Nov 11, 2020

Back again for another update! Things are moving quickly now. The tree is all sewn, just needs cutting out. I made a couple of birds, Steve liked the Kookaburra so much, I made an extra to live on our tree. The leaf fabric was designed and sent out for printing last Saturday, they printed it and it arrived in less than a week! I’ve sewn them all down to their backing and am cutting them all out now! There are SO MANY! There are over 300 leaves sewn to cut out, not sure how many are going on the tree but I wanted to make sure there were enough.  I’ll be back in the studio tomorrow hopefully getting all these leaves sewn on to the tree. Can’t wait to see it! It is very close to finished. I’ll to do another time lapse of me cutting the extra backing off the tree.. that could be fun. 

Oct 29, 2020

Looks like I missed a week of updates. Sorry about that. So last week (seems like yesterday) I was off on a field trip for my normal studio day. I went with a group of artists that I’ve been working with on a carousel restoration project. We are painting an entire carousel, so fun! anyway. I made an overnight trip of it and spent the evening working on designing leaves for your tree on my computer. I’m almost ready to send the leaves off for printing (that will be happening tomorrow). Today I began the stitching of the tree. It’s going to take a lot of thread to tame this one. I’ve added lots of dimension and pattern to this tree. As you can see I’m getting creative building space to keep the tree somewhat manageable. Sewing is very much an octopus situation as the branches try to sneak into any little crevice they can find, I’m trying to watch every piece at all times to be sure I don’t sew them together by accident (again. yep, that happened..) 

This week I’m including a little time lapse video for fun. I like to listen to a story while I work, helps me stay focused somehow. I prefer children’s stories. They are more likely to be stressfree and imaginative. Today I’m listening to The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange. 

That’s it for today. I’ll be working on getting the leaves out for printing and finishing up the stitching on the tree this week. The fabric has been arriving within 10 days of ordering so I hope to have tree sewn and birds wrapping up around the time the leaves arrive.  

testing out fabrics to add to the tree

Messy pile of brownish scraps

Day 1 of adding color to the tree.

Oct 15, 2020

Happy to be back in the studio playing with the tree today. This is one of my favorite parts. Putting down color!

I started out this morning looking at a dark natural looking tree with no life, no character, not very exciting, pretty splotchy actually. I pulled out the box of brown fabric scraps and started to pull out pieces to bring the tree to life. Some look too bold but I’m feeling a little daring today so I start cutting them and laying them on the tree. These bold ones often turn out to be just right in small doses and we really need some color variety here today. I notice I keep reaching for the spots, circles,dots… That’s typical for me. I have to consciously steer myself to other patterns. there will be more spots than not though, I just can’t help myself.

I spent the entire day laying down fabric, attaching some dimensional pieces, searching for balance of color, shape and pattern. This went much slower than I expected but I’m excited and feel like it’s going in the right direction. Soon I’ll have all the layers of fabric on the tree and it will be time to bring it to the sewing machine. I hope to be sewing next week. (a small amount of sewing has already happened.)

When the colors are all down I’ll choose the colors for the leaves and send the leaf designs off for printing. While I wait for their return I’ll finish sewing the basic tree and get to work on a couple of birds.

I may have a hard time letting this tree go when it’s done.


Oct. 12, 2020

Later the same day…

I took a little time today to reorganize the studio and make room for the tree to fit under the sewing machine. I couldn’t do all that moving and not try out my results, so the tree met the sewing machine today!

I managed to complete the initial stitch down and tomorrow I hope to start laying down fabric to create textures and give the tree some personality, the big blotches of color it has right now will soon all blend in. 

I’m playing with a program on my computer in the evenings drawing designs for the leaves. I’ll share some of those soon! 

Oct 12, 2020

I missed my Thursday update due to internet issues. The great thing about living in the woods is, well, living in the woods! There is a price for the peace and beauty however, internet can be challenging.  

So Thursday I got the tree ironed on to its backing. It all looks so simple when it’s done. I’ve been trying to decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing I’m not very good at tracking my time. Thursday it was a good thing. The tree and I had very different ideas of how the process would go. 

I’m happy to see it lying so tamely on the table even though it sort of creeps its tentacles over the edges.

I have been thinking all weekend about how I tackle the next step. do I try to sew it in pieces and put it together like I have the other trees I’ve made, or do I sew it all together and do the top stitiching all at once… The way I divided the branches seems to lend to the second option.

I’m pretty sure this is going to be like dancing with an octopus. I’m off to rearrange my sewing area to see if I can minimize the branches escape routes… will post updates again soon.

October 1, 2020

It’s Growing!

I’d say just add water, but it doesn’t work. I did that today. I stood over the tree holding my iron. I leaned way down to look at something, not paying attention to my iron which also leaned way over and dumped it’s water on the floor! The tree didn’t grow. I had to help it out.

Today is Thursday, my favorite day of the week. Studio Day! Steve takes care of Robin and I have from the minute I wake up until 4pm to spend on creative work.  I create art, I write, I may organize my space or take a class, I may even sneak out for a bike ride when I don’t have a tree to work on (I take a sketchbook). I spend the entire day surrounded by art, art supplies, projects. However I choose to spend my time, it’s always about the creative process. Even writing this post. This is the only guaranteed big block of time I get for creating until we are able to have caregivers in the home again. I’m loving having this tree to give me a creative, off computer, project to work on.

