Forest Waterfall

A few weeks a go I started work on a new rain forest waterfall design. I first drew out the basic background design onto nonwoven stabilizer and then gathered together my selection of fabrics for the background forest, rocks, pool and and sandy foreground, mostly batiks and hand dyes.

I started with the lighter background area behind the waterfall. Before starting work on the main quilt I made a small experimental post card sized piece to try out the technique I wanted to use.

Once all the pieces were fused in place, I added free motion stitching to give greater depth and create the impression of foliage. I then started to build up the layers of rock using invisible machine applique.

Of course, as usual I had my feline ‘helper’ making stitching a little difficult at times.

 

With the background now completed it is time for the fun part….adding all the details and embellishments. So far I have started adding a few snippets to give the effect of foliage in the areas surrounding the waterfall. These have been fused in place and then once I am happy with  the arrangement I will add free motion stitching and some couched yarns.

For the waterfall I used some fine tulle which I shaped into folds to give the impression of flowing water and held in place with a free motion zig zag stitch and invisible thread then further free motion stitching and rayon thread. Behind the tulle I added a layer of angelina fibres to add a bit of sparkle.

The waterfall before being stitched down. I will next start to add rocks and foliage to the foreground.

Sketching in the Jungle

A couple of weeks ago I took my sketchbook to do some drawing in the jungle. It is something I have thought of doing before but one of those things I hadn’t got round to until now.

The first place I stopped was only just inside the forest, an old tree stump, surrounded by an abundance of growth and an ideal place to stop and make my first sketches.

Over the years I have taken many photos in the rain forest and used them as inspiration for my quilts, but there is a very different feeling when you take the time to stop and draw a plant. One becomes far more aware of the shape, shading, texture and various patterns, all of which are important to me when it comes to creating a new design.

some of my rough sketches

I was prompted to do this sketching as part of the City and Guilds Course on Creative Quiltmaking which I started at the end of last year. I am studying the course online through Linda and Laura Kemshall at Design Matters and I’m finding it wonderfully inspiring even though I haven’t even begun to do any stitching yet.

more detailed drawings made at home

Almost all the sketches I made were of various leaves and plants as the purpose of the exercise was to concentrate on shapes and patterns rather than texture or colours. When I got home and did some more detailed drawings I was constantly thinking how these designs could be interpreted in fabric, quilting or thread painting.

simple line drawings in pen

African Skies – continued

Over the last week I have continued working on my African sunset project. Having painted the skies for the background then fused a black hand dyed batik for the foreground it was time to add the details with thread painting.

I wanted the stitching to be quite fine so I used Aurifil 50wt cotton thread in both the bobbin and needle so that I could build up detail without adding too much bulk. For the large tree in one of the sunsets I needed to use an embroidery hoop to stop the fabric distorting, but I found this wasn’t necessary for the smaller trees.

The completed thread painted tree.

I planned to use a black batik border for each design but first needed to find something suitable for an accent. Going through my stash I found a perfect batik print which picked up the light purple in the sunsets as well as some of the orange.

These are the sunsets with the borders added.

 

Up the river

Last Sunday I went on a boat trip up the local river with some friends. We set off mid afternoon, the sun still blazing  but the speed of the boat cooling us down. We slowed down to look for crocodiles lurking on the river bank in a couple of places, but no luck in spotting them this time. We motored on until we reached a big open point in the river where it then started to narrow down,and this is where we stopped and then turned round to come back, for a while drifting with the current so that we could appreciate all the sounds of the jungle.

I haven’t done the trip for a while so it was good to see that there is still plenty of vegetation, although in some areas it was noticeable that many of the tall trees were no longer there. Some, victims of the terrible forest fires we had a number of years ago and others that have been logged.

These bright orange leaves caught my eye amongst the vegetation, from a distance they looked like flowers. In my last post I wrote about the wall hanging I’d just made, inspired by the birds nest ferns which we have growing in the garden, and whilst drifting down the river I spotted this beautiful specimen high up in the trees.

It was so peaceful drifting down with the current listening to all the exotic calls of the birds, insects, frogs and monkeys, some we could indentify and others not.

Birds Nest Ferns

These birds nest ferns normally grow high up in the canopy, but they happily grow at ground level too. This one which we got as a small plant a number of years ago has turned into a beautiful specimen, and we now have others all over the garden.  I love the shape of the curling fronds and recently I took some photos thinking that they might be good inspiration for a quilt design.

I drew out a pattern in EQ7 and then I decided I would try out the design in a small format as fabric post cards.

For the small design I had some bright green batik fabric which I’d had a while and not used because it was less tightly woven than normal batik and I’d always thought it  a bit flimsy, but it worked fine for this project. For the larger piece I used some beautiful hand dyed fabric by Heide Stoll-Weber which I’d bought at the Festival of Quilts this year. I was a little reluctant to cut into it so soon but the fabric was so perfect, with all  the subtle colour variations, I had to use it.

I assembled the ferns using a non stick pressing sheet before fusing them to the background fabric. I then used a fine satin stitch round all the edges.

