Embroiderers Guild Members’ Challenge: Tree Rhythms – Part 1

I took a leap of faith this year and decided to enter the Embroiderers Guild Members’ Challenge, and my piece is currently on it’s way to the Guild HQ  – the closing date is this Friday so I was pretty close to the wire in finishing it but then I’ve always been a last minute push kind of person!

I’ve taken photos of the embroidery in progress – from the first ideas to the finished piece – so I’m publishing them in parts as it would be a bit overwhelming all in the one post!

First off is a gallery of the trees that got me thinking of how to interpret the theme ‘Tree Rhythms’:

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I have to credit my dog for helping me along with this idea as it’s through our walks that I came across these tree carvings. He was busy having a mooch in the bushes and doing some serious nose mapping so I was gazing about waiting for him to get a shift on when I saw the ‘Steve ‘n’ Linda 1990-Forever’ carving in a tree trunk. I started thinking about who Steve ‘n’ Linda were, was their love forever? Was she there when he carved it? Did he carve it as a surprise for her? I wonder if they remember it’s here?

I started looking at all the trees I passed then, thinking of the people that have carried on the tradition of carving their name in a tree, wanting to leave a lasting reminder that ‘I was here’.

Did a Google search on tree carvings a few days later and found a fascinating blog post on what are technically described as Arborglyphs (or the name that sends my Sociological side all a quiver – “culturally modified trees”)


After I read this, the idea of making an embroidery based on a culturally modified tree (that is the last time I’ll use the phrase, promise) was cemented in my mind.

I love the early stages of planning a new piece - so many questions but plenty of opportunities to try new techniques in an attempt to interpret the finished item that's in my minds eye!

I love the early stages of planning a new piece – so many questions but plenty of opportunities to try new techniques in an attempt to interpret the finished item that’s in my minds eye!

The close reader will see that I originally had a swastika as a possible addition to the embroidery – my thinking behind this was that people leave marks signifying hate as well as those of love. The swastika is a symbol that is as familiar to us as the shape of a love heart, both having the power to stir strong emotions within us. I decided to ditch the idea (I might return to it at a later date!) and go with one large Arborglyph instead:

A rough sketched design and more questions to mull over before I get cracking.

A few days later – 11 Jan 2014 – A rough design and more questions to mull over before I get cracking.

So I’ll leave it there for tonight and tomorrow I’ll post the first stage of the embroidery – creating the base fabric. Off to check the progress of my parcel on the Royal Mail website now!

Thanks for reading!


Beardsley Embroidery progress


I’ve spent a couple of hours this week working on this neglected piece, I’m pleased with how french knot corner has turned out and it’s lovely to have a section finished


However it hasn’t all been merry carefree stitching as I’m having some problems with the bottom section as I have tiny strands of the red fabric poking through my outline stitches


I can’t seem to cut the red fabric any closer to the stitches and I’m worried that I’ll accidently snip the black stitching – this has already happened to me when I did my initial applique cutaway – so I’m not sure what to do here. I did think of gently applying black paint around the edge of the stitching or the route I don’t really want to go down – stitching the entire bottom section…If anyone can offer me any advice on what I should do I would be extremely grateful!

The Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors Exhibition

The Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors

Took a detour on the way home tonight to go and see the Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors Exhibition before it ends tomorrow. They’ve been occupying the grass lawn at the University of Edinburgh Quad for the last 10 days – we are forbidden to stand on this grass while the warriors are here.

Lighting the rain slick slabs

I love the colour of the lanterns and the shadows of the figures reflected on the wet paving slabs – wish I’d have focused in more on this!

The warriors –  modeled on the famous ‘Terracotta Army’ – are constructed using traditional lantern making techniques and were originally created for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Although they are beautifully made there is something eerie about the figures – I think it’s the blank eyed molded plastic faces:


The Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors

Lanterns of Terracotta Warriors

This is my favourite photograph of the evening, I downloaded a tutorial the other day on creating photo based textile art so I like the idea of using the warriors as a subject – they are beautifully pieced together, seeing the inner construction gives them a real feeling of solidity and I love the contrast of the bold black lines and bright colours.

It was good to spend 1/2 an hour hanging around with the warriors – my working week has been dominated by Health & Safety tasks so this was a welcome distraction! Also, when I left work at 5 o’clock tonight there was still a bit of light in the sky, aah Spring is on the way…