Pop Art Embroidery

pop art hoop

I wanted to set myself an embroidery hoop challenge and found a pop art style image I liked online I thought would be a great addition to my wall. This piece really was a labour of love!

I started it in December and in total I’ve spent over 50 hours on it. That is a lot of stitching!

This piece is a different direction from my other work. I’ve always loved Pop Art, especially Lichtenstein with his comic book style and bold use of colour and shape. I think it is still as relevant today, with Pop Surrealist artists putting their own twist on the art of the 1950s and 60s.

Roy-lichtenstein --its hopeless!

I had prepared my hoop (I always use embroidery stabiliser with my work) I sketch my image directly onto the fabric. I just used a green sharpie here, nothing that fancy! I then used black shimmery thread to on all my bold lines, stitching at least two lines to make them thicker.

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I really like the contrast of this floral fabric and my pop art style girl eating an ice cream. I decided to fill in some colour almost like a guide to myself, and faintly outlined where the different highlights of purple would go against her eyelids.

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The majority of this embroidery was done with a satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch to get some nice curves. You can see from this picture why it took so long to sew the whole hoop!

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To add texture to the piece, I sewed some beads into the ice cream as sprinkles and stitched her earring from beads as well.  I found it hard to get the colour right for her skin tone but overall I am pleased with the result.

I’ve been reading up on sewing and started using my new sewing machine I got at Christmas. I also got some great new books recently, and got some fabric labels made with my little beetle logo. I love them!

 

Magic Bunny Art Doll

I’ve been obsessing about art dolls since I discovered them last year and have been meaning to make one for ages. To me, they encompass all my creative interests; sculpting, sewing, embroidery, mixed media. I found loads of great doll artists online and even got Art Dolls Quarterly which I love.

I suppose my Halloween art project was when really started to experiment with dolls. I felt I got mixed results with them as I was customising a doll rather than creating it from scratch. I decided it was time to give it a try and stop putting myself off just because I was letting perfectionism creep in. So here is how I made my blue rabbit.

Materials & Tools

  • Super Sculpey
  • Foil
  • Wire
  • Glass cabochon eyes
  • Faux fur
  • Polyfil
  • ribbon
  • Cotton
  • Acrylic Paint
  • varnish
  • Brushes
  • Glue Gun
  • embroidery thread & Needle
  • Pliers
  • Clay tools
  • Pens
  • Notebook

I started by sketching some rabbits from reference photos and then creating a more stylistic bunny sitting on his hind legs. As this was going to be a sort of homage to my boyfriend, a magician, I played around with ideas for him wearing a top hat.

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When it came to making, I started with the head first. I scrunched foil up and formed a almond face shape . I used thin wire for the ears and wrapped foil around them to keep their shape. I softened the Super Sculpey clay with my hands and a pasta machine and started adding it to the foil, building up the face.

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Fantastical Cakes and Embroidery

Well hello 2018, what great things awaits me? I hope everyone had a great festive season and are planning some wonderful things this year. I’ve already had enough of rainy, windy Manchester, where is Spring?

I got a proper mixing stand in November and have been busy making cakes like they were going out of fashion! I really enjoy cake making. I read somewhere baking is like chemistry and I couldn’t agree more. Planning the flavours, size and of course themes and decorating is so fun! Below are some I made in the last two months for birthdays and various Christmas celebrations.

This cake making frenzy found its way into my crafts too! I challenged myself to make a large embroidery hoop, which can be rough on my fingers –  a Kawaii-inspired cake slice. But not any old cake, this was a space-mermaid-tripping-on-acid psychedelic kind of cake slice!

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Adieu 2017!

As 2017 comes to an end, this would be a good time to write a post reflecting on everything I’ve done, the art I’ve made and how I’ve changed.

This year I’ve naturally focused more on my embroidery and as a result I’ve become more precise in my work. Moving house meant I had more space for my crafts and while I set up the art room I would do embroidery projects in the living room. The more embroidery hoops I made, the more ideas and I would get for new ones.

