Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Billericay Girls, Still Life and Cornwall

Back in April the Billericay girls - a group of ladies I have been going to for fourteen years and who don't necessarily all live in Billericay but is where we meet - wanted to do some free machine embroidery.  They had given me a list of subjects earlier in the year that they wanted to have a few sessions on and, although at the moment I am mainly using hand techniques, I used free machine embroidery for some work I did on some still life pictures that now hang in my kitchen.

This picture of the bowl of fruit is inspired by a painting by Jessica Cooper, the original of which is owned by my friend Rene.  By loosening the bobbin case in your sewing machine (I keep two bobbin cases, one I never alter which is used for more practical applications) you can get the thread on the bobbin to give a more shaded effect on the surface stitching.

The picture of the jug is machined onto calico and the sides of the picture were machined separately and then applied to the main picture before stretching over a canvas block.  The little jug in the picture actually sits on my kitchen windowsill and I did several drawings of it before I was happy with the image which then I traced onto the calico.  Four things you definitely need to do this type of work is good light, good eyesight, a good sewing machine and plenty of thread.

It has been really nice looking closely at these pictures again, we tend to take things for granted when we pass by them everyday, and it has made me revisit the subject that perhaps I wouldn't have done.  So whilst on holiday in Cornwall I got out the sketchbook and limbered up with a few drawings to see what I could come up with, some of which are below.

The cup and saucer I found in a junk shop in Penzance (I think I prefer the first of the two pictures) and the cider bottle was part of the complementary food hamper left by Julia and Tom who own the apartment where we stay in Praa Sands.

Whilst in Cornwall I love to visit the Cook and Book Shop in St. Just and round the corner from there, there is a lovely junk shop where I found the couple of old wooden butter paddles pictured below which I thought I could use to make marks.  

Below is a landscape which I started by using the butter paddles to make marks (as we drove down to Cornwall a lot of the fields were turning yellow with the rapeseed) -  the finished effect reminded me of some pastel drawings by an artist named Shirley Foote.

And finally I used the butter paddles to finish of a painting I did of the posy of flowers Don's cousin Jenny had picked from her garden and gave to us when she visited us for tea with her sister Janette one afternoon in Praa Sands.



  1. Love that machine embroidered jug with the blackbird Libby! Have fun next week x

    1. Hi Gina, Thanks for your comment - hopefully my eyesight is up to tackling the cup and saucer! May modify the brightness of the colours. Had a great week, we packed in so much.

  2. Hi Libby. I hope you will soon be putting the rolling landscape that you've been working on this week on your blog. It's been a wonderful week.

    1. Hi Lynne, Thanks for your comment - yes I must get down to sorting photos, doing some artwork and finishing the landscape. It was a fabulous week away and has renewed my enthusiasm. Libby