Saturday, 24 August 2013

stick, stone, stitch...

While working on a foundation course for City and Guilds my blog, Stitched in Stone, led me to consider another route for exploration.  Since childhood my walks had resulted in a collection of small finds that were placed on an impromptu 'nature table'.  Inevitably these turned to dust and were lost.  
stick, stone, stitch ...nest egg
in private collection
stick, stone...strata

Continuing my collecting the sticks, stones  series has been added to and more are on the way!.  As can be seen in 'strata', shown on the right, am exploring the process of tapestry weaving while still working some pieces in free machine embroidery.  In strata tapestry weaving replicates the stones pattern and the background from where the stone was found.

As an adult the collecting continued but stones and items that deteriorated but didn't disappear became the objects of choice.  My collections captured serendipity rather than going out to find specific items.  I wanted to celebrate these treasures and  stick, stone, stitch... is the result.

stick, stone, stitch...scars

In scars, shoreline and rough and smooth stitches using freestyle machine embroidery produced the textural background with small areas of hand stitching giving detail. 
stick, stone, stitch...shore

stick, stone, stitch...rough and smooth

25 cms x 25 cms x 4 cms

 In veins the dictionary definitions on the surrounding mount not only give interesting context but offered ideas for stitching.

stick, stone, stitch...veins
In private collection
in private collection

What lies beneath...
The Ordnance Survey map with its symbols and clues as to what lies ahead on ones journey have been an integral part of family outings by car or on foot.
 Moving to Scotland in 1991 my interest increased in walking and maps.  Living in a remote part of Aberdeenshire a high proportion of my few neighbours work in oil related industries. This coupled with enjoyment of outdoor activities set geology as a cornerstone for creative and physical exploration. A part time course in Scottish Studies at Aberdeen University added to an awareness of the geological intrigues of what lies beneath… our feet.
Taking three favourite walks as a starting point, the hills of Morven, Clachnaben and Bennachie provide the inspiration.  Initial use of long and short hand stitch to replicate not only my foot pace but the colours found on geological maps I progressed to freestyle machine embroidery.  This in turn developed into an exploration of 3D bowls and shapes.  
Inspired by the Geological Bedrock map of North UK these three maps show the distribution of the different bedrock units as they would appear if the partial cover of superficial sediments, deposited by glaciers and rivers during the last two million years or so, were removed.  The shadings of colour shown define the age and types of rocks. The initial three pieces show handstitch

 Morven 43 x 33 cms

Bennachie 43 x 33 cms
Clachnaben 43 x 33 cms

Morven, freestyle machine embroidery
 50 x 50 cms

Looking at the Morven hand stitched map through a kaleidoscope the colour background theme was worked for this piece using freestyle machine stitch, machine feed dogs down, which allows for the stitches to be formed by manipulating the fabric by hand.  Incorporating the idea of a 3D image of Morven a model was made representing the contour lines and using half hitch hand knotting over this model. 
The technique was used to make the two bowls.  Each bowl was given a plate which was painted canvas with handstitched for detail.

Clachnaben - freestyle machine embroidery

Bennachie plate handstitch detail
Bennachie- freestyle machine embroidery bowl

Based on 'Bedrock Geology UK North map' by kind permission of British Geological Survey. Morven, freestlye machine embroidery, also based on an Ordnance Survey map of the area by kind permission of Ordnance Survey.

Work on this theme continues...


  1. I could look at these for ages. The designs are so simple and have great serenity. Your placement of each item and the stitching is beautiful.

  2. Heather, thanks for your comments I really enjoyed making them.

  3. These are beautiful Judith, gorgeous tone and shading

  4. I simply love all of these, just amazing