Thursday, 1 February 2018

That Tiny Touch of Nature

In the middle of December, I was out gathering some native grass seed with a conservancy group, when a small bird demanded my attention.  She was a Sedge Wren, and I knew she was perfect for this project.  Just a tiny touch of nature on the edge of a huge city -- so easy to overlook but still surviving, still bringing a spark of diversity into a monoculture of humanity.

Sedge Wren

About three years ago, I had taken a picture of a Carolina Wren, and the curving lines of the branches and vines around it caught my eye.  I realized how shrubs that are nondescript to us, are important shelters from the birds' point of view.  I had done several small sketches and practice mini-quilts from that picture.

Carolina Wren

Since that first Carolina Wren picture, I have gotten other pictures of wrens and sparrows sheltered within branches.  I thought a series of them as a wall hanging would make a great project for our theme, but I only finished this one small square.

The original photo had composition issues, with branches taking up the majority of the space, and blocking the view of the wren, so I simplified it to turn it into this quiltlet.

I painted dye on the corners of an old linen napkin and machine quilted lines to suggest the leaves.  I printed the wren on inkjet printer cotton and appliqued her on.  The white area I had left for the tree branches was too white and plain, so I added some color with fabric crayons.  To emphasize the lacy gray-green lichen around the bird, I stitched some rayon braided ribbons and pique trim in loose loops.
I will post more of the details on my blog Deep in the Heart of Textiles.

As with a lot of pieces, I can see a lot of room for improvement here!  But I had fun making it, and I am glad to commemorate one of my own nature encounters.


16 comments:

  1. I just love this! It's so interesting to read about both your inspiration and natural research to your mixed media usage. And yes, to keeping spaces and vegetation friendly to wildlife. A few dead trees left where they are no danger of harming someone in a fall are a tremendous benefit. Kudos to you. You inspire me!

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    1. Thank you!
      I am a Texas Master Naturalist and one of the lessons we are trying to convey to everyone is that we can help wildlife even with small wild areas as you said!

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  2. Our yard is really a personal nature preserve. The Carolina Wren have been enjoying my meal worm feeder all winter. This is such a gorgeous piece. The color and quilting is so perfectly done. Loved your commentary on creating the piece.
    xx, Carol

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    1. Thank you so much.
      I love the idea of your yard as a personal nature preserve. I believe that image has given me another idea! :)

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  3. Oh I think this is lovely! You were so adventurous in using all your different techniques and it's resulted in such a beautiful and atmospheric image. The little wren comes alive in the middle of it!

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    1. Thank you! I love your description of it as atmospheric. That gives me a firmer idea of what I would like to work towards to establish a "voice". :)

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  4. What a great start to a series, your little quilt is beautiful and a wonderful tribute to a tiny, and often overlooked, bird!

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    1. Thank you! I love your choice of the word "tribute" and I think it will help me focus on what I want to express about nature in future pieces.

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  5. I was very interested to hear about all the techniques you've used and I especially like the effect you've achieved with the rayon and trim. The end result is enchanting. It makes me smile just to look at your captivating little wren and I love that this actual bird you encountered with your conservancy group has now been immortalised in a piece of art :)

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    1. Thank you, I am glad to bring her attention. I have the feeling she would love that! :)

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  6. How lovely, she looks so comfortable in her nest. The textures are very successful and it just goes to show how a photo can be a good starting point for a quilt and you have simplyfied and improved it

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! I did enjoy trying to translate the photographed textures into quilted ones.

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  7. This piece is definitely heart felt art. I feel I could almost touch her. Quite lovely.

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    1. Thank you, I enjoyed the time I spent with her -- a few minutes in the field and a lot of hours afterward. Thank you for the lovely description of "heart felt art!"

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  8. Such a lovely vibe to it, natural and very pretty - great texture too!

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  9. Gwen--so glad to see you are a part of this group, as I love your work in this little art quilt. You've captured it so well, and I love the green-ness of the setting. Terrific!

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