Working a Coral Reef
This was the third pack we received as part of the ‘Delectable Morsels‘ club run by Alison Cole. Since I’m so far behind, I’m not following in any particular order, I’m just pulling them out and working them in the order they come out of the box!
These little project kits are a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle when you aren’t sure what you are actually trying to create. I find some reasonably easy, and some more difficult. This one was probably on the easier side to come up with a design, but I did change a lot of things as I went along and realised what was and wasn’t going to work with the materials provided.
What we had to work with
In this ‘kit’, we were given the following materials to use. I’ve not used all of them on this piece. After completing the last couple, I’ve decided to just try and create something with the majority of the materials. My ideas seem to come to life much easier if I don’t try and use everything!
- Felt padding (which I didn’t use). The good thing is that this is the ‘real’ felt – 100% wool felt. So I’ll be able to use it in other projects;
- Rippled Metallic Organza;
- Mulberry Bark (yes, real Mulberry bark!), which has been dyed;
- Silk Carrier Rods;
- Black Core rococo;
- DMC Memory Thread;
- Paua Shell Laminate;
- Gilt Smooth Purl #6;
- Gilt Rough Purl #8;
- Cottage Garden Stranded cotton.
Designing a ‘Coral Reef’
One of the challenges of having materials to use, but no design, is the design stage! It is easier when I allow myself to not have to use everything, but I do want to use most of the contents. Part of the reason for getting these kits is to explore materials I wouldn’t have used otherwise!
After searching a few different ‘coral reef’ images, a design started to formulate. I was quite insistent on having a sea horse and a star fish. Anything else I wasn’t too worried about!
From sketch to stitch plan
For this ‘delectable morsels’ kit, I found it reasonably straight forward to be happy with my sketch and design.
The next part is to work out where I’m going to use the different materials. At the RSN, we are taught the importance of planning. I’ve come a long way on this, but this piece would suggest I still have a way to go!
I’m not sure if it’s that I just wasn’t sure how the materials would ‘react’ to the way I had planned on using them, or if I was just particularly short-sighted on the planning front. Either way, there were some reasonably continual changes to the original idea.
Adjusting first thoughts on stitches and materials
Using Paua Shell
Even though I could have achieved more definition on my seahorse had I used something other than the paua shell, it does give a lovely finish to the piece. Cutting the paua shell was straight forward enough, but it was a little difficult to cut tight angles. So some of the fish have a slightly odd shape!
You also can’t stitch through the shell without it shattering. I know Alison said this was the case, but I seemed to have to try! And yes, for the record – it does shatter! I was hoping I’d be able to stitch it on, as it’s currently just stuck on with the sticky back. This seems ok now, but I’m not sure about the longevity of the material.
I also decided to add one final fish at the end. There was something missing, and this seemed to do the trick!
Rippled metallic organza
My initial thoughts for using the organza were to have the two shells padded, and stitch over the top of them. However as I tried to work with the ribbon, it became obvious that this wasn’t going to work. At least, not easily.
So in the end, it has become the ‘sea bed’. I’m actually quite happy with how it worked out in the end!
DMC Memory Thread
Though having said that, it is quite versatile in a lot of ways. I used it both in the more ‘traditional’ sense, of couching and plunging. and also by using it in a more ‘creative’ way. I wound it around my fingers a few times, and effectively created a bow to stitch down. In this piece it doesn’t look out of place, though I do feel it would have limited uses for me at least.
Black core rococo and purl
My use of these two metallic threads was more ‘traditional’. For bits of sea weed, I couched down the purl in a gentle ‘S’ shape. I followed the instructions for ‘S-ing’, though some worked better than others!
I also used the purl as the fish bubbles that they were blowing. I was probably a little too regimented in my placement of the bubbles, but I do like the effect it had!
My initial plan for the rococo was that it would be used on both the star fish and one other fish. But it’s quite a thick thread, and it didn’t really work on the shape of the fish. So it is just the star fish, which with the purl in the centre I was quite happy with!
Mulberry Bark and Silk Carrier Rod
To try and ‘frame’ the design, I’ve added some ‘coral’ to my ‘coral reef’ with these two materials. Alison suggested a number of different ways they could be used, but I was quite happy with my idea of framing it all together.
My big question on these types of materials is more the ‘how’ to attach it to the fabric. The Cottage Garden thread and it’s variegations worked quite well with both these materials, and I just couched it down with several long stitches. I did contemplate adding in needlelace, but I also thought this was supposed to be a quick and easy project, so I put that thought to the side!
And the ‘coral reef’ is finished!
So whilst my initial plans may have changed somewhat, the finished result is similar to the original drawing. It’s just the execution of it which is a little different!
I really enjoyed working this piece. It was a nice mixture of straight forward, and needing to work other things out. Whilst also stretching my (limited) skills with the gold work.