Stuart & Nancy ~ 50th gift

stuartnancyWM-1284I had the pleasure of making a 50th anniversary gift for my friend Judy Sue to give to her dear friends Stuart and Nancy. She asked me to include pertinent info like names and dates and suggested that I put in a pair of birds and a heart. As always, I began by drawing thumbnail sketches of the basic design.

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About halfway through the process, when I’d already made the birds, I realized that this would be a good project to show how I work. You’d think that this would be automatic by now, but it’s always a challenge to stop and document while you’re engrossed in the middle of something. I took a few photos and also asked Rob to do some filming. You can see high action close-ups of my hand stitching, winding and arranging parts in the video below.

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In this piece I tried a new way of handling thread wrapped wire. In the video, you can see me winding wire around another straight wire rod and pulling it out, creating a curled spring.

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Stuart and Nancy should be receiving their gift this weekend at a surprise party. It is highly unlikely they will see this post, so I think it’s safe to publish it now. I enjoyed making the piece and it was a real honor to help Judy Sue express her love and friendship to this couple!

See what it looks like finished on the end of this post.

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Felt Banner Workshop

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be teaching a workshop in my home town of Falmouth, Massachusetts later this fall. We’ll make wool felt banners with wrapped wire lettering, the same as I’ve shown several times on this blog (see archives here). Students can make their own personalized keepsake to celebrate a wedding or baby’s birth. It doesn’t have to be a wedding or baby banner. You can also make a welcome sign or write out a short phrase or proverb such as Home Sweet Home or Be Here Now. Update: the workshop is full, but there is a waiting list.

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I’m usually too busy to teach classes, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a hands-on element to the Intimate Woods exhibit (Sept. 18 – Nov. 15, 2012), which will include my piece, Birds of Beebe Woods. (see posts about the piece here)

An 18″ x 24″ poster of Birds of Beebe Woods is available from my Etsy Shop.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Highfield Hall is less than a mile from my house and we’ll have a large well-lit space to spread out and work. What could be more fun than spending all day stitching and wrapping thread in the company of other like-minded folk? More info about the workshop is on the bottom of this post.

(Workshop is full) FELT BANNER WORKSHOP - Sat., Oct. 27th , 2012 – 9:30am to 4:30pm Highfield Hall , Falmouth, MA. To find out more and to register, go to this link and scroll down to Felt Banner Workshop. The skill level is intermediate. I’ll provide materials including wool felt, wire, thread, beads and buttons, but students should bring a sewing kit and any special beads, charms and other embellishments from their personal stash.  The class size is limited to 10, so sign up soon if you’re interested. For those of you will travel a distance, there are plenty of Inns and Bed and Breakfasts nearby (even within walking distance). Buses from New York or Boston drop off within a short walking distance, too.

Wedding Banner: Kat & Devin

Last Sunday, we had the pleasure of attending Kat and Devin’s wedding.The bride’s family and my family have been closely connected through several generations. Kat’s grandparents and my grandparents were next door neighbors in Woods Hole in the 1940’s and our families have shared our love of folk dancing, folk music, sailing, and art ever since. Kat is an artist and her husband seems to be a free spirit. Here’s a picture of the dancing wedding couple.

As usual,  I made them a wedding banner for a gift. I really lucked out with the felt  colors I chose, since the wedding’s predominant color was purple/lavender.  I bent wire into the letters of their names and then picked out some decorative objects and beads. The pinkish square object in the center, between their names is a cool leather button I bought years ago.

I then wrapped the wire letters with embroidery floss and stitched the square wavy edged name panel with variegated pima cotton.

I sewed the wire letters and objects to the felt piece.

Then I stitched around the outside edge of the felt  banner piece and sewed the square panel in place. I added some fun “dalmatian” stone beads in a zig zag pattern.

I added some bead  and shell embellishments to the scalloped bottom edge and sewed the wrapped wire wedding date to the felt.

I picked some metal beads from India that I thought would bring an interesting texture to the hanging part of the banner.

A section of a strangled bittersweet vine serves as a hanger. I screwed in tiny metal eyes and hung the banner. I hope Kat and Devin like the banner. It was a lovely wedding and I wish the bride and groom many years of happiness!

Baby Banner (Eliza Jane)

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My cousin John and his wife Mariana had a baby girl on March 1st, so I had to drop everything and make a baby banner for Eliza Jane. I took photos along the way, which give an idea of my process. It’s like the wedding banners I’ve been making for a few years. You can see all of them here.

I first made a simple pattern, with her name, birth date and weight written out. Then I cut out a smaller felt square and bent wire to form the letters and numbers.

