I responded to a SAQA call for entry using this Ontario Government document as my lead in.
The letter referenced the property which we had lived on for 10 years, and in the same district that we still live. I had often seen this white aster, but was not aware of its significance as an endangered species.
SAQA’s (Studio Art Quilt Associates) call for entry “Connecting our Natural Worlds” had specific reference to endangered species, flora or fauna, and how one might propose its preservation. I was able to photograph at the former woodland property in the late summer just at the height of the Woodland Aster’s flowering cycle.
In my mind, the series of wind turbines that I had photographed in our “backyard” earlier in the year, seemed to enter my mind; their propellers mimicking nature to scoop and disperse air. Furthermore, we had just had a conservative government elected in Ontario and the issue of environmental preservation was now in question.
For both White Wood Aster and Wind Turbine, a symbiotic relationship formed a “storyline” in my mind. How would it play out if one assisted the other to disperse seed heads far and wide? I prepared some uploads for printing with the thought in mind that I would be piecing this composition. The exact process would evolve as I problem solved each step. This series of wind turbine photos is actually one turbine taken lying on the ground from front and back of the structure. Problem one was that the sky is either lit from front or back, and my composition needed a consistent sky. I formatted that on Photoshop and pieced my 56 inch width of quilting cotton to contain as much as my computer would upload. The components were sent to DesignYourFabric.ca for printing. I was thrilled with the results.
Some months intervened between the ordering and starting of the project. This was the incubation period where my methods were still being mulled over. I began shortly after Christmas when all was cleared and my mind able to grasp the project. I have stitched around and cut away the turbines leaving a small selvage and decided they would need a backing of their own. I cut those to the stitch line and used fabric glue to secure to the back. I tested the fabric first to ensure that the glue did not seep through.
I played with the composition of the three turbines to get the illusion of distance and a background for the wood asters.
I realized I had forgotten something important. I hadn’t backed my main piece with cotton quilt backing. Fortunately, not too late. I secured that with pins – would leave the tacking until later – and started in to the turbines. It worked.
Once satisfied (can that ever be a “for sure” decision) that I had placed the turbines correctly, I began the appliqué stitching – this is actually the part that’s least like work for me, as there’s no real decision making. It’s purely mechanical. I had to think through the tiny points of the turbines and decided to try stitching the selvage together first before the
appliqué process itself. I will come back to cover some of the stitches later on with various pigmentation – if they bother me. I know stitching is part of the process and some like to see it, but that’s part of this decision making process as well. I want the turbines to float off the surface.
Once satisfied (can that ever be a “for sure” decision) that I had placed the turbines correctly I began the appliqué stitching – this is actually the part that’s least like work for me as there’s no real decision making. It’s purely mechanical. I had to think through the tiny points of the turbines. This method worked well.
I was now ready to tackle the white wood aster – both exciting and daunting! I fused a stabilizer cotton interfacing and added a quilt backing with another layer of interfacing to prevent the machine from ripping up the quilt backing – which had happened when I created the lichens for the Beausoleil Saracen project in 2016. This time it was easy using my sewing machine to create a cutting outline around the various components of the woodland flora. I used every piece possible!
In the final composition, I wanted to show not only the aster itself, but other plants growing symbiotically along with it. I found even the tiny yellow chains of what might be goldenrod, and the leaflets of the the Virginia creeper. I know all grew in our Carolinian backyard.