Wouldn’t it be nice to step out your front door onto a mossy carpet every morning? In this Part 1 of the series about making Mossy Glen, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created just that for the wee folk who live there.
Mossy Glen is the springtime scene in a series of seasonal landscapes that capture the wonder and magic of the natural world, both real and imagined. Mossy Glen, Frosty Morning and Harvest Time are available as jigsaw puzzles and note cards in my shop here.
I always start a project with an image in my head. In this case it included a forsythia bush overhanging a neighborhood made up of stone walls and doorways nestled into moss covered mounds. I drew a thumbnail sketch of the basic composition and printed it out in full scale using Block Posters. Over the 5 months working on Mossy Glen, I used the enlarged drawing as a general guide, not as an exact template.
About 10 years ago, I fell in love with stitching moss while making my piece Rabbitat, which you can learn about in this film.
I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get back into embroidering moss. The simple idea of stitching multiple French knots side by side to form a naturalistic ground cover isn’t a new concept, but it reached a heightened level of obsession with Mossy Glen. It’s one of those repetitive activities that has you totally mesmerized.
Out of curiosity, I calculated that each square inch of faux moss contains an average of 144 knots, depending on the thickness of the thread, number of strands and the density of the stitches. That means that Mossy Glen is covered with several thousand knots.
If you follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram, you’ve gotten a preview of the process of making Mossy Glen. Last summer I shared photos and videos of whatever part I was working on that particular day. One constant question was, “How do you stitch on wood?” Back then, I was immersed in the act of creating and didn’t want to switch on the explaining part of my brain. Now, I’m ready to talk about it.
So, how do I stitch onto wood? It helps to think of art is an illusion, that the goal is to make the viewer perceive something in a way that suspends disbelief, like magic. The thing is, people who make stuff are super curious and aren’t satisfied until they can make sense of how something is done.
Here’s the simple rundown – 1. find interesting pieces of wood, 2. glue pieces of felt to the wood, 3. stitch onto the felt. As long as there is something to catch a needle with, you can make stitches. I usually shy away from using glue because it’s messy and unpredictable, but decided to try it for this purpose. Aleene’s glue makes a variety of fabric embellishing adhesives that all work well. Do I use hot glue? No, because it’s stringy, messy, shoddy looking and I don’t trust its holding capabilities.
French knots/Colonial knots
It’s been pointed out by people who know such things, that I’m actually making a Colonial knot, not a French knot. It has something to do with the twist at the end. Being self-taught, I’ve never paid attention to the names of different stitches or doing them the “right” way. I just use the basics in combinations that work for me. Here’s a Stitch Minute video that shows how I stitched the knots.
To make the moss, I used all kinds of thread, from silk to cotton floss, depending on what kind of look I was after. The naturalistic appearance comes from combining different shades of green in groups of 3 or 4 strands. I used these threads: DMC cotton floss, Vineyard Silks and Watercolours by Caron,
This 2 minute video gives a further glimpse into my process.
Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Future parts in the series will focus on the stone walls, the cherry trees, the forsythia bush, the embroidered embellishments and the wee folk characters.
Mossy Glen (overview)
Part 1 (moss)
Part 2 (cherry trees)
Part 3 (stone walls)
Part 4 (forsythia)
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I can almost feel the moss between my toes. Beautiful work.
It is so great to see how you create your wonderful habitats. I love it when you show how you do to create the scenes. Thanks for sharing,
You must have an incredible pain threshold- after I completed about 1000 colonial knots, because I like them better, I never wanted to do another for years because my fingers were cramping badly. I’m going to watch you video to see if there’s something you do that makes it easier.
I’m sorry that stitching hurts your hands. It must be very frustrating! Others have mentioned how painful repetative sewing can be. Luckily, I have no discomfort whatsoever and hope to be stitching for many years to come.
Salley, So very generous of you to explain how you work your magic! If I ever stop writing long enough to embroider again, I will make a mossy glen for my wee folk! Thank you! Dee
Comme toujours c’est très beau et très inventif .je regrette toujours autant que vos livres ne soient pas traduit en français!!! Félicitations Madame ce que vous faites est très poétique.
Salley, you are a true master of your craft. I am always awestruck when I dig deep into your scenes ! The level of detail is astounding ! I got to see your exhibit at the New England quilt museum and it was just too wonderful for words. I always look forward to getting your posts in my email.
By you getting lost in creating your amazing thread works- you bring the viewer in to also get lost in every stitch. I love the richness of texture and color. Pure magic! And thank you for sharing 💕
I LOVE your work!!!! Thank you for sharing it with us. You have a beautiful gift!
May God bless you and your family always!
Thank you for your kind explain. love your works.
Absolutely delightful! Thank you for sharing your technique.
What an amazingly clever person you are. These little stories are beautiful.