And the beading begins!

The beading has begun. Truth be known I am probably a good twenty hours in on the beading with a very long way to go. The bulk of the beading will be on the river currents and from there I will move to the sky. This piece is based on the North Saskatchewan River.

I thought I would include an image to give some sense of scale; the boots show it is a big piece for stitching and beading.

And here is a close up shot just for fun .

Time to get more done!

A Sweet Smelling Project

A few days ago I posted a picture of a beaded heart on eco-printed and naturally dyed fabric on my other blog. It was the start of an idea. I have a fair bit of naturally dyed and eco-printed silk hanging around the house and wanted to come up with a way to use it. They are all little pieces that had been popped into the dye pot as experiments; a lot of the pieces are smaller than 6 inches by 10 inches which really limits what you can do with them. The idea of making lavender sachets came to me.

blog heart sachet 1

I have been researching deer resistant plants for our place on the coast recently, as the deer eat EVERYTHING. We are slowly reworking areas of the garden that resemble a secret garden and are trying to put in fairly robust plants. It seemed to make sense (or should that be scents! LOL!) to try making a project where I could potentially use the plant’s flowers if we decide to try growing lavender.

blog heart sachet 2

Of course I can never just make something simple. The fabric is dyed in cranberry and madder and eco-printed with onion skin. The sachet is then embellished with hand stitching and beading by hand. Of course I couldn’t resist a few beads on the ties either. The sachet is refillable rather than disposable, and is filled with a mix of flax seed and lavender. I am test driving it as we speak. A pretty and nice smelling addition to a closet, wardrobe or drawer.

blog heart sachet 3

Stitching, stitching and more stitching.

I had a goal over the Christmas break to try and complete three pieces that have been taking way too long to finish. One was started last spring (Rundle), one beginning of summer (grain elevator),and the revisiting of the fish idea goes back to November (only!).

I have definitely miscalculated how long these are going to take. It seems with stitching the saying should be “more is more”. Minimalism isn’t going to cut it.

A good question is “Do I have enough thread?” Chances are, probably not. But I guess the only way to find out is to get back to stitching and see how it goes.


Illustrating, stitching and beading….today’s “work in progress”

I guess there is something to be said for snowy days. Our youngest slept in, and didn’t wake up in a “mood”, meaning that I actually managed to accomplish something before the 11:00 am pick-up time for Kindergarten. Accomplishing something in the morning is a rare occurrence.

This morning I was able to put a few more rows of beading in on this piece. It is slow going with four seed beads being stitched on at a time.


The piece is all naturally dyed, with the base of cotton being dyed with marigold, madder and cutch. The fish started life as a lino-cut and then were block printed onto the cotton. I had attempted block printing many months ago, and while the results were “fine” I wasn’t really “wowed” at the time. I have spent the last few months thinking about it and what needed to change for me to be more excited about lino cuts and block printing. The first thing I realized was my first subject matter (leaves) might have been just a bit too twee for me. The second problem was that the prints were just too weak . A little experimentation on another project and I stumbled across the dye that I thought would work best for me, and it was a great improvement.

I have been wanting to do a fish piece for a while, but the idea had always seemed a West Coast piece in my mind, and a beaded piece takes a lot longer than my trips to the coast ever last. I am kind of funny with the way I work. When I am on the coast I tend to work on coast inspired pieces, but when I am in Alberta I focus on the imagery of the mountains, plants, woods and prairies of our province. This is almost like split-personality art. However last week I was thinking “Why not do a fish piece, tons of people fish in the lakes in Alberta!” There was the link to Alberta. (I know, I’m not exactly rocket-science material if it took me that long to come up with an Alberta link. Feel free to laugh!)

The fish still have a way to go. There will be more beading and more stitching with naturally dyed silk threads. The fish repeat through the piece which is a little different from what I usually do; they are all basically the same with tiny differences.

In addition to the stitching I finished another illustration. This is turning out to be a most enjoyable project.

illustration These images are being used as little chapter dividers for a book by a local author. I shared a previous drawing in this post. I must be doing okay as my children laughed themselves silly when they saw the drawing, plus my five year old congratulated me for “coloring between the lines”!

Hopefully tonight will mean more stitching and maybe a bit more work on the illustrations. I have five and a half fish to bead, 14 illustrations to go, and………….a Halloween cape to sew.

Artwork by Debra Hunter
fibre art, photography, painting and illustration

A Question of Contrast – A W.I.P. Post

I have been working on this piece for a few months now, not solidly but more in bursts here and there. I thought it might be helpful (to myself) to post a W.I.P. (work in progress) post on the piece. A few days ago I took a really good look at the piece and noticed the contrast was weak. It was fine standing a few feet away from the piece, better closeup, but from across the room one element was merging into another and the piece really didn’t grab you.

rundle - work in progress

“Rundle” before I worked on the contrast.

So I decided to spend the weekend trying to solve the situation. The first step was to add some silk leaves that I “think” were dyed in mountain ash. From here I could start adding some contrast. I decided to do a combination of stitching and beading to add more definition; for the light-colored stitching I used madder dyed cotton, and for the dark stitching it was logwood dyed wool.

"Rundle" - after adding some contrasting stitching and beading

“Rundle” – after adding some contrasting stitching and beading

I wanted to do a combination of stitching and beading and highlights and dark tones to prevent myself from just reaching for the beads. Beading the focal points would have been an easy solution but I wanted to solve the problem without taking the easy way out.

rundle - work in progress

This has been a tricky piece right from the start. Before starting the piece I did a quick sketch of what I wanted, I did the sketch from memory and all looked fine…..well that was until I looked at a photograph of Rundle for a reference and realized my sketch was mirror image to what really exists. Weird. So everything had to be flipped around before the needle hit the silk. Even though I have spent many hours working on the image, and the image is now right, it still feels backwards to me.

rundle - work in progressThis piece still needs a ton of work. The lower part has barely been touched. Seeing the pictures of the piece on the computer screen is a great help to see what is working and what isn’t. This piece definitely still has many hours to go.

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Beading Again

beaded sun blogThis piece was originally going to be more about the naturally dyed silk and less about stitching and beading. Once I started on the sun I knew the whole focus of the piece just had to change. Even though this piece will probably take me 100 times longer than my original plan ( or at least feel like it is taking 100 times longer! ), beading is exactly what the piece is calling for.

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Beading Four At A Time

beading 3In the beginning of March I naturally dyed up a batch of silk. It was dyed in strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, marigold and turmeric. I pieced a few strips of the silk together with an idea in mind, but as the weeks went on I realized it wasn’t quite right. The piece was too big, over 4 feet long, and just awkward when it came to my original plan. Two weeks ago I had my “A-HA” moment. First I came across an exhibition looking for submissions that would suit the idea of the piece well. The next day we were leaving for the coast so I had to make an immediate game plan. I chopped the original silk piece in half, backed it, and took the piece on the trip with me with great plans to spend a lot of time working on it.  Well working on it ended up being maybe a half hour in total as things such as golf and beaches interfered with my plan.

beading 2Home I came and I realized I had to get busy as the submission date was near the end of April. Now I spend hours each day stitching and beading. I am beading four tiny seed beads at a time; the beads are 1mm in depth and 2mm in diameter. It is time-consuming work, yet peaceful in its repetitiveness at the same time. My guess is the project is nearly half way finished; it is at the stage where I can see it all coming together and know that I am on the right track. In between the beading I am natural dyeing tiny batches of silk, cotton and wool threads to be used for the stitching. It seems like everything about this piece is tiny. Tiny beads. Tiny dye batches. Teeny tiny elements all working together to make one very textured and patterned piece.

beading 1