We’re thrilled to have a new addition to our series detailing the Artistry of Sheena Norquay. We absolutely adore Sheena’s work and are forever in awe of the art she creates, with our thread center stage.
The Peacock Collection was released in August, with a launch at Festival of Quilts in the UK. In preparation for the collection, Sheena auditioned our 80wt, 50wt, and floss, stitching out a series of samples that now serve as a traveling tribute to her collection subject, the Peacock. Her final determination was to focus the collection on floss, though we’re not ruling out a coordinating 50wt box sometime in the future;).
THE PEACOCK COLLECTION
100% Cotton Floss, 6-strands
10 Small Spools, 18yds each
2810, 2860, 4093, 2740, 2745, 1147, 5015, 5022, 2340, 5013
To view this info on our website, please click on the image above. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.
- The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 1
- The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 2
- The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 3
- The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 4
To enter-to-win The Peacock Collection by Sheena Norquay, please leave us a comment on this post letting us know which of Sheena’s pieces below is your favorite and why. Entry will close at 11:59pm on Friday, September 28 and a winner will be announced here on Monday, October 1. This giveaway is open to all of our International friends!
What inspired The Peacock Collection?
The collection and resulting samples were all inspired by a peacock called Polly and his feathers. It was originally thought the peachick was a female but when it was about a year old, it started growing a beautiful tail so turned out to be male, much to my late father’s delight! Sadly, Polly stuck his head through some chicken wire surrounding my late mother’s compost heap, got stuck and hanged himself. Luckily I still have photos of him and also some of his feathers so was able to look at them for inspiration for this thread collection.
Do you have a favorite piece that was created using the threads from The Peacock Collection?
I enjoyed making all the samples but the most fascinating one I have finished so far is TWELVE FEATHERS, 120 BLENDS. I have almost finished another one with 840 colour and number variations using the same ten colours. It is stitched using a satin stitch in a basketweave pattern.
What do you love most about working with AuriFloss?
I love the fact that they are on spools, not skeins. This makes it so much easier to use the threads. I love the sheen on the threads and that you can choose to use 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 strands at a time. It is a very versatile thread. Of course the most exciting thing is that you can mix the colours in all sorts of combinations.
Can you tell us a bit more about your floss blends?
At the moment I am writing about this and so far have reached almost 5000 words!
You can begin with a simple 2 step blend using 2 colours say red and yellow. You can choose to use either 2, 4 or 6 strands. The number and colour combinations can be – 2 red, 1 red +1 yellow, then 2 yellow. 4 red, 2 red +2 yellow, then 4 yellow. 6 red, 3 red +3 yellow, then 6 yellow. You can do up to 6 step colour blends or gradations from one colour to another. For example 6 red, 5 red +1 yellow, 4 red +2 yellow, 3 red +3 yellow, 2 red +4 yellow, 1 red +5 yellow, 6 yellow. Of course there is more complex colour blending which can be mathematical like the TWELVE FEATHERS 120 BLENDS or blending which is more random and painterly like I did for some of the Scottish Highlands Collection Samples.
We are honored to share Sheena’s sample gallery for The Peacock Collection. She is wonderfully talented and thoughtfully detailed. <3
SAMPLE 6 – BIRD AND FLOWERS
This began by using a bit of calico which I had printed with 3 bits of non-slip material and a section of a floral sink mat. I decided to embroider a bird on to it with a layer of wool wadding behind the bird. I use 8 colours of Aurifloss for the hand embroidery which was mainly straight stitching, fly stitch, detached chain, wrapping stitch and French knots. I used 2 strands of floss. Bits of left over hand painted fabric from another project were added as borders.
The fabrics were free motion quilted with 12 different colours of no. 50 threads from the Peacock Collection in a variety of patterns. The eye is kept moving by the changing thread colours, stitched lines and patterns. Some small flowers were hand embroidered in detached chain and French knots using turquoise and yellow floss to echo the centres of the 4 large flowers.
SAMPLE 7 – EIGHT COLOURED FEATHERS
Finished at 29 x 44cm
Created between November 16, 2017 & November 22, 2017
Total time: 11hours 20minutes
The feathers were printed with an Indian block in the shape of a feather which I bought from Coloricious at the Festival of Quilts in 2017. The prints were second prints from another piece so as not to waste paint and I had no plan as to the composition. I made it up as I printed each feather. I dabbed the square tipped paint brush with left over brown paint on the background.