Detail of the stitching and quilting

working on a new waterfall design

I recently started work on a new waterfall quilt and this time I decided I would make it a little bigger than the ones I have done before, although still using the same basic design. The first step was choosing all the different fabrics I would use, because although I have made this design before each time I do it, it’s like starting right from the beginning again. I have certain fabrics that I like, but then they run out and I’m always buying new ones, so the quilt always turns out differently.

inspiration photographs and some of the fabrics I've chosen.

inspiration photographs and some of the fabrics I've chosen.

Most of the fabrics I use are batiks or hand dyes, because of the subtle colour variations which I can use to replicate the patterns of the rocks in the background and foreground.

starting to build up the design

starting to build up the designMolly watching the progress of the waterfall

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Building up the background for the waterfall using a variety of different batik and hand dyed fabriccs.  For the area at the back of the waterfall I used a preprinted fabric and used fabric pens to emphasise the trunks and branches of the trees.

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I’ve used invisible machine applique to construct this top, first making templates from freezer paper which I iron on to the right side of the fabric.  I clip the seams, brush the edges with liquid starch, then turn under the edges using the tip of an iron. It is time consuming but I prefer this method to ironing the freezer paper on the wrong side and glueing the edges because this way I don’t have freezer paper to remove after. I also prefer the look of turned under edges.

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For the waterfall I used a batik fabric as the base, then added details using Shiva paintstiks and Angelina fibre. The rocks are all added individually and I have turned under the edges of each one. It’s a slow process but little by little I’m getting there.

adding the rocks to the foreground.

adding the rocks to the foreground.

Little by little I am adding all the rocks, then the next step will be to add some foliage to the foreground and background.

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.

Butterfly finished

In my last post I described how I created the pattern and started putting together my butterfly and flower design. Now, with all the pieces for the butterfly and flower fused to the background I added some thread painting with 40wt rayon threads which added a nice sheen and a little more texture.

Close up showing thread painting on the flower and butterfly

Close up showing thread painting on the flower and butterfly

 I did all the embellishment before adding batting and backing because I wanted the butterfly to stand out from the background. These photos show the design with the quilting completed because the original photos I took didn’t come out very well thanks to a nice smeary finger print across the lens of my camera.

thread painitng on the butterfly and flower

thread painitng on the butterfly and flower

So once this was complete I sandwiched it all together and then began the quilting. I didn’t want the quilting in the background to stand out and draw attention away from the butterfly so I used a fine 50wt cotton thread which blended well into the hand dyed fabric which I used for the background. For the borders I used a thicker variegated thread and a trailing leaf pattern.

The finished wall hanging

The finished wall hanging

 

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.

Fabric Painting

In my last post I wrote about how I had been doing some fabric painting recently for some new projects. It’s strange how things work out because after not having done any painting for a long time, suddenly in my Yahoo challenge group the theme for this month’s challenge is ‘Playing with colour’ and altering fabric by some method such as painting or stamping. I couldn’t wait to get started but after a long dry patch we’ve been having wet and stormy weather so it hasn’t been ideal for drying fabric.On Sunday, the sun finally came out for a bit and so I got my paints out to try painting some more sky, and then the next day I experimented with making sea, jungle and sun printing.

set-up-and-ready-to-go

To protect my work surface I covered everything with an old shower curtain, as the paint gets everywhere and is difficult to remove. I mix my paints in foil dishes and use a plant mister to dampen the fabric before painting. My favourite book on fabric painting is Mickey Lawler’s Skydyes and I used her directions for painting my sky by blending  ultramarine and cobalt blues to create a more realistic effect. In one dish I blended ultramarine with a dash of cobalt and in the other cobalt with a dash of ultramarine. I misted the fabric quite liberally and then used a  brush to apply the paint in broad stripes.

wet-sky

This picture shows the wet fabric and you can see quite clearly where I have applied the two different blues. As you can see from the next photo the fabric dries much paler.

sky-dry

The next day I moved on to sun printing and creating a ‘sea’ fabric.  For the sea I again followed Mickey Lawler’s directions although this time I also I added a layer of opaque pearlescent white to the dampened fabric which gives the finished piece a lovely sparkle. For the painting I used various mixes of emerald, ultramarine and cobalt.

sea-wet

I sprinkled the wet fabric with course salt and purposely scrunched it up with a few creases going across the width, then laid it out to dry in the bright sun.

sea-fabric

I was pleased with the way this turned out, the ridges have created lines which have the appearance of rolling waves and the salt gives the effect of sea spray.

The hornbill in the photo below is one that I have just completed using my last batch of painted fabric.

hornbill-and-painted-sky

I used some of the leftover ‘sea’ fabric to try sun printing and again following Mickey’s advice I chose some delicate leaves to make the prints. She says that soft leaves work better because they lie flat against the surface of the fabric, so actually for this I hunted around the garden and grabbed some creepers that were growing wild near one of the garden walls.

sun-printing-wet

The wet fabric and leaves out in the sun, and below the sun printed fabric.

sun-print-leaves

My final experiment was to add some ‘jungle’ to one of my pieces of sky fabric. This time I used a sponge to apply the paint. I only wetted the lower edge of the fabric where I wanted the colours to run into each other, and I used a little less water with the paints. I aslo used salt again and dried the fabric in the sun but on a tilt which gave an interesting effect with the salt.

sky-and-jungle

I created this intending to use it just as a background for a new hornbill design that I’m going to do, but I was so pleased with the way that it turned out that I now want to design a new wall hanging around it. I already have an idea so I will write about it soon.