Friday, May 23, 2008


We are getting towards the middle of the fabric book Round Robin. Each month I find myself working on something completely different, and am presented with challenges which encourage me to explore new ideas and techniques. It is a wonderful growing and learning process.

This month I have been working on the page I am doing for Diana from Wellington. Here below is the "Inspiration" picture that Diana has chosen.

Two or three months ago I had firmly decided that I wanted to 'tat' a black cross to represent the wrought iron cross. Now my tatting is somewhat 'tatty', and I needed to simplify and reduce the pattern I had - something of a challenge for me. Nevertheless I managed to produce the cross, and set it aside until it was my month to work on Diana's book.

When it arrived, along with the three pages worked by other participants, I found it was not a project I could finish quickly. I needed time for ideas to evolve and mellow.

First I chose the background - some cream silk which I 'antiqued' with some walnut ink spray.

For some reason, that much-loved old hymn 'In the Garden' kept coming to mind. It is one that is often sung at funerals on Norfolk Island. So I printed the words onto a piece of old dressmaker pattern tissue, tore around the edges, and adhered it to the silk.

Then I got out my newly-purchased Lumiere paints and splodged them around to mask where the tissue edged the silk background, and to give a 'glow' to the scene.

Next I applied the tatted cross, but wished I had made it more elongated, because the pages are fairly tall and slim. But I was definitely unsure of my ability to tackle another cross!

At this stage I needed to put the page aside for a few days while I let the piece talk to me and tell me what it needed next.

Although I had not intended portraying the arch originally, I realised I needed to add some height to the composition. Inspired by the line of the hymn "While the dew is still on the roses", I added an arch of roses. These were done with some peach coloured hand-dyed ribbon which I also 'antiqued' with walnut ink.

To produce these roses, you bring your ribbon to the front, tie a knot about 5 cm from the fabric, then use your needle to zig-zag back through the ribbon to where it comes through the fabric. You take it to the back, then gently pull it through, twisting gently as you pull. The result is a fairly natural-looking rose.

Once again I found myself putting the page aside - in a spot where I could look at it frequently - while I awaited further inspiration. Finally I knew what I needed to do to finish it off. A pedestal was added from the same silk background fabric to anchor the cross. It all looked a little stark still, so I first needlefelted some wispy foliage using green wool roving. Then I decided to get out my tatting shuttle again and tat some more greenery to go around the base.

Finally some narrower silk ribbon, in the same antiqued peach shade, was used to make french knot flowers randomly scattered on the gound and among the foliage.

I have tried to capture the peaceful, nostalgic, thoughtful tone of the piece and I think Diana will like it.

Meanwhile, here are the interpretations of the three participants before me. The one with the door has Diana's original image behind it.

Diana's book is going to be quite beautiful!


Anonymous said...

Really nice but I wish the picture popped up larger so I could see the detail better.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful work Mary - I'm sure Diana will really love it - well done!
Quilty hugs

Anonymous said...

Clever creative lady.
That hymn, an old one is a favorite of mine also.

crazyQstitcher said...

Mary you achieved what you set out to do. The work has such a nostalgic appearance and I absolutely love it.The colours are perfect. It is interesting reading of how you created your background. Thanks for sharing

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