Birds & Words

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mixed Media Embroidery

Creative Carte Blanch

Mixed Media Embroidery
Welcome to what we think is a new approach to online challenges and what we hope will be a regular stop for you to make 2016 your most creative year yet.  

After a lot of discussion and brainstorming, we wanted to make a place that gives you a creative nudge and then sets you free, encouraging you to find and express your own artistic voice.  From the entries thus far, you all are TOTALLY getting it and blowing me away with your art!  This one Creative Adventure could be published as a technique book.  

So far we've had posts from the amazing Candy Colwell and the equally amazing Annette Green.  Our view is not that we "lead" these Adventures but that we are all fellow travelers on this journey!  Look for more on Tuesdays and Fridays from these lovely ladies:

Let's get started!!

I have a passion for the concept of freedom.  It inspires me and causes me to be grateful.  But it's also a little scary!  Sometimes limits and guidelines become a safety zone.  Staring at a completely white canvas with no rules can leave me feeling overwhelmed.

I felt a little like that as I began.  So I started looking back over my art journals, notes, planner and sketches and started thinking about what moved my heart lately.  Then it came to me.  My One Word for this year is:
I knew this would guide my project.  I love dimension and texture and have been looking at lots of embroidered images and words lately and decided to try to tackle that by incorporating embroidery into my art.

Here is my finished Burlap Panel.  I have a collection of these on the wall my classroom and was glad for a chance to add another.  I've completed two, another is designed and ready to glue down and two more to go.

With a palette knife I applied gesso to the burlap panel in a crosshatch fashion.  Once dry, I applied DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic in Cobalt Turquoise.  I used a dry brush as well as my fingers to rub the paint onto the gesso.  I glued down strips of Tim Holtz Tissue Wrap with matte medium.  

After all this was dry, I used Andy Skinner's recipe for "dirty wash" which is my new favorite thing!  DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic mixture of 70% Paynes Grey and 30% Quinacridone Gold (I just counted drops), thinned down with a blushful of matte medium.  This gives you kind of a gel paint that has a transparent and vintage finish.  You can brush it over your textured backgrounds in art journals, cards, and over dimensional embellishments, and more.  It's a beautiful thing. (The picture above is before dirty wash is applied.)

I stamped flower images from Wendy Vecchi Botanical Art set in Archival Hydrangea and Leaf Green onto Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements fabric, then embroidered the detail in the flowers.  I needed to layer these to make the flowers have enough body to remain stiff when cut out.  I glued the flowers onto card stock panels and then onto panels of crinoline, a rather stiff fabric.

Layers glued together.  I used a brayer to fuse everything together.
My vintage irons help adhesives bind well.

Using a Craft Nib, I picked up a little extra Hydrangea ink and added some shading to the flower petals for depth.

Okay, here I owe an apology to embroidery artists everywhere.  I had my project designed in a sketch and thought I'd just put all together one afternoon.  Uh, no.  I had a lot to learn about embroidery.  So many stitches and techniques!!  If you are interested in embroidery, I highly recommend Mary Corbet's blog.  With dozens of videos and tutorials, it is so well written and instructive that it really makes me want to learn more and add embroidery as another tool in my creative kit.

I'm pretty new to this so don't look at my stitches too closely.  If you wear glasses, don't wear them. If you don't wear glasses, go ahead and put some on!!

I wanted to add a Scripture that provides the basis for my One Word to the burlap panel.  I wrote it out in phrases on pattern tissue paper with a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pen.  (FAVORITE pens.  I use them for everything.  Handwriting is difficult for me and these pens give me the perfect drag to help with control.)  Its an alcohol ink, so it won't bleed* when you add your wet adhesive to adhere to the burlap.   Doing it this way enabled me to tear the phrases into strips and gave me control over the line spacing. 

*While the ink doesn't bleed, I did discover that I could apply matte medium to the back of the tissue paper, press onto cotton fabric and the ink would transfer.  I'll need to be playing with this soon!

Elements laid out and ready to adhere.

The label is stitched onto cotton duck material.  The word was just sort of floating there so I used a single strand of embroidery thread and backstitched a border.  The word is done in a simple chain stitch.  My little birdy showed up and settled on the "T".  The little bird is from B Line Designs Flying Friends stamp set.

Close up of my flowers.  I trimmed around the image leaving a wide margin and inked the edges with more Hydrangea on a tiny bit of foam, applied with a pair of tweezers.

The burlap panel mounted on a vintage window.
Then added to the collection.
Have a lovely day and be free!!


  1. Cheryl, this is such a wonderful piece, truly one of my favorites of yours ever. The embroidery looks fantastic, girl! The canvas is so beautiful, so YOU, and so perfect. <3

  2. Really love this panel Cheryl, flowers are fab. I too love adding embroidery to my projects, there is a great amount of pleasure from creating a small piece and seeing it completed as opposed to spending weeks on an embroidery before being able to admire it.
    Many thanks to the Creative Carte Blanche team for setting up this new venture X

  3. Oh wow Cheryl, this is brilliant and I am super impressed with your embroidery!! It looks superb, and I love that you added a picture of the piece in situ too. Thanks also for the tip about the "dirty wash".

  4. Oh Cheryl this speaks to me too! I love how you've incorporated the stitching with the botanical elements. Jenny x

  5. Now there's something I've never tried in my art either: embroidery! Yours turned out so pretty, Cheryl, and I must say your handwriting and stitching on the word Untroubled is perfection. I love that you already have your panel hanging up with the others. What a pretty space.

  6. This is just LOVELY Cheryl. You did SUPER FINE with your embroidery. Oh, and I use my Grammie's vintage iron too - they work so well!!! So love the scripture and how it looks . Wonderful creativity and thank you so much for sharing your process. j.

  7. Well I love embroidery and I did have a close look at yours and I think it looks amazing! You did a brilliant job on it, I love the Wendy flower stamp too. Anne x

  8. What an amazing canvas! Of course the verse is perfect and I love how you've applied it. The flower is stunning! Great design! <3

  9. Absolutely gorgeous Cheryl! I adore the stamped and embroidered flowers and how smart to layer them onto the crinoline fabric, I am filing that smart idea away for future reference! I think your embroidered sentiment is just lovely as well, outlining the word with the chain stitch and fraying the edges of the canvas was the perfect finishing touch. Thanks so much for sharing your lovely canvas! Deb xo

  10. That's so beautiful and so interesting to see your progress!