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Stitching Summer Days

Each season out here has its own particular charms that intrigue me.  Right now, it is being able to see the gentle rolling of the land without piles of wild brush and lushly leafed trees hiding the topographical details.  The branches of the same trees are wrapped with feathery blue-gray lichens, unnoticed in the spring and summer months.  When the cold winds whip through the valleys, I stay in and stitch the summer flowers to keep warm thoughts of the growing season in my mind.

There are certain points along the property where I live that I visit frequently to note changes as the season roll through the year.  At the end of my long driveway is one of those points.  Across the road is a neglected cow pasture that fills out in summer with a riot of wildflowers: soft purple chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, blaze orange butterfly weed, mullein reaching to the sky, jewelweed, and sometimes a bright red Canadian Lily.

SummerFencerow2

Later in the season, iron weed, Joe Pye weed, goldenrods and asters take over with a different palette of colors and textures.  I have already made several felted and stitched portraits of the fence row, and more are in the works.

I don’t know if I will ever tire of stitching these roadside meadows.  So many people speed past them, in a hurry to get somewhere, and they never notice the flower show to the side.  It doesn’t show up on their GPS.

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Funky Felted Flowers

As I mentioned in my last post, I took a class recently to learn how to felt flowers out of wool.  I’ll just cut to the eye candy, here is a bouquet of all flowers from all of the participants:

Flowers courtesy of R. Hosta, B. Hosta, A. Baker, J. Mack, J. Fassinger and J. Campbell

 

I have been trying out all sorts of techniques to make fabric flowers with a future series of vases in mind; this felting technique will be a nice addition to my repertoire.  It is not too difficult of a technique, but since it is wet felting, it can get a bit messy.  It all starts out with wool roving.  The most fun part for me is selecting colors.

Yesterday, I felted some more flowers.  Joining the stem and sepals to a flower is tricky, you have to get the timing right and be sure that flower hasn’t been worked too much in the early felting process.  Otherwise, the two parts won’t join.

I have lots and lots of wool roving around, and until now, I have not been very inspired by working with wool.  That’s all changed now, many felted flowers are in my future!

I’ll need to take a break from the flowers, I am already behind in the ICAD challenge.  What will I have to show on Tuesday?

 

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Wisteria, Deconstructed

Behold, the destruction by smashing of a lovely wisteria flower spray, all of the sake of art.  Here is the flower cluster before its demise, I auditioned the placement of it among the impressions of pink dogwoods.

Next, I plucked each floret from the main stem and placed them on my fabric to re-create the arc of the flower cluster as it had danced in the spring breeze on its parent vine.

Finally, the flower, post-pounding.  It created a watercolor paint look, I just hope the blue and purple tones don’t turn brown as it dries.

Next week, will I have an 8 X 10″ piece finished?  Check back to find out if I stuck to that goal, or distracted myself with something else!

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Flower Power

Sadly, I still have not have any success in completing an 8 X 10″ quilt in a week.  I am so easily distracted, and I almost always have to set a piece aside for a while while I think about what I need to do with it.  The whole point of a mini quilt a week is to train myself to think and work faster.  Ironically, that training will take more time!

Meanwhile, I might be inching closer to some quick small pieces to finish.  Now that spring flowers are popping open in great abundance, I have been playing with flower pounding.  Using fabric treated with soda ash and alum, I am literally hammering flowers and leaves onto the fabric, releasing the pigments into the fibers for an interesting variant on dyeing.

A new appreciation of spring

Here are the pink magnolias that resulted in the lovely four-petal flowers in the above image:

This is the thistle-like flower that made the print in the lower right of the first image:

Not all flowers made good candidates for this technique.  As you can see from my little test piece of fabric (lower right), some of my favorite flowers, lilacs and violets were terrible.  The fern leaf was promising, I will try that again.  This is the best of two worlds that mean so much to me, my gardens and creating art.  Of course, some of my art prior to trying flower pounding has been inspired by my garden and wild flora, but this truly combines the two.

There is a book dedicated to the technique, Flower Pounding by Ann Frischkorn and Amy Sandrin (C&T Publishing, 2000).  I have one very big problem with the book – the authors failed to include a crucial discussion of the ethics of plant collection.  Make sure that you are not picking rare or endangered plants, for every one flower you pick, leave at least 10 untouched, do not collect from state or national parks, and make sure you have permission for other properties.

Check back tomorrow for a progress report on my flowers.