This small picture is made from a cotton toile de Jouy* style fabric in yellow-brown tints soft and time faded as cloth coverings on furniture and drapes in an old chateau. The little oval scene is a pastoral reminiscence of country life in olden days as they never were, and shows a sun-bonneted girl reaching to a flower from her seat beneath an overarching apple tree. The picture is set into mottled wine-red cotton, and wreathed about with wine-tinted late summer wild and garden roses and their leaves – the largest garden roses are centered with wine colored Swarovski crystal beads, others with Delica pearlized ivory and wine beads; many petals are also edged in this tiniest size of ivory Delica beads. For the edging frame to the picture I used a narrow band of gold metallic trim in a traditional motif that’s been around since ornamental gimp* began being made.
In 2016 I decided that while the outer surround of roses to the scene was fine, the toile inner picture stuck my eye as looking entirely too faded – it was near impossible to tell foreground from background and the landscape didn’t glint with life – it was, in fact, boring. Still having this fabric in my hoard, I sketched the scene as I’d laid it out, then using water and a sharp Exacto knife gently lifted away almost all the sections of the inner scene; after this tricky job was finished and more of this fabric backed, these parts were cut out all over again and glue-edged. When I began sewing on beads, this time I added many more tiny ones onto the motifs to give them dimension and interest: metallic antique tone green-gold beads emphasize distant trees as well as leaves on nearer shrubs, pink beads pick out wildflowers along the path and foreground bank while smaller flowers in the grass are gold. There’s a wee gold bead atop the church tower and the smallest size Delica ivory beads make door knobs and pediment on the foreground cottage; the birds in the sky and the windows of the buildings are outlined in gold metallic thread.
I changed all the apples on the tree branches that previously were sewn with topaz Swarovski crystal ‘apples’ – these provided no contrast to the fabric and barely showed; after cutting and backing new branches, this time I sewed wine tinted crystal ‘apples’ on branches of the tree the maiden sits beneath, then on branches of the trees farther back replaced gold beads with several hues of darker red ones. A few stitches of thread turned the sun-bonneted maid’s scarf wine-red, then after stitching the special tiny ivory bead ‘brooch’ boasting a gold lining on again, I cut out a double of this figure and glued it underneath so the maiden would ‘stand forth’ in the scene.
With care and a certain amount of swearing, I managed to place all the reconstructed elements back inside the oval wreath, tucking edges beneath roses and leaves with only a few small repairs necessary to this flora surround. The inner scene now show considerable improvement – while it still has an ‘olden days’ appearance, it is now far easier to grasp details in the landscape and understand which objects are in the foreground and which farther away.