Australian wildlife – backgrounds

Eucalyptus Leaves

Eucalyptus Leaves

One of the hallmarks of Australian Embroidery, as shown in the magazines, is a willingness to mix techniques and “play”. So while I have no idea of how I am going to show the Rosella, I’ve been thinking in terms of creating a background of tessellated Eucalyptus leaves, one way or another. There are several ways this could be achieved, which would be to some degree in the spirit of what I have read, and I still haven’t worked out which to use. Although I hate working samples, I may have to do so this time, as I haven’t the faintest idea whether they will work!

  • For example, the simplest, once I’ve developed and charted a tessellation, would be to work the background on canvas, using complete coverage. That might be a little dull..
  • Another possibility would be to use a painted canvas or to overlay the canvas with gauze, and then just work the leaf shapes themselves and leave everything else un-stitched. I like that idea, but I think it will need playing with, to get the right gauge of thread to provide suitable coverage and at the same time not puncture the gauze too obviously. I won’t be able to unpick it either, so stitching it might be a nervy business!
  • Then there is the possibility of using waste canvas over a felt or a linen background fabric, so I can chart the tessellation without being stuck with canvas as the whole background.
  • Finally – although this is well outside my usual range of stitching – I could create cut-outs of the leaf shapes and sandwich them between  layers of gauze, with minimal stitching to hold them in place.

Gosh. When I sat down to write this, the last couple of ideas hadn’t come to me at all! That’s one of the unanticipated benefits of blogging, because in sitting down to explain what I am doing, or planning, I concentrate so much more on the subject that I get even more ideas, and what’s more, I’ve got them written down, so when I actually get to that part of the project, I have my notes – often illustrated notes!  – to help me reconstruct my ideas.

It would be nice to work this while I’m actually in Australia, using Australian sourced materials, so I think I need to spend more some time planning the project before our next visit.


  1. Janice says:

    I remembered you mentioned something about an Australian project after you returned from your trip there at the beginning of the year but couldn’t remember what the project was. Specifically, I had no idea what a rosella was! After checking back to the original post I’m now in the know!

    Lots of ideas there, and some that I’m sure will come in for future projects, even if they’re not the one you finally choose for this one. I guess it depends on the stitching technique and brightness of the threads you choose for the rosella. Even though the bird is colourful, I guess when the light shines on it a certain way it will look more subtle, and silk threads for example might highlight that quality. For a long time I’ve wanted to have a go at your final listed technique. I think this one could be the most subtle and throw the focus onto the bird. Since you’re thinking of doing it when next in Oz I’m guessing it will be a while before we see the results!

  2. Oh, that sounds marvelous! I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

    I hate working samples too. I generally just jump right in–completely against my engineer training!

  3. Lady Fi says:

    What great ideas!

  4. Elmsley Rose says:

    Well, you seem to want to use gauze…..*grin*.

    You could paint in the shadows of the leaves a’la Di Van Niekirk’s ribbonwork pieces, and then embroider the leaves – slightly offsided – on top…..another idea. A partially painted canvas, with two ‘depths’.

  5. It’s true, you do often get some really good ideas when sitting down to write. Your thoughts sound very interesting.

  6. I have to confess to loving Eucalyptus leaves and have used their shapes for blackwork and drawnthread work pieces, wish I could capture the smell as well. A question regarding the Rosella. Are you planning to use the bird or the fruit in your embroidery?

  7. karen says:

    writing down, talking, it’s amazing how it generates ideas….

  8. Penny says:

    It will be my pleasure to see what you end up doing – I’m sure it will be marvelous.

  9. Alex says:

    “Finally – although this is well outside my usual range of stitching – I could create cut-outs of the leaf shapes and sandwich them between layers of gauze, with minimal stitching to hold them in place.”

    That would be my first choice. Lovely shadowy subtle background to highlight your Rosella.