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Archive for Punchneedle

a plan to make butterflies…

I’m really enjoying butterflies at the moment. I love sitting in the sunshine and watching the butterflies float over my garden, but they almost always refuse to land and let me capture them in a photo. Here’s my favourite photo I’ve managed to take so far, thanks to the lure of my pretty Pompom Tree:

butterfly photo
I think it’s a Common Zebra Blue (it was blue on top!) but don’t quote me on that…

We’ve visited Butterfly World in the Cape Winelands – a butterfly house makes it much easier to see all sorts of butterflies close up and take photos, and we’ll definitely be going back – but it somehow feels like cheating once you know they have to import 300 chrysalises every week to keep the tropical butterflies on display, so it’s not exactly a natural environment… Anyway, here’s one of my favourite Butterfly World pics:

butterfly photo
No idea what type of butterfly this is (Butterfly World is a bit lacking in info), but just look at those markings!

And, in my downtime, I’ve been enjoying playing Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary on my phone – it’s a beautiful, non-competitive, casual game where the goal is to attract and raise different species of butterflies in your own little patch of rainforest. It’s even educational, as all the butterflies are based on real species and there’s a fun fact to discover about each species! (Yes, this is the kind of game I’d be making if PlanetJune ever expanded into game design!)

flutter: butterfly sanctuary
If you’re looking for a relaxing casual game for Android or iOS, I can recommend Flutter!

Naturally, my thoughts turned to making some butterflies of my own – bright, beautiful butterflies to display in my house and inspect whenever I want, many-coloured and patterned after real species. I can’t achieve that level of detail in crochet without tiny stitches (my hands say no thanks) or lots of surface embroidery (to me, that’s ‘cheating’ – it’s not my design style) and then I remembered my old friend punchneedle embroidery

Punchneedle is the perfect medium for the butterflies I want to make! Using multiple colours doesn’t increase the difficulty the way it would in crochet, and I can choose from hundreds of shades of embroidery floss to make each butterfly just right. I haven’t had a chance to do any punchneedle since before I left Canada, and now I’m going to make time to play – it’ll be healthy to have a fun ongoing non-work-related craft project. I’ll be making them in a similar fashion to my Punchneedle Poinsettia design, so I’ll cut each one to shape after I finish the embroidery and there’ll be no background around the wings:

punchneedle poinsettia by planetjune

My vision is to make a group of different butterflies – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud. The great part of my plan is that each butterfly will be its own mini work of art, so there’s no pressure to complete the project – I can just design a new butterfly whenever I feel like it, buy the right shades of floss, make the embroidery, and then add it to the group. The project will be finished when I get bored with it, or my swarm of butterflies may continue to grow forever…

Isn’t this a great idea? My first punchneedle butterfly will be one of my friends from the Flutter game: a Sea Green Swallowtail – I’ll share the results with you soon!

Comments (6)

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle

I’ve been waiting for a very long time to be able to show you this piece! I was commissioned to make some punchneedle-embroidered artwork in 2009 for a book about stories told through needlearts. Recent years have created an uncertain climate for traditional print publishing, and (to make a very long story short) the book never made it to print. So, after years of waiting, I’m finally free to show you what I made…

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle embroidery by June Gilbank (PlanetJune)

I chose the folk tale of the Musicians of Bremen for my design for several reasons: the story spoke to me; it’s not an obvious choice of story, so it hasn’t been overused or Disneyfied; it features animals; and there’s the iconic image of the animals standing on each others’ backs that I thought would translate well into my artwork.

If you’re not familiar with the story, the four abandoned animals find each other as they each set out alone to seek their fortune as musicians in Bremen, but ultimately they discovered all they needed to be happy when they found a home and the companionship of their friends. I like this moral of simple comfort and happiness.

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle embroidery - detail - by June Gilbank (PlanetJune)
Fine detail in the cockerel and silver mackerel tabby markings.

I designed my piece to be set in the forest at night, showing the animals looking through the window of the cottage that would ultimately become their home. The visual impact comes from the color of the animals and the warmth of the lighted cottage window against the cool, dark background of the forest. I used a palette of 29 shades of embroidery floss in this piece, including a colour-blending technique to add depth to the forest floor.

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle embroidery - detail - by June Gilbank (PlanetJune)
Awww, donkey! Plus some of the colour-blended background.

