Wheal Coates Mine, Cornwall

One of my and my husbands favourite places to visit is St Agnes in Cornwall.  When I saw this photograph recently on one of the several Cornwall / St Agnes Instagram accounts I follow I knew I had to try and recreate it in free motion embroidery. 

I raided my stash of fabric and found a furnishing fabric sample book that had the perfect fabrics for the heather covered coastline and the sea.  I love using furnishing fabrics as they give such a wonderful variety of textures to the piece. 

I wanted quite a large picture so I printed the photo out at around A3 size and started playing about with my fabrics.  I used the photo as a guide for composition but was limited slightly by my fabric pieces, so the coastline looks a little different.  The building - which is a disused tin mine, one of many that stud the coast of Cornwall - was traced directly from the photograph to ensure it was accurate. 

I chose a cream coloured background fabric as I thought that would work well for the sandy areas of the coastline.  I started my stitching by just going around the edge of each applique piece with a dark thread (confession time - I thought I'd used black thread and only realised when I was almost finished that it was actually navy!) and then added some additional white stitching into the blues of the sea. 

I added more detail in varying shades of green and brown to pick out tuffy clumps of grass and the mine's brickwork.  At this stage I had no idea what I was going to do to finish the sky, as I didn't have any suitable fabrics for it. 

After talking it through with my husband I decided to try painting a sky, which sounded slightly nerve-wracking as it had the potential to ruin a piece that I was otherwise very happy with. 

I pulled out the few tubes of acrylic paint I bought ages ago and discovered a bottle of fabric medium among them that I didn't remember buying but was pleased I had.  I also cut myself a scrap piece of the fabric I'd used as the background to practice on. 

I found that the fabric medium didn't really seem to help but that I needed to add a lot - and I mean a LOT - of water to the paint.   I started off quite delicately and lightly, but in the end just went for it, reasoning I could always cut the painted fabric off and remount the rest on some other fabric if it all went wrong. 

The paint changed shade several times while it was drying and at one stage was quite a dreary greyish blue, but thankfully ended up quite vibrant.  I just have to get a frame for it now, I'm planning on mounting it so that the raw edges of the applique fabrics are exposed rather than hidden by the mount. 

I can't wait to get it framed and on the wall and then one day go and walk along that cliff path again!