Today I want to share with you a project that i’ve had bubbling in the background for some time. You may have seen glimpses of it on social media, where I have posted in progress shots of several of the pages.
It was supposed to be a very simple project. I have been designing a new type of fabric Stitchbook and in the process need to test out the design with my own projects. Therefore I needed a theme that would be easy to design with and quick to make images for.
When trying to come up with such a theme, I found some photos from a visit to Kew Gardens last year. I thought it would be nice to have a play with new materials and try and recreate some of the cool things I saw on my visit, particularly the bonsai house, cactus and water lilies.
Above: Some of my photos from my visit to Kew.
Despite this premise it actually turned into a surprising long and in-depth project -each page taking far longer than I had planned for. There are so many amazing and unique parts of Kew that it was hard to do it justice in just a few pages and I struggled to fit everything I wanted to show into the 8 images and 2 covers of the book.
However this means that the final book is a much more detailed and interesting one than I had envisaged, and I am very pleased with the result.
Here is a video of the finished book! For more detailed photos see below.
Although the theme and subject for each page were inspired by my own visit Kew Gardens, the aesthetics and design were inspired by this beautiful London Underground poster.
I love the bold shapes of the plants alongside the delicate lines of the greenhouse as well as the mix of formal, tree lined path with the jagged irregularity of the succulents.
I tried to take some of these ideas through into the book, using the block shapes along with thiner lines to show detail.
For the blocks I used a mixture of applique in solid cotton fabrics, fabric paint (applied freehand or with stencils) and iron-on vinyl (with is a new technique I am rapidly becomming obsessed with!). For the delicate lines I used a range of machine and hand embroidery.
It is the first time I’ve ever made a landscape fabric book, but it felt right to be doing so for the subject matter. It was a bit tricky to get the compositions right, as I am so used to making portrait work, but this forced me to really think about how to place all of the elements on the page rather than rely on layouts I’ve used before.
It was also strange to start off with a fully bound book before starting the artwork as usually I make the images first and only bind at the end. But really nice to see the book building and be able to see the images next to each other as it was being made.
I am still in the middle of the design process for this new style of Stitchbook, but I am really enjoying having a fabric sketchbook to play in rather than working on flat sheets, so I’m sure I will be making more soon!
In fact I love them so much I’m putting on some workshops on the subject!
If you are in the Hampshire area and want to have a go at making your own fabric sketchbook, I’m hosting two workshops to show you all the skills you’ll need. Workshop 1 is to create your sketchbook, and Workshop 2 is to create the artwork.
I’ve also had several requests from people in other parts of the world who would like to learn how to make the sketchbooks but can’t make it to the studio, so i’m currently working on some online tutorials. They are tricky and time consuming but hopefully I’ll have something set up before too long!
Also… Kew Gardens is an amazing place and I urge you to go there if you ever get the chance!