Birds, birds, birds…

How are we in the middle of January already? We had snow for about three days last week but the same came out on Sunday and it was gone in a flash. Apparently we are heading for temperatures of 8 or 9 this week, with some sunshine so I’m planning to steam clean the patio and sort out my potting shed ready for planting some seeds. That’s going to involve putting the window and the door back on my greenhouse after those high winds last week though! 😀

Painting wise has involved me experimenting with feathers and fur! I’ve tried to incorporate some of the techniques I’ve learned with Anna Mason’s tutorials, they have proved to be invaluable and I will continue to recommend her online school to anyone who is interested in trying watercolours.

Flamingos are a favourite of mine, I’ve made quite a few in the last couple of years so it was only natural that I’d attempt one. I’m really happy with the feather work, not sure if the images are good enough to show the detail but there are LOTS of tiny brush strokes. I think the beak could do with a bit of work but I’ll go back to that at some point.

 

Someone suggested a puffin because of the beak, we all love puffins, they are real characters.

 

I’m having a few problems capturing the silveryness of the fish but I’m thinking of adding a bit of silver ink to it, that’s cheating isn’t it? I’m giving each layer of work, time to dry and also giving myself time away from the paintings so that I can go back to them with a fresh eye.

The other painting I’ve been working on, is a present for my husband. He’s not on Facebook so he won’t see the photo. It’s my attempt at painting one of our first dogs, Archie. Archie was this gorgeous little Jack Russell who we lost in the spring of 2001, 16 years ago but he is still a big memory for us. This is a very difficult painting for me as it’s one thing to paint a bird or flower from photos because it’s impersonal and easy to be happy with the result. As I work on this one, I’m finding so many errors and issues because I knew that little dog so, so well, it’s harder to capture his essence and personality. I know it’s at the early stages so I’m not giving myself too hard a time but even so it’s quite difficult.

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So far, I’m happy with the left eye! LOL

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing this week…..

It’s been so long….

since I posted anything!

We are still trying to tackle the garden of this beautiful house that we moved into last year, so whenever there has been a lovely day, I’m out there, if not weeding, then sunbathing 🙂

I managed to finish a small Snowy Owl, he’s still available on my etsy shop by the way.

I may not have made very many birds but tried a few new techniques. I know that my work, especially the larger pieces can be quite expensive so I really wanted to make some more affordable pieces but still retain the artistic and unique elements of my work.

I played around with fabric paints, there was a disaster which went in the bin, then a lovely robin, which gave me a little more confidence.

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Then I tried a flamingo, a lot smaller than the usual ones and bloody hell that was tricky doing that neck and beak! He’s ended up as a giveaway prize as although he’s lovely, I didn’t feel as though I could charge anyone for him…

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Then another Robin but this time with some embroidery elements, taking it back to my embellished birds.

And the most recent one, a Blue Tit!

 

Both of these birds are available on my Folksy shop 🙂

I’m not sure where I’m going next. It’s really hard to get motivated at the moment with so much else going on. It’s a strong consideration to wind the business down at the moment as well. Registering as a sole trader, having to do those bloody tax returns takes a lot of joy out of creating for me and am entering CBA (Can’t be Arsed) mode again.

I’m such a child! LOL.

Have a great weekend!

How do you do that?

It’s a question I’ve been asked on several occasions since I’ve been making my small embellished birds. So I’m going to tell you……

Let’s start with inspiration. When I first started making little birds, it was from the pattern by Ann Wood – she also has a facebook page. I never stop telling people about her patterns. They are incredibly well written with lots of photos and in some cases, like the little wire legs, video! I’ve only made her small birds but she now has quite a few patterns available for sale, including the very wonderful owls and adorable little mice. She’s one of the few textile artists who give permission for you to use her patterns to make things to sell. I still use her pattern when I make my little giveaway birds.

Go to her site, buy a pattern, you will NOT regret it.

There are many other great textile artists who make birds, Abigail BrownDi Osman, Daisy Chain Creations and Made by Aimee among others. Emma Hall makes fabulous birds and patterns as well. Pop along and have a good look at their work.

Now, how do I make mine? I can’t really tell you. I worked on some basic patterns, the flamingo was my first, a very fluid but easy to recognise shape. I did lots of sketches, lots of rough pattern drafts until finally, I had a pattern. Even then, it didn’t turn out the way I expected because as I decorate my birds, I alter the shape of them with stitches, pulling them around, pushing them into place, adding wire. It’s trial and error. Every single bird is unique. I’ve made lots of robins and kingfishers and each one is better than the last because I’m improving them as I go. Look at the Crows below for example.

