and her printed blocks. I would love to have a sketch book like hers and I feel inspired to do some more sketchbook work myself . I couldn't resist buying one of her blocks that were for sale.

You can't see from the photograph but there is a 1p piece embedded in the back and I wish I'd asked her about the significance of it. It's adds interest to an area you wouldn't normally pay very much attention to. Fiona also ran a workshop for us, which I was looking forward to even more after the talk.

In her talk Fiona told us how important drawing is to her and her design process and I made the promise to myself to do more drawing. It wouldn't be too difficult to do more but it would be difficult to do less! So it was no surprise when we started the workshop with a number of drawing exercises. We had very little time to do the drawings & this one was I did without taking the pen off the paper and without looking at the paper. Mmm....Starting to draw can feel quite daunting for me but I felt quite liberated with this method because there was no expectation that this would/could look like the image I was copying....and it didn't!

Fiona showed us some of the creative machine embroidery techniques she used and encouraged us to try as many as possible. Although, I tried a number of them, possibly the simplest stands out in my mind. I really liked the plain straight stitch, sewn with a matt thread on the top and a metallic thread in the bobbin. The metallic thread showed only slightly on the top but really lifted the stitching. This may be one way to use some of those cheap metallic threads I have, which always seem to break when used as the top thread.

I was keen to incorporate maps into the day and in particular the old fabric lined map that my friend Laura had given me. I embellished the map onto a piece of blanket and as the fibres of the blanket were pushed to the front, the map began to take on a more textiley  look and feel. I also embellished blue scrim, from the back, roughly where the water was on the map. I then used a couple of the machine embroidery techniques which I had tried earlier and 'corrected' and an area on the left hand side which I thought was too dominant by embellishing it to blend it in.

Here is a close of a section of the piece, albeit that the piece looks a bit washed out in photograph.. The bluey pink area which looks like a finger print is the area I embellished to tone down. Who would have thought that this had been really obvious zig-zag 5 minutes before? Who would have thought the surface was made of paper?

Next steps? Well I feel some hand embroidery is now required but finish my first piece for the next round of Whispers first......


  1. That's funny... I came away thinking I must draw more too! Apparently the penny on the backs has something to do with weighting so that they hang properly if you put them on the wall.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the workshop. I'd be a bit worried about embellishing through paper - did you break any needles?

    1. Not a single needle broken! I was nervous when I started, especially as it was Fiona's embellisher but she encouraged me to go for it. Maybe it helped that the map was backed with fabric?

  3. So glad you felt inspired in particular to do some more drawing Marian - was lovely to meet you on the workshop and thank you for featuring it on your blog. The penny in acts as a weight but also means every time you pick up the block, you should get some good luck! Thanks again - Fiona


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