Thread Painting with Sophie Standing

We’ve been following the work of Sophie Standing, an incredibly talented textile & fiber artist, for years and are completely enamored with her breathtaking works of art. She brings her subjects to life with a stunning combination of fabric and thread, pulling from countless hues, layering various patterns and thread weights, and expertly piecing them all together to become one amazing image. Sophie references both her extensive artistic background and her physical surroundings to create these artworks.

We’ve been working with Sophie as an artist for quite some time. We even featured her right here on Auribuzz back in March of last year. Earlier this year, she let us know that she would be traveling to the US from her then home in the Seychelles, and we saw it as a tremendous opportunity. Sophie has been traveling more and more, teaching lucky groups of quilters how to get started with textile art and embroidery. What better way to honor our admiration than with a curated thread collection. Sophie pulled together her absolute go-to threads, her must-haves for getting started with her medium of choice. The resulting collection is not only gorgeous, but incredibly versatile.

 


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The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 4 — Seabird Collection

We have arrived at the final day of our series celebrating the work of textile artist Sheena Norquay. Today is all about her Seabird Collection, a gorgeous array of colors in Auriful 80wt threads. The colours were inspired by puffins, oystercatchers, herring gulls, and black headed gulls.  Their feathers are black and white with added greys for the gulls. The yellow, orange, red, pink and navy blue/grey were inspired by the colours of their beaks and legs.

We are absolutely head over heels for this one and couldn’t have asked for a better showcase of our new 80wt threads.

The colours are:
Black 2692, Dark Grey 2630, Medium Grey 2605, Light Blue/Grey 2600, White 2024
Yellow 1135, Orange 1154, Red 2255, Navy Blue/Grey 1158, Dull Pink 2375

Please visit The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 1 for more details + the full interview with Sheena.

GIVEAWAY
To enter-to-win the Seabird Collection by Sheena Norquay, please leave us a comment on this post letting us know which of Sheena’s pieces below is your favorite and why. Entry will close at 11:59pm on Friday, August 18 and a winner will be announced here on Saturday, August 19. This giveaway is open to all of our International friends!


INTERVIEW (con.)
The Seabird Collection is your latest release, available since April of this year, and it features our new 80wt thread. What did you like most about working with the 80wt?

80 weight thread is very versatile. When piecing, I take a small stitch such as 1.5 or 2 and press the seams open. This gives a smooth ride when quilting over a seam and the small stitches help prevent wadding fibres popping through the seam.

Secondly, it is great for free machine embroidered small details such as the birds. I embroider the bodies of the birds on to cotton organdie which is inserted in an embroidery ring. The birds are then appliqued either by machine or hand to the seascape and the excess organdie cut from around the body shapes. The 80 thread is then used for embroidering tiny details like beaks and legs, although sometimes if the details are really small, I hand stitch the eyes, beaks and legs with one or two lengths of 80 thread. I use a wrapping stitch for the legs and this gives them a more 3 d effect because of the stitches pulling from side to side.

For larger birds which are hand appliqued like the “Three Puffy Puffins,”  “ Two Black-Headed Gulls,” or both oystercatcher pieces, ”Two Oystercatchers on Sand” and “Three Oystercatchers on Boulders,” I use the 80 thread for needle turned hand applique. The thread is so fine you can’t see the stitches.

I have also used the 80 thread for hand embroidered trapunto and have stitched with 2 colours of threads in the needle on the top section of “Pop Ups and Sink Holes,” which was inspired by a drain cover. The bottom section, which has the sink holes, was free motion quilted with 80 threads.  There are 2 colours in each sink hole in every second row.

Finally, the 80 thread works really well if I don’t want the actual quilting stitches to be too prominent, but I want them to create an indented, fine line; or if I am free motion quilting small patterns such as rock line details on the applique or on the border; or if I am free motion quilting lines which involve back tracking  (“Five Feathers”).

How did you go about selecting colors?
I looked at pictures and my own photos of puffins, oystercatchers, black headed gulls and herring gulls, taking note of the colours of feathers, beaks and legs. It is quite tricky to match the greys in particular to their feathers. Also the legs of oystercatchers seem brighter and more orange at certain times of the year, and yet paler and more of a dusky pink at other times.  Anyhow, I then selected thread colours which were the closest match and looked for fabrics to match the threads.