 

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Evolution of the Crows

The one on the larger white skull was the very first, made over two years ago and the one on the right, last summer. I’ve even used the same fabric. But they are vastly different.

I won’t be making patterns of my birds to sell, I won’t be doing tutorials or ‘how to’ guides. Basically because even I don’t know how I do it most of the time. My birds are constantly evolving.

I like to think that part of the charm of my work, is that every single piece is different, it’s one of the reasons they are covered in hundreds if not thousands of stitches. I don’t want to turn out many, many identical pieces or in actual fact, see copies of my stuff, selfish I know. Sorry 😦

I’m more than happy to encourage and point you in the general direction of great pattern designers. I will always say the same thing….practise, practise, practise. We are ALL capable of being good at something, it’s just a question of finding out what it is and working at it. It’s important to take inspiration from others but to use it to find your own way.

 

Get out there, do your thing, make it yours, make it awesome!

The Craft Butterfly…

This is what I should probably rename my facebook page because I have flitted from one thing to another this past ten days or so. I finally finished some orders last week, little wedding couples flew off to their new homes and thought I’d make something new. I’d already made a dragonfly before but wanted to have another go, this time much smaller – brooch sized in fact. He’s now available for sale on my facebook page until 6pm Thursday the 1st of October, it’s open bidding as I’m totally unsure what to charge. I will only be making this one though, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. You can find it here http://www.facebook.com/itshangingbyathread

As you know, my daughter runs Yarntistry, that amazing crochet page full of cacti characters. I can’t crochet, it looks like I’ve dropped spaghetti, stomped on it and then tried to put it back together so she offered to teach me so that I could crochet something easy while watching tv at night.

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I bought some beautiful wool, Riot chunky in ‘Potash’ which although beautiful to look at, is shedding fluff at a great rate. The photo above is from last week, it’s now cot size 🙂 but I ran out of wool…LOL so have ordered another 5 balls. The daughter said that teaching me to crochet was like teaching someone with Tourettes…

Then onto the third craft of the week…

Needle Felting. I’m of the firm belief that this craft was created in the 7th circle of hell. I bought some finger protectors in the end because my finger was starting to resemble a piece of fillet steak. It might look easy but it’s not. I’m determined not to let it beat me though. I’m trying to make a sloth, the daughter is a massive fan of them and I wanted to make one that will hang on a rail in her workspace.

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The husband asked if it was a racoon. I rest my case.

I can’t seem to settle on one thing at the moment, I’m not sure if it’s because the seasons have changed and it’s all about burrowing in for the winter soon or what but it would be lovely to knuckle down to one thing without feeling like I want to be doing a million other things….

Another new bird for me…

Another week starts and I have two commissions I’m hoping to finish. Yes, I know the week started yesterday but I had one of those days where nothing gets done, although to be fair I cleaned the house and did a huge pile of ironing.

I’m still on a bit of a high after last week. After a major redesign of this site and a reworking of my prices, I started last week with lots of motivation and positive thoughts and shockingly, I still have them. Last week also saw a new bird fly into my portfolio, a small Tawny Owl. I’ve never done an owl before so it was a steep learning curve, especially with the head shape.

You can see some of the stages of his face, pulling in those eye sockets to form a bed for his eyes. I still think they could have been pulled in more but it was difficult to do that without altering the shape of his head.

I really wanted to put a small mouse in his talons and thought I’d have a go at needle felting again. I’ve done it once before to make a flat cap for one of my wedding groom birds. I can’t see it being an art/craft that I do a lot, aside from the injuries to my poor fingers from those needles, I found it very trying. Therapeutic to stab something so much but still very trying.

If you are interested in an owl, he’s on my portfolio page along with the price. I’m looking forward to trying a few different owls in the future.

This week however, I’m making two small bee brooches and a wren, like the ones below. The wren is on my portfolio page already with pricing but I’ll be adding the bee later when I get some more photos. The bees will be priced at £35 + p&p so if you are interested, please let me know and I’ll give you a timeframe for when I can accept orders again.

I should have my order books open by the end of September if not sooner but I’ll keep you updated.

Right, time for more coffee and to start one of those bees!