Wednesday, February 3, 2021

River Pebble Memories by Silvia Souza

Like many others, I have found solace in stitch during the pandemic.  I retreated to unfinished projects from long ago and the kind of needle work I used to do in my youth.  While there was a meditative quality to this, I was missing a more creative approach. After seeking new classes to help me find that, I was inspired by a Clarissa Callesen workshop about creating 3D fiber pieces that I found especially innovative.  I applied what I learned, added a surface treatment using StencilGirl® Products and began a piece which is still in progress but includes many fiber techniques. I hope that by seeing my progress you are inspired to try using stencils in creating more interesting textile surfaces to work with.  

I wanted to create pebbles, like those in a riverbed that you see close to a shoreline showing the refracted light of moving water. 

StencilGirl® Products used:
Fade Horizontal
Labyrinth #5: A La Chartres
ATC Mixup 1
ATC Mixup #2
ATC Mixup Borloz

The pandemic made many of us clean out closets and look towards recycling. I used linen and cotton shirts I was no longer wearing to create my base fabric.  I chose a light, a medium and two dark colors.  I used the stencils as rubbing plates, placing the cloth over the stencil and using Neocolor I metallic wax pastels to rub in small areas.  I switched colors and stencils and layered the colors.  (These crayons cannot be used for a wearable/washable project).

The fabric was then cut into various sizes of rectangles and squares not in a neat way! I then folded each piece in half and cut a semicircle.  Once unfolded I had an oval or circle to create my pebbles.  I stitched around the edge with a basting stitch, leaving my thread end untied.  By pulling both ends of the thread, a pouch started to be formed, which was stuffed with a polyester fill.  Pulling the threads to close the pouch, the threads can be tied together to create the pebble.

I recycled another project I had not been satisfied with but that had also been about water, to use as the initial ground on which the pebbles would lie.  There were multiple steps that were involved in creating that ground including machine and hand embroidery, beading and felting.  I cut that piece up into 6 squares.  My vision is to create a diptych, each having 3 of these squares and more pebbles on some other watery quilted ground….I just haven’t fine-tuned what that will be. 

The pebbles were further elaborated by adding a layer of lace, dyed cheesecloth or small bits. Or they were embroidered using simple stitches like French knots or straight stitch following the design of the stencil.  Again, not in a neat way, the pebbles were adhered to the ground using loose stitches coming from the back or sides of the ground. This is still a work in progress.

By using what you have, recycling and adding a new feature (stencils) you too can recreate a memory of a beloved place or moment.


  1. Very interesting project. I think you're achieving your goal of capturing the feel of those watery pebbles.

  2. These are extraordinary! Cleverness abounds in all the aspects of this. And you have created something beautiful


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