It took a couple of months to complete the embroidery. The finished piece measures 7 3/4 x 5 1/2 inches (19.7 x 14.0 cm) and is stretched over felt-covered board so it doesn’t need a frame and can be propped on a mantelpiece or hung on a wall. The Musicians of Bremen is my second-largest punchneedle project after my globe (pictured below, with my crocheted orangutan):

punchneedle globe by planetjune

I haven’t had time to make any new punchneedle projects since the globe, but looking at my Musicians of Bremen piece makes me hope I can find some time to start punching again – it makes for such colourful, textural, satisfying projects!

punchneedle embroidery patterns by planetjune
If this post has you intrigued about punchneedle embroidery, please see my Punchneedle FAQ for more info, a tutorial, lots of patterns, and my ebook, The Punchneedle Handbook.

Comments (18)

punchneedle globe revealed!

Ah, this post has been a long time coming… (Previous update posts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

I’m not quite sure when I embarked on this project as I didn’t keep any notes; all I know for sure is that my Illustrator design file was last modified in December 2009, so it’s taken over a year to take this project from a 2D pattern to a 3D completed piece. But here, finally, it is: the Punchneedle Embroidery Globe! Click the pic for the larger version:

punchneedle globe (with crocheted orangutan) by planetjune
Hey – it’s PlanetJune personified! Maybe this should be my logo 🙂

Thank you to my orangutan for posing with the globe for these photos 😉

Stitching the two halves together was quite a challenge. I used a curved upholstery needle but it was still really tricky. When I’d stitched 11 of the 12 segments together, I started stuffing. And stuffing, and stuffing, and then stuffing some more. In the end it took about half a standard bag of fiberfill to keep the globe in shape. And I was very glad to have my Detail Stuffing Tool for the final stuffing additions as I stitched the opening closed.

But finally, it was finished! Here are some more views (again, click for the larger version):

punchneedle globe (with crocheted orangutan) by planetjune
Asia and Australia, Europe and Africa, N and S America…

You can see from the above pictures that my globe isn’t a perfect sphere – it looks slightly narrower in the middle picture than in the 2 outer pics. There’s a reason for that: although I did account for the fact that my base fabric (weaver’s cloth) has stretch in only one direction, which changes the aspect ratio of the finished piece, I didn’t realise that by punching so much more densely than usual, I’d change the amount of stretch significantly, so I didn’t distort my pattern enough to compensate for that before I transferred it to my fabric. My finished globe has a circumference of 18″ at the widest point and 17″ at the narrowest. Not perfect, but considering I had no idea if my idea of a 3D punchneedled piece would even work at all, I can live with it.

I’m a geek…

I decided to put on my science geek hat and come up with some estimates of how many stitches went into this project. I came up with two methods for the estimation; both are very rough, but taken together they at least give us some idea.

Method 1: floss length. I counted how many stitches I made with a known length of floss. I kept track of how many skeins of floss I used (28) and the length of each skein, to extrapolate the number of stitches in the whole globe. Result: 55,000 stitches.

Method 2: surface area. I counted how many stitches I’d made in a typical square centimetre on the back of the embroidery, and then used the average circumference of the finished globe to calculate its radius (C=2πr), subtract the stitch loop length (to give the size of the backing fabric) and then its surface area (SA=4πr²). Result: 63,000 stitches.

So I feel fairly confident in saying that there’s somewhere in the region of 60,000 stitches in my globe – and even at punchneedle speed, that’s a lot of stitches!

2011 is almost here

The coming year is going to bring some big changes for me (and Dave and Maui). I still can’t really get my head around this idea of moving, especially to the southern hemisphere – what a change that’ll be! But now, at least I have a way to visualize it:

punchneedle globe (with crocheted orangutan) by planetjune
Canada to Cape Town… it’s even further away than I’d realised!

Thanks for accompanying me on my journey to complete this globe! I hope you like the result. It’s funny that I had no idea how relevant it would be to me when I embarked on this project…

Comments (36)

punchneedle globe WIP (part 5)

Ah, this is an exciting moment: I think this will be the final WIP post for my punchneedle globe, because…

punchneedle project - work in progress

That’s right, I’ve finished punching the northern hemisphere!

(FYI, it looks wrinkly in the pic above because I’ve just taken it out of the embroidery hoop, and there’s no point in pressing the surrounding fabric because it’ll all be trimmed down shortly.)