I also started to spray paint the hoops, giving the whole piece a more completed look. I have lots of fabric pieces so embroidery was like a fun way to plan, doodle and relax. I would pick out my fabric, sketch an idea onto it and play around with colours and stitches to bring my ideas to life. I also challenged myself to try something more complex each time I started a new piece.

 

When it came to subject, the main themes for my pieces were nature and whimsical – no surprises there! I find inspiration in so many things; beetles, flowers, seasons, the sea, anatomy, space. I also love looking at other artists and different styles such as Pop Surrealism, Kitsch, Kawaii.

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Autumn Musings & Makings

Here are a few things I’ve been working on over October and November. I really wanted to get back into sculpting so made a derpy pumpkin for Halloween! Then I decided to try making a poison apple. I got these cool plastic eyes but they were much smaller than I thought!

I also finally finished my anatomical heart embroidery – it was a bit of a slog because I added more flowers around the heart to give it more depth, as well as adding beads and sequins. I love the little spider!

I’ve been brushing up on my baking skills with a new mixer and the last week have made Oreo brownies and chocolate marble cupcakes. Tasty! As usual my little helper Truffles was on hand for a bit of inspiration.

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Halloween: Wednesdays’ Dolls

I wish every day was Halloween!

For my Halloween art project this year I thought I would try something different.

I love films, film props, costumes, kitsch and pop culture; and of course Halloween. I’ve been interested in art dolls for a while, reading up about making them and finding new doll artists online. In September I found some old dolls in a charity shop – 3 for £5 because the guy working there found them creepy!

Doll One – Ava the Corpse Bride

For my first doll I wanted to make a corpse bride. I actually removed her head to paint it, which I quickly realised wasn’t the best idea – it was so difficult to sew back on!

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Bead Embroidery Insects

Here are a few bead embroidery projects I started before I went on holiday, and finished when I came back.

I love dragonflies, so I started this with a few larger beads I had and lots of seed beads and lovely gold thread. I had a lot of issues with this project! I used organza and some stabilizer but the material was just to fragile and kept tearing. I decided to cut out the body and try a stronger fabric.

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Paradise in Portugal

I’ve not been on a beach holiday since I was a teenager. I’m so used to this wet British weather that when my boyfriend and I went to Portugal last week for a lovely holiday, I think I was in shock!

We stayed near Carvoeiro in a little holiday village with a gorgeous swimming pool and beaches really close by. Here are a few pictures from our little bit of paradise before autumn sets in.

The skies were a perfect blue all day and in the evening turned orange, pink and yellow like a watercolour.

We swam in the pool everyday and read books in the sun, drank iced coffees and in the afternoon went to the beach.

In Carvoeiro we saw these phone cabinets painted with different things and there were a lot of pottery shops next to food and drink places along towards the beach. I loved this frog!

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Beads, Beads, Beads!

Beads are my current obsession. As a mixed media artist, I’ve always had a stash of beads; seed beads, bungle beads, faceted beads, lampwork beads. I normally pick them up from somewhere because I like the look of them and mostly used them in my polymer clay work or other mixed media projects.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that I realised bead embroidery was a thing!

I started a mini project of this beetle with a mixture of beads and threads. I also wanted to make some new earrings and made these little spiders from a video I found on YouTube. Mine are a little big but so cute and once you get the hang of making them, you can make variations.

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Mixed Media & Clay Jungle Frame

I wanted to get back into my clay work for a while and have a lot of ideas scribbled in my notebook. I had a few deep box frames since last year that I had been meaning to create something with, similar to my sea themed box.

To get back into using polymer clay I started with a mini frame and used scrap bits of clay to make a little frog. I definitely felt rusty as I made the foliage to go round the frog and the clay was super hard – it took ages to soften it.

