I’ve been teaching a mixed media embroidery workshop for the last few years, using recycled materials and found objects to create textures and patterns. During lock down, many of our favourite suppliers are understandably closed so getting materials can be tricky. I wanted to share some ideas that you can use in your own work using unusual materials.
The pieces at the start of the post are made in a variety of ways with different materials, some of them were found in my garden, the centre image features plastic from a beach in Japan. I’m happy to have friends who go on holiday and bring me a bag full of weird rubbish!
In the first image, I created a background using plaster bandage on a calico background. When the plaster was dry, I used acrylic paint to blend then together. The background was then decorated with ribbon, threads and buttons.
The second image was created with a painted Bondaweb background, I used a wash of watercolour paint on the Bondaweb and when it was dry, I ironed it to a piece of cotton fabric. The texture is created with melted carrier bags, plastic tubing and a metal ring wrapped with blanket stitch. There are also sequins made from an old map and wallpaper scraps.
The third image was build around a rusty piece of metal I found in the garden. I stitched it to a piece of wool fabric and then added lots of beaded details and another metal ring wrapped with blanket stitch. Take care when handling rusty metal, you can wear rubber gloves and brush away any excess rust with a firm brush.
Rusty metal can also be used to dye fabric, I used this technique in some pieces from Archive & Other Stories. You can find a great tutorial on rust dyeing here on Quilting Daily.
It’s great to see how people are using different materials around the house to create new work. My talented friend Rowan Bridgwood has been using paper coffee filters as a fabric for her beautiful hand embroideries.
Great minds think alike, I’ve been saving the filters from my husbands Aeropress to use in my work.
Take a look around the house, garden and garage/shed for things that you can use in your work. Think about how you can wrap things in ribbon, thread or fabric. A small drill or carpenters awl can make holes in wood, metal and plastic so you can sew through it. Look at what patterns you can make using the materials. Try to let the materials guide you, look at how you can use them alongside your regular craft stash.
Here are a few images from my recent mixed media embroidery courses…