I wrapped the wire with 2 strands of variegated embroidery floss, hiding the knots behind the curled ends. In this case, wire had to overlap to make the Z. I tried making the fancier lower case script Z, but it was hard to read, so I went with the simpler zigzag style. Below you can see how I made an orange stripe with another thread on top of the embroidery floss in JANE.

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I like using variegated thread to edge the felt.

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I made a narrow panel for a sheep button and some leaf beads.

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Glass leaf beads and a chain stitched vine fill the space between the words.

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I’ve had this ceramic sheep button for about 30 years. It’s so satisfying to put it to use in just the right place.

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I braided some Greek leather that I bought at a bead show and made a strap to hang the banner. Working with the leather reminded me of making gimp projects at camp. Remember gimp? What a weird material!

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Welcome to the world Eliza Jane!

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wedding banner: Andrew & Mary

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I made this wedding banner for my son Peter to give to his good college friend Andrew, who was married last Saturday. The wedding was in Biddeford Pool, Maine and since the couple met sailing there, I gave the banner a nautical/seaside flavor.

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I wrote out their names in doubled up 32 gauge florist wire, since I ran out of thicker stuff. Then I picked out some variegated embroidery floss to wrap the letters.

I added 2 purchased red ribbon roses and then stitched some leaves around them.

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The had a whole bunch of shells with holes that came from a necklace my grandmother got in Hawaii about 50 years ago. The blue piece of felt is edged with metallic thread, which is nasty to sew with, but the sparkle looks good.

The felt banner is hung from a piece of driftwood, which was probably part of an old wooden lobster pot.

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I found some anchor buttons and a fish in my stash to add and some more shells to hang from the scalloped edged bottom. Best wishes to Andrew and Mary!

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See posts about making other wedding banners here.

wedding banner: Sky & Daniel

It’s wedding season once again. For a gift, I like to give the bride and groom a felt banner with their names and the wedding date. Sky is an old family friend and we’re off to her wedding tomorrow. I’m sure that the day will be as unique and wonderful as she is!

There’s a lot of showing and no telling in this post. I’ve explained more about how I wrap the letters, etc. in earlier post about other wedding banners I’ve done. See the banners for Karen & Graham and Leigh & Brendan .

Wedding Banner (Leigh & Brendan)

The 2nd summer wedding is coming up soon, so I’m making another felt banner for Leigh and Brendan (see Karen & Graham’s on an earlier post here). I get the impression that the bride and groom are kind of traditional, so I’m resisting the temptation to go wild with color and add too many funky embellishments.

 

I started by bending 32 gauge cloth-covered wire to form the names and wedding date. I’m really having fun bringing language into my artwork this way. I started figuring out this technique a few years ago when I was working on Pocketful of Posies, and have no idea if the same kind of thing has been done before. Once you get into the rhythm, the wrapping goes quite fast. After all those years wrapping fuzzy pipe cleaners with embroidery floss for fairy limbs, this seems easy.

I had to put in some color, though and wrapped the wire names in bright pink variegated embroidery floss. The couple’s invitation had a seaside motif, so I added a metal shell charm and got out a dried star fish from my collection of found objects. The dark blue and had too much weight compared to the names, so I lightened it by winding around a single strand of pink floss. 

After bending and wrapping the characters for the date, I cut out a piece of yellow felt to mount them on. I don’t make patterns and plan everything out ahead of time, but construct as I go. I always start with the lettering and then figure out later how much room they’re going to need.

Then, I had to figure out how to place everything on the purple blue felt background. At this point, I realized that the star fish didn’t have anything to offer and would have to go. I go through this editing process often, latching onto some interesting found object and then seeing that it has served its purpose of moving the design along and is no longer needed. A writer friend describes the revision process the same way. She said, “You have to be willing to let go of favorite words and phrases.”  

I decided to incorporate a more conventional floral decoration and added some of Mimi’s Kirchner’s felt roses and some glass leaf beads. If you haven’t learned how to make them yet, go to her tutorial on her blog here. I also got out the dreaded glue because that was the only way to attach some shells around the date. The yellow felt piece called out for some embellishment, so I added a chain-stitched loopy line around it.

Then, I cut out  a banner of blue felt, with scallops on the bottom and blanket stitched all around with variegated pima cotton from the Caron Collection. I found an old shell necklace, the souvenir kind from Hawaii, and sewed some shells to the scalloped bottom edge. I was glad that they already had holes.

I sewed a casing for a drift wood stick at the top, then tied and braided a pima cotton strap.

Here’s the finished banner, ready to wrap up and bring to the wedding.