. . . in Winter" is the name of a textile work that I recently completed, after many years away from doing any fiber arts. I was inspired to pick up a needle again when I saw the beautiful piece (below) at the Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists exhibit at Olbrich in January.
The work was created by Marty Petillo who is the volunteer services coordinator at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. I was so taken with her piece that I dragged my sister-in-law — who is proficient in many textile techniques — over to see it. This photo, snapped with my phone, doesn't begin to portray the quality of Marty's concept or technique. Suffice it to say that she did a profile of a head from the back covered with embroidered evergreen branches, a mixed media bird's nest complete with eggs, and a stitchery bird perched on the rim of the nest which is not visible in my shot. Nor can you see her beautiful border of perfect stitches interspersed with equally perfect French knots.
I had been doing drawings based on silhouettes of my head and Mark's a couple of years ago, and had sketched out some ideas for further development of that idea. When I saw Marty's piece, I decided to detour into textiles for my next silhouette. I used my head for the shape and used black linen for the ground. I also decided I would do four silhouette portraits and make them views of the inside of a gardener's head in each season. Since it's winter outside, that's the season I started with. You can see the results below.
I used contemporary fabric of gray lace flowers on a net ground to provide a visual and textural break. I actully cut out flowers, leaves and all kinds of assorted bits of lace and net and stitched them down separately in the size and shapes I wanted. Then I filled in with old beads and buttons (many from my sister-in-law's huge stash of buttons), as well as snap fasteners, bits of silvery paper ribbon from a Christmas present and the selvedge from the lace fabric. I also cut up an old pearl bracelet from my childhood jewelry box and added an old family religious medal.
If you want to know how long it's been since I did a project of this type, I can only say that my boxes and tins of textile materials included skeins of DMC embroidery floss marked 10 cents and packages of rocaille beads from Ben Franklin marked 39 cents! But, of course, one never gets rid of such treasures just in case . . .
Now that I've finished my winter portrait, I intend to put it in a round silvery frame. I started the next seasonal portrait but have ripped everything out a few times and completely changed my concept as well. It is very possible that doing one fiber piece was enough to get the urge out of my system instead of starting me on a glorious new art path. Only time will tell.