Soft Rock

August 28th, 2017

Soft Rock original

4.875 x 7 inches, hand stitching and free motion machine embroidery on hand-painted silk. A view from the seawall near English Bay in Vancouver.

I took a few photos of the work in progress. Below, here’s the sky all painted, with some dark green underpainting of the distant trees. Underpainting is to prevent any unpainted white silk from showing between stitches, and also to give me a rough idea of where to stitch in the first place. I’ve already begun embroidering some of the trees here…not enough patience to wait till the water was painted! And I’ve started to underpaint some gray-brown for the rocks. Before I start sewing on any area, I make sure to seal the paint using an iron.

In progress - underpainting and stitched trees

On the picture below, the water is more painted. I left bare patches where the white surf was going to be. I’ve also started some free motion machine embroidery of the rocks. However, some time after this picture was taken, my sewing machine broke. I mean, froze up completely. I wasn’t able to fix it myself and I’m reluctant to get it repaired by a professional or buy a new one since I mostly do hand embroidery these days anyway, so I decided to complete the picture by hand.


It took ages and I’m not eager to repeat the experience, but I’m glad it’s done now. I had to take care when stitching around the rock pools, not to let those dark threads run behind the water where they would show through. Some of the rocks are sewn by couching one thread into place with another, and some just have random overlapping stitches. The nearer the rocks, the thicker the threads I used and the more often I threaded a needle with two colors at once.

I embroidered the surf with white thread, and left this till last so I could make it appear to splash up onto the rocks a bit.

Hopefully it’s not quite as long until my next post!


Deep Blue

May 8th, 2017


3.75 x 4.625 inches.  Hand embroidery on hand-painted silk.

I painted the background, and underpainted the water.  You can see from the in-progress picture below that I also painted some of the left-hand edge of the spare silk a medium blue.  I used some strands of that deeper blue for the hull of the distant sailing boat because I didn’t have any regular thread that was fine enough.

In progress - further on

Early on in making this picture, I accidentally put a blob of “land” paint in the water.  Uh-oh!  I thought about inventing some more rocky outcrops to hide it, but instead I flipped the whole composition from left to right.  That way, the blob became part of the land on the left and even I can’t find it any more.


March 23rd, 2017


3.5 x 5 inches.  One of my dandscapes.

The background came about by chance.  I poured on gray-green silk paint and then ran some rivulets of the white medium over certain areas.  This erased the gray-green in stripes, but the silk was still so wet that it blended nicely into a nice effect of rays of light.

The stem is a piece of hand-painted ribbon (here’s how) and the rest is regular Gutermann sewing thread that I have teased into fluffiness and stuck down with acid-free glue.  I stitched the tiny seed pods with skinny pieces of hand-painted ribbon as well. There’s some hand-sewing in pinks and purples underneath the fluffy stuff.  I just wander the thread around in a rough circle; it doesn’t matter much because it will be only glimpsed through the fluff.


Lift-off framed

Make a wish and blow!

Loch Fyne

March 13th, 2017


6.5 x 5 inches, hand embroidery on hand-painted silk.

A view of Loch Fyne in mysterious and forbidding mood. The loch frequently has areas of perfect stillness while others are made slightly choppy by the wind (or underwater monsters). I hand-painted the sky and mountains, and also the narrow strip of still water. There’s some light underpainting underneath the embroidery as well, which shows through because the thread is semitransparent. Then lots of embroidery with my lovely Sulky threads in various shades, while keeping that strip of still water clear of thread, front and back.


IMG_0159 (2)


To the Lighthouse

November 27th, 2016


6.25 x 4.75 inches, hand embroidery on hand-painted silk.  This lighthouse is on a small island off the coast of British Columbia and the very faint purple mountains in the distance are the mainland.

The white part of the lighthouse is a scrap of Tyvek.  I have trouble capturing the shimmer of the threads on camera but may try again once it’s in the frame.  And here it is:


More scenes coming at my usual slow pace!

