baby banner for Xavier

Since delivering the artwork for my upcoming book, My Bed to the publisher, I’ve had time to catch up on overdue gifts. Like this baby banner for Xavier, the newest member of a family of dear friends. He is now a toddler, and I hope the banner is something he won’t ever outgrow.

I make banners for friends and family that commemorate special events like weddings and births. You can see others I’ve made by scrolling through the archives here. They all feature 2 of my favorite things; embroidery and handwriting. When I form letters in wire, I think back to that day in 3rd grade in the Woods Hole School, when Mrs. Cleveland called each student up to her desk, one at a time, to show us how to write out our names in cursive handwriting. I was transfixed, watching her make a line of loops and bumps that magically spelled my name, without lifting her pencil off the paper.

I use floral wire to make the letters, because it’s covered with green thread that provides a non-slippery surface to wrap embroidery floss on top of.

I usually use variegated floss to wrap the wire, which can look like stripes on the 2nd pass. The wire ends are bent over and wrapped, so that no raw ends are hanging out. It’s similar to the technique I use to make doll limbs in my how-to book Felt Wee Folk.

Out of my stash, I selected bone beads to make a decorative separator between the names and birth date.

And what better than a bead to dot the i.

A little chain stitch never hurt, either.

Writing out the letters in wire sometimes follows a different path than actual handwriting, especially for b’s.

Over the years, I’ve adapted my handwriting on paper as well as wire to a personal style that’s part cursive and part block letters.

I went through my collection of driftwood, picked out a bumpy piece, and cut it to the right length with a saw.

Many years ago, I bought these beach stones with drilled holes. I use them sparingly on special projects.

This shows how I sew the wrapped lettering to the felt banner piece.

For a hanging cord, I braided pima cotton made by Caron.

I have lots of Wee Folk Studio labels left over from when I made felt purse kits, so I sewed one to the back of the banner.

I attached the cord to the wood bar with knots and stitched it to the banner at the top corners.

This banner will soon hang on Xavier’s bedroom door. Welcome to the world little Xavy and congratulations to his parents, Mark and Cal!

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Wedding Banner: Shawn & Max

Today is Shawn and Max’s wedding day. The bride is a family friend and I wanted to make a banner to commemorate the occasion. This kind of project is quick (about a week) in comparison to the other work I do, which takes months or years. In the weeks since delivering the artwork for my upcoming book, My Bed to the publisher, I feel like a free woman! Besides gardening and paying attention to my husband Rob, I have indulged in making fun gifts like this.

It’s been a long time since I made a banner – you can see others in the archives here. I’ve also made personalized wedding dolls, which match the look and style of real-life couples. They inspired the new chapter in the 2nd edition of my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures.

Personalized wedding dolls from the archives

The banner features 2 of my favorite things, cursive handwriting and embroidery. I start by forming the letters with paper covered florist wire.

Then, I wrap the wire with a double strand of variegated embroidery floss.

The letters flow from one to the next, with occasional breaks, like in Max’s name below. I made a separate piece to complete the “x”.

In a nod to the theme of love, I made a heart shaped vine of wire and glass beads.

After I sewed the wire heart to the background felt, I stitched more leaves with embroidery floss.

For much of my art, borders are an important element. I like to define the edges using blanket stitching with a thick variegated thread – Watercolours by Caron.

The wedding date is written in light letters and numbers on a separate dark piece of felt.

I added glass leaf beads and silk ribbon French knot roses.

I put 2 carved bone fish beads in the open areas around their names and sewed the felt sections to the long banner piece.

After chain stitching spirals to the scalloped bottom edged, I sewed shells to the points. These shells are from old souvenir necklaces from Hawaii.

I even remembered to sew a Wee Folk Studio label to the back.

I cut a piece of driftwood to hang the banner from, drilled holes in it and attached the banner with thread. I then made a braided cord with variegated thread – Watercolours by Caron.
Congratulations Shawn and Max. May you have a long and happy marriage!

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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.

Birds of Beebe Woods

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.

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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.

Wedding Banner (Karen & Graham)

wedbanner12WM Update: See other banners with wrapped wire lettering here. Visit my Etsy Shop.

This summer I’ve been invited to two weddings, with the first being held on June 25th on Cape Cod. Both the bride and groom are  designers and I thought they would like something artsy and personal for a wedding gift. wedbannerWM I started by writing out Karen & Graham in a flowing script and then enlarging it to a lower case height of about 1/2″ . Then, using long-nosed pliers, I bent some 32 gauge cloth wrapped wire, using the hand written lettering as a guide. wedbanner2WM This is a technique that I figured out while sewing the book cover design for my children’s book, Pocketful of Posies, which you can see here. I wanted letters that were raised enough to create shadows. And because the wire was a separate flexible piece, it was easy to move the words around for proper positioning on the artwork. wedbanner3WM After determining the size of the names and their placement, I cut out a square of orange wool felt and added my customary wavy edge and some cut out holes. I then wrapped the wire with 2-ply variegated embroidery floss, hiding the knots in the back. wedbanner4WM This is where I do most of my work, on an old ironing board. The light green floss wrapped wire didn’t provide enough contrast with the background, so I wrapped a single strand of dark green floss around the wire, candy cane style. wedbanner4aWM The banner was cut out of a light teal colored wool felt that matched Karen & Graham’s invitation. Then I blanket stitched around the orange felt edges with pink variegated embroidery floss. I chose some fish beads and a heart made of bone to decorate around the wedding date. wedbanner6WM Then I made some tiny 1/4″ roses following Mimi Kirchner’s great instructions from her easy felt rose tutorial. Some silk ribbon leaves were added, too. wedbanner5WM After I figured out how much space to leave for the date and beads, I cut out the scalloped bottom edge of the banner. The outside edge was blanket stitched with some variegated pima cotton (Caron Collection). From my collection of stuff, I picked out some more beads and some beach stone pendants with holes drilled in them to hang from the scallops. wedbanner7WM I then stitched the floss wrapped wire words and numbers in place and sewed the beads and stone pendants to the banner. It needed some color on the bottom to balance the orange square on top, so I added another clump of felt roses and silk ribbon leaves. wedbanner8WM I made a sleeve of felt at the top and slipped a piece of driftwood through. After drilling 2 holes in the driftwood, I threaded some pima cotton through and braided a strap for hanging the banner. wedbanner9WM Here is the finished banner, which I hope Karen & Graham will enjoy for many years! wedbannerfinishWM

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram