This word makes one think of being constrained, hemmed in, even imprisoned. So, when it came to thinking of ideas for the March theme of ‘fenced’ for the #areyoubookenough challenge on Instagram I was stumped. Then it dawned on me that a fence also offers protection and solace, especially if it encloses a garden.
It took a while to arrive at the idea of using my own garden as the source material for the images in the book. I began by stitching a silver fence from lame (with umlaut). Thank you Asta for suggesting this. The intention was to applique (with umlaut) floral fabric behind and in front of the fence and so create a garden on the inside pages of the book. I first painted the book’s blank canvas green (using acrylic ink), then fused floral fabric and, on top of this, the fence posts along the opened up book. The fabric is Kaffe Fassett’s “Row Flowers”, my current favourite.
After stitching down the fence I decided I preferred what was originally meant to have been the outside of the book as the backdrop for the garden. The outline of the fence in closely stitched grey lines was more appealing and less obtrusive than the heavy silver lame. Turn the book around, I told myself, it’s quicker than unpicking (ha ha) or starting again. But I did not know where to begin with a new design for the enclosed garden. The skeleton of the book lay fallow for a couple of weeks while I pondered on what to do.
Then I decided that an enclosed garden needs a gate so began there, by first drawing a rickety old wire gate inside our garden, then tracing the drawing and then machine stitching it (through the tracing paper) onto the first page of the concertina book.
It was probably at this point that I decided to use scenes from our garden to illustrate the three double page spreads in the book. And here I must pay tribute to Johanna Basford, whose adult colouring book Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book also sparked ideas. On the first double spread I used fabric and applique to copy the pots of herbs on the patio. Luckily I have a box of fabric bits with fusible web backings, left over from previous projects. When I became tired of cutting out tiny chillies and tomatoes and leaves I got out my Inktense pencils, took a deep breath, and drew some of the leaves and fruit.
After making the first double page I began to play in earnest and pulled out the pencil crayons, koki pens, ink and paint brushes. I did struggle a bit to copy the very ornate birdbath in the garden. Until recently it was surrounded by tall garlic chives in full flower.
The final set of pages depicts the stone paved enzo in the herb and vegetable garden. There really is a bay tree with a bird house in that section of the garden (but it is planted in the ground, not a pot).
The final step in the making of the book was the overstitching. I hesitated before setting my sewing machine to the wavy zigzag stitch and then sewing all over my drawings. After practising on a sample I decided the patterning would add to the fenced theme and would also unify the images. Here I acknowledge Anne Kelly, from whom I learnt this trick.
And so I have a record of the garden in its late summer abundance. I started work on the new inside pages with three days to spare until the month ended and the deadline for the #areyoubookenough_fenced March challenge. It pretty much took up all of the three days to make this little book. Here are a set of photographs of the process and various arrangements of the finished book:
Round and round the garden
Still on the garden theme, but jumping to a different project — the Bernina South Africa round robin challenge, which runs monthly for six month. I wrote about starting this in a previous post. The instruction for the second round was to surround the central appliqued motif with joined strips of fabric. I made a garden path using plain greys alternated with the flower fabric.