Leaves, buds and birds.

Using colour, either bright, muted or in between, is one of the things I most enjoy about textiles. When I made ceramics, strong colour was something that happened after a series of processes. Using fabric, fibre and paper with their immediate colour hit was a joy when I changed my media, and it still is.

A recent walk in our suburban streets and a brief forage in the garden turned up some inspiring leaves, in terms of both colour and shape. The ginkgo leaf is from one of several ginkgo biloba trees planted by Birmingham City Council, who whilst cutting costs in every way seem to be keeping up their tree planting programme. Perfect, as they look good and mop up pollution and prevent flooding. I am sort of obsessed with trees, they seem to appear automatically in much of my work.

A lovely group of fresh bright greens and a fuchsia bud, with a few materials sorted, to provide more inspiration for some new work.

The colours were making me feel that it’s time to explore one of my favourite topics, the rainforest, so out came this little gem of a book picked up second hand ages ago. It has supplied me with quite a few subjects over the last few years.

I do like to use my own source material and images as much as possible, but  since these birds don’t seem to visit our garden, and I don’t visit theirs, books like this are invaluable.

Above, some collage papers and fabrics, ready to experiment with. I use these to make actual work or just to try out ideas.

Of course, the first piece I made completely ignores those luscious greens and pinks. I painted the yellow and black watercolour composition at the bottom a couple of years ago, just as an experiment in loosening up and not aiming to produce anything in particular. As is the way with these things, I produced several painted pieces that I liked more than the more considered work that one slaves over for ages.

So, here it is used in this mixed media piece, in fact it made all the decisions about which direction the work went in. The piece is mostly paper, with some fabrics, and I will add some stitch for texture and definition, but not too much. It’s 65 x 38 cm, 26 x 15 inches. I was hoping to work small, but failed.

The work below is entirely fabric, and once again the original colour inspirations have been waylaid. I don’t mind this, it’s just the way new work goes. You choose the materials that you like best and work with them, even though that fuchsia pink and those bright greens seemed to be the whole purpose of the exercise. I liked this quiet linen as a background, and also used some recycled pieces of an unfinished embroidery made using painted fabrics, for the trees.

The image goes with some words I have written about the Moon and the rainforest, and that has dictated the colour scheme too. It’s 50 x 35 cm, 19.5 x 14 inches.

Above, three shots of work in progress.

And below, a small pattern piece, in which those greens and pinks make an appearance at last, in the form of giant floating fuchsia buds and ginkgo leaves.

They have all yet to be stitched.

And to finish off, below, a little drawing to remind me of a design idea for a future piece of work, medium as yet undecided.



14 thoughts on “Leaves, buds and birds.

  1. How beautiful! I enjoyed seeing your collections and processes in both paper and fabric. I’m curious about the fabric piece. Do you use printed fabric from your stash? Painted or dyed?

    1. Hi Holly,

      Many thanks! Yes, the fabric is from my stash and I have painted and printed it with acrylic paints and acrylic inks. The exceptions are the silver metallic fabric I used for the Moon and the solid fuchsia pink fabric, both of which are commercial fabrics.

  2. The plain black backgrounds to some of your inspiration botanicals made them look very much like Mrs Delaney’s decoupage. Just in case you needed yet another direction to explore!

    I very much like what you’ve done will all the pieces you’ve put together, even if the bright green and fuchsia were a long time coming. As you say, that does happen…

    1. I had to look her up Rachel, but they are rather amazing aren’t they? It would be a fascinating direction to explore, especially as I am a fan of a black background, be it solid or broken. I don’t think I’ve quite finished with the greens and pinks either, they are slippery customers but I want more…

  3. What an absolutely delightful post Stephanie, the fascination, the challenge and sheer joy of making runs through it from start to finish, it’s inspiring. I love that image of the piece with the big moon, the space and the textures are so satisfying

    1. Thanks Phil, you are very kind; it has been enjoyable. I do feel that there is more work to do here too, those few leaves have started something for sure. I haven’t quite met the challenge of those original colours and there are some more ideas fidgeting away, and indeed a change to the Moon picture seems to be on the cards too.

  4. I picked up a fantastic book called Mrs Delaney and her Circle in the free book shop a few months ago and then saw what it was selling for on Amazon so thoughts of cutting it up to use in collage died an immediate death but the woman was a marvel of her age – so like you! She is worth pursuing as is your trawl on the streets of Birmingham. I love that really fresh green stem on the left. Is it some sort of acacia/mimosa? My little gingko is so slow growing that taking a few leaves would be drastic for it but I’m working on a sketchbook project with someone who has provided me with gingko printed pages to respond to and you’ve now given me some ideas!!
    I read all this and want to make a collage straight away. You are so talented. I feel a bit of cut and paste coming on…….

  5. Alas I fear I’m not a marvel of my age, but thanks anyway Lesley! I intend to look more at Mrs Delaney. The stem was better when I first picked it, it quickly closed up, which immediately reminded me of mimosa, but I must admit that I haven’t looked it up, I keep forgetting. It is a roadside tree, quite young; they are planting some interesting species around here.
    I’m happy you are inspired, collage is good and useful fun I find. I can’t manage without scissors and glue stick these days, and Photoshop, my digital alternative.
    If you want some ginkgo leaves, I can collect and send you some, let me know.

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