Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lace Heart Kitty

Well half term is nearly over and it's been a hectic one but positive at the same time. Alongside marking and looking after my Dad for a few days I decided to embark on a little project for a friend: designing and making a cat plushy. She loves Victorian and vintage things so I thought lace would be really effective and pretty. Personally I'm not a cat person (we had dogs when I was a child and they were amazing companions) although I am gradually becoming persuaded to find cats quite entertaining - the awesome cartoon 'Simon's Cat' is partly to blame for this. I like the fact that cats are comical but somehow always manage to retain their elegance, especially after doing something stupid!

So... I quite liked the idea of a cat with a large cat bottom and smaller head, a bit like the shape of a bowling skittle. I started by creating a paper template and made a maquette (prototype) out of calico to check the pieces would all fit together. The tail looked too mouse-like, so I made it slightly more stumpy, and the arms weren't long enough so I extended them. Making maquettes is always a good idea as I find any mistakes can be rectified at the beginning and it saves wasting fabric / time later on.

I actually bought the lace on ebay to make a skirt (I have enough left for a mini skirt now!) and it is the same colour as calico so I used that as a base. I cut the template pieces from calico first and then laid them onto the lace to make sure the circular pattern fitted with the design (I wanted the circles to be placed in line with where I planned to hand sew the eyelashes and nose).

I planned to only have colour on the central heart and the features of the cat - eyelashes, nose, ears and paws. I wanted the heart to be the central feature so I cut two calico hearts. The larger heart I machine sewed sari silk onto in horizontal strips and then cut the edges back to heart shape. Afterwards I machine sewed the smaller heart into the centre and then created a mutlicoloured pattern of French knots using tapestry wool and embroidery silks so they would be different sizes. I like to finish off applique with couching on the edges as I think it adds a nice border to designs, so I used tapestry wool to couch the inside heart and then couched the whole heart onto the cat front.

Once the heart had been appliqued and the stitching was finished I was ready to carefully sew the pieces together. First I sewed the front to the bottom inside-out, ensuring they were lined up properly and neatly finished, I then pinned the ears inside and sewed the front and back together, leaving a small gap between the back and bottom so I could stuff the toy and hand sew the final seam together.

Ta-daaa! Finished Lacy Heart Kitty pictured with original prototype (the prototype is lovingly stuffed with Sainsburys bags!) and below, various views of Kitty.

Lastly, I couldn't resist adding one final touch, inspired by the view you get when a cat decides to sit on your lap and give you a grand view of their great behind!
Kitty bumhole :-)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Hello 2013!

Hello 2013!!! I have been meaning to update my blog in months, apologies!
So, what's been happening in the world of Ella?... Last Autumn I completed a couple of commissions after we returned from a wonderful three week honeymoon in Thailand over the summer.

The first was a commission of a couple for their wedding day. The brief was to create a watercolour painting similar in style to 'Woodland Faerie Queen' with leaves and branches surrounding the figures. Just my kind of thing! The second was a portrait drawing of my friend's baby daughter. It is always a challenge drawing children, especially very young children, but she is such a beautiful little lass and I jumped at the chance. I also took both these occasions as an opportunity to create 'work in progress' videos, which you can see below. I thought they would make a nice little added extra for the purchasers and plan on doing this for future commissions, so the buyer can see how the artwork was created, all the time and dedication that goes into their piece of art.

After those two commissions were finished, we moved into our first home - very exciting times - and so I have had little time for art. It's hard to believe we are already five months into the year and this weekend is the first proper opportunity I have had to create something. Last week, having felt artistically stifled for far too long, I decided to buy the full set of Faber Castell Polychromo coloured pencils. There are 120 in the set and they are so lovely to use. Yesterday I had a really nice day drawing. My first artwork of 2013. It was so therapeutic sitting and drawing all day, reminded me of university - oh how I took that for granted! Hopefully I'll make more time for art as we head towards the summer - so this little faery is here to give me inspiration! I feel the suggestion of summer on it's way, although the glimpses of sunshine we are getting soon turn to grey skies and rain - but I am optimistic none-the-less, that better weather and further opportunities lie just around the corner. I will look forward to greeting them when they arrive!

Summer Is On It's Way
Polychromo Pencils, 2013.

Autumn Dedication
Watercolour, 2012.

Here is the video for Autumn Dedication:

Grace Rose
Pencil, 2012.

Here is the video for Grace Rose: