SILK SCULPTURES

I wanted to find a way to represent plants and animals in three dimensions so that I could have representations of nature inside the house, and developed techniques for doing this using two layers of silk stitched together, turned inside out, coloured and embroidered.

 

As far as I know, my methods are unique. I don't know of anyone else in the world who does anything similar. I have called it "silk sculpture".

 

My great inspiration has come from Annemieke Mein. I first saw an example of her work in a magazine many years ago - a spider's web against a tree branch. I was stunned and immediately knew that I wanted to learn to do similar things. I loved her work, found every example of it that I could in magazines, and bought her book as soon as it was published. To her I owe a vote of very grateful thanks.

 

But Annemieke Mein developed her art in the direction of wall hangings and machine embroidery. I wanted to go more in the direction of three dimensional representations. I didn't like the fraying that appeared around the edges of ordinary silk flowers, so I turned the edges to the inside and used two layers of fabric.

 

Then the problem was to make those two layers fine enough to be able to represent petals and leaves. I began working in silk habutai, and at first used the sewing machine to stitch around the edges and do the embroidery, but sewing with a machine added two layers of thread to the thickness. Another problem to solve!

 

So I started stitching by hand, using tiny running stitches and thread pulled from from the fabric itself. I still had four layers of fabric around the edges of my leaves and petals where the fabric was folded back against itself, but the thickness from the seam itself was negligible. The next problem was conquering the bounciness of silk habutai, which doesn't hold a crease very well. I found that after turning my structures inside out, I had to overcast the edges to hold all of the layers of silk close together. 

 

Most of my structures are supported by a wire framework, including petals and leaves, and I use threads to help them hold their shape. They are coloured by painting with silk paint, and embroidered with fine threads, often rayon. They are mounted on plaster shapes, often weighted with lead, and the mounts themselves are covered with fabric.

 

I have never made very many of them because they are very time-consuming.

 

The photos here have been placed in order, with the ones most recently made being first.

 

Hairy catepillar
Eucalypt leaves
Gum nuts
Mayfly
Wildflowers and butterflies
Frog and ferns
Superb fairy wrens
Feathertail glider
Wattle flowers
Purple flowers
Grevillia flowers
Mouse front porch
Dragonfly on iris
Mouse wedding
Poppy and spider
Mouse and barrow
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For permission to use artwork, please contact Jenny Grogan.