Medium weight Vilene was tacked to the back and the feathers were free machine embroidered in an embroidery ring. I used 12 colours of no. 50 Aurifil cotton threads from the Peacock Collection, the same colours as sample 6 Bird and Flowers. A combination of 3 colours were used for stitching each feather and 4thcolour for the “eye.” Shafts were satin stitched twice. I realised after stitching a few it was more effective to taper the ends.
I found a piece of feather print fabric that seemed right for stitching along one side and it took a while to decide which way up to hang it. The background was free motion quilted with cream thread in a pattern of squares and straight lines.
SAMPLE 10 – TEN SWAYING FEATHERS
Finished at 72 x 30cm
Created between November 23, 2017 & December 21, 2017
Total time: 33hours 10minutes
Ten feathers were printed on to calico using an Indian printing block bought from Colouricious at the Festival of Quilts 2017. I used 10 different colours of paint, either Dylon or Jacquard Lumiere. A square tipped brush was used to print the marks at the bottom of each feather.
After tacking Vilene Light Sew In stabiliser on the back of the calico, I hand embroidered each feather in fly stitch, laced running and running stitch in different combinations of 10 colours of Aurifloss threads from the Peacock Collection. I used 2 strands for stitching, sometimes of the same colour, sometimes one strand each of 2 different colours to create a blend.
The background is free motion quilted with Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads. I used 10 different colours in the bottom section to quilt between the printed marks. The same quilting design of horizontal lines with curved ends was used to quilt the rest of the background in cream thread as far up as the top section of the feathers and the very top was quilted with flowing lines to create movement. The feathers look as if they are tied to the shapes at the bottom and are floating from left to right, hence the title “Ten Swaying Feathers.”
SAMPLE 11 – FEATHERS IN BOXES 1
Finished at 32 x 42cm
Created between November 26, 2017 & December 16, 2017
Total time: 14hours 30minutes
Twelve colours of fabrics to match the threads in the Peacock Collection were machine pieced, calico borders added then tacked to 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding and a calico backing. The seams were stabilised by quilting with the walking foot and invisible thread. A different feather design was free motion quilted in each shape using a contrasting thread, while the background fabrics were quilted using matching threads. The calico borders were quilted in the same thread colour as the adjoining fabrics so ten colours and patterns were used.
I liked the effect of the wholecloth stitching on the back so added tabs instead of a hanging sleeve to make it reversible.
SAMPLE 12 – TWELVE PEACOCK FEATHER EYES
Finished at 42 X 32cm
Created between November 25, 2017 & December 19, 2017
Total time: 18hours 50mins
Twelve different colours of fabric were pieced in a horizontal row with calico and a patterned fabric pieced above and below the pieced row. Thin Vilene stabiliser was tacked behind the coloured rectangles and curved shapes were hand embroidered using one or two strands of single and blended colours of Aurifloss.
The feather curves, which I marked with pencil on the calico, were free motion quilted with 12 colours of Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads from the Peacock Collection. I quilted up one side of the shaft and down the other side.
The feather shafts or centre lines of the lower feathers were satin stitched to create bolder lines and to emphasise the thread colours.
SAMPLE 14 – SINGLE FEATHER ON ARTIST’S CANVAS
Finished at 20 X 20cm
Created between December 10 & 11, 2017
Total time: 4hours 10mins
The feather was printed with a wooden, Indian block bought from Colouricious at the Festival of Quilts 2017 and free machine embroidered on to Vilene as stabiliser, using Aurifil cotton no. 50 from the Peacock Collection. The turquoise zig zag fabric has 4 different small patterns free motion quilted with 4 colours of thread. The white zigzags are free motion quilted with zig zag lines which extend on to the white background fabric on a smaller scale.
