Batik inspired birds and flowers

A little while ago I got this piece of applique out to show some friends and I was suddenly inspired to get it finished. I actually started work on this design five years ago and have taken it out form time to time to do a little bit more.

The original design was inspired by a piece of Indonesian commercial printed batik sarong fabric  that I bought locally here in Brunei. I’d originally planned to use it for patchwork but I felt that the design was too nice to cut up but it took me a long time before I finally made it into an applique pattern.

The original piece of batik from which I made the pattern

Once I’d made the pattern the challenge was to choose the colours that I would use for the applique as I didn’t want to use the rather dull brown, black and white of the original. I chose a dark blue, almost black mottled hand dyed batik fabric for the background and pale pastel colours for the flowers, stems and leaves.

Detail of one of the applique flowers

One of the main reasons I stopped working on this design is that after completing most of the flowers I couldn’t decide what colour to make the two birds and how to assemble them. At that time my stash wasn’t as big as it is now and also I wasn’t too confident about putting the birds together. When I took it this recent time it was much easier to make a decision and I had several chestnut brown batiks that I felt would be perfect for the birds. I also had a book by Jane Townswick called ‘Applique Takes Wing’  which was very helpful for showing how to assemble the birds.

The tail feathers and wings were quite a challenge.

The two birds amongst the flowers

And finally the completed design just waiting to be quilted.

Flowers after rain

Looking for new design inspirations I took my camera out into the garden this morning.

white allamandas against an early morning sky

white allamandas against an early morning sky

It was still a little overcast after a predawn shower and the flowers and plants were wet from the rain.

Heliconia flower

Heliconia flower

The garden isn’t looking at its best at the moment as I have been too busy quilting lately to devote as much time to it as I should. Everything grows so quickly in this climate and the garden can very quickly get out of hand. Perfect for small cats to play hide and seek in!

No one can see me here if I keep very still

No one can see me here if I keep very still

The bougainvilleas also grow into huge shrubs here, and are in constant need of pruning.

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Of course, Millie isn’t the least bit interested in gardening and thinks it is a complete waste of time as long as she has somewhere comfortable where she can lounge and keep an eye on things.

Millie looking contented with life

Millie looking contented with life

 Madagascar periwinkles grow almost like weeds and crop up all over the garden, but they are pretty and add a bright splash of colour wherever they turn up. I have used them for inspiration for both a cross stitch design and a small quilt, so maybe it is time for another one.

Madagascar Periwinkles

Madagascar Periwinkles

I have yet to make a quilt featuring a Bird’s Nest Fern, but we have a beautiful specimen in the garden, and the best thing now is that the spores have been carried on the wind and we have new ones cropping up all over  the place. I love the delicate curves of the new leaves as they unfurl.

Birds Nest Fern

Birds Nest Fern

My favourite colour is green and I love using it  in my quilts. I have a large selection of fabrics in every possible shade of green and I’m working on my thread collection so here is yet another possiblity for a new design.

A pretty pair of toads

A pretty pair of toads

These toads were taking an early morning bath, but nice as they are, I’m not planning to put these into a quilt, unless of course, someone specially requested it. Frogs are very popular, and I have sold a large number of my tree frog wall hangings but I don’t think toads have quite the same appeal.

Well, that’s all for now. I think I have given myself some new ideas to think about once I have done my final craft show tomorrow.

New hornbill wall hanging

Over the past couple of weeks I have been working on a new hornbill design for a wall hanging, based on this photo which I took a while ago.

hornbill in palm

I imported the photo into EQ6 and then because of the complexity of the design I decided I would draw out the pattern in two parts, first concentrating on the hornbill and then creating another layout focusing on the background palm fronds. I did this and then once the background was drawn I copied and pasted the hornbill into the background.

hornbill-in-palm EQ6 layout

To create the wall hanging I started off with some fabric that I had hand painted for the sky and invisible machine appliqué to construct the design. Normally I use freezer paper templates which I iron to the wrong side of the fabric and then remove after the construction is completed but for this design as there were so many small pieces I didn’t want to have to cut the back to remove the paper. I used a different method where I still use freezer paper templates but iron the paper to the front side of the fabric and then turn the edges under to wrong side using the tip of an iron and spray starch painted onto the seam allowance. The spray starch helps to hold the seam allowance in place.

I printed out the full size pattern from EQ6 and then traced the outlines onto a stabilizer which I pinned in place under my ‘sky’ fabric. The fabric was light enough for me to be able to see the lines through so that I could place my pieces accurately.

invisible machine applique

 

I used a lot of fine pins to hold the appliqué pieces in place for stitching. I used invisible thread with a fine thread in the bobbin and a very fine needle (#60/8) and started stitching the pieces in place a few at a time as I built up the design on the background.

