Bee-eaters by Renette Kumm
5th July 2019
Renette Kumm’s favourite subject to stitch is birds, from small songbirds to powerful raptors. She delights in the variety of colours and shapes that can be found in birds, along with the challenge of capturing the sense of movement in the feathers.
When Renette is preparing to work on a threadpainted piece, she studies a variety of images of her planned subject, considering colour, clarity, composition and the story of her subject. When it came to creating a piece to be included in our book A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII, Renette stitched a magnificent pair of bee-catching specialists, the European bee-eater.
These colourful, sociable birds are skilled at catching bees and other winged insects, requiring aerial feats of speed and control as they dart after their prey mid-air.
Renette has told this story masterfully, with her bee-eaters depicted on a branch, watching with great alertness for any bees, hornets, wasps or dragonflies that might buzz past.
After choosing a subject and composition, Renette’s next step is to select her colours. When building a colour palette in threads, Renette turns to DMC stranded cotton due to the range of colours available. She is guided by her chosen image however she is not restrained by it. ‘Sometimes I will enhance the colour to what I see in my mind’s eye. I love colour and live by Kaffe Fassett’s mantra: if in doubt, add more colour!’
The vivid colours of Renette’s bee-eaters leap off the page, from strong shades of copper blending through to light gold on the head and wings, contrasting with the teals of the body and tail, and flashes of brilliant turquoise and white around the distinctive, black eye-stripe. After choosing a range of colours, Renette’s next step is to consider the threads to use.
Working with a variety of threads in her stitching is something Renette loves to do. It adds an important dimension to her work as she loves exploring the effects she can achieve with different qualities such as lustre, twist and thickness.
For her bee-eaters, Renette combined the plump, gleaming threads of Au ver à Soie stranded silk with stranded cotton. A beautiful addition are shades of gleaming, flat silk floss from Piper’s Silks, perfect for feather tips and highlights.
Having determined her subject, colours and threads, Renette chooses her background fabric. A colour that allows the subject to ‘sing’ is the aim. Renette thinks outside the usual box of embroidery fabrics and is happy to select pieces from a sheet or pillowcase – the main thing is to use a backing fabric and ensure the fabrics are held drum tight in a hoop or frame.
When it comes to the stitching, Renette likes to gather her threads into colour groups according to the areas of stitching, such as tail feathers, wing feathers, breast feathers and head feathers. She finds it adds to her stitching inspiration and helps her to familiarize herself with the colours and shading for the embroidery, allowing for a greater sense of flow in the stitching process.
She prefers to begin in the lower part of the design, usually beginning with the branch and feet before continuing with the natural layering of the feathers. You can almost sense the anticipation of reaching the eye that, once embroidered, brings the whole bird to life.
Threadpainting can be such an immersive style of embroidery. We recommend queueing up your favourite music and settling in with your fabric and threads to enjoy stitching this stunning pair of bee-eaters. Even if you can only devote a little time to stitching each day, follow Renette’s suggestion of grouping your threads to help you get right back into the groove each time.
Make Your Own Bee-eaters
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Bee-eaters by Renette Kumm from A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII is a superb threadpainted study of European bee-eaters.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Bee-eaters includes everything you need to re-create this beautiful pair of birds: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needles.
Special Note: Instructions are not included with this kit. Please refer to the book for detailed information on how to create the project.