The collection could almost be split into 2 sets of colours, bright and dull, which can be used separately and for other things as well as seabirds. The blue/white /pink sample and the yellow/red/black sample illustrate how the 80 thread works well with decorative stitches on the machine, especially stitches which are quite dense. The fabric is less inclined to pucker when using the 80 thread.

Do you have a favorite piece made with the threads?
I enjoyed making all the samples but I have at long last, found a thread to stitch fine lines such as those on a feather so I guess “Five Feathers” is my favourite.


Sheena made some amazing samples with the colors of Aurifil 80wt from her Seabird Collection. She was also one of our initial testers for the 80wt thread before our launch  in Fall of 2016. She was kind enough to send us her impressions and her tips and we are ever grateful!

On using Aurifil 80wt for machine stitching:
When using  80wt threads in the machine, I tightened the bobbin tension from the setting I use for 50wt threads. Because my old machine has only vertical spool holders, I put the thread spool in a tall, narrow glass behind the machine so that the thread was coming off from the top, clockwise. The other method I used was to put the thread spool on the upright holder and threaded the thread up through a large safety pin so that the thread was coming off from the top. I used an 11/75 quilting needle. All the small birds were machine embroidered on to cotton organdie in a 6-inch ring so the 80wt thread is good for really small birds. I would use no. 50 thread for embroidering slightly larger ones as the thread covers the surface quicker.

On using Aurifil 80wt for hand stitching:
The 80wt threads were great for hand applique – so smooth to stitch with. I  hand appliqued all the large birds and on some I also embroidered on top of the applique. I also used the 80wt threads to hand stitch fine details on the beaks and legs. I used 2 threads in the needle, both cut and knotted at the end next to the spool. The threads lie better if you do this rather than cut one thread and fold it over and knot it. I think I would probably prefer to use the floss for hand embroidering small details if I am covering an area but the 80wt if I am stitching lines.

PUFFIN TRIPTYCH
Finished at 43 X 57.5cm
Created between September 9, 2016 & December 8, 2016
Total time: 15 hours 40 minutes

Puffin Triptych by Sheena Norquay

The puffins were free motion embroidered on to cotton organdie. The 2 on the left were hand appliqued with edges turned in which gives a better result than the pair on the right which were machine appliqued. The machine edge gives a hard, incised line. The beaks and legs were hand stitched with yellow 1135, red 2255, navy blue/grey 1158 and orange 1154. The sky, water, and borders were free motion quilted using light blue/grey 2600 and 1158 navy blue/grey. Cliffs were quilted with medium grey 2605.

Detail of Puffin Triptych by Sheena Norquay

THREE PUFFY PUFFINS
Finished at 52.5 x 43.5cm
Created between September 14, 2016 & December 8, 2016
Total time: 26 hours 40 minutes

The puffins were hand appliqued with white 2024 and black 2692 and have an extra layer of polyester wadding behind them to puff them out. Faces, beaks and legs were fabric painted and hand stitched (2 threads in the needle) with red 2255, yellow 1135, orange 1154, and navy blue/grey 1158.

The background is machine pieced, hand appliqued, and free motion quilted with 50wt threads.

TWO OYSTERCATCHERS ON SAND
Finished at 53.5 x 44cm
Created between September 8, 2016 & December 8, 2016
Total time: 19 hours 35 minutes

Two Oystercatchers on Sand by Sheena Norquay

The oystercatchers were hand appliqued and free machine embroidered on to a layer of wadding using black 2692 and white 2014 threads. Eyes, beaks and legs were fabric painted. Beaks and legs were then machine embroidered on to a layer of wadding using red 2255 and pink 2375.

Detail of Two Oystercatchers on Sand by Sheena Norquay

The background was machine pieced and free motion quilted using 50wt threads.

THREE OYSTERCATCHERS ON BOULDERS
Finished at 54.5 X 44.5cm
Created between September 14, 2016 & December 8, 2016
Total time: 23 hours 25 minutes

Three Oystercatchers on Boulders by Sheena Norquay

The oystercatchers were hand appliqued with 80wt black 2692 and white 2024. The boulders were also hand appliqued using pink 2375, light grey 2600, mid grey 2605 and dark grey 2630. Beaks and legs were fabric painted and free machine embroidered using red 2255 and pink 2375. The oystercatchers and boulders were free motion quilted using same colours.

