Art Elements Theme Challenge – Birds of Prey

This month The Art Elements challenge was set for us by Cathy Mendola and she chose Birds of Prey. Now these are not creatures I know at close quarters other than an Eagle Owl and a Lanner Falcon I had the privilege to meet at a falconry display years ago but, I do think they are rather wonderful creatures. My first thoughts were to go with Owls as I knew I had a number of these in my bead stash and that would be a good starting point.

I’ve had this lovely stoneware owl pendant by Duane Collins for years and never done anything with him because he’s a bit on the large size. I did however think he would be perfect as one of those owls who sits silently in a hole in a tree and that would be a good textile project – hence the selection of yarn.

Immediately I pulled out a bundle of mixed cut yarns that had lots of lovely textures that I thought I could work into a bark effect.

Before doing anything else I marked the owl position onto a piece on a piece linen with some stabiliser at the back and embroidered a black shadow around it to give the effect of a hollow. Then I tacked the wool roughly in place which gave a rather wild and wooly look so I went over it with my sewing machine to tame it a little resulting in a nice bark effect.

To build up an edge around the hollow I tacked a piece of thick wool around the outline and then whip stitched around it with a contrasting woollen thread to give an organic feel. I then used the same wool to add some loose abstract stitching to represent lichen on the bark.

Finally I trimmed and backed the fabric and added a silk hanging cord and then glued the owl into place and this is how he finished up. He’s fairly simple but I do like the naturalistic feel so I think I’ll be trying more of this style of design.

At the start of this challenge I bought this beautiful polymer clay Barn Owl in flight by Monika Duchowicz and I really wanted to use this as part of a story box, developing a technique I recently started with this secret garden story box. My aim here is to use a quote or literary reference to create an embroidered piece and present it within a box with a secret keepsake compartment in the bottom.

I found a poem that I really liked called ‘What Sees the Owl’ by Elizabeth Sears-Bates and an image of an owl in flight (The flight path by Connor Stefanison) that gave me me some inspiration for the panel to go in the top of the box. Unfortunately though, I’ve not yet worked out what I want to do with the base of the box. I realised when making the secret garden box that this type of project needs to be planned out carefully in advance to make sure the layering gets done in right order, so for now I’ve put this one aside but I’ll be sure to let you know when I do get it done.

With just a couple of days I wanted to get something else made so I decided to try doing something a bit more life like by embroidering a small piece from a photographic image. This is a new thing for me – I’m not good at realism in any medium so whatever I make is usually stylised but you need a challenge one in a while so I picked this image of a barn owl…isn’t he lovely?

This is how my interpretation came out. He’s not quite finished yet and I took some liberties with the colouring to get some contrast but I’m pretty happy with him and might even try a bit more realism.

So that’s my offering for this months challenge and I’d like to offer my thanks to Cathy for coming up with this great theme. I’ve seen some sneak peeks this week so I know there lots of other great contributions so I hope you’ll join us on our blog hop using the links below.















Team Members: 












22 thoughts on “Art Elements Theme Challenge – Birds of Prey

  1. Lesley your wall hanging is fantastic! I love how you used your sewing machine to make the tree more tree like, and the stitching around the owl’s hollow is a great idea! Fantastic as always!

  2. Oh my!! I was eagerly awaiting the reveal so I could see what you did with that owl by Duane and all those luscious fibers. I am blown away!! I love how you created that tree bark and the hole for the owl to perch inside. I am really awed by the life-like appearance of the lichen. So well done!! I cannot wait to see how you create the keepsake box with the owl inside. And your final piece…your stitching is just fabulous. I would say he is very realistic!

  3. No matter what you make with thread and fabric, it’s always amazing! I really like the organic texture of the first owl, and the neatness and colouring of your second. They’re both stunning pieces. Look forward to seeing your next story box too!

  4. I am IN LOVE with all your interpretations. First that owl in the tree is so very awesome. I can’t see how you work out the box. And, that embroidery…oh my word!! I adore the liberties you took with the coloring. There’s no mistaking that that’s a barn owl. Beautifully done, all of it!

    1. Thamk you hope – at this point I’m not sure how I work out the box either…hoping for a light bUlb moment!

  5. Your owl in a tree wall hanging is divine! And who know that yarn could look so bark like??!! A very successful enterprise there. I saw your embroidered owl on Ig, and so love the stylistic stitches and colors. I can’t wait to see your finished Story Box, I can’t stop looking at the photograph, can’t tell if it’s enhanced or not …

    1. The photo won wildlife photographer of the year in 2013 so I hope it’s not been enhanced too much…it is vey dramatic isn’t it.

  6. WOW!! He is magnificent! Your mixed media pieces are just incredible and I am really enjoying watching you create your own unique style with the embroidery. Wow! he is just amazing!

  7. Ooh love the owl in the tree, and the stitched barn owl is really pretty – I love the colors you’ve used! I’m looking forward to your story box – the owl component that you intend to use is just lovely.

  8. The owl in the fiber tree is stunning. I love how that piece turned out.
    I can’t wait to see your secret story box when you finally complete it.
    I love the colors you ended up using in the embroidery – awesome!

  9. Oh my. That wall hanging is simply stunning. I realize you consider the overall process fairly simply, but that doesn’t change the fact that the end result is rich in detail. I hope we’ll get to see the eventual box with the polymer owl – the concept is intriguing. The barn owl in the hoop is beautifully done.

  10. I really love what you did with Duane’s owl – it is the perfect place for him to live (oh – those textures are SO beautiful!). Your embroidery work is simply perfection 🙂

  11. Wow, that wall hanging looks so realistic, what an amazing job with creating the bark effect! But I’m smitten with the secret garden box, it’s incredible! The hoop embroidery looks beautiful and with lots of realistic details, go for it!

  12. OK – so you know I liked the bark – as I saw a sneak peek of that one. The profusion of texture works with such simple composition. I look forward o the owl box.

    But the Barn owl embroidery? HELLO! That is a stunner. You are really upping your game, woman!

  13. The wall hanging is lovely! That bark yarn fiber stuff you used is really cool and I love how you pulled it all together. I can hardly wait to see how you tackle the box/quote piece. I’m sure it’s going to be amazing. And the realistic embroidery is pretty darn cool. I love the color choices you made.

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