Cadbury’s ‘Picnic’ chocolate bar…..
This was perhaps a more complex challenge than any of my previous embroidered chocolate bar wrappers. Alongside the main typographic feature, the design demanded a plethora of raisins and peanuts stitched around the wording. To have omitted these would have been to miss out on some of the integrity of the original design, leaving my near-as-possible embroidered replica lacking in a vital feature. Therefore, I had to find a way to work these additions, raised up – as is the style of lettering – by three dimensional felt padding underneath. Tiny pieces of appliqued fabric failed to provide the requisite shading, and looked more like ‘blobs’ sitting awkwardly and unharmoniously with the lettering. In the end, I settled upon long and short stitch with a single strand of embroidery cotton, working the stitches up and over each padded peanut.
The other parts of the design utilise my traditional style of felt padding, couched metallic threads and shiny PVC applique. I like using PVC – not only does it not fray (I have a pathological hatred of the ‘mess’ of frayed edges), it provided a shininess suitable for the laminated plastic ‘look’ of the original wrapper. Note that within the gold couching here, densely worked ‘or nue’ patches provide the orange shadows and white highlights of the ‘dripping caramel’. (I shredded my fingertips struggling to push a tiny sized needle through multiple layers of felt padding here, but I believe it was worth the effort.)
There’s quite a tactile quality to this one – not only do I feel urged to reach out and ‘squish’ the padded white PVC, the peanuts are very soft and ‘strokable’. That’s one of the reasons I find the textile medium so appealing to work with: the ‘hands-on’ experience, the making process of working and feeling and touching seems important to me. Making the work is a sensory interaction, and despite the inevitable frustrations of knotted threads and broken needles, is surprisingly calming. It’s an inevitably careful, almost precious process, but that element of still physically engaging and ‘being allowed to touch’ is – I’m acknowledging – vital to me. Perhaps this relates back to the gruesome nature of the eating disorder and my subject matter: to lavish attention, genuine care and patience over this work seems a positive way to counteract the destructive, often impulsive obsession of being bulimic.