Now all I have to do is stitch up this half into a hemisphere shape, as I did for the southern hemisphere (pictured below), and then keep my fingers crossed that it’ll all match up when I put the two halves together!

punchneedle project - work in progress
Will the top half match the bottom half?! That remains to be seen…

That final seam is going to be the hardest part of all. I’ll have all that pleated fabric you see in the pic above, from both halves, to wrangle (I think I’ll trim some of the excess from what you see above before I begin). And, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ll have to stitch almost half of it from the outside (instead of working inside-out, as I do to stitch the flat circles into a hemisphere). That’ll be more difficult in this project than hand-sewing the final seam closed in a normal sewing project, because the loops of the punchneedle stitches splay out over the seam I want to sew from both sides, so I think it’ll be tricky to get my needle close enough to the edge of my embroidery to create a close-to-invisible seam. But I’ll do my best!

Please keep your fingers crossed that this all comes together as I’d hoped – it’s been a huge and time-consuming project, and I really won’t know if it’s going to work out or not until I’ve made the final stitches and I either have a globe or a big lumpy mess…

Stay tuned for the nailbiting conclusion of the punchneedle globe project! 😀

Comments (13)

punchneedle globe WIP (part 4)

Punchneedle Globe menu:

Here’s where we left my punchneedle embroidery globe at the last update:

punchneedle project - work in progress

This next stage is the real test of my design: I based my idea on the concept of a papercraft globe I’d once seen that turns 2D sheets of paper into a 3D globe. So, in theory, I should be able to do the same thing using a 2D embroidery. The moment of truth: I hand-sewed up all the unembroidered darts, to (fingers crossed) convert the flat piece into a hemisphere, and…

punchneedle project - work in progress

It worked! I now have one very nice hemisphere. Thanks to that extra-dense punching I did, the seams are pretty much invisible from the outside. You’ll have to take my word for that, because I’m going to be a little bit mean and only show you the inside of the hemisphere for now – I have to save something for the big reveal once I’ve punched the other half of the globe…

There’s a lot of work left to do to get it finished – the second half should actually take longer than the first: the northern hemisphere has more landmasses, islands, lakes, and general detail that I included in my pattern, so it’s going to take a lot longer to punch than the (mostly blue) southern hemisphere.

But I’ve found something to make my punchneedle go much more quickly from now on! This is a punchneedle spooler:

punchneedle spooler (image courtesy of The Punchneedle Marketplace)

Spooler for Cameo punchneedle (image courtesy of The Punchneedle Marketplace)

It sits in the top end of the punchneedle. You wind your floss onto the spool and can punch for the entire length of a skein instead of having to rethread the needle every metre or so (the floss can easily get tangled or trapped with a length much longer than that). And, with a 2-step threading process, that’s a significant time saving – I think it took me almost as long to thread the needle as it did to use one length of floss!

Slight problem though: punchneedle supplies are pretty scarce these days… I don’t know of any Canadian suppliers of this attachment, and I knew it would cost a lot in shipping to import one from the Punchneedle Marketplace. So what’s a crafty girl to do? Get crafty!

Here’s my homemade punchneedle spooler:

punchneedle project - work in progress
Prototype punchneedle spooler

  • The wire is just heavy floral wire, bent into shape with pliers. It works okay, but I’d like to get some stiffer wire to replace this, now that I know my concept is sound – I don’t think the floral wire will last forever.
  • The spool is just an empty spool from regular sewing thread.
  • I used my Dremel with a cutting disc to cut the pointy end off an IKEA pencil (which fits nicely inside the spool).
  • I hollowed out the graphite from both ends of the pencil with a Dremel drill bit, so that the ends of the wire can slip inside the pencil.
  • The black rubber bands are mini hair elastics. I found that, without those, the spool clicks back and forth against each end of the wire with each punch, and that noise gets very annoying very quickly!

The spool rotates freely on the pencil, so more floss is fed to the needle every time I make a stitch. Isn’t it great to be crafty?! It’s all made with supplies I had on hand, and it works brilliantly!

punchneedle project - work in progress
Starting the Northern Hemisphere

Thanks in part to my new spooler, my Northern Hemisphere is coming along much more quickly – I wonder if I’ll be able to finish the whole globe over the Christmas holiday…

Comments (32)

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