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I had a lovely striped batik fabric which proved to be just perfect for creating the varied colouring of the palm fronds.

applique frond background

The fronds at the lower edge of the picture were so small and had such sharp points that I decided to fuse them in and use raw edge appliqué. To quilt I used invisible thread and outlined all the fronds and the bird, with stippling in the background areas and meander quilting with variegated cotton thread in the borders.

hornbill-art quilt-wall-hanging

The finished design.

Jungle Walks

Last Monday was a public holiday here in Brunei so a few of us got together to go for a jungle walk. The weather has been very hot and dry here lately, and there has been haze from forest fires but on this day the skies were looking threatening and there were spots of rain as we were setting off in the cars. It was just a passing shower because when we got to our destination there was no sign of any more rain. We chose to go to the Rampoyah waterfall which is a walk we haven’t done for a while. The last time we did it many of the bridges (if you can call a few logs wedged across a ditch a bridge) had rotted away or were unsafe which meant a lot of clambering and scrambling up and down muddy gullies. This time it was much drier underfoot and almost all of the little bridges had been replaced which made the going much easier, although the walk was longer than I remembered it being.

rain forest tree

Despite the dry weather the jungle foliage was lush as usual as you can see from this photo looking up towards the canopy. We walked for about an hour and a half to the waterfall, then stopped there for a dip and refreshment.

river and jungle

The picture above shows the river where we stopped at the waterfall, with the rain forest trees coming right down to the water’s edge. A couple of people swam in the river but it didn’t look too appealing with the dark water concealing anything that might be lurking there. We didn’t see any interesting birds this time although we could hear them in the distance. We did spot this rather hairy caterpillar though.

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An unusual specimen, and I’m sure those spiky hairs would give a very nasty sting. Our walk back was a bit quicker than on the way out and then the drive home again.

On Friday we got together again with a smaller group this time and headed over the border to walk in The Lambir national park and to the Pantu waterfall which is one of our favourite treks. The rain forest here is very impressive although sadly there is only a small area left now. There are many ancient trees with their great buttress roots spreading out, twisted creepers that have grown to the thickness of small trees and huge fallen leaves the size of a tea tray.

rain forest tree and creepers

We stopped at the waterfall to swim and although the level of the pool was lower than usual it was still surprisingly cold, but it was refreshing after the heat of the jungle. On the way back we spotted this marvelous crested lizard. Actually one of our group put their hand on it as they grabbed a tree for support and got quite a shock.

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He obligingly stayed still enough for us to take a few photos before deciding he’d had enough of us and disappearing up to the top of  that tall and spindly tree. Before we set off  on the walk we also spotted this unusual insect which was pretending to be a leaf on one of the posters at the park head quarters.

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Well, plenty of inspiration here for future quilts so I don’t think it will be too long before I make another rain forest inspired art quilt design.

New Gecko Design

A few weeks ago we were sitting on the patio in the evening and there must have been something hatching out because there were geckos everywhere. All shapes and sizes, feasting voraciously ans snapping up all the little insects. There were so many and in such good poses that I was prompted to go and get my camera and take a few pictures with the aim of producing a new gecko applique design for a wall hanging. It’s easier said than done to take pictures because you see the perfect pose and then just as you go to take the shot they move.

To get a good pose to make into an applique design ideally the legs should all be splayed out away from the body as it makes it easier to sew and make a pattern. For this design I chose a photo of a gecko with a nice curved tail. I imported the photo into EQ6 and drew out the design as an applique pattern, which I then drew out onto freezer paper ready to transfer to my fabric.

I chose a spotted batik fabric for the gecko and a pale batik for the background. The design is transferred to the fabric using a white fabric pen, I cut out roughly round the design and pin it onto the background ready to start needleturn applique. I prefer to sew these designs by hand using a fine needle and silk thread so that I can get all the shaping around the gecko toes. The gecko pinned and ready to start sewing.

Two years ago, I was intending to go outside one evening and take some photos to make a new design and I got a big shock. I went out of the kitchen door and there in front of me was a large snake which I imediately recognized as a python because of its distinctive markings. Luckily I had my camera in my hand so was able to take some shots straight away. It didn’t seem too bothered by me and I’m not worried about snakes (only terrified of spiders) so I was able to get quite close and get some good photos of it on the ground.

It then moved off past the car and then effortlessly coiled itself up the post of the washing line where it then settled quite comfortably. It didn’t look as if it was going to move off in a hurry so I went and got my SLR camera so that I could take some better shots. It was a wonderful experience being so close to this beautiful creature and I regret that here in Brunei so many people panic the moment they see a snake and want it killed. A large number of the snakes here are not harmful to man and most if left alone would rather escape than attack.

