I thought about adding decorative bands or toppings, but… well, they wouldn’t be integrated in any way, just superficial. And there’s so little space, not much scope anyway. So, no. Even I draw the line at making limpet party hats!
Starting by exploring the surface texture, I covered a shell with aluminium foil, smoothing it well into the ridged pattern. Black acrylic paint was worked into all the texture and then rubbed off so it just remained in the crevices. Not textile, but quite effective.
Next, to investigate the shape, I covered a limpet with soluble paper, wetting it to make a pulp I could press into the texture. When dry I cut and peeled it off, and turned it inside out to see the textured side. A rubbing of Goldfinger paste brought out the pattern.
Limpet shells aren’t round – they’re wonky cones. Now I’ve got a useful template, so let’s move on from using actual shells to recreating them. Well, not necessarily ones that’d blend in on the sea shore – I want to have fun with the basic cone shape in different colours and patterns.
Sticking with paper for a while… simple hand embroidery plus needle perforations on Somerset paper.
… and then I liked the perforation effect so much I did some more on dyed and waxed paper (the things you hoard from City & Guild days!). I ran the unthreaded Bernina around it, scratched lines with a needle, and used a Japanese screw punch. The waxing emphasises the marks, going pale around holes.
On to fabric, still worked flat then joined to form a cone, some gentle hand embroidery on felt (stabilised with Vilene) The purple one is detached chain, French knots and straight stitches in stranded cotton. The blue one is free cross stitch in a fine, shaded pearl cotton.
OK, bring on the Bernina! At last… back to free machining. Fine Lutradur (30) in a hoop, embroidered with subtle bands of off-white straight and zigzag/satin stitch. I used a soldering iron to burn out the shapes and seal the edges before hand stitching the seams to make them 3D. I love that the fabric is almost invisible, and the shells are so delicate.
A couple of jazzier ones next, hard to believe there’s still white Lutradur under the colourful free machine embroidery. I could zap it away with a heat gun, but then I’d have to make sure the stitching interlinked; this way it can be more delicate and free.
But now I’ve thought of the heat gun… A quick one with random green and orange FME on green Kunin felt, zapped to make it lacy then seamed to make a cone.
Right, enough construction – for my next trick, it’s 3D limpet (-ish things!) without seams. Hopefully…