All week I’ve been lugging tree parts around the house and finding little pockets of time to cut out the pieces. Today I headed upstairs with an armload of logs – ok fabric tree pieces- and began to build the tree on my floor. It started out VERY tall and very bare. I began tucking in pieces and pulling out other pieces trying to make the round happy tree I know it wants to be. I finally had to tape off the floor with measurements so I knew how far I could stretch and how how much I needed to tuck. I won’t tell you how long the tree and I played push me pull me but I think we are both happy with how it sits now. I’ll need to leave it on the studio floor for a day or 2 to be sure I’m happy with the shape before I iron it onto the backing material. Right now the tree is very splotchy with big chunks of different browns all over the place. Once I get it ironed onto the backing material I’ll start working on building up layers and adding more tones of brown to take away the chunky look and give it a nice textural feeling.

So here it sits. I’m wondering if I’m going to fatten up some limbs, how I’m going to make it all go together as one piece, where I need to make the connections of the interfacing. (it’s a narrow material so I need to piece it together to get the tree to be wide) I have to decide when I’m going to connect it all together because sewing the entire tree at once on my sewing machine probably won’t work! All these little ‘problems’ are what I love about making art. Little puzzles to solve.

Until next week, when I should be deep into building up color (browns and subtle bark colors) and diving into designing the final leaves to send to the printer.

If you can’t think of an animal I’m happy to come up with one. I plan to keep these updates coming on my Thursdays, it’s a nice way for me to wrap up what I’m doing on the tree for myself as well as for you.

Sept 24, 2020

All my supplies are in and the tree is growing. Unlike your typical tree this one starts as paper, grows branches and a trunk but no roots… 

You can see the tree growing in the images below. The first one is the pattern. I trace each of the branches and the trunk from the pattern to fusible material. 

I check it with a master tree file to be sure I have the entire tree. The second picture shows all the papers laid out to be sure I’m not missing any parts. Every time I’ve made the tree something changes. Today I laid it all out and the tree was 3 meters tall and very skinny! That’s not the different I was looking for! I moved things about for a bit and finally the branches leaned out and the tree shrunk in height and grew in width to make a nice round full tree. 

I ironed the fusible on the back of some brown fabric and cut out my first bit of branch. it looks good! 

I was reluctant to leave the studio this morning but a carousel horse project I’d been working on last winter was starting up again since Covid.  So I headed out to paint some carousel horses for a few hours.

I thought I was done with the tree for the day but when I returned from the carousel studio I couldn’t stay away from the tree. I snuck back up to my studio and added fusible to the rest of the brown fabric and the test leaves that came in the other day.

Next I’ll cut out all the branches and figure out how I’ll be putting this entire tree together and what will bring it to life. Things will move quickly and dramatically for the next week. then the more subtle stitching will start. 

Does Patch have a favorite bird or animal friend that might like to visit the tree? I’d love to make something Australian… your animals are so different from ours. I can make it subtle like a little surprise or removable so it could go somewhere else. No tree is complete without a critter!

until next time!

Sept 18, 2020

Not much to report this week. I started tracing the limbs onto the fusible but my supply of fusible ran out fast. I’m waiting on a delivery hopefully by Monday. Then things will start moving along dramatically. I’m also waiting on my test sample of leaves to see how they’re going to work… can’t wait to have interesting pictures to share. I’m totally over last weeks overwhelm and itching to start seeing the tree grow!

Sept 12, 2020

I’m no stranger to ‘overwhelm’. 

I went searching for my tree pattern. It’s big! I should be able to find it easily. I’m pretty sure I didn’t throw it away… I know it’s on the computer and I can reprint it but I could have sworn I kept a nice crisp copy… 

Much later, after ransacking the studio, my bedroom closet, (on the off chance) and my studio again, I decided to make sure I have the fusible material I need, then I’d go to the computer to print the tree.  In the box where I keep all my interfacing, fusible and other weird materials, I found one bolt that felt like paper with the word ‘tree’ on it. 

big sigh. good. then I unrolled it. oh my. I forgot how big this is. it unrolled all the way down the hallway and there were still more pages to unroll… 

overwhelm is a totally normal part of the creative process for me. especially when it’s a BIG piece of art. it typically moves from here, to me getting really organized and being able to really look at the project with fresh eyes. That’s when the new ideas come flying out. 

I’m excited about making this tree again.  

For now, I’m going to accept the overwhelm and leave these pieces all over my studio floor, I’ll start tracing the tree onto fusible tonight or tomorrow.

Getting started!

Sept 10, 2020

The fun has started! 

I’ve sent a leaf test (center picture above) in for printing. These are just a few leaves I designed for this project. They were  quickly put together to make sure the colors are printing well and the leaves are big enough to get a good variety for the tree. The final tree will probably have over 25 different designs on the leaves and a big pile of green colors. This is a new step for me that will hopefully save time picking through my scrap pile and get me all the right colors easily.

The picture on the left is paint chips. I have a tool that reads the colors so when I design I can recreate the same color digitally. This will help get enough variety and tone in the leaves without clashing. I have a very large collection of these paint chips that I’ve been collecting for years. I can’t seem to resist the paint chip wall at the hardware store…

I also picked through my fabric stash and collected a bunch of browns for the trunk of the tree, looks like a jumbled mess but a little chaos seems to work for me. 

Today I’ll be pulling out and making adjustments to the pattern so the tree can be all one piece. Then it’s time to start laying down color for the trunk! I’ll be back soon with another update! 

Sept 8, 2020  

Hi Fiona Travis and Patch! I’m excited to get started on your tree. 

As you know I’ve been doing some designing lately so I thought it would be fun to design the fabric for the leaves on your tree. I’ll be sharing that process with you a little bit too. Basically I’ll be drawing the designs and sending them off to Spoonflower to be printed on fabric. This will be fun! 

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