Mossy Glen: Part 2 – Cherry Trees

Flowering trees in the spring are glorious, aren’t they? Maybe we appreciate them because their showy display is so brief. In this Part 2 of the series about making Mossy Glen, I share photos, videos and commentary about how I created the cherry trees that sit atop the hillside, off in the distance.

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.

The pink tinted trees against the blue sky remind me of the blossoming apple trees in this book jacket illustration for my 1995 book, Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Mary Had a Little lamb 1995

Of course, apple and cherry trees are shaped differently and their flowers aren’t the same shade of pink. I also constructed them differently – the apple trees are embroidered directly onto cotton velveteen, whereas the cherry trees in Mossy Glen are made with a combination of wrapped wire and embroidery on wool felt.

I also made the cherry trees as separate objects that could be shifted around. That way, I could adjust their position according to how the surrounding parts came out. Over the years, I’ve found that keeping an open-ended playful element in my process is more and more important. The idea of following a set pattern or grid, without much wiggle room, such as in knitting, cross-stitching or weaving makes me feel trapped and constrained, without room to breath.

I formed the tree shapes with wire, using a finer gauge for the smaller branches. The loops on the ends were big enough to sew a needle and thread through.

I wrapped the branches with embroidery floss and covered the trunk with wool felt, which I embellished with vertical rows of chain stitching. This Stitch Minute video shows how I wrapped the wire and stitched the blossoms with french knots.

Stitch Minute – wire tree

This was the first time I can remember creating a tree with its own section of sky attached. Luckily, I had some pale blue felt that was almost the same shade as the cotton velveteen background sky.

After sewing the wire tree to the felt, I embroidered a few extra branches to fill in the gaps and added pink blossoms with french knots.

I made a patch of sorts, by cutting the felt around the contours of the treetop. At this point, I’d figured out where to put the trees, so it was okay to decorate the surrounding area. Watch this Stitch Minute video to see how I stitched some little bushes onto the velveteen background.

Stitch Minute – bushes

In the future, I’ll give a closer look at how I made the foliage on the hillside that’s positioned below and in front of the cherry trees.

Stay tuned for more posts about making Mossy Glen. Other parts in the series will focus on the stone walls, forsythia bush, 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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12 thoughts on “Mossy Glen: Part 2 – Cherry Trees

  1. Thank you for the wonderful books and the beautiful art work. I have one question. I’m making a picture of the “Thanksgiving Address” from our Iroquois teachings. I need to make a pine tree or some sort of evergreen tree. What do I put under the tree? I mean what would be growing or not growing under the tree. Needles of different colours? Not knots I don’t think. What would you suggest? Thanks, h


  2. Your posts are always fascinating and beautiful but I take exception to your comments about techniques. If you looked for examples of ’embroidery’ online, you might be forgiven for concluding that it, too, involved following a set pattern with ‘little wiggle room’. But you’d be wrong.

    You are just wrong about needlepoint. Of course, if you follow a pattern, that leaves little room for wiggling. But that’s equally true for anything you do. There is absolutely nothing about needlepoint which requires you to follow a pattern. There is a grid of sorts, since it is worked on canvas or similar, but that’s no more restrictive than the constraints imposed by any other choice of ground. Moreover, you don’t even have to stick to it when you don’t want to. Stumpwork is a well-established technique in needlepoint. (My reference on stumpwork explains it in the needlepoint chapter – not the one on embroidery.) More generally, any object you can incorporate into surface/free-style work, you can incorporate into needlepoint too. I recently finished a needlepoint and you are perfectly entitled to tell me it is poor, uninteresting, ugly or whatever. But I defy you to deny its creator wiggled!

    You are classifying techniques as if they are somehow inherently pattern-bound and rigid. For somebody who is clearly highly creative and artistic, this strikes me as remarkably unimaginative. It’s like saying you could never paint because you’d get fed up following the numbers.

    The only item in your list which is possibly as you say is cross-stitch. As I understand it, cross-stitch really is a pattern-bound technique. You can design your own patterns. You can change somebody else’s. But if you don’t stitch the whole thing in identically sized cross-stitches, it is no longer cross-stitch but a form of surface/free-style embroidery. Maybe identically-sized cross-stitches could be stitched without a pattern for the threads/colours, but the opportunities for wiggling seem decidedly limited.

    In contrast, it seems to me knitting is no more pattern-bound that needlepoint. Knitting is a technique for creating fabric. What you do with it is up to you.

    [I’m not sure what you mean by ‘tapestry’. Some people (UK?) use it as more-or-less synonymous with ‘needlepoint’. Others mean weaving (US?). Neither of those would be pattern-bound, but no doubt others define it more rigidly. No doubt some use ‘needlepoint’ that way, too (e.g. on reddit), but their tyranny seems justified by neither historical nor contemporary usage.]

    • Clea, I admire your willingness to write such an impassioned defense of needlepoint, etc. Yes, I agree that most needlework techniques have some amount of flexibility within their structure. In the post, I expressed my personal experience that I find set patterns and grids restrictive. Perhaps it was a mistake to lump together cross-stitch, needlepoint, knitting and tapestry (weaving) as examples. I did not mean to imply that these techniques are not creative or innovative .I’ve removed needlepoint and tapestry from the list. I do not pretend to be an expert and you are far more knowledgeable than I about this subject. Your points are well taken.

  3. Sally, I am entranced by your pictures and creative use of raised and flat embroidery. I can look at them for hours and appreciate the time spent creating those thousands of French or “Colonial” knots that make up the moss. I am getting ready to transfer some beadwork into a large piece I’m making. What framed background do you stitch on? I’m getting bigger than I can easily hold in my hand.

    • Thank you for your kind words Peggy. As for your question about background fabric, I’m not sure how to describe what I use and how it’s done, because each piece is handled differently. Sometimes I staple white muslin to a stretcher and sew the pieces to it. Other times I use cotton velveteen as a background fabric. I hope that you find a way that works for you.

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