I added some beads on a wire to give the piece some texture and added different Perfect Pearl Shimmers, beads and then some resin to the baked piece. I couldn’t fit the glass frame back onto the box as the frog was a little bit too big, although I quite like it without.

 

I decided to continue with the jungle theme on a bigger frame, this time with a tropical bird as my focal point.

I used scraps of blue and purple clays to make a background to build my image from. I then added different layers of leaves and two large branches across the piece. I decided to make another frog and used a skinner blend of peach and a translucent yellow. Looking at it now I think he was a bit too big, although I was try to create perspective.

I loved looking up different leaves for reference and trying to capture the shape and colours in clay.

One thing I find most enjoyable about working on a project like this is building the image by adding layers. I built the toucan up with black clay and had fun creating his colourful beak. I used a variety of tools to smooth the clay into the background, and textured the feathers to make him look less solid.

When I felt I had enough foliage in the piece I made some beaded wires as vines and placed them in over the leaves. I added some smaller leaves to hid where the wires started.

I made a little beaded spider from a tutorial I found on YouTube and decided to add him into the frame. I also added a few metal leaves, beads and a mixture of shimmer powders to add more bling.

Once I baked him, I added some resin sparingly to look like rain and spray painted the front of the frame with blue and splatters of gold. I varnished the rest of the piece without resin and added a few gems – because he wasn’t bling enough!

With this being my first clay piece in a long time I am happy with how he turned out. One major problem though, was that he isn’t secured to the back piece of wood. He feels quite solid with the frame in place, but next time I will try Sculpey Back and Bond to secure him.

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He is now on the wall in our living room. I’ve also been making a lot of beaded spiders which I will put up in another post and am planning another one of these mixed media clay frames. Possibly a desert for my next theme 🙂

Skull, Flowers and Goofy Embroidery

Because I like to give myself art projects and challenges, I decided my next big embroidery piece would be a skull, surrounded with flowers. And I must have been crazy, because this piece took me ages! There was a lot of frustration, swearing and accidental stabbing of fingers, and wondering why I thought this was a good idea!

 

I love using black fabric for embroidery, it makes all the colours pop. As this hoop was pretty big I used two pieces of stabiliser fabric in the back to support my work. I used a white gel pen to sketch out an idea, looking at a few references for the skull and butterfly. With the flowers and foliage, I went with my instincts as I wanted it to be semi stylistic. I have loads of embroidery thread I bought online, so you will see quite a mixture in this piece. I think of it as painting with a needle, so there isn’t a lot of variation with the stitches, it is mostly satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch.

 

I actually started this in June and had a few stumbling blocks as I tried to motivate myself to continue. So I set myself a mini task of doing 10 minutes a day free hand embroidery as a way to change my perspective on being so rigid with my work. This really helped as I had to think of something and start stitching without lots of planning and analysing.

Skull

While this was my larger ongoing project, I also did a few mini embroidery hoops and put together a travel pack when I went away to Paris and also for my lunch breaks at work.

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My Trip to Paris

Paris has been my dream holiday for ages. I love the culture, French films, the history and the language. Paris has a magical allure with it’s museums, galleries, cobbled streets and rich history of the arts. So when my boyfriend and I were talking about going away at the end of June, I desperately wanted to go to Paris!

We could only go for a few days but we packed a lot in a short space of time; I am now recovering before going back to the daily grind!

We flew over on Wednesday 27th June to Beauvais Paris airport and got a coach to the city centre. After dropping our things off at the hotel, we got the Metro and headed to the Sacré-Cœur. It was warm but rainy, but we are British and live in Manchester so I was pretty used to that!

It was beautiful inside with religious gold mosaics and they had a service going on, which was pretty weird as loads of tourists walked past them! We walked around Montmartre and had a coffee in the square, before taking the Metro again and looking for somewhere to have dinner.

The next day we got up early and headed to the Rodin Museum which I had pre-booked and looking forward to. We strolled through a beautiful sculpture garden in the sunshine and a clear sky. Below you can see his famous sculpture of the Thinker.

