12.8.09

Three Little Geese

As featured on Cuteable - thank you very much!



And this is where they started - from the comfort of our four-poster bed, on our Devon holiday.






Well, almost. The bed had muslin drapes. One night when they were pulled round and we were sharing a bottle of wine, I noticed an interesting gap between them. Which turned into these long necked bird-like creatures.






I've been putting off tackling the business of making my own patterns for years. And I managed to put it off for a few more months. But I finally knuckled down, transferred the sketches into a photo programme, did a bit of flipping and produced a rough paper pattern.






With a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth, I cobbled together a rough dummy, which seemed to work. I was most proud of my gusset - I would never have been content to just sew together two bits of material, because I do like to make life difficult for myself.






A year ago I bought some poplin, and actually got round to tea-dying it for a nice aged effect. It has since been languishing, neatly folded, on my neglected sewing machine. I meant to make geese from it, but never did. Time to iron it out...





...and get cutting, with Andy's little nan's scissors. She's no longer with us, but I still use her sewing equipment, much of which she inherited from Andy's great-grandmother.





My old Jones machine groaned with subdued excitement (or was that me?) as I unlocked it and wiped off the dust. I breathed in that special antique sewing machine smell of old oil, cold iron and memories.





What was in the little side drawer? Nothing too interesting. Essence of haberdashery.






I had a momentary panic trying to remember how to thread up. Miraculously, I still have an original manual, which also helped me sort out the tension in minutes.






Time to bite the bullet. I got going. There is something very comforting about using an old sewing machine. They seem to stay in excellent working order despite years of non-use and my Jones clicked and clattered happily, so pleased to be working again and eager to be of use. We hummed together.




I did used to be able to sew. I learned the basics at my mother's knee, and went on to incorporate embroidery and patchwork in my illustration degree. It got put to one side, as a non-money earner, in the days before Etsy and the craft revolution. Things kept coming back. Me and the new goose got intimate.






My studio floor is littered with re-discovered fabric stash. The big bag of sheeps wool which I bought specifically for this purpose (well over a year ago) has been broached. I am exploring the gentle art of stuffing. I've gone for a primitive look, which is not a style that is common in the UK. But I like making lumpy old things, and they are not a million miles away from my artworks. Which was the whole purpose of it all.






Now we are three. I am not sticking hard and fast to the pattern, as I want each one to have a little personality of its own.






And with a shameless plug (because I could do with earning this week's grocery money) I've put two of them up for sale in my Etsy shop...this one -




SOLD - See her new home HERE



SOLD



I'm keeping the other one for me, how radical is that!?

UPDATE - thank you to the two lovely people who snapped my Gooseys up! I'll be making some more next week, but for now I must return to the slower pace of needle felting and clear some orders.

49 comments:

tut-tut said...

Brilliant! What a great article on the creative process this post would make . . . just a thought, hmm?

Menopausal musing said...

One of THE most delightful posts I have EVER read..... from reading about the source of your design, using photoshop (?), your grandmother's scissors, getting a peak into your tool drawer and even down to the stuffing process. Wonderful, just wonderful. :O) I wish you success by the bucketload with these.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Gretel, you are just so talented. And they do all have different personalities. It's as though you create real life in your Cotswold cottage!! By way of Devon, of course.

Sarah said...

i absolutely *love* reading your posts. wonderful!

Helen/Dudley said...

As usual, I am so impressed and terribly jealous at your talent. Also, one of these days I am going to have the extra cash to purchase one for myself (like maybe a polar bear).

Helen/Dudley said...

Oh and maybe I'll save myself the international shipping charges and come pick it up :)

PG said...

LOL! You would be welcome! That would be too cute, if you just turned up on the doorstep, demanding your polar bear! (There would of course, be tea and cake).

eco_worrier said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I have some rough sketch patterns and now feel inspired to try them out! Love ALL your geese.

Sue said...

Everyone has already said what I wanted to say which is how lovely and aren't they gorgeous and so 'you' and I'm glad you are keeping one for yourself and love the sewing machine :-)

Kim said...

I do love these, and watching them develope from sketch, through pattern to finished item is actually a comforting experience. I'm not sure why, but it is :)

Keep it up, girl, you are such an inspiration :)

Kim x

Suze said...

ditto...ditto....ditto...as everyone has said....beautiful and more...
Plus...I've spoilt myself! :) I just couldn't resist...I've spent my glass money, and the beautiful little green winged goose and I are going to be very happy in our new home together.

Missy said...

Beautiful. I can smell my mothers machine now -- steel and oil and old leather. I loved the button hole maker because it looked like a little racecar who's driver bobbed back and forth. Thanks for bringing back that wonderful memory and sharing your work.

ellen said...

I will repeat the repeats of everyone and then add a tidbit of my own.
Your sewing machine is priceless. What a beautiful little work horse, so faithful and dependable, carrying a pack load of memories with her.

Love the geese...what is it not to love with all of your creations?

Goosy (goosey??) Gander, whither, whither...on and on...or I love The Three Graces! Muses, encouragers of the arts, creativity..on and on.

(OOH is looks as if I have exceeded the limit of misspellings here.)

Wendy said...

just love all three ..

Graceful Moments said...

It is impossible to have a favorite work of yours. They are all so delightful and each with its very own little character and personality. I went to Etsy to see about purchasing one but there were none to be had!
Enjoy your blog so much!

Caroline B said...

Well, they didn't hang round for long did they! Lovely work - my favourite was the red winged one. You'll have to make a whole skein of geese now.......

Danielle Barlow said...

Oh, they are just so cool! Congratulations! My sewing machine is out of order at the moment :( The foot pedal shorted the other day and it set off running all by itself in my studio ( no, I hadn't switched it off properly) and nearly burn't the motor out. Thank goodness my youngest daughter heard and saw it through the window!

frayedattheedge said...

What a wonderful post! You are right about old sewing machines - all they need is a clean and oil and they just keep on going - unlike my 'state of the art' touchscreen machine, which has thrown an expensive wobbly!!

Lyn said...

They are lovely, I love your artwork, the paintings are gorgeous!
Love
Lyn
xxx
Hope they sell so you don't have to eat beans on toast all week!

Puddock said...

Beautiful! I love the touches of patchwork colour and the big (blanket?) stitching on the wings. You've done it again Gretel!

rossichka said...

What a wonderful post about the process of creating the geese. You are such a good story-teller, Gretel! This has been obviously a successful return to the sewing-old-times and is so nice that your machine was just there waiting for you and your ideas! You can write "Jones's diary" (or memories)...:-) It's so sweet that you have kept one goose for yourself! I think it's only natural.

Twiglet said...

Love this blog Gretel - brought back so many memories. That old machine is wonderful. We had a similar one until I was treated to a Singer zig-zag electric machine for my 14th birthday. I have had 3 more new machines since then and given them all a lot of "welly"!!
The geese will be a huge success I am sure1

BumbleVee said...

Back in my early bear making days I sewed a gusset on upside down and came up with a great new nose shape.... a happy accident....those noses evolved into some amazing things....

Carol said...

A most heartwarming blog and inspiring post. I love how you write, illustrate, sew, photograph - such a collection of talents, all presented with warmth and generosity.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Love the goose story, and I see both have found homes too! Your Jones looks so like my old Singer.....

Suze said...

Thank you...she's beautiful... :D

Frances said...

Hello PG, please let me join the queue of all those who've already praised this post.

Everything about it is marvelously, uniquely you!

Of course, the completed geese are a wonder, each carrying lots of character. It's your telling of how they came to exist that really adds that PG charm.

I remember when you were teaching us how to get many subtle watercolor effects. I remember when you were showing the wonders of letterpress techniques. And on and on. You are such a generous artist!

xo

Libby Buttons said...

I adore the photos ~the writing~and of course the Geese. Little Nana would be so proud!

smiLes
DarLie

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog and I just LOVE yours. There's nothing better than "stumbling" upon or discovering a beautiful new blog. I so look forward to catching up.

LittleBrownDog said...

They are JUST GORGEOUS, Gretel. Not at all surprised you sold them instantly (and couldn't resist keeing the third one for yourself).

My mum used to have an old Jones sewing machine. I'm not sure whether she's ever used it during the last 20 years, but I'm sure it'll still be around somewhere.

My Bella Bleu said...

I love seeing the concept art and process. They really are charming little geese! Great job.

Jackie said...

Oh So fabulous. Such a lot of work...but surely easier than needlefelting?
I love them.

Soozcat said...

Gretel, have I mentioned lately that you are awesome? Even if I have, it bears repeating.

Kitty said...

That old sewing machine is quite something! And all its paperwork still exists - fascinating! Your wee flock of geese is so elegant and adorable :)

acornmoon said...

I can see a PG craft book on the horizon! Are you listening editors?

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

I loved seeing it transform from an idea to reality. A lot of work in between and well worth it, they're wonderful

spinyurchin said...

Loved that...your creative process all from the hanging curtains around the bed.

Susan said...

I LOVE the Geese...but in visiting your etsy shop found the white chicken needle felt clip and had to have it!! I will use it on the curtains in the room I'm redecorating around and antique hand embroidered quilt....all red embroidery!

Thanks so much for your talent.

Can't wait for that little chicken to arrive!

Eric Orchard said...

Beautiful! Great to see your drawings too!

Donna said...

Wonderful Gretel, you are so clever and I love the story of how they started and am glad that Devon got in there somehow :-)

Rachael Rabbit said...

Hi Gretel - How are you? I learnt to sew on a similar machine and I can not fathom how you produced anything ... I remember trying to get the speed right, the straight lines, keeping the wheel turning while handling the fabric with the other hand ..... it was just so hard ... but I was 9 or something like that ;-)

Magpie Magic said...

Love the geese and your old sewing machine. I've got a new one languishing under my computer desk... however, my sewing skills aren't brilliant. Just no patience with sewing. I hope you make some more geese!

ewix said...

What an interesting insight into the whole process of creating these wonderful geese.
I'm incredibly impressed that you can use a ssewing machine.
i always found them really difficult and frustrating.
I love hand sewing and can do drawn-threadwork for linen tray clothes.
Sadly, no call for them nowadays.
Sorry I've been out of touch for so long.
Have a super weekend.

Kim said...

I must learn the art of keeping - I never make bags and think ooh, I'll have that one. I always feel too guilty, and keep the 'not quite perfects' for me. Tsk.
I used to love my mum's old machine which was my grans before that, as I read your post I could remember just how it smelled!
Kimxx

Ember said...

Brilliant - & fab photos! So glad the geese found homes!

Kim Dellow said...

Fabulous post, I loved the start to finish journey. Kim

PussDaddy said...

I, too, enjoyed this story very much. I love your geese, and you do have a lovely gusset if I say so myself. :-)

PussDaddy

sooziebee said...

this is the perfect post, i love seeinf how genuine ideas start from something really random, would love it if you could take part in a blog interview on sketchbooks, i will send you the details if you are interested x

Belinda said...

I apologise for the lateness of my comment on this post (I've just found your site through Rima and Tui), but I just wanted to say how excited I was to see you using an old sewing machine. I have one very similar - a 1910 Singer in mint condition - and is much used and loved. If only I could create things as beautiful as your pieces!