Forest Fungi by Denise Mackey

17th May 2024

Since the release of the very first issue of Inspirations magazine over 30 years ago, it’s amazing to think that we’ve showcased projects from over 350 different designers.

This represents quite an array of artisans, especially when you consider that each one brings their own take on a particular technique, theme, use of materials, design inspiration and even type of finish.

Just like our fingerprints, no two designers are exactly the same when it comes to the projects they create, yet typically will have a theme or style that, as a generality, they are known for.

Think Trish Burr and whitework with colour, Betsy Morgan and counted etuis and Margaret Lee with Chinese Embroidery.

Denise Mackey is a relative new-comer to Inspirations, making her debut in the magazine in issue #114 with her piece Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly.

This was followed up by Sturt’s Desert Pea in issue #118 and today we’re taking a closer look at her latest project Forest Fungi featured in issue #122.

What is becoming evident in the three designs that we’ve featured from Denise to date, is that she is fast becoming an expert in re-creating some of the most fantastically beautiful flora in a hyper realistic way by combining both two and three dimensional needlework techniques to stunning effect.

Forest Fungi is a depiction of a group of pale, slender toadstools spreading their caps above the leaf litter on a forest floor.

Deep in the dark, damp forest graceful fungi grow, breaking through the soft covering of fallen leaves to emerge into the filtered light with their luminous caps hovering above slender stems.

In what we can now affirm as classic Denise Mackey, Forest Fungi owes its sense of realism to the cleverly considered stumpwork elements added to specific areas within the design.

Three of the mushroom caps and all seven of the leaves jump off the fabric thanks to detached elements, with added dimension achieved through clever thread shading and padded stems.

Worked using stranded cotton, the atmospheric quality of this piece is further amplified thanks to the dramatic background of black silk.

All this is achieved through the use of 12 different stitches and 19 colours of thread, making this a really achievable project for someone venturing into stumpwork for the first time, or for anyone looking for a design that delivers maximum impact without breaking the bank when it comes to hours spent stitching.

Natural beauty abounds in the world all around us, some growing in plain sight, some obscured in hidden away places. Thank you, Denise, for bringing the intrigue and beauty of Fungi to life through needle and thread for us all to appreciate and enjoy.

Make Your Own Forest Fungi

We have all the materials you need to re-create this project yourself, from easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions to a Ready-to-Stitch kit with everything sourced for you.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 122

Digital Patterns

Forest Fungi – i122 Digital


Forest Fungi – i122 Kit

*Instructions – As this kit does not include instructions, for step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to Inspirations magazine issue 122 or the Forest Fungi  digital pattern, both purchased separately.

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