Here is the finished stitched version of 'Polly the Parrot.' He is an African Grey, belongs to a friend of mine, and has endearing habits such as whistling the Avengers and nestling up on your lap.
But back to the stitchery.
Stitched area: 13.5cm x 13.5cms
Polly is a strange and eclectic mixture of techniques. The key feature, and the idea which inspired this embroidery in the first place, is that his feathers are constructed from paperclips. Each paperclip has been covered with detatched-buttonhole stitch and applied separately after the rest of the features were embroidered onto the background fabric. There we have it, my first piece that you'd have trouble getting through airport customs without setting the metal-detecting alarms off.
The rest of Polly has been worked as follows: beak in long-and-short stitch, the area around his eye in French knots, gradually merging into detatched chain-stitches as the 'feathers' begin. A variety of threads convey the different textures within the feathers: tiny stitches in stranded cotton and machine thread, larger ones in thick cotton perle and the fluffiest ones in DK knitting wool.
Go and study a parrot, up close and 'for real', and it's amazing to see the detail in his feathers - how the rows overlap like roof shingles, how they gradually get larger in scale across the back of his head and down his neck. (This is the sort of thing I think about when an African Grey has nestled on my lap: how best to stitch it?)
Polly is a gift for a friend: however, I can do commissions if you now have an insatiable impulse to have your own version of your feathered friend worked in, um, paperclips...
And major gratitude goes out to everywhere who kindly featured this...