After the Rodin Museum we walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was mega busy with tourists and people selling trinkets, so we didn’t go up. Instead we got ice cream and sat in the park next to the famous landmark.

By this point it was very warm and sunny, and I needed some shade! We got the Metro (this time a double decker train!) and headed to the Musée d’Orsay  that my Dad had recommended. On the banks of the River Seine, this building used to be the Orsay railway station built in the 1900. It is now a museum to mostly French art and sculpture including Monet, Degas, Cézanne and Van Goth.

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Mixed Media Mosaic Cuttlefish

I set myself a new project getting back to my love of mixed media. I decided to create a mosaic from my collection of beads, metal charms, paper flowers, seed beads and glass mosaics.

Mosaic art supplies

Other supplies included:

  • A3 piece of MDF
  • Mosaic Glue
  • Resin
  • Picture hooks for hanging
  • Pencil
  • Primer
  • Paint

One of my favourite sea creatures is a cuttlefish and I thought the textures created with all the pieces would make an interesting sea themed college, something I could hang in the bathroom.

Using some reference pictures, I sketched out a basic cuttlefish onto the wood and painted round it with Primer. When this had dried, I began picking out different beads and metal pieces I liked to start building up a pattern. Once I was happy with a few placements, the gluing commenced!

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Cherryblossom Tears is Five

‘ Creativity takes courage’ –  Henri Matisse

Everything begins with an idea. And five years ago I decided to blog about the creative things I was doing, like an online dairy. I was nervous about showing the world my ‘flawed’ works but part of my plan was to become an art therapist and this felt like one small step in that direction.

I started Cherryblossom Tears when I was 28 and now I’m 33. My art has changed as much as I have in that time. I’ve recognised that my blog was never going to be a glossy portfolio of finished pieces. My strengths lay in the so called imperfections and the process of creating. This is what art therapy was about; engaging with the materials and the creating of artwork. I learnt how to run a blog inside out by doing it, making mistakes and learning from them.

I developed better writing skills and found a natural voice when putting up posts. I learnt how to take better pictures of my work and how to plan my projects. The purpose of my blog started to shine through: It was about not giving up, sharing my frustrations with my work, the trying, the experimentations, working through to find and cultivate a personal style, the materials you connect with and feel on an intuitive level.

‘Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning.’ Charles de Lint

I think writing in this way is liberating. I realised where my creative strengths were and also how much I love combining materials to makes something unusual. One my favourite things to do is go to the art shop and find something new to try. What can I make with Polymer clay? What happens if I add beads? What about wire? How can I create a monster in my own style?

By allowing myself this freedom, I stopped caring so much what other people thought of my art and really embraced the enjoyment I got from making things. It doesn’t matter if something I make doesn’t work, I can try again! I’ve found a quiet confidence in presenting myself as who I really am; a little eccentric, messy, prone to over-thinking. But who I wished to be in my 20s wasn’t real or authentic.

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Paper Flowers and Mixed Media Project

I’ve been having a bit of creative slump with my projects so I decided to just go take my own advice and make anything! I got this lovely Paper Poetry cherry blossom kit a little while ago so I decided to try it out.

At first I found it frustrating as it was quite fiddly and I’ve not been working with paper for a long time. But my flowers got better and making them was more about breaking my annoying creative brick wall.

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I’ve been doing a lot of embroidery projects the last few months and this was one of my biggest influences on my next project. I had bought a copper S shape from Hobbycraft a few months ago as I wanted to add some interesting wall art to my new craft room. I had a vague idea of adding wire and beads to it, so I just opened my box of embellishments and beads and started.

Of course my little friend Dr Truffles wanted to see what was going on as well!

When I ran out of colourful wire, I started using some black twine and tying parts of it in knots. I added beads, metal charms, paper flowers, anything I could find that I thought went together well. love how it turned out!

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