SAMPLE 16 – POSERS PARADE
Finished at: 35 x 21.5cm
Created between December 23, 2017 & January 11, 2018
Total time: 18 hours 10 minutes
The three birds were printed with a commercial wooden block which I have had for several years and hand embroidered with 2 strands of Aurifil cotton floss in different colours sometimes using 2 strands of 1 colour, sometimes one of each colour from the Peacock Collection. I used Stitch and Tear behind the fabric for stabiliser. Stitches used were fly stitch, French knots, detached chain, satin stitch and straight stitch.
Background is free motion quilted and straight line quilted with the walking foot using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads in the same set of colours.
SAMPLE 17 – TWEET, TWEET
Finished at: 32.5 x 14cm
Created between December 28, 2017 & January 14, 2018
Total time:8 hours 25 minutes
Four birds were printed with a wooden printing block bought from Colouricious, then hand embroidered with 2 strands of Aurifloss, sometimes using 2 strands of 1 colour, sometimes one of each colour. Background was free motion quilted using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads and hand quilted using 2 and 3 strands of Aurifloss. Some straight lines were quilted using the walking foot.
SAMPLE 20 – BIRDS AND FLOWERS
Finished at: 36 x 37.5cm
Created between January 4, 2018 & January 18, 2018
Total time: 24hours20 mins
Three duck shapes, one peacock shape, 3 plants and 9 decorative circles were printed using Dylon bronze fabric paint. Diagonal lines were printed using an old, rubber, hot water bottle. Birds and flowers were hand embroidered using Aurifloss threads from The Peacock Collection. I used 2 strands either of the same colour or 2 different colours in detached chain, straight stitch satin stitch, fly stitch and French knots. Background is hand quilted using 2 strands of Aurifloss and free motion quilted using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads.
SAMPLE 23 – FORTY FIVE BLENDS I
Finished at: 29 x 29cm
Created between January 26, 2018 & February 3, 2018
Total time: 10 hours 40 mins
Forty five squares were free motion quilted with 9 different colours (a –i) using Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads from the Peacock Collection. The shapes were inspired by small, green peacock feathers whose edges were brown but I decided to use lots of Peacock colours. The grid was quilted with the walking foot. The edges of the shapes were hand embroidered using Aurifloss in 9 different colours (b-j) creating 45 different combinations of Aurifloss and no. 50 colours. I used 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding.
SAMPLE 24 – FORTY FIVE BLENDS II
Finished at: 29 x 29cm
Created between January 26, 2018 & February 3, 2018
Total time: 10 hours 25 mins
Forty five squares were free motion quilted using 9 different colours (b-j) in Aurifil cotton no. 50 from the Peacock Collection in a different order from sample I. The grid was quilted with the walking foot. The shapes were hand embroidered using Aurifloss in 9 different colours (a-i) creating 45 different pairs of Aurifloss and no. 50 colours. I used a different stitch or stitch direction for each colour. I used 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding.
SAMPLE 27 – TWELVE FEATHERS, 120 BLENDS
Finished at: 57.5 X 21cm
Created between February 15, 2018 & March 7, 2018
Total time: 27 hours 10 mins
I used 10 colours of Aurifloss from The Peacock Collection. Each feather is hand embroidered in fly stitch using 3 strands of Aurifloss. I cut about 12 inches of thread for each thread. Each row has a different combination of 3 colours – 1 strand of each colour so each feather has 10 different blends making a total of 120 different blends for the 12 feathers. The tops of the feathers are satin stitched in single colours. Each feather top has 3 colours.
All the hand stitching was done on thin polyester thermore. I then added 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding and backing and free motion quilted each feather using 12 different designs. Background is free motion quilted using swinging c curves in pale blue.
Sheena Norquay was born on the Orkney Islands, just off the Northern tip of Scotland. Though she began sewing as a child, it wasn’t until attending University in Aberdeen to gain a B.Ed degree that she truly dove into the world of sewing, quilting, and textiles. The degree included 2-dimensional design in textiles which inspired her interest in exploring the artistic potential of threads and fabrics.
Having been a Primary School teacher in Inverness for 30 years, Sheena is now a freelance quilting teacher and teaches workshops locally, all over the UK, and sometimes abroad. She also writes articles for magazines and her quilts have been featured in several books.
Sheena’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally since 1981 and she has won many awards in competitive quilt shows. She sells her work, cards and postcards of her work, and also accept commissions.