Brown Lipped Snail

I have always wanted to have a go at embroidering a snail but shied away from the challenge. Finally I managed to get a photo that I thought would work well:

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I know that snails aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I couldn’t resist that little face! I have named him Solomon.

First the sketch:

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And then the embroidery:

The stitch direction proved to be difficult, getting the curves to go the right way to give a three dimensional image caused a reasonable amount of unpicking.

But finally he is finished:

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Measuring 8x8cm he is my most ambitious piece to date and I am quite proud of him. But just to show the not so pretty side here is a gratuitous #Hoopbutt shot:

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If not love and respect, foresight?

Within our village we have a beautiful nature reserve, Magor Marsh, run by the Gwent Wildlife Trust. As a family we visit on a nearly weekly basis. I find it an amazing source of inspiration and my children learn about the diversity of wildlife that live within the reserve. The site has recently reintroduced water voles with great success, an animal that has been pushed close to extinction in recent days.

During a visit to Marshy Monday last summer we stumbled on a grass snake while walking through the hay meadow. It stayed still enough for us to take a good close look and for me to take a quick snap with my mobile:

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Grass snake at Magor Marsh

I was quite proud when this photo came second in the Gwent Wildlife Photographic competition.

Using silk floss thread gives a beautiful shine to your work and I thought it would work well for snake scales. And so I started my most challenging piece so far.

I was a bit apprehensive about this piece but actually it was enjoyable, I could break it down and treat each scale as a miniature embroidery. I was tempted to stop halfway through as I loved the way to snake was gradually emerging from the picture and coming to life.

Here is the finished piece:

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Grass snake

The title of this blog came from a recent meeting I attended at the marsh to discuss the proposed M4 relief road. A proposition for a six lane motorway that will cost £1.2b, cut through four SSSI areas (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and damage protected species populations and their habitats. Gwent Wildlife Trust has already received a compulsory purchase order for a section of Magor Marsh which could threaten protected species such as the water vole and otter. The entire proposal which cuts across the Gwent Levels could also damage the delicate drainage system that ensures many villages do not flood. An alternative route has been suggested that would not cut through the levels and would cost a fraction of the price, £340m, however this proposal was not even considered.

It seems to me that we are all told that we must reduce our carbon footprint, care for our environment and our history and protect our delicate eco-system, but if it means getting more cars to Cardiff 10 minutes quicker these ideals are thrown out of the window. Even if you do not love and respect our land and wildlife, we must have some foresight for future generations.

Wood Ant

I have managed to finish two pieces since my last blog, that is fast work for me!

The first piece was of a wood and (later named Alexei) based on a photo I took in Wentwood Forest. Here is the original:

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I had been experimenting with some macro filters and I loved the colours of the ant’s body. Here is the embroidered work:

Wood Ant
Hand embroidered wood ant

I know that ants aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, they aren’t as mysterious as spiders, or as lovable as bees but if you look up close there is beauty in everything. The way the light is reflected in its eye, the delicate antennae, the way each leg is made up of so many separate joints. It is so easy to take the little things for granted but sometimes it pays to stop and really look.

My second piece was based on a photo I took of a grass snake at Magor Marsh. I will write about this in a separate blog as there is much to say…

She Shed

Now we are right in the middle of the busy Christmas period, with two very excited children, I find that work has come to a grinding halt. I keep on looking out of my window, through the fourth consecutive day of torrential rain, at my little office.
During the summer I decided that my sewing was taking over the house and needed a home of its own. So, with hammer and drill in hand, and the best neighbour you could ask for, we started building the summerhouse I had bought.

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Having never put up a structure bigger than a pop up sun tent I was grateful for my neighbours experience and assistance.

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After a few days of work my office was complete, next I treated the wood and set about painting.

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I was so excited to move my work in. We had an old rug under the stairs that I cleaned up and put down to add some insulation, an old garden table was revarnished and fits perfectly and other charity shop finds have made it quite cosy.

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I love working out here, I actually feel like I’m leaving home to go to work. I am a little concerned about damp and I would like to get electricity linked up (at the moment I am limited to trailing an extension lead from the house.) I don’t keep anything of value out there as security is difficult.

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It can be chilly but once I get my heater going it is very cosy. Next year I am aiming for curtains and insulation.