Positively Petite Annual Miniature Exhibition

October 25th, 2016


Excited to take part in this upcoming exhibition!  Here’s a map of the location.  It’s only a short walk from the new Opus Art Supplies in the area, which is now open (click here for Opus map)


October 21st, 2016


3 x 4 inches, hand embroidery on hand-painted silk.  A mini-lighthouse enjoying its day off by the waters off British Columbia.

The background is built up slowly from scratch.  The faint purple at the horizon is actually mountains in the distance.  For the lighthouse I used a tiny strip of a Tyvek envelope, because white thread often reads as gray.


Even the simplest pictures have their secrets.  On this photo of the back, the colors look different because I don’t have white paper behind the silk. When I stitched the lighthouse cap and so on, I had to first secure my thread at the side, then secretly walk the thread behind the rocky part, make my lighthouse stitches, and “step in my own footprints” to take the thread back to the side to secure it.  Otherwise, if I went as the crow flies, you would clearly see the dark thread behind the sky.  I’m also a believer in securing thread well because the whole picture has to withstand being stretched.

I’m still working on a larger and slightly different version of this picture, so I’m starting to feel as if I’ve been away at sea for a while!








Chasing the Sun

July 17th, 2016

Chasing the Sun master - thumbnail

3 x 4 inches, hand embroidery on hand-painted silk.  Another British Columbia coastal scene.

The sky takes the longest.  I use an almost-dry brush to build up the colour gradually.  The mountains were much quicker.  All the water is hand-sewn using Sulky and other embroidery threads.

I forgot to underpaint the nearest island, which would have saved me having to be as careful to cover all the silk with thread.

Trees are always fun to do and very forgiving.  The more untidy your stitching, the more tree-like it looks.  In fact the worst idea is to try to make something that looks like a tree.


Stem education

June 17th, 2016

I’ve written about creating dandelion stems by painting on ribbon before, in this post.  But I just learned a new technique and thought I’d pass it on.


I started with 1/4-inch-thick white ribbon.  Then I mixed some Pebeo silk paint to a nice green and painted it on.  The color is slightly different from one end of the stem to the other on purpose, for natural variation.

Then I loaded my little brush with some of the lightening medium (pictured below) and stroked it down the middle of the stem.  It “washes out” the green, making it scurry away to the edges, but then the green stays at the edges of the ribbon because it has nowhere else to go.   I did this while the green paint was still damp.  It makes the stem look 3D with very little effort from me.



I waited for it to dry then painted over the middle part with a yellow shade to warm it up a bit, while keeping the 3D look.  Then I took this splendidly blurry photograph!


Then I took a couple of better ones, our model is the second from the top.


And finally upright, as seen in nature.  Ribbons are useful for depicting all sorts of thick-stemmed flowers.   Before you plan your picture, make sure you can get hold of ribbon in the right width for the scale you want to work in.  If you’re only able to find a wider or narrower ribbon, that will decide the scale of the whole picture.


Fair Winds

May 17th, 2016

Fair Seas

Almost 3 x 4 inches, hand embroidery on hand-painted silk, depicting somewhere off the coast of British Columbia.  The blue haze on the horizon is land in the distance.

Where would you rather be, the boat or the cottage?

*Detail alert*

The boat hull is hand-painted ribbon and the sails are Tyvek.  Full-size boat sails can be made with Tyvek, and I think it’s the first time I’ve used the same material as reality!  I shaded them with scraps of mesh from a fancy ribbon.  I also painted them but they only hold a little bit of colour.  I used acid-free glue and thread to hold the pieces down, depending on whether they were large enough to take a needle.


This strange picture is of Tyvek.  It’s from a FedEx envelope.  (I don’t use the parts with the lettering on, haha).  The piece on the left is full-thickness.  If you split it at the edge with your fingernails and pull it apart, you get pieces like the ones on the right.  Looks a bit ghosty doesn’t it?  The thickness is very uneven, but then you can choose as thin a piece as you need.

And that’s a small piece of ribbon at the bottom, with the mesh part in the middle that I placed on my Tyvek to reduce the white glare.

Fair winds and following seas to you all!