Preserving the fragile petals

A few years back I experimented with this idea, was inspired, and loved it … and the thought returned this week with a call out for artists to support the local hospice that worked so beautifully, carefully – oh, how caring and considerate and expertly when my mother was dying, and we managed ‘hospice at home’… 40 years of Dorothy House  and a show at 44AD next week in aid of this special place…

Tulips, dried naturally so the petals curl, the musky scent remains and the colours mature.. The still skeleton shape is fragile and beautiful, the scent pungent from the Spring and from my Bees Knees kantha work at Walcot Chapel

susi bancroft tulip 1


Tissue paper, dyed and stitched and embellished onto the natural tulip – but the subtle quality for me is to add a breath, a petal or two, a thought

susi bancroft tulip 2I can place these in glass preserving jars as before, when to lift the lid releases that scent and allows a closer view. They are ephemeral and fragile – I found that in time the scent will remain though gently recede a little, but it evokes so much. The colour fades, however much we try to hold it, but my dyed petals stay clear and bright..

susi bancroft tulip stitch



Out of hibernation…

kantha study susi bancroft2Emerging from hibernation – slowly, tentatively..

Playing with placement for a little kantha study. Watching the birds on the feeders outside, aware of an increasing chatter and song with earlier sunrise and seasonal shifts (if to and fro). This morning sharp frost, cold cleansing air, cracked ice, fragile white blossom, a wash of blue clear skies and a walk to awaken the senses

kantha study susi bancroft3Gentle colour, sensing a quiet rhythm begin to flow, breathing some life into a piece that has been patiently waiting in the wings…



Day 1 – Cloth layered and constructed – free piecing with herringbone and a long back stitch … Suspended in the space and ready to start stitching … Such an exciting moment raising the piece by stitching thread to 2 corners, throwing the ball of thread over the wire and pulling the work up and into place and space!

Susi Bancroft Walcot 1.2Susi Bancroft day 2.1Day 2 – Opening the heavy door this morning and catching my breath at the sight of it …..the first line of stitch exploring for reach and rhythm – both hands working together to complete each stitch

Susi Bancroft day 2.3..a gathering of flowers which by synchronicity echo the colours chosen


Where next?…

Another spell working at Walcot Chapel this week with some artist friends. See Kay Swancutt’s post here

I have been preparing today. Some fine woven washed muslin in a dye bath of turmeric and tea. That fragrance filled the air again all around and through me it seems, and I decided on the warmth of sunshine and buttery golden yellows as the seasonal changes are on my mind..

Susi Bancroft natural dye 1Susi Bancroft natural dye 2One of the special qualities of Walcot for me is the volume of space filled with light streaming in through the windows. So why not use this to explore working on a large scale – beyond my reach – so that the cloth surrounds me and the stitching needs my whole body to move.

Susi Bancroft selecting 1The cerise pink muslin was chosen for me by 2 of tomorrows friends and it seems a joyous addition.

I will thread 2 needles and work left to right, then right to left – stitching both left and right handed ( I am a left hander but I use both and teach using both). Will rig the cloth as high as I can.

I have my yoga mats to lie on as a contrast to standing – maybe I will place them under the cloth so I can look up at it – I will wait and see what happens.







threads - susi bancroftI just mentioned this image on the Brunel Broderers blog

Rich dialogue as usual between us whilst working – this was what I was stitching

susi bancroft kantha in progressKay mentions our meeting on her own blog – here

One of the topics was about artist’s pre-occupations, fascinations – when did these begin, was it in childhood or beyond, and what connections do we make and notice?

I have been sorting out my studio and delving into collections, sketchbooks, samples and found a photo I took a few years ago which reminded me of my recent kantha work…

Queen bee quilt…

Susi Bancroft quilt 1

I love seeing these seams – the joining that holds it all together and the light shining through in the early morning as I watched it move in the breeze from the window where I left it overnight so I could look at it as I woke…

Susi Bancroft quilt 2Pinning, stitching, pressing in a relaxed rhythm – growing the quilt

Susi Bancroft quilt 3No set pattern for size apart from the same width for the strips, pieced with continual reflection – strips joining to search for balance – I prefer to work this way, to stop and look – to try out and think why some choices work..

Susi Bancroft quilt 4Running stitch – beautiful, peaceful rhythm texturing the layers of cloth – the quilt lying warm and comforting across my body as I work – welcome as the mornings grow chilly with Autumn..

Susi Bancroft quilt 5Why Queen Bee? Because this is the year I spent more time watching the bees, thinking more about their ways, hearing them, tracing their flight in drawings… I think the quilt holds some of this in its choice of cloth, its feel as I worked on it outdoors in the sun whilst watching the bees..


Thinking in Stitches…


Shadow lines, layers and loose threads are characteristic of my work and I talk about them often – click on the tags to have a look at past images and words, or pop the words into the search box…


Stitch vocabulary or iconography such as buttonhole wheels and French knots


They are all personal reflections and my own mark making on cloth – so:

Knots feel like and represent thoughts like prayer beads

Herringbone is a journey with steps along the way

Feather represents my connection to the natural world

Buttonhole – whole thoughts or partial ones

Loose threads reach out and float, even melt into the atmosphere and connect with the viewer

susi-bancroftI think I will photograph some close ups for the next post! The above are all from Walcot Chapel where the walls, light and space are exceptionally beautiful…

Walcot Chapel – turmeric and tea



Withies looking like stitches in the landscape!


Cloth drying on the line – prayer flags in my thoughts – looking through the cloth and dreaming of the tea and turmeric drifting into the atmosphere..


Table laid, piece in progress


Catching thread thoughts and fragments


Pinned gently to allow for movement, shadow and spaces to breathe!


Over the course of the week I thought about what each choice of stitch reflects – what iconography.