11 Oct Fall Fiber Art Challenge – Crazy Pumpkin
First, a quick introduction! I am the editor of Create Whimsy, a website where we share the stories and journeys of makers like you and me and their work, providing inspiration for living creatively every day. That’s how I met the quirky and enchanting Lynn Krawczyk – we featured Lynn in a Spotlight interview when her book, Hand Sewing Magic, was published, and have been following Lynn’s journey ever since. We are fans. When she offered the opportunity to contribute blog posts, there was zero hesitation!
I have another gig as Creative Director and Chief Goat Wrangler for Flying Goat Studio, a place where I share my personal creative journey. (Side note: yes, there were real goats involved.)
Hand embroidery is a passion (as are many other creative vices), so since it’s October – and Lynn may be crazy for inviting me – I will share the story of making my Crazy Quilted Pumpkin. If you love it and want to make one, Create Whimsy offers a downloadable Crazy Quilted Pumpkin Pattern based on this project. You can reduce the pattern to make smaller, extremely cute, pumpkins, too.
How did it start? I found myself in a quandary. As an artist with my “Painted Hills 1” art quilt featured in a local calendar, I was asked to “make a decorated pumpkin” to be displayed by a local merchant to promote calendar sales. The other artists were painters, mixed media artists and sculptors who had a clearer path forward. They planned to start with real pumpkins and transform them using their chosen media. How would I decorate a pumpkin as fiber art? A costume, perhaps? The pumpkin could be the head of a bizarre stuffy character. Could be fun. Really, really fun. And a very deep rabbit hole. But too large a footprint, I thought, to ask a retailer to donate to our local arts alliance. And there was a pesky deadline.
So I decided to start from scratch and make my pumpkin evergreen – well, everteal, actually. (Do you know about the Teal Pumpkin Project?) Once I got the pattern pieces and a process scoped out, it was time to gather the raw materials to make my pumpkin grow. Because I never met a stitching medium I didn’t like, I have, ahem, some stuff on hand. I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that I didn’t have to leave the house.
Here’s what I decided to use and why:
- Muslin to use as a stabilizer for the wool pieces.
- Hand dyed wool. It’s like butter to stitch through and has enough body to make a hoop unnecessary. I chose two coordinating teals so that I could alternate the segments, making each stand out a bit more as its own little composition.
- Yo-yos made from vintage silk kimono scraps. What can I say? I have a tubful. Blame Law & Order marathons and a need to keep my hands busy.
- Recycled sari silk yarn. Because I saw it in a booth at a sewing and quilting show and it was about time to actually use some of it.
- Hand dyed embroidery threads. I am an Elin Noble groupie. Among other things (such as being a stellar fiber artist), Elin teaches a workshop called Dyeing to Stitch. Students emerge from the class with drop-dead gorgeous threads, and I have a “collection” of threads dyed by Elin.
- Beads. Because beads.
- Contrasting hand dyed cotton for the stem. I used cotton so that I could turn more tidy corners for stuffing.
- Stuffing. I had enough polyfill left over from another project.
Like much of Lynn’s work, my stitching is eccentric, whimsical, freeform. Because I wanted a playful pumpkin, I approached each of the six segments as a new composition, unifying them with similar materials and techniques. I did not mark any stitching lines when I made my pumpkin. Nor did I look back at previous segments when beginning a new one. (If marking makes you more comfortable, go thou and mark!) But the foundation is traditional stitches, just used in an improvisational fashion. So Lynn’s stitch books and her have-fun-with-it attitude are a great resource.
Make your pumpkin fun and about you and what you love! Decorative machine stitches? Button collection? Found objects? Traditional applique? Shibori? Sashiko? Fusing? Painted fabric? Photo transfer? What am I missing?
Thanks, Lynn, for letting me visit!