When my husband was growing up, his neighbors had peacocks.These were free-range peacocks, and roamed all over the neighborhood. They were beautiful, and loud, and–it must be said–crapped a lot. Not so much in my husband’s family’s yard, but one of the other neighborhood yards was a prime peacock hangout. This became a problem when the peacocks moved from the yard to the porch. No one could sit on the porch furniture. Eventually, the neighbors complained to the peacock owners, and the peacocks were sent to a farm. (Not a euphemism.)
These days, to get a peacock fix, we go to the zoo, where the peacocks are still free-range, and the poop is someone else’s problem.
They’re beautiful birds, and one of the first subjects I wanted to draw when I thought about designing my own embroidery. Their feathers are on the right side of gaudy, and call out for shiny metallic threads. Here are two peacocks I’ve come up with.
The first is a 5 x7″ framed peacock sitting on a flowered branch (modeled after quince blossoms, but purple.) I embroidered this on muslin with Caron Waterlilies silk, DMC cotton, and Kreinik metallic threads. I used watercolor to paint a “mat” directly onto the fabric. (Be aware that the paint will wick through the cotton–this does not give a sharp line on muslin. For me, that’s part of the charm.)
I used stem stitch for the head and neck, satin stitch and outline stitch for the body, bands of satin stitch for the wings, and satin stitch and stem stitch for the tail. The branch is stem stitch, and the flowers are done in buttonhole stitch. I’m very pleased with how this turned out.
The second peacock (also sitting on a flowered branch!) is mounted in a [4″] wooden hoop. I have some beautiful Hanah hand-dyed silk ribbon; it was gifted to me, and the ribbons aren’t tagged. I’d guess that it’s Sapphire, maybe, but I’m not sure. I used that ribbon to make a stumpwork tail, using more Kreinik metallic thread, then shredded the ends of the ribbon. The body is stem stitch (a favorite of mine, whether as an outline or a filler stitch.) I used two strands of blue, then one strand each of blue and teal, then two strands of teal. Were I to do this again, I might paint the hoop gold, to more closely match the stitching on the tail.
Am I done with peacocks? Probably not. They’re fun to stitch! I think the Art Nouveau illustration at the top of the page would be stunning stitched up. (The illustration came from Dover Books, a wonderful source of art and motifs.)