I am participating in an online embroidery workshop sponsored by HEN (http://www.handembroiderynetwork.com/) based in England. The teacher uses a technique she calls thread salad to cover large areas in her embroidery. The first lesson required time spent dying unbleached muslin with coffee grounds and hand painting and stamping muslin to use as background for the embroidery. The muslin I used for the nest block was soaked in coffee for ten minutes. It is the most beautiful mocha color. The photo doesn't do it justice. The background for the tree was made by mushing around coffee grounds on muslin. Messy but thoroughly satisfying. The nest is made by cutting lots of short lengths of embroidery thread and then heaping them on the fabric and circulating it until it covered the background. Voila, a nest. The egg is a piece of muslin that I painted and then stuffed and stitched.
The tree trunk is a piece of muslin stamped with ink and colored with pen. I was encouraged to use the thread salad for the tree leaves, but liked the cut fabrics better. I think I will play with the thread salad for the ground at the base of the tree. I still have to embroider in some flowers and bushes or some other shapes to fill up the empty area on this block.