Saturday, April 13, 2019

"Save the Bees" Textile Project

This is the project I am submitting to the AAC "Uncommon Threads" show.   I am delivering it today.  It is a piece which speaks to the need to save our bees.  We would have nothing to eat if we did not have bees as pollinators.

Plant Flowers
Provide Water
Build Beehouses
Save the Bees

It took me over 2 weeks in January to make it.  The background is handpainted, the flowers are all hand stitched and the layers are held together with a blanket stitch edge. 

The materials are fleece and felt.  Fleece was used for the background.  The flowers and house are felt. I used sequins and e-beads to enhance the flowers.

The thread is embroidery thread split in half and the edge is all six strands.


Color Experiments

I spent some time figuring out if I could color the fleece and the felt the way I wanted. 

Some colors were not permanent and others worked really well.   I sprayed a small tab of white fleece with diluted color from each bottle.  They were allowed to dry over night.  I then rinsed each of them to see if the color was permanent.

The Rotring and Dayler Rowney FW Acrylic were permanent.  The Radiant Rain sprays were not permanent though stained the fiber.



 Colors Chosen and the Process

I chose liquid acrylic ink to color the white fleece background.  The colors are Raw Umber Hue, Sap Green, Olive Green, and Indian Yellow.
Nature has lots of shades so I tried to reproduce that with the colors I had in my stash.

I cut 2 pieces of white fleece larger than the 12x12 piece of chipboard. 

I placed the fleece on a large piece of glass. I used a spray bottle to apply the color.  It allows even color and specific placement of different colors as I needed.

I placed it over rods to allow the most exposure to air to assist in the drying of the fleece.

Again, drying overnight.

Laminating the Layers

I cut the fleece layers down to a generous 12x12 inches with a rotary cutter.

I placed a piece of interfacing in the zigzag stitching to prevent stretching of the fleece.

I stitched the 2 layers of fleece together before I stitched the elements to the front.  I did put a zigzag border all the way around and then I chose to apply organic lines in the center rather than evenly spaced lines.  Most will not show.

I love the color!


I created the BeeHouse from black felt.  I stitched pieces of wood for the roof along the angled top edges.   I used round donut beads which mimic pieces of bamboo which creates holes for the bees to live in.  These houses provide shelter solitary bees which do not in hives.

The bees on the piece are buttons.  They are a great color and just the right size.

I cut rain drops to which I added blue sequins and beads to represent providing water for the bees. 

The water should be moving or regularly changed.

The flowers were cut with dies.

1) Sizzix Flower Layers & Leaves
2) Flower Layers #10
3) Flower Layers #7

I chose turquoise, purple, pink, grey, yellow, white felt for the flowers. 

Flower sequins in small pink and medium sized in silver.  Round sequins in several colors.  E-Beads in blue, white, pink and black to coordinate. 

The thread was chosen to coordinate with the felt in the flowers.  The flowers were stitched to the background with many stitches to ensure they stayed in place and did not droop.


Finishing the Edges & Hanging the Textile Art

I chose a coordinating piece of fabric in purple for the back which covers the knots and stitching done the front (flowers, raindrops, bees, and house).  I cut it 13x13 and folded the edges over. 

I sewed 2 tabs at the top of the piece to allow a skewer to be placed into them which will provide support when the piece is hung. 

I then used green embroidery thread to place a blanket stitch around the edge of the piece. This was very difficult as there was 3 layers of fabric and the interfacing to be punched through.  I used a thimble but my fingers and hand on my right hand were very sore when I was done.

I printed details and the small instructions on a piece of fabric and stitched that to the piece.

I added the instructions card stock hanging below the bee house so they will be visible when on display. I added a turquoise glass bead below the details.

This was an extreme reach from my regular paper crafting experience.  I learned a lot and some of the tools from paper crafting came in handy.  

I hope it strikes a cord with the folks who visit the gallery.

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