Silk Shaded Animals

It’s been fairly rare since I finished my apprenticeship that I’ve be able to work a really technical project that I can get my teeth into, it’s been even rarer to work a project with me in mind. I decided to get a few bigger pieces worked up for both for my workshop display at Walford Mill but also for some of the bigger shows that I’m attending in 2015. With this in mind I started work on the first of three cat portraits, of my own trio of fur balls.


Meet Bullion. He is my 18 month old Maine Coon who is rather affectionate & often a little smelly. If you’re a follower over on Facebook or Instagram you will have been seeing lots of progress pictures being posted.  Here I’m going to break down the process a little more along with some of the random bits of info I collated whilst I was stitching.

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These are some of the diagrams I started the project with. A spare colour copy of the original photograph that I could draw all over, this allowed me to establish which way the fur flowed in each area. There was also an outline drawing where I created my order of work. The underlaying areas needed to be worked before the top most layers of fur. This meant starting with the shoulder, moving onto the back & thigh before face,ears, nose with his tail being added last. There are also a couple of sketches worked whilst I was stitching, a plan for how the fur flows and converges on the nose and a messy scribble which is actually where the fluff of the thigh meets the tail!


Once I am stitching I will usually work with the colour image in front of me so I can keep an eye on my stitching against the image. I will also tend to line up all the threads I am using along the top of my frame.


I tend to stitch with lots of different colours on the go at once. It is important to keep an eye not only on picking the correct colour choices but also the condition of the threads as they are being worked. If threads ever start to look fluffy or distressed it is time to swap them.


There were so many stitches in the nose area I needed to use pliers to get the needle through the fabric. My fingers are still looking a little mangled a week on from finishing the face!

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The end is in sight here so why don’t I share what it took to get to this point before the big unveiling?

In total the project took around 55-60 hours

I went through approx 35 needles which have now all been scraped, I can’t tolerate an old needle!

26 stranded cotton colours are in here both DMC & Anchor

6 shades of gossamer silk

1 silk floss

6 shades of ultra fine invisible mending threads

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So there you go, Bullion the ginger cat, front & back. I’m not usually one for making a big thing about how the back looks as everything can be disguised when mounting up your work, however I’m very pleased that I’ve managed to avoid a lumpy back considering how many stitches are in here. So whats next?

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Calico on the left is next onto a slate frame, threads have already been bought followed by our baby, the danger, slightly demented Dillmont. Progress pictures will be up on Facebook & Instagram as always and I will try to break down those projects here as well once I’m finished.

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