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Using Fabrics as your Inspiration.

An unusual starting point?

Whilst creating my last 3 pieces I’ve noticed a theme – the concept begins with the piece of background fabric.

You would imagine the subject would be the inspiration but strangely my backgrounds seems to be the starting point

‘Barn Owl in the Moonlight’ was inspired by the piece of fabric below, I would have never selected it for a quilt as its dark and dour but as a starting point for a piece of textile art its been perfect.


The wonderful thing about creating Textile Art is the ability to instantly cover the blank space in front of you.  Artists and writers know all too well how hard it is to be faced with a blank sheet.  Making that first mark can be terrifying.

This piece shouted out to me from the shelves at Midsomer Quilting as dark, spooky woodland.  With my current bird obsession the obvious line to follow from this setting was an owl and so the concept for ‘Barn Owl in the moonlight’ was born.

When attempting to create the texture and colours of an owl you can be greatly helped by the fabric pieces you select.  You could choose a very plain fabric and build up the detail with free machine embroidery alone but personally the patterns, shapes and colours within a given piece give me a loose pattern to follow with my thread.

The fabric below has the ideal shapes and colours to define my owl as a Barn Owl.



The main details of the owl were made up of just 7 pieces of fabric.  Three pieces for the background, trees, moon and sky and a further 4 for the owl.


Below you can see the image starting to build and the thread detail being added.  I chose a lightly patterned piece of white fabric to give a subtle amount of texture to the face.  The neck was created using a spotty cream fabric giving the illusion of the spots within the owls feathers, a detail I did not want to try and create with thread.


From the original sketch the details were transferred onto the fabric using a water soluble pen.

The owls face was built up using 4 different coloured threads.


The fabric used for the head and gave me a template to create circular details with different coloured co-ordinating threads.  I started the face with a white fabric and build up the details slowly with increasingly darker threads of cream, brown and grey.


The patterns within the fabric were then followed into the wing where I used a dark orange, gold, brown and turquoise to give the owl a modern twist.


Finally I used the lines within the dark woodland fabric to add more texture to the backing with a purple thread.  In all I used 13 threads to build up the piece.

AK001 Barn Owl in the Moonlight

Since creating this picture I have been busy making two more birds, one of which is again an owl.  Though the next owl is less abstract the starting point once again was the backing fabric.

A limited edition Giclee print of ‘Barn Owl in the Moonlight’ is available from my Website shop , please click here to view.

I look forward to sharing my next project with you soon.

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