Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly by Denise Mackey
29th April 2022
Long before the days of Ikea and flat packed furniture, a beautifully tooled piece of furniture made from a highly sought after timber was a huge investment. This kind of furniture was purchased with the intention of handing it down to future generations, so it was usually protected and cared for with devotion.
One of the materials that was used in furniture built to last was Jarrah.
Jarrah is a type of eucalyptus, Eucalyptus marginata, which is renowned for its hard, dense wood and beautiful deep red colour.
The timber was traditionally used to make railway sleepers, due to its durability and strength. But it was also used for flooring and magnificent furniture.
Unfortunately this beautiful tree, which can grow to heights of 50m (160 ft), is now on the ‘Red List’ of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), classed as a ‘near threatened’ species. It is an iconic tree whose wood has been treasured in Australia and around the world for a very long time. So, it makes it the perfect subject for an exquisite work of embroidery.
Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly by Denise Mackey from Inspirations issue #114 is a stunning stumpwork study featuring the elegant leaves and shiny, spherical gum nuts characteristic of the Jarrah. Denise has hinted at the rich red colour of the timber that this tree is so well known for in her selection of thread colours for the twigs and leaf veins. Interspersed among the leaves are tiny, scarlet buds and fluffy white flowers that provide a delightful contrast to the rich green of the leaves.
Although the Jarrah is incredibly striking, what makes this project unique is the addition of the Grass Blue Butterfly, represented in all stages of its life. On one of the leaves, Denise has added some tiny beads to represent the butterfly’s eggs.
Crawling along the main branch is a plump yellow caterpillar, seeking out fresh leaves to eat.
Beneath the branch, and worked perfectly using a shiny bronze snakeskin fabric, is a pupa. And in a glorious display of colour, the fully mature butterfly with its sparkling purple wings gently alights on one of the leaves.
Although Jarrah furniture and cabinets are now rarer than they used to be, some of us are lucky enough to still have pieces that have been in our families for several generations. When we look at these wonderful old items, most of which have been hand-made with care, we can think of the majestic trees they came from.
By sitting down to stitch Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly, so redolent of the Australian outback and capturing the beautiful colours and shapes of the flora and fauna found there, we are able to connect together the beauty and bounty of nature with our own personal histories.
Make Your Own Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly by Denise Mackey is a beautiful stumpwork study of the life-cycle of a butterfly on eucalypt stems.
Inspirations Issue 114
Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly – i114 Digital
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Jarrah & Grass Blue Butterfly includes everything* you need to re-create this beautiful stumpwork study: Fabric (unprinted), felt, snakeskin, fusible webbing, wire, paper, Post-it-Note, sewing thread, embroidery thread, beads and needles.
*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.