Sunday, 11 January 2015

Story Time...

Good evening all, for this blog I thought I would tell you a story. A story about how the Headstone Viaduct at Monsal Head, Derbyshire was made... Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin...

Firstly, (ok, not firstly but you'll see what I mean...) the Viaduct was built (!) This has to be one of the most photographed spots in all of the Peak District and it is absoultely one of me and my husband's favourite places, and so I set myself the challenge of sewing it..!

Photograph on my screen

So I began by working out how to tranfer a photograph into a piece of sewn art. I made a dawing based on the photo's key points, with the viaduct obviously being my biggest point and in the middle and then drew over each section with a Sharpie. I gave them all numbers and then traced each section, with overflows around some of their edges onto tracing paper, which I numbered to match. I then transferred them onto plain paper which I also numbered and cut them all out. As you can imagine, this took a while!

Next I had to plan how I was going to lay the pieces out, not only for the 3D effect or at least perspective of distance & realism, but also because once you sew one piece on, it's on! You can't lift it back off like you can paper...! Once I was satisfied I wrote 'in order' list so I wouldn't forget. Oh yes, I also chose a piece of denim for the background too which would turn out to be the sky.

Then came the choices of materials. Oh boy, this took ages too. I wanted really mixed media including chains, felt, maybe cotton wool and alsorts but they just didn't work. So I ended up with mostly cotton but there was some linen, poly-cotton and bias binding thrown in. Beads came later... I had to remember, when using the paper pieces as guides, to turn them over as well as drawing around them onto the back of the materials. (I didn't always remember and had to re-do two pieces!) #human Getting tired...

Time for a break; time for a Kit-Kat! (And a coffee.)

Back to work. I next had to interface each individual (flippin') piece as not only does it make it sturdy and durable, but it's so much easy to sew through, particularly when using the technique you'll see in a moment. 

And then I had to lay them all down again, in the order I stated on the list, trying to keep to the same areas as before, making sure some sky would show and that it would fit in a conventional size frame...who's idea was this anyway??

You get to see the picture coming through a bit now though don't you? Next was the most patience-testing to date as I had to adhere each piece to either the one behind it or to the background piece, using Bonda-web (which is great) but it meant lifting each piece a little to slide the Bonda-web underneath and press, without moving the other pieces. Grr. But it's a good 'grr' as I'm almost ready to sew! Here it is looking all neat and ready.

And so I sew! This picture shows the first stitch about to begin. I am using my Christmas present from my wonderful husband, a Janome Sewist sewing machine that I love, and I am using a Freehand Machine Embroidery technique with a machine embroidery foot and the feed dogs dropped. I'm not using an embroidery ring as personally I find them too clumsy on a larger project. I sewed and sewed and sewed some more...

...until I thought it was mostly done. But there was something bugging me and I worked out that the large section of trees and bushes on the right hand side of the viaduct just wasn't right (look at it, two pictures above), so I had a battle with unpicking and peeling off Bonda-web. (Did I say that stuff is good? Well, yes, that and interfacing mixed makes for sturdy stuff, that funnily enough, does not like being removed!) So here you see an altered state with many smaller and more defined trees and bushes, all individually shaped, interfaced and (bloody) Bonda-webbed down, plus a slight change in the two right hand fields too..! Then it was sewn again... :)

Like sew so.

This picture shows it nearly finished and I think it's a great picture because it's really like looking at the photo now! Only in some arty psychadelic way that I just love... Can you see the foot paths in various places? And the ripples on the river? The viaduct is not quite right though...hmm.

We'll have a look in a moment but first let me show you a few details in the trees...

And the foreground flowers with beads, each individually sewn on...

These too...

And then onto the viaduct. I decided it was missing the railings that run along each edge of the viaduct and so I added some embroidery threads and made details with single thread by hand. Guess what? This took a while! (Thick fabric - sore fingers).

(See the needle?)

 And now we are so close to it being completed!

But the viaduct still needed something, afterall, it is the focal point... Shadow! I took it back to the machine and added in the shading, still using the same technique as the rest.

It is complete! WOW!! And as you know, all artists do/should sign their work and so you can see my initials at the base... J.S.

This is it still in it's raw state but completed:

 And this is an 'artist's impression' of what it will look like once it is framed. (Not exact colours).

So this is the story of how the Headstone Viaduct was built, in a way you will never have heard before. I hope you liked it. Oh, and by the way, from start to finish, it took 4 whole days. :) Thank you so much for reading, please share, Like me on Facebook if you wish, follow me on Twitter or leave a comment below -  I'd love to know what you think!

The End.

(It will be framed and then taken to a craft fair, I think, that's if I don't keep it myself!)

Goodnight, Julie.

EDIT: It is now framed! I had to add a couple of extras to finalise/enhance the spectacular piece but here it is complete in it's deep frame:

(C) FMN Crafts 2015

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