Shorleyker’s Bat – the story continues
Where had I got to? Last time, I left my ‘Batty’ project with the trees in progress and most of the sky filled with seeding. The next step was to add some stars….
I went back to the DMC metallic thread for the stars, and made them with either two or three tiny stitches crossed. They were not neat little ‘x’ marks or asterisks – they would have looked wrong if they were too tidily stitched against the background of seeding stitches. While I was doing that seeding, I thought I’d left far too many spaces for the stars. I was expecting not to use them all. But once I’d got a rhythm going with the metallic thread, I found I needed more, not fewer, stars. As if by magic, usable gaps between the seeding stitches seemed to turn up naturally wherever I wanted to pop in an extra star. I was very pleased with this stage.
While adding twinkle-twinkles to the sky, I was thinking about the stitching I needed on the main bat. I wanted its face to look as much as possible like the face in Shorleyker’s woodcut. So the edge of my fabric soon sprouted a collection of eye tests and mouth samples.
I settled on bullion-knot loops for the eyes and finished them off with a single-turn French knot in black in the centres.
The mouth was less successful. I finally decided to use a backstitch outline and whip it. I was happy with the shape, but it looked wrong, somehow. I didn’t want a solid silver grin, but it was too ‘empty’ with nothing in the centre. While I let that problem stew in the back of in my mind, I started on the black stitching for the body of my bat. The photo isn’t very clear – black on dark navy blue is a pain to photograph! The legs are single-feather stitch, like the ‘finger’ lines on the wings, but with the smooth edge facing inwards, not running along the inside of the silver line. The tail-bone was a row of chain stitch. Above this, I used short straight stitches to make the furry body and head, very similar to the seeding I used in the sky, but more dense and worked more-or-less in the direction of fur growth.
The empty mouth was still bothering me. I picked up a scrap of in the variegated thread and held it in place to see how pearl cotton might look as a filling for the mouth. Much to my surprise, the light purplish-blue colour I had in my hand seemed to be just the right thing. (A blue mouth – who would have guessed that shade would work?) So I filled the mouth outline with close-packed straight stitches and the picture was finished.
This has been such a fun project to do and to share. I like to think that Richard Shorleyker would be pleased if he could see what use I have made of his 1632 design. (I have not yet mounted the fabric properly, I have not quite finalised what I want put around it, although I will be almost certainly be using the ivory-coloured mount you can see in the photo. I used the mount as a size guide when designing the piece, so they fit together.)
I have had some really lovely comments on this piece, both here on the blog, on Stitching Fingers, on Flickr and in emails. I am glad that you have enjoyed seeing me ‘thinking out loud’ with it. I must also thank ‘Emma’ who blogs on the DMC company’s American website at for a lovely write-up of the first part of this project. I am really flattered to have been selected. If you’ve found the blog through one of these links, then hello! You are very welcome. I hope you will find some interesting things to explore here. Don’t be afraid to add a comment, make suggestions or ask questions.
Now, before all my non-embroidery friends and readers give up on me altogether, I promise that the very next post on TLTB will be something other than embroidery. But stitching will be back here again soon, don’t worry!