Friday, 2 June 2017


I live on the sea shore now! After 10 months that's still so novel and exciting.

One of the marine themes I've been exploring, on and off, is starfish. Such a variety of shapes, colours and patterns, who could resist? 

I started with a favourite technique - FME on soluble to make lacy shapes. These cast pretty shadows if they're mounted on pins and lit at an angle.

I was a bit disappointed with these tbh. Not sure why... too far from the original inspiration, and not interesting enough in ordinary daylight? And, I remembered I meant to give up creating fragile wall pieces that need box frames and are impossible to photograph! So I didn't take them any further. They're just pinned randomly on polystyrene here.

So, going off at a tangent, I tried felted crochet next. A nice loosely spun pure wool, in pink-orange-red. I tried raised, textural crochet stitches, and plain crochet with chunky French knots. After felting in the washer they looked like this:

The really knobbly one, using popcorn stitch, is fun - it's very 3D. And the French knots worked well too. Now what? These are quite big (9-12cm), but perhaps smaller ones, made with finer wool, would make brooches?

Back to the Bernina, and soluble fabric (I never stay away long!). But not lacy embroidery this time - the soluble fabric allowed me to decorate a cut out felt sunstar. Embroidering felt this way means you can go over the edges, and end up with a slightly stiffened shape without the usual fluffy edges. It's only about 6cm, so don't zoom in. More brooch potential, I thought...

A wildlife trust walk at an exceptionally low tide provided my first glimpse of living maerl beds. Maerl is coralline red algae, a sort of seaweed with a hard chalky skeleton that grows unattached on the sea bed. It provides shelter for a wide range of marine creatures, including brittle stars.

I used the embellisher to create my maerl bed, needle felting lengths of pink-purple textural yarns to white felt.

Then I machine embroidered brittle stars on soluble fabric.

 The brittle stars were fun, so I made a whole tangle of them for another little framed piece:

That led to the idea of a lacy structure of finer brittle stars held together by crossed legs!

Instead of mounting in a frame, maybe something like this could hang in a window?

Aargh, there I go again, creating things that are impossible to photograph nicely! (for me, anyway)

And finally (for now), I tried a brittle star bowl. Just a little one, 7cm diameter. The most open bowl I've ever made, and a very different technique to my Botanic, Ice and Metamorphic designs. Amazingly, it worked!

The idea needs some refining, and I didn't like the brittle star centres, but it's opened up a world of new possibilities... watch this space!