 

I hope this beautiful snake is still out there somewhere.

Forest Path finished

With all Christmas, New Year and the holidays well and truly over it is time to get back to sewing and to finish off the forest path design which I started before we went away in December. I only had the quilting to do and I decided to keep that fairly simple, with stippling and invisible thread in the main part of the design and a large meander pattern using variegated cotton thread in the border.

Forest Path

Forest Path

The finished wall hanging.

Detail of the finished design

Detail of the finished design

This design is now for sale in my Etsy shop: http://www.annemaundrelldesigns.Etsy.com

Since coming back from the Philippines, where we had an unusually dry December, we seem to have had nothing but rain here in Brunei. It rains a lot at night but there have been days too when it has been so dark we’ve had to have lights on in the house and the rain has come down in great torrents. The garden which normally drains quickly, being so close to the beach, has been flooded in places for the last few days, and two days ago I rescued a very nice frog which had got stranded in our patio. Later that day my husband found our kitten Millie about to play with something not so nice, a small scorpion had come in out of the rain. He caught it and put it over the fence into the jungle but I hope there aren’t any more around.

The scorpion

The scorpion

Hornbills

The hornbills have visited the garden every day this week and I have been able to take more pictures, mostly through the living room window so as not to disturb them. Yesterday morning the pair of them were sitting together on one branch and the male was giving little gifts of berries to the female, who would either delicately give them back or swallow them down.

Male and female pied hornbills

Male and female pied hornbills

In my last post I mentioned that I’d created a new hornbill design for a wall hanging, and already drawn it out in EQ6. This design is now stitched and completed. I used batik fabrics for the hornbill and the borders of the wall hanging, with a graded fabric for the background. I used a machine satin stitch and rayon threads to stitch the hornbill and variegated cotton threads for the quilting. As with my tree frog design I stitched a random trailing leaf pattern for the quilting in the background.
wall hanging of pied hornbill

wall hanging of pied hornbill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

detail of hornbill art quilt

detail of hornbill art quilt

Birds in the garden

While we were having lunch on Sunday I suddenly spotted an unusual bird on the garden fence so I went to get my camera so that I could get some close up pictures to identify it. We’re approaching the time of year when we start getting  a few migratory birds passing through Brunei and we later identified this one as a type of cuckoo.

While I was taking photos of this bird we heard hornbills in the trees on the other side of the garden near the beach. Pied hornbills are quite plentiful here in Kuala Belait where we live, but we don’t get them very often in our garden so I was very happy to see this pair especially as I had my camera and zoom lens at the ready. The female stayed in amongst the trees so I wasn’t able to get any pictures but the male posed obligingly on an exposed branch.

I was inspired by the photos I took and for a while now I have been thinking about designing a new hornbill wall hanging so later I imported one of my photos into EQ6 and planned out a new design.

This is the new design for my hornbill wall hanging which I hope to start stitching in the next few days.

Iban Leaf Design

As a result of the Open House the other day I have several new commissions to work on, including another tree frog (that, along with the gecko cushions was one of the very first things to go) I decided that while I was at it I would make two tree frogs, using the same graded background fabric for both, but cut from different areas so that they are not the same, and then different fabrics for the borders.

I am working on several different designs at once so that I can go from one to another, so one of the other commissions I am currently working on is an Iban Leaf Design which I adapted from a traditional Iban design and made into an applique pattern. I am doing this one by hand using needle turn applique so it is going to take a while to do.

Cut work applique

Cut work applique

This picture shows the first stage of construction. The design was drawn onto freezer paper which I then ironed onto the fabric and traced round the outline using a fine white fabric pen. I removed the freezer paper and then pinned the fabric onto the background.
applique close up

applique close up

I have started at one of the outside points of the design and am gradually working my way round the outline using the cutwork method of applique. I cut a small section of the fabric at a time and small pins to anchor everything in place,  which I remove as I get to them. I am using silk thread with a very fine needle and I use a toothpick to fold under the edges as I go along.

Several evenings ago I was sitting in the garden, letting the cats have a run around and relaxing with a cup of coffee when I suddenly spotted something in the small tree in front of me. At first I thought it was a snake because I could see something long, thin and spotted draped over one of the branches. I went to look closer and it turned out to be a young monitor lizard. I ran inside to get my camera and luckily it was still light enough for me to get some good shots.

 young monitor lizard in tree

young monitor lizard in tree

 

Close up of the monitor lizard

Close up of the monitor lizard