Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Sparrow finished

To stiffen the tail I made a loop of wire the same shape as the perimeter of the tail feathers. I laid it on the underside of the tail and anchored the ends on the last few stitches of the plastic "spine" inside the back. I attached the wire by completely covering it with whip stitches using the light coloured wool.

For the beak I made a little cardboard cone covered with a few layers of gummed brown paper tape. I streaked it lightly with coloured pencil and coated it with a few coats of white glue (pva) for strength and sheen. I poked three holes with a sharp needle (one on either side and one center bottom) and used wool to stitched it to the inside of the sparrow's mouth opening.

The final assembly (stuffing, attaching the wire legs and stitching up) went quickly and I forgot to take step-by-step photos until the sparrow was done and perching on the edge of my work basket. Now my mind is racing trying to come up with ways to make the beak, eyes and legs more convincing and integral, and ways to avoid more of the seams by weaving in the round.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sparrow weaving off the loom

To finish the lower edges of the wings I did a row of soumack stitch. Then I wove the tail and finally the plain light colour. I reinforced the edges with a soumack stitch over the last strand of weft. With contrasting thread I carefully marked some strategic matching points on the edges of the two pieces. 

Then I turned the weaving over and clipped the holding threads. 

I gently released the weaving from the backing and pulled the ends to the inside. I am really pleased with the shaping of the top of the head: smooth and round with no seam. I stitched the black beads firmly against the inside of the eye holes which makes the bird start to come alive. 

I joined the short neck seam using the weft thread with stitches that blend into the weaving. The next stage will be adding stiffening wire to the tail and applying the paper beak. These will both take a little bit of figuring out.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Weaving the sparrow's head and wings

With my new three part pattern, I discovered that I can weave the top of the head all in one and avoid a tricky curved seam in such a prominent part of the design. To do this I made a narrow strip of plastic to serve as a "spine". I poked holes along it and stitched wool through the holes. Then I fastened it to the paper pattern with contrasting thread which will be taken out later. When warping I strung the warp threads through the wool stitches on the spine. This held the warp threads in their positions across the back and made the spine part of the structure. For the head, I bent the weaving form around and attached the spine through both layers lining up the seam. 

The breast of the sparrow is flat and all one colour so I wove it first to get used to tapestry weaving after not doing it for a while. I did a careful job of the perimeter of the piece, twining the two outer row together. I hope the firmer edge will be easier to stitch to the upper part of the bird when I assemble it.

sparrow's eye
While warping I stitched buttonhole stitches around the eye hole position using warp thread. When I wove the head, I stitched the weft thread into the outer half of the buttonhole stitches all around the eye. 

When the head was done I started at the spine and worked outward building up the wing markings.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Evolving pattern

pattern version 3 not the right shape
The pattern for the sparrow is gradually evolving. I made four versions of the pattern before I realized that the shape was all wrong. 

toile from version 6
I went back to the drawing board and I have developed a three section pattern that works much better. The fabric toile gave me some trouble but once that was done I could see that the basic idea is working and I needed to adjust the head a bit more. 

pattern version 7 ready to add weaving marks
The final version of the pattern is ready and I feel ready to mark the warps on the weaving pattern now. An idea is percolating which would allow me to weave the head all in one piece without the troublesome seams that I struggled with on the robin. I feel happy with the simplified shapes for the wing markings. I have an approach for fastening in the beak and eyes. The legs will come later because the method I used for the robin should work again for here.