The last several days have been exciting as I begin the surface texture and embellishment.  More and more this work is speaking to me as a human metaphor.  I’m also thinking of a title and wondered about “Beausoleil Saracen“. Beausoleil Island is where the inspirational stone was found; however Saracen seems to be specific to the British Isles where the silicified sandstone of Stonehenge is found.  But my Pre Cambrian megaliths were intended to play off the Stonehenge photograph that we took when visiting these prehistoric standing stones (dated at 4-5,000 years old).  Our Georgian bay, Canadian Sheild rocks are said to be 570 million years old.  Are there any responses to the title?  Could it be interpreted as my version of a Stonehenge Saracen?


I am now indulging in the surface of the sculpture and have the stratified, Pre Cambrian bedrock to capture.  This rