See Polly and the penguins on my Facebook page.
Back in the spring, when I started working on Birds of Beebe Woods, robins were in abundance, hopping around the yard. After making the larger, dominant crow, I added a robin to the piece, placing it in the center, down on the ground. Compared to the smaller, realistic looking birds that were made later, the crow and robin’s bodies are more abstract, with stylized patterns on their wings and breast. My approach to rendering the birds seems to have changed during the 4 months that I worked on the piece. Toward the end, when I sewed the nuthatch, chickadee and warbler, I referred to photographs more closely and was caught up in making them identifiable and naturalistic. I like to combine realism and abstraction.
In keeping with the robin’s perky nature, I curved the bird like a sideways apostrophe, with its tail flaring upwards. The red breast presented a opportunity to play around with warm tones and metallic thread.
To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. A 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) is available through my Etsy Shop. Also, the piece is part of “Intimate Woods”, a fiber art exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA. through November 16, 2012. Then it will be on exhibit (along with 2 original illustrations from Pocketful of Posies) December 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Fairy Christmas at Hedge House Museum, Plymouth, MA.
I wanted to include a warbler in the Birds of Beebe Woods piece and found that a handful of varieties live in our area, each with their own distinct markings. I liked the look of the black throated green warbler best and thought its color patterns and striped wings would show up against the brownish gold background fabric.
To start, I found many photographs of warblers in books and on the internet and sketched until I found a pose that fit into the scene of birds. After making paper patterns, I cut out the bird’s shape from matt board and cut pieces of white, green, black and yellow from wool felt. Thinking ahead, I glued cheap acrylic felt to the back of the matt board body, so there would be something to grab the stitches while the front felt piece was later being sewn in place. I also basted thick wool felt padding to the top of the matt board piece.
I embroidered the texture and markings on the warbler’s green head. The bead eye is sewn inside a cut out hole in the yellow felt. Periodically, I would hold the bird up against the background fabric, to make sure there was enough contrast.
I used a combination of blanket stitch, fly stitch and lots of little single stitches.
The wing’s stripes were defined by chain stitched lines.
To finish, I made a little felt tail and added thread wrapped wire legs. Then, the black throated green warbler was ready to join the flock.
The Birds of Beeebe Woods posters have arrived! My sister, Anne Mavor did the classy graphic design. We picked a chocolate-brown background and gold lettering to set off the warm tones of the piece. The 18 x 24 posters are now available at my Etsy shop. I’ll be traveling in Ireland Sept. 11 – 20, so if you want one before I leave, place an order by Sept. 9th. Otherwise, I’ll fill any orders after I return.
Go here for more information and to see posts about making Birds of Beebe Woods.
Update: The Birds of Beebe Woods poster is in my Etsy shop .
Now that the piece is finished, I can spend time reviewing how I made some of the parts. Opportunities to see the original piece are listed at the end of this post. The bluejay (life size) was one of the first birds I made, after the crow, because it’s on the large size and I wanted to make sure it would fit. The birds’ arrangement wasn’t set until the very end and I kept moving the critters around. That’s why I like to create separate elements–it’s very much like a collage that way. I have kind of an idea of how it will be, but I want room to maneuver the pieces. Tweaking is good because it brings surprises!
After looking at photos of bluejays, I picked a pose and cut the body shape out of matt board. Then I cut a piece of white felt and stitched a textured pattern on the breast. I cut a whole in the felt for the bead eye, too.
Oh dear, looking at these photo’s, the sequence of steps is not clear to me. You’d think I’d remember, but every time I make a new character or animal, I try different approaches. When I sew, I’m not analyzing what I’m doing, which makes it hard to explain later.
But, I can tell you this much, the bluejay’s wings are made of layered blue and white felt, all embroidered with a few simple stitches, in this case the fly and blanket stitch.
The tail stripe pattern is mostly blanket stitched.
To see other posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, go to the archives here.
Birds of Beebe Woods was made for The Intimate Woods exhibit at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA (Cape Cod), which will be shown from Sept. 18 – Nov. 15, 2012.
Also, on December 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th, 2012, Birds of Beebe Woods (and 2 original illustrations from Pocketful of Posies) will be displayed during the Fairy Christmas at the Plymouth Antiquarian Society’s Hedge House Museum, Plymouth, MA, when the elegant mansion is transformed into a fairy wonderland.
Yeah! After 4 1/2 months of constant stitching, Birds of Beebe Woods is finished! I know that many of you have been checking in all summer to see its progress. We propped the stretcher on a window sill outside, securing it with duct tape on the top sides. The piece feels heavier than anything I’ve made before. All of that wire adds up in poundage. Over the next few days, my husband Rob will take photographs of it in different lighting conditions outside. For soft shadows, a bright, hazy day, will be perfect. when we get a good photo, I’ll have a poster made to sell in my Etsy shop.
Now that it’s finished, I can bring Birds of Beebe Woods to Mahopac, NY next week, when I give a talk at 7pm at the Mahopac Public Library. This stop on the Pocketful of Posies touring exhibit ends the same day, Wed., August 29th. I hope to see some of you there! To see the full schedule of the tour look here.
Then, the birds piece will be hung with other Beebe Woods inspired artwork at Highfield Hall in Falmouth, MA from Sept. 18 – Nov. 15, 2012, as part if the The Intimate Woods fiber art exhibit. I’m also giving an all day workshop at Highfield Hall in Falmouth on Sat., Oct. 27th. We’ll make felt banners with wrapped wire lettering. Find out more here.
I made my week’s goal of sewing 3 new birds to add to Birds of Beebe Woods! I was so determined to get them done, that I didn’t pause to take photos along the way. They are all approximately life-size. Here’s the show-off male goldfinch.
I love the way the little nuthatch hangs on facing downwards.
And our own Massachusetts state bird, the darling chickadee. It’s time to work on the background now. I’ll be checking in as the piece progresses.
Update: See the completed piece and read more about it here.
More and more birds are emerging in Birds of Beebe Woods, including this 6″ long cedar waxwing. Here are the felt parts before they were all embroidered and attached.
I like stitching the feather patterns and textures.
The September deadline for the Intimate Woods exhibit at Highfield Hall is approaching, so my goal is to make 3 small birds this week and more after that, if I have time. Then I have to attach everything to a stretched background, which usually takes longer than I think.
I’ve emerged from my months-long blissful state of stitching Birds of Beebe Woods, just long enough to show some process pictures of the crow, whom I’ve named Argyle.
He’s about 13″ from head to tail, with about 2 weeks worth of hand embroidery on his wool felt body.
From time to time, I’ll be posting photos of the other birds in the scene. See the introductory post about Birds of Beebe Woods here. This is a brief report–the birds are calling out, “September deadline, September deadline!”
I’ve finally joined the rest of the world by opening an Etsy shop! It’s taken a while for me to figure out what kind of items to sell, since I’ve given up mass-producing dolls and kits, etc. I could have really used a service like this 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago. At the moment, I’m happy to offer three brand new posters of some of my more popular fabric relief pieces; Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion, Rabbitat and On Halloween.
The 18″ x 24″ posters are high quality reproductions, printed on sturdy 100 lb. paper. My sister, Anne Mavor did a beautiful job with the graphic design–so tastefully done. I’m very excited to be offering these, so please visit my shop!