bed book peek: Ghana (part 4)

This is Part 4 in a series of posts about making the bas-relief scene set in the West African country of Ghana. A photograph of the piece will be reproduced in my upcoming picture book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World. An accompanying US tour of the original artwork used to illustrate the book will begin in the fall of 2020. Information about the exhibition is on this page.

Part 1 shows the process of making the smaller house and background figure.
Part 2 is about making the child and his house in the foreground.
Part 3 shows how I made the shade tree and the bird.

Update: Autographed copies of My Bed are available in my shop here. Watch an 8-minute video about making the artwork for the book.

The book is about where children sleep around the world, with each spread depicting a different culture and living environment. The story is written by Rebecca Bond and will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Sept. 2020. Here are links to posts showing other finished illustrations for the book: South America, JapanIndiaAfghanistanRussiaNorth America, ScandinaviaHolland and Iran. To see a list of all my books, click here.

This post shows how I made the leaves, plants and woven fence. It completes the 4 part series about stitching and constructing the many parts in the Ghanaian illustration. Since the shade tree is a prominent feature of the scene (and the text), I wanted to make it as 3-dimensional as possible. Sometimes I embroider leaves to a background fabric, but this tree would stand alone as a separate object. That meant that each individual leaf had to be cut of felt, stitched around the outside and edged with wire. At the time, I didn’t pay attention to how many, but out of curiosity, I just counted 89 leaves.

I grouped them in branches of 3, 4 and 5 leaves and added fly stitches to look like veins.

The clusters accumulated on my work table over the course of a few days.

Then I joined the small branches to the larger branches of the tree (which I described in Part 3) and wrapped embroidery floss around the thick and thin wire.

The trick is to get a seamless transition between the felt and wire branches. Wire provides the flexibility to bend and arrange the branches this way and that, to evenly fill the gaps and overlap the leaves.

i also made felt plants with long thin leaves. For extra stability, I stitched wire both around the outside edge and down the center vein.

For the hanging plant, I made wire stems and attached glass bead leaves.

The planter is an acorn cap. I sewed the plant and 3 pieces of wire to a circle of brown felt. I rarely use glue, but figured it was the best choice for holding the felt/wire/plant inside the acorn cap.

I found a plant hook of the right size in my hook & eye collection, which has really come in handy for this book project.

I cut a piece of felt for the fence and stitched 2 rows of wire to the top edge to keep it from being too floppy. I found some small flat pieces of wood in my stash of misc. parts and sewed them to the felt. Then, I stitched silk ribbon in a diagonal square pattern to make it look like it was woven with plant fibers.

I hope that you enjoyed this series about making the Ghanaian scene. Over the past year or so, I’ve written about most of the illustrations in the book, but there are a few more to go. My Bed’s release date of Sept. 8th, 2020 is just around the corner! If you’d like to pre-order autographed copies, please go to my shop. To see a complete list of the “bed book peek” blog entries, please go here.

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6 thoughts on “bed book peek: Ghana (part 4)

  1. Your work is just so awesome! I’ve been following you for a little while and seeing your behind the scenes posts and I absolutely love your talent! I hope you come to the UK at some point with the original exhibition and somewhere in the Southwest perhaps like Bristol which is somewhere I can travel to. In the meantime I’ll just keep being bowled over by your posts! All the very best! Carolxxx

    • Thank you for your enthusiasm Carol. Having my work displayed in the UK would be wonderful, since you have such a strong needlework tradition. The cost of overseas shipping and insurance being what they are, it would take a powerful fairy godmother to make it come true. Right now, I am focused on partnering with museums in the US and hope to send my exhibition to locations on the west coast. Inquiries from exhibiting venues are always welcome!

  2. Thank you so much for all your posts, I have found them to be inspirational. For years I have been toying with ideas for felt appliqué pictures, not quite sure how to start and too nervous to put needle to fabric. Now I am attempting an appliqué picture to celebrate my daughter’s graduation as a nurse this summer, charting her journey through all the hospitals she has worked at during her master’s degree and culminating in my daughter in her staff nurse uniform (the first post for a qualified nurse in the UK). I would never have had the confidence to start without your wonderful work. Thank you so much for giving so much pleasure through your work.

    • Your project sounds lovely, Amelia and I’m sure that your daughter will cherish it forever. I’m happy to know that you’ve gained the confidence to forge ahead. It must be very satisfying!

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