Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Brave little mouse

A lot of my sketches over the Christmas period have been mouse-shaped. I'm not entirely sure why my brain latched on to mice, but I have pages and pages adorned with lots of little mice with swords, armour, and even a few with surcoats and elaborate robes. Little knights and city guards and defenders of justice and honour. Yes, these are the kinds of images that fill my head on a daily basis...I just sort of go with it. In fact, I liked the idea of them so much I quickly picked one and started to stitch him up.
Little mouse takes shape. Split stitch for the smooth fur with a mix of greys, white and browns
As I was settling into my usual furry comfort zone, I started to think about how to represent the armour for this mouse. I could just stitch it, maybe even use some metallic threads, but maybe it was time to start branching out into adding other things to my work, such as beads and buttons. I've never added anything to my embroideries, having always stuck to floss alone, but this small mouse represented a great place to try some new things. Oh and it meant a trip to the sewing shop, which is always a treat!

I had a little think and thought that sequins could be used to represent armour.  I've never used sequins before, so that was a learning process, but I was relieved to find they are quite easy to use, and they layered up rather nicely like scale armour. They also come in just about every colour imaginable! I was pleased to get a few packs in nice 'armour' colour such as black, gold and bronze. Rather than stitching the sequins on with thread that crosses across the front of the sequins to anchor them, I used the anchor bead method. This is where you pass the thread from behind the fabric through the sequin, through a matching bead then back through the sequin to the back of the fabric. The bead used must be larger than the hole through the sequin, as it is the bead which holds the sequin onto the fabric. Be sure and knot the thread at the back after you've attached each sequin. This makes things more secure and means that a loose thread won't result in all your sequins falling off! I quite like this method, it was quick and easy and gave the armour a nice texture. It was easy to overlap them too with this method, and very little thread shows on the front. Here's a quick closeup of how the finished sequins look.
I love how the anchor beads add to the overall 'armoured' look
I quite like the sequin texture, but I wasn't sure about the shinyness of it all for a while, as I added them before I finished stitching up the mouse. Once I added more shading and depth to the mouse the sequins slowly started to feel like more of a part of the embroidery. I do like the effect and think I might use it again, but I'm looking forward to trying some other methods too. Here's the hooped up mouse in all his finished glory, looking cute but also a little fierce.

The sword was made from a tiny piece of metallic leather and adds a nice sparkle to balance the armour, another first for me! I decided that the mouse alone in a hoop didn't look quite right, so decided to name him. Captain Elgin just sounded right, so I stitched his name in a handwritten style below him. Now he feels finished, and the design sits very nicely in a hoop as well. I hope to do a few mice to try a few different techniques and looks. I mean, how about tiny buttons for mouse armour? Can't you just imagine a little mouse gathering lost and stray shirt buttons to fashion his motley armour? Adorable!