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Part three of this blog post details the embroidery I did on the British Birds binding, the bit I always enjoy the most! As described in the pervious installment, I chose to keep the background detail behind the birds to simple lines embroidered in green to match the covering leather. This was to stay in keeping with the illustrations within the book.

The drystone wall ran across the design, changing in size for perspective. The larger part of the wall was detailed with outlines of individual stones and as the wall went into the distance this changed and each stone was represented by a small French knot. 

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Behind the lapwing, as shown in the previous post through the work I did on the sample board, I added sprigs of heather. 

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And behind the curlew I depicted the bird walking amongst some long grasses.

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Once the background detail was complete it was time to work on the birds. Firstly, the large standing curlew got the embroidery treatment. I started by building up the colour with some small stem stitches with threads in colours to match the onlay behind. 

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Once these patches were blocked out with small stitches, I added some speckled detail on the head of the bird using a double length of machine cotton.

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Once all of the colour block was done on the main body of the bird, I added feather outlines using a darker thread.

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Within each of these outlined feathers I added further detail in the centre of each using a lazy daisy stitch.

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More detail was added to the beak and legs, plus a small white French knot was sewn into the black of the bird’s eye to bring it to life!

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The back of the leather showed the number of stitches that went into creating his feathery look.

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The same method was applied to the flying curlew, using smaller stitches on the base and building up detail on top.

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I had company in the form of a newborn baby throughout this process – thankfully at her early age she slept a lot and embroidering the leather was a pleasant task to do with a dozy baby on my lap!

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As with the curlews, the lapwing had his feathers built up in the same way. Having worked on a lapwing for the sample board, and therefore having had a “test-run”, I thought of improvements to the way I should embroider the second one. I was able to add finer detail and adapt the way I used the threads a bit on the actual book leather. For example, I used a larger variety of colours and added outlines for some of the feathers on the lapwing’s back.

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Metallic threads were also woven into each of the birds before completion to add a little sparkle to their feathers!

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A little white thread was also added to the clouds to add a bit of textural detail to them too. And with this done the embroidery stage was complete!

COMPLETED FRONT OF LEATHER:

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COMPLETED BACK OF LEATHER:

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The next, and final, installment sees the leather going onto the book and the end result…

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