Water was free motion quilted using 80wt blue 2725 which is not in the collection.

THREE OYSTERCATCHERS, 2 BLACK HEADED GULLS AND WAVES WITH WHITE BORDERS 
Finished at 43.5 x 27.5cm
Created between September 26, 2016 & December 8, 2016
Total time: 16 hours 55 minutes

Three Oystercatchers, two black headed gulls by Sheena Norquay

The birds were free machine embroidered on to cotton organdie using black 2692, white 2024, and mid grey 2605. Legs and beaks were hand stitched using red 2255 and pink 2375. The background was machine pieced with some fabric painting and free motion quilted using 1158 navy/grey, 2024 white, 2605 mid grey, 2630 dark grey, and 2600 light grey.

Detail of Three Oystercatchers, two black headed gulls by Sheena Norquay

BLACK HEADED GULL, TWO OYSTERCATCHERS WITH NAVY BORDERS
Finished at 43.5 x 58.5cm
Created between September 26, 2016 & November 22, 2016
Total time: 15 hours 5 minutes

Black headed gull, two oystercatchers by Sheena Norquay

The birds were free machine embroidered on to cotton organdie and hand appliqued to the background using white 2024 and black 2692. The legs and beaks were hand stitched using red 2255 and pink 2375. The background was machine pieced,  hand appliqued and free motion quilted using mid grey 2605, navy/grey 1158, white 2024, light blue/grey 2600.

FIVE FEATHERS
Finished at 63 x 26.5cm
Created between November 18, 2016 & December 8, 2016
Total time: 13 hours 25 minutes

Five Feathers by Sheena Norquay

This pieces was inspired by seagull feathers collected on walks. The feathers were free machine embroidered on to cotton organdie which was then laid on top of white cotton and 2 layers of wadding (thin polyester thermore and Hobbs 80/20 cotton/polyester), and free motion quilted. Colours used were black 2692, dark grey 2630, mid grey 2605, light blue/grey 2600, and white 2024.

POP UPS  1
Finished at 32 X 32cm
Created between November 22, 2016 & December 1, 2016
Total time: 11 hours 15 minutes

This piece was inspired by a photo of a drain cover which one of Sheena’s friends asked her to take. She suggested a challenge to use it as inspiration for stitching something. Sheena happened to have bought a bath mat which had holes in it and used it for printing a background of 7 x 7 holes, the same as the drain cover, on to a piece of calico. She then pieced a black border and tacked a bit of wadding behind the holes. She free machine embroidered circles in the round holes using the colours from the Seabird collection and trimmed away the wadding around the stitching. A layer of wadding and backing was added and free motion quilted following the lines of the printing and composing decorative circles on the black border.


ABOUT SHEENA
WebsiteFacebook

Sheena Norquay was born on the Orkney Islands, just off the Northern tip of Scotland. Though she began sewing as a child, it wasn’t until attending University in Aberdeen to gain a B.Ed degree that she truly dove into the world of sewing, quilting, and textiles. The degree included 2-dimensional design in textiles which inspired her interest in exploring the artistic potential of threads and fabrics.

Having been a Primary School teacher in Inverness for 30 years, Sheena is now a freelance quilting teacher and teaches workshops locally, all over the UK, and sometimes abroad. She also writes articles for magazines and her quilts have been featured in several books.

Sheena’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally since 1981 and she has won many awards in competitive quilt shows. She sells her work, cards and postcards of her work, and also accept commissions.

Text courtesy of Sheena Norquay. Images copyright 2016 Sheena Norquay.

The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 3 — Scottish Highlands Collection

Sheena Norquay’s Scottish Highlands Collections were inspired by the colours of mountains, forests, moorlands, and lochs of the Scottish Highlands as well as native animals such as Highland cows, Red squirrels and Red deer.

The colors are rich and vibrant and well represented in 2 small boxes — 1 in 50wt and 1 in Aurifloss.

The colours are:
2309 (cream), 2612 (pale blue/grey), 2566 (light mauve), 6735 (dark mauve), 2885 (dark green), 1246 (grey), 2775 (dark blue), 2155 (rust brown), 2975 (ochre), & 1147 (light green).

Please visit The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 1 for more details + the full interview with Sheena.

GIVEAWAY
To enter-to-win the two Scottish Highlands collections by Sheena Norquay, please leave us a comment on this post letting us know which of Sheena’s pieces below is your favorite and why. Entry will close at 11:59pm on Friday, August 18 and a winner will be announced here on Saturday, August 19. This giveaway is open to all of our International friends!


INTERVIEW (con.)
Your Scottish Highlands Collection is available in both 50wt and Aurifloss — what are your favorite ways to combine the two thread weights into one piece of art?
I like using the Aurifloss first to hand embroider shapes, animals or sections of landscapes. Colours can be blended together as already explained using 2 – 6 strands of 2 or more colours. The more colours you use, the more subtle and “muddy” the colours become and this is useful when stitching something pictorial. It is a bit like painting with the threads.  If I am stitching a grid or line of shapes I usually take the more orderly, rigid, mathematical approach. Whatever I am embroidering, I usually do it on to a layer of wadding, either wool or polyester.

Once the hand embroidery is completed, I trim away excess wadding around shapes close to the stitching before tacking ( basting)  this to a layer of 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding (batting). The free motion quilting is then done with the no. 50 threads and the embroidered shapes pop up – for example the triangle shaped pieces or “Red Squirrel.” It is useful to have the same colour of threads as I used for the embroidery.  Sometimes I add more hand stitched details with the floss such as on the foreground of “Sheep at Loch Ness.”


Sheena made a series of samples to showcase the threads in her Scottish Highlands Collections — 50wt & Floss.

SAMPLE 3
Finished at 20 x 21cm
Created between December 21, 2015 & February 2, 2016
Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

by Sheena Norquay

Four strands of 9 single colours were embroidered using a detached chain stitch on a pieced 9-patch block and Thermore wadding to create nine triangles which represent mountains. The border was embroidered in zig zags with the 10th colour before a second layer of 80/20 cotton/polyester wadding was added. It was free motion quilted using 50wt thread.

SAMPLE 5
Finished at 22.5 x 50.5cm
Created between December 29, 2015 & January 26, 2016
Total time: 23 hours 20 minutes

Each row of triangles is a 4 step blend from one colour to another using 4 strands of floss. (4a, 3a + 1b, 2a + 2b, 1a + 3b) All 10 colours in the Scottish Highlands collection were used.

TWEED CUSHION WITH TRIANGLES
Finished at 37 X 37cm
Created between January 3, 2016 & February 18, 2016
Total time: 13 hours 40 minutes

Five small pieces of tweed were pieced together — each piece has 3 triangle shapes  embroidered with 4 strands of Aurifloss using a 2 step colour blend ( 2a, 1a+1b 2b).  Grey/black herringbone tweed was stitched around the embroidered rectangles to form a cushion cover. The outline of a large triangle was embroidered with slanting stitches to match the weave of the tweed. Each row of stitches has 2 strands of cotton floss and forms a 2 step colour blend.

The cushion cover was quilted with straight lines following the weave of the fabric using Aurifil 50wt and the walking foot. There is an extra layer of wadding behind the large triangle (wool) with the main layer being 80/20 cotton/ polyester.

FLYING TRIANGLES

CLUTCH BAG

POSTCARDS FROM THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
These samples are painted, pieced, hand appliqued, and embroidered with colours from the Scottish Highlands collection of cotton floss and free motion quilted using Aurifil 50wt threads in the same colours.

HIGHLAND COWS  
Finished at 30 x 25cm
Created between January 4, 2016 & February 9, 2016
Total time: 14 hours 30 minutes

Detail of Highland Cows by Sheena Norquay

Inspired by a photo Sheena took of 2 Highland cows near Inverness, this piece was made with fabric painting and hand embroidery using cotton floss threads from the Scottish Highlands collection. It was free motion quilted using Aurifil 50wt.

LONE STAG  
Finished at 29 x 25cm
Created between January 15, 2016 & February 11, 2016
Total time: 12 hours 40 minutes

Lone Stag by Sheena Norquay

The mountain was inspired by a photo Sheena took from the train south of Aviemore. She loved the patterns on the mountain and it is an area where one can often see red deer. The piece was created using fabric painting and hand embroidery with 2 colours of cotton floss from the Scottish Highlands collection. It was then free motion quilted using Aurifil 50wt.

GREEN TREELINES AND TARTAN TWEED
Finished at 31.5 x 32cm
Created between January 18, 2016 & February 4, 2016
Total time: 17 hours 30 minutes

Green Treelines and Tartan Tweed by Sheena Norquay

This piece was inspired by a photo taken from the train between Inverness and Perth. The wind was whipping the snow up into the sky, a sight Sheena had not seen before and she was attracted to the contrast between the trees and the lines on the mountain. It was fabric painted and hand embroidered using cotton floss from the Scottish Highlands collection. The border is wool tartan. Couched threads are 3 strands of Aurifil Wool twisted together and hand stitched.


ABOUT SHEENA
WebsiteFacebook

Sheena Norquay was born on the Orkney Islands, just off the Northern tip of Scotland. Though she began sewing as a child, it wasn’t until attending University in Aberdeen to gain a B.Ed degree that she truly dove into the world of sewing, quilting, and textiles. The degree included 2-dimensional design in textiles which inspired her interest in exploring the artistic potential of threads and fabrics.

Having been a Primary School teacher in Inverness for 30 years, Sheena is now a freelance quilting teacher and teaches workshops locally, all over the UK, and sometimes abroad. She also writes articles for magazines and her quilts have been featured in several books.

Sheena’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally since 1981 and she has won many awards in competitive quilt shows. She sells her work, cards and postcards of her work, and also accept commissions.

Text and images courtesy of Sheena Norquay.

The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 2 — The Beach Collection

Sheena Norquay’s Beach Collection was inspired by the colours of shells, stones, pebbles, sea glass and sand. It is a box of 12 Large Spools of 50wt thread.

The Colours are:
2524 (light blue/purple), 2564 (light pink/lilac), 4150 (yellow variegated)
1248 (dark blue/purple), 2311 (cream), 2375 (peach)
2610 ((dark grey/blue), 2312 (light beige), 2340 (light rust)
2615 (light grey), 2805 (light turquoise), 2326 (dark beige)

Please visit The Artistry of Sheena Norquay, Part 1 for more details + the full interview with Sheena.

GIVEAWAY
To enter-to-win The Beach Collection by Sheena Norquay, please leave us a comment on this post letting us know which of Sheena’s pieces below is your favorite and why. Entry will close at 11:59pm on Friday, August 18 and a winner will be announced here on Saturday, August 19. This giveaway is open to all of our International friends!

INTERVIEW (con.)
Tell us about The Beach Collection. What inspired the designs and how did you go about selecting the colors?
One of my favourite things to do when I am not stitching, is to go beachcombing. I have collected shells, stones, seaglass, fragments of pottery etc over the years and so I looked at my collection for colour inspiration for the Beach Collection. The rocks and stones on the beaches where I go in Orkney are mainly of sandstone which has warm, gentle, subtle colours. The colours of some shells, seaglass and other stones are cooler but still soft. I tried to have a combination of warm and cool, light and dark in the collection.

Do you have a favorite project made with the collection?
I enjoyed making all of the samples but I think the wholecloth “Periwinkles in a Spin” shows off all the threads in the collection to best effect.


Sheena made a series of samples to showcase the threads in her Beach Collection.

PEBBLE WAVE GRID 
Finished at 59 x 86cm
Created between January 17, 2016 & February 2, 2016
Total time: 29 hours 20 minutes

Pebblewave Grid by Sheena Norquay

Strip pieced using 12 colours of cotton fabrics matching the threads in the beach collection. Pebbles are printed and painted horizontally in shallow curves echoing the shape of the blue wave at the top. The curved horizontal lines of the grid are satin stitched. Wave shape at the top is twin needled, free motion quilted using swinging c curves and satin stitched in vertical lines in the same colours as the fabrics. Pebble shapes on the calico section at the bottom are fabric painted to match the fabrics and the backgrounds are quilted with colours matching the pebbles and adjacent strips. Backgrounds of the coloured strips are free motion quilted in pebble designs in horizontal bands using each of the 12 colours in the Beach collection.

Pebblewave Detail by Sheena Norquay

SCALLOPS
Finished at 39 x 88cm
Created between January 13, 2016 & January 19, 2016
Total time: 22hours 50 minutes

Scallops by Sheena Norquay

Squares were pieced in colours to match the Beach Collection. The background has 3 different cream and beige fabrics. Scallop shell shapes were free motion quilted in repeat, half drop, random, and overlapping patterns. Shells on the coloured fabric were painted with pearlescent paint. The background was quilted in 12 colours in different sizes of circles and curved lines.  Sheena used 2 layers of wadding – polyester Thermore + 80/20 cotton/polyester.

Details of Scallops by Sheena Norquay

PERIWINKLES IN A SPIN
Finished at 61 x 42cm
Created between January 21, 2016 & February 12, 2016
Total time: 15 hours

Detail of Periwinkles in a Spin by Sheena Norquay

Inspired by periwinkle shells. 12 small shell shapes are free motion quilted using Aurifil cotton no. 50 in 12 Beach Collection colours. The shells form a spiral which is then continued in swinging C curves between 2 lines to complete a larger periwinkle shape. Lines separating swinging C curves are satin stitched. The background is quilted in a water pattern. I used 50/50 cotton/polyester wadding behind the small shells, a layer of thin polyester Thermore behind the large, shell shape and 80/20 cotton/polyester for the main layer. It was quilted on a 1008 Bernina machine.

PERIWINKLE SPIRAL PATTERNS
Finished at 61 x 42cm
Created between January 23, 2016 & February 13, 2016
Total time: 13 hours 15minutes

Periwinkle Spiral Patterns by Sheena Norquay

This piece was inspired by the periwinkle shell and its spiral shape. The shell is split into 12 sections and in each section Sheena free motion quilted 12 different spiral patterns using 12 different colours of Aurifil cotton no. 50 from the Beach Collection. She used 2 layers of wadding – 80/20  cotton/polyester + Hobbs Wool Tuscany.

 

PERIWINKLE BORDERS
Finished at 35.5 x 49.5cm
Created between January 13, 2016 & January 27, 2016
Total time: 12 hours 15 minutes

Detail of Periwinkle Borders by Sheena Norquay

Four sizes of periwinkle shapes were free motion quilted in horizontal borders in 12 colours of Aurifil no. 50 threads from the Beach collection. Backgrounds were free motion quilted in water, pebble, and sand patterns. Borders were separated with satin stitch. Sheena used cotton sateen and two layers of wadding – polyester thermore + 80/20 cotton/polyester.

 

BLUE PEBLEWASH WITH MUSSELS  
Finished at 42.5 X 60.5cm
Created between January 1, 2016 and February 21, 2016

Blue Pebblewash with Mussels by Sheena Norquay

The blue pebbles were printed with a bathmat and Jacquard Lumiere fabric paints. Mussel shells were hand painted and hand appliqued. The water was hand painted. Cotton organdy was free motion embroidered, appliqued and quilted in wave and bubble shapes. Sheena used 2 layers of wadding – thin thermore polyester + 80/20 cotton/polyester. The piece was free motion quilted with Aurifil cotton no. 50 threads using some colours from the Beach collection. The patterns created by water on the sand were inspired by photos that Sheena took at Nairn Beach and the shells were inspired by some that she has collected from various beaches.

Detail of Blue Pebblewash with Mussels by Sheena Norquay


ABOUT SHEENA
WebsiteFacebook

Sheena Norquay was born on the Orkney Islands, just off the Northern tip of Scotland. Though she began sewing as a child, it wasn’t until attending University in Aberdeen to gain a B.Ed degree that she truly dove into the world of sewing, quilting, and textiles. The degree included 2-dimensional design in textiles which inspired her interest in exploring the artistic potential of threads and fabrics.

Having been a Primary School teacher in Inverness for 30 years, Sheena is now a freelance quilting teacher and teaches workshops locally, all over the UK, and sometimes abroad. She also writes articles for magazines and her quilts have been featured in several books.

Sheena’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally since 1981 and she has won many awards in competitive quilt shows. She sells her work, cards and postcards of her work, and also accept commissions.

Text and images courtesy of Sheena Norquay.