A Tiny Touch of Nature — the Endeavourers’ Reveal Day
So, after all my deliberating about what aspect of nature to portray for the Endeavourers Nature theme, what did I choose?
It even surprised me.
I thought I might draw from an antique source, or maybe some vast and awe-inspiring landscape, but then, this tiny little wren beckoned.
I realized she was perfect. There she was, a plain brown bird in yet another of Houston’s plain flat muddy fields that is about to become another plain little neighborhood, and to me she personified all the things in nature that we need, even though we don’t ooh and ah over them. No charging lion here, no dancing crane, no migrating monarch — just a streaky, secretive little larva-eater.
Birds of Texas says of the Sedge Wren, “Its transient nature may have to do with its unstable habitat, which changes annually with natural flooding and drying cycles.” We have plenty of unstable habitats and flooding cycles here on the Gulf Coast, so I hereby nominate this bird for Official Bird of Houston.
Three years ago, I had taken a picture of a Carolina Wren, and made some practice quiltlets from that picture.
I thought that for the Endeavourers challenge, it would be great to make a series of these bird pictures as a wall hanging, but I didn’t get that far; I only got one small square done.
With the Carolina Wren, I really liked the lines of the twigs and vines around the bird, and tried to work those into my pictures. For the Sedge Wren, I liked the lacy green-gray lichen in the yaupon shrub around her, and wanted to find a way to emphasize that. Also, there were too many branches taking up space and attention in the photograph, so I simplified the composition.
I worked on a few different versions. I started with old linen damask napkins, because I like the way their patterns add movement to the background of the quilt. I tried Jacquard Dye-na-flow and Lumiere paints. I expected that the linen wouldn’t take dye well and I would get subtle, faded colors, but the colors came out very bright, even when I diluted the dye. The Lumiere paints had more subtle color, but I didn’t dilute them enough to get good blending, and they made the fabric feel too stiff.
I put the bird photo through some filters in Photoshop Elements®. Then I printed one on tee shirt transfer paper and ironed it on. That did not work so well on the textured linen. I printed another on cotton printer fabric, and that one came out beautifully.
This piece has a combination of fibers. The fabrics are cotton and linen, the battings are cotton and wool, the embellishment ribbons are rayon, the threads are silk and polyester, and the binding is a dark green shot silk from Burma.
I do not consider this a finished piece that I would enter in a show or give to someone. If it was a painting, I would glaze the whole thing to unify it more, but I don’t really want to paint textile medium all over this and make it stiff and sticky. I wish I had added extra stuffing to the body of the wren to capture her roundness. And, as a birder, the fact that her beak is too short for a wren is driving me crazy. The ribbons as lichen don’t work that well for me, they are too busy looking.
But, I do really like how I saved the branches from being a flat white expanse by using the fabric crayons. And I enjoyed capturing a moment from nature and portraying it.
You are too self crictical ,this is lovely.
I’m not trying to be critical, I’m just trying to take an honest look at what I would change next time. But of course I will just go on to a totally different project and then think about how that one could be improved. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words!
Very nice! And I love the 3-D effect.
Thanks! I meant to do a project summary like you did on your last quilt, but I forgot. I will write one in my notebook though, I think that will be a very helpful tool!
Your creativity is amazing! I wasn’t feeling it and then suddenly it just popped! That eye! I think I would have given up long before you came to your finish. Beautiful. I love the little wrens (Carolina here in Alabama) they are so tiny and fragile looking.
I wasn’t feeling it either! I was glad I had made some back-up pieces as options. But with most of my pieces, I never feel sure of them until the binding is on. Then they look done to me. 🙂
I love it! It has character. I would frame it, maybe in a quilter’s frame or something old and hang it in the kitchen. Such a happy little bird to greet me while I make coffee.
Hmm, I bet it could fly over to your house!
This is a very nice piece. I know I am critical of my work. I don’t do it to berate my work, but as constructive criticism. Your expressed thoughts were learning moments for me (and probably many others). I learned about types of paint and how they work on fabrics and that water can be added. Adding more stuffing to the bird is good to know and the lichen may not have over-powered the piece. (The materials used for lichen was genius!) I only once used t-shirt transfer with poor results, but know it’s not me, but the fabric, etc. So thank you for your honest comments. You taught me.
Thank you so much. I save so many magazine articles wanting to try their techniques, and I learn so much from other people’s tips and evaluations too, in figuring out which techniques are really for me, and which are ones I will check off my list and not repeat. Thank you for your thoughtful comments!
Sweet, sweet wren! Love the ribbons etc for the nest. Definitely frame it. Happy every time you look at it!
AND, if you don’t like looking at it you can send it to me! LOL
You may have to arm-wrestle my mom for it, but I am so glad you like it! thank you!
I love this! The techniques are so inventive and it turned out beautifully!
Trying to capture nature’s fauna in a quilt is so hard, but I feel I know your sedge wren a lot better with your portrayal of it in its habitat. You got the perky tail just right.
Oh, thank you! I am happy to hear that I made her a little better known! 🙂
The painting and the quilting complement each other wonderfully, and I rather like the lichen you made. So clever. A very lovely finish!!
Thank you. Somebody called it “mixed media” which I hadn’t really thought about, and I think in the future I will try to go more in that direction!
I think this is a wonderful tribute to the, hopefully soon, ‘Official Bird of Houston’. Thank you for sharing your process. It is very interesting to see the various stages and, although there may be things you would like to do differently another time, I think the overall effect is beautiful. I especially like the lichen as, for me, it works with the crayon on the branches to create a pleasing dimensional quality. I think it would look great in a frame. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your art quilts 🙂
Excellent composition. 🙂
Love it! That sedge wren was worth the work you put into the project. You captured him and his environment wonderfully!
Thank you! I was so glad to give that bird some attention! 🙂
Lovely, lovely work and it looks like you are firmly in the mixed media mode of thinking! We are always hard on ourselves with our self-criticism, but we need to do it so that we may continue to improve!
Thank you! WordPress showed me your blog as a recommendation this morning, and I am so glad it did! I love your work and I think I will get a lot of good tips from you!
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Oh so beautiful!
Thank you, it was so much fun to capture her spark! 🙂
Your Wren is so pretty, Gwen!
It was nice to be able to read your thoughts on how you made your piece. I love the way you added the braids and ribbons to represent the lichen, it was so effective, and I was especially interested to read about your experiments with the different paints. Thank you for sharing so much detail.
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