About ten days ago I received the first proofs of Crewel Creatures from Metz Press. That's always an exciting time for me because I am always amazed at how Wilsia Metz and Liezl Maree take my ramblings along with the photos from the photo shoot and weave them into a work of art. They have, once again, produced a beautiful book.
Some years ago I spotted a painting of an owl in the window of an art gallery in a quaint village area of Montreal. Although it was probably in what is known as the 'steam punk' style, it was the clock face tummy that caught my eye. I obsessed for the rest of my Canadian trip over how I could interpret that idea, particularly the tummy, in Jacobean embroidery. Owlfred was the result and while I was stitching him it dawned on me that there was absolutely no reason to stop with an owl, why not other animals and birds?
It's been about two years in the making and Crewel Creatures is the result of those imaginings.
In the book you will find:
The shell of a tortoise is an area which cries out for Jacobean elements. Norman, as he is known, is colourful and decorative.
Living in Africa, as I do it was inevitable that I would choose to interpret the animals and birds that reside on this continent. Audrey is worked, not in the normal colours of an ostrich but rather, in the colours of the Klein Karoo, the area in South Africa where you would expect to find these large flightless birds.
Having enjoyed Owlfred, I wanted to do another owl for the book. One in full flight, about to pounce on the rat that, as is happens, ate my ethernet cables at about the time I was dreaming about it, the rhodent that left me with no internet for a while. Maureen is a big girl. She needed to be large if the Jacobean elements were going to look like anything at all so she is a long project but really will take pride of place on any wall when completed and framed.
To my mind, the hood of a cobra is an area just waiting for Jacobean embellishment. Despite this, a snake is a subject that may not appeal to many even though it often formed a part of the old Jacobean Tree of Life pieces, so it took a while to make the decision to include Janet and of course, she needed to be a happy and pretty snake. So, plenty of small glass pearls and a smile on her face. I have to say, I did enjoy stitching her.
hat could be more African than an elephant and also, the next and final design, a Rhino. Shirley is a stylised elephant with large, decorative ears. It is those larger ears that distinguish the African from the Asian elephant and, having seen images of so many decorative elephants that come from Asia, it was very difficult to not automatically fill her with red and gold elements. Instead, she is altogether more muted which, despite the common belief that Africa is mostly a continent of bright orange sunsets and brightly coloured Ndebele art, are very much the shades that you will find on this most colourful of continents.
Both of these animals are on the endangered list, the Rhino critically so with Rhino poaching being one of the great scourges of our time. At least every week there will be footage and mention of Rhino slaughter on our local television news and all of this because far away men from another continent believe that its horn, ground into powder, is an aphrodisiac. I had a lot of fun with Roger's hide and the trees behind him - using a freestyle variety of stitches to create texture.
I'm privileged to have seen both of these large animals many times, and in their natural habitat. I hope that they will still be around for future generations to be equally privileged.
So, when will you be able to get this book?
As mentioned, it is still in its production phase. I expect to have copies in late February to early March, that being for the South African market. With regard to the rest of the world, that will be a little later, around the beginning of June. It is available for pre-order on Amazon, Book Depository, Fishpond and I would imagine other book websites No pressure then for the author. It's quite nerve wracking when you're still busy with it and it's already out there. If you click on the book site links above you will be able to pre-order right now. But best not to tell me you've done that. It's nail biting stuff until I receive the advance copies and know it's real.
As soon as I get boxes of the book available in my studio, the packs will go online. They will be the normal packs that we provide - i.e. print packs, bead packs, thread packs and speciality thread packs. Obviously you will need the book for the instructions and we provide the packs to make it easier for you. No tracing onto fabric, no trying to source threads and beads from all over the place. All in one place from us.
But what are you going to do in the meantime if you would like to start on a creature. Maybe this will solve your problem.
We have full kits of Owlfred available on our website at a discounted price. Well, only 8 of them because that's what we have in stock. We've got them at that price until the end of November so if you want one at a good price, probably get there quite quickly. Click here and you'll be taken to the place where you can order one.
So, that's Crewel Creatures.
I'm afraid that you're going to be hearing from me again very soon because I also have two other new books. I'm going to write a separate newsletter about that, just so that we don't mix things up too much.
Till then, Hazel