At Embroiderers Guild this month we had a workshop on Textile Rolling Landscapes. I must admit when I put my name down for it I had absolutely no idea what to expect, I just thought anything to do with landscapes could be useful for a piece of embroidery I’ve to do soon.
A textile rolling landscape is a long thin piece of embroidery, usually with a landscape on, which is attached to and wraps around an old fashioned wooden bobbin. A bit like having a story wrapped around a bobbin, or a fold out book…it’s something different to do instead of just producing pictures!
We were given a length of calico about 50cm x 8cm. I’ve not embroidered on calico before but I’ll certainly get some again as it was lovely to work with. We then had to think of a landscape. I immediately thought of my favourite part of the Lakes, namely Catbells. I drew from memory the outline of the fells (so if there are any aficionados of Derwentwater, please note this was all from memory!!!) and back-stitched along in a variegated DMC thread.
I remember an embroidery I’d seen on line and stitched french knots for the rocky summit. I was then a bit stuck for ideas…someone had some ink pads and some patterned pads, I used them to print leaves around the base and lines up the hillside. This is a section of where I was when I left in the afternoon…
I dug out my box of ‘textile embroidery’ stuff, I bought it at Knitting and Stitching show last year for an embroidery I want to do of Catbells, there’s dyed organza, ribbon, chenille thread, bark (!!!). I looked at it and thought, it’s all very tactile and beautiful, but I haven’t got a clue what to do with it!!!
I decided 50cm was too long a piece to do anything complex. I decided to experiment with my silk paints. I’ve done a fair bit of silk painting but it’s always been on a frame with silk ponge, I know what I’m doing with that, an outline with gutta and let the paint fill the the spaces. This would have to be a bit different. I experimented with two lengths of fabric, one is the calico strip, the other is a piece of silk noil which I use for ribbon embroidery.
I painted them very differently, to see how different techniques would work. I painted the calico first and to my surprise it didn’t spread at all, it behaved like ‘normal’ paint, I added lots of water to help it blend, but I was pleased to see it didn’t bleed past my back-stitch outline at all. I’m really pleased how this has come out.
The silk noil I decided to soak first, so the whole piece was wet, I then painted the shape of catbells in various hues and left it to dry, the result is a very useable piece of hand-dyed silk, but it bears no resemblance to Catbells! If I want to use wet on wet, I need to use some gutta! I think it will still work for my next piece though.
The printed shapes I put on at Embroiderers Guild seem to have either dissolved or been swamped by the paint, I was hoping they would be visible through the silk paint. The silk paint I use is fixed with the iron, very simple!
I was still a bit stumped on how to embellish it, all my threads seemed really dark on it. I decided to embroider the names of the places portrayed along the bottom. I used a variegated thread again and just stitched it free hand in backstitch. High Spy, Maiden Moor and Catbells are one end of the Newlands Horseshoe, a magnificent ridge walk. Hawse End is the landing stage for Catbells for the Derwentwater launch and Causey Pike and Grisedale Pike are the next fells along.
My favourite walk of all time is Catbells, so I embroidered the path we take in a fine silver thread. I just need to find a bobbin the right size now, I’m just in discussions with a wood turner which will hopefully work out perfectly. I rather like the idea of embroidering my favourite fells and walks in this way. I showed a friend the embroidery today and explained the bobbin plan and she said why not frame it, it’s a waste to have it hidden away on a bobbin. I like the idea of a rolling landscape on a bobbin…and I’m also running out of wall space (I’ve just counted up and I’ve got 37 pictures of mine on the walls at home!!!)
I’ll show you my Rolling Landscape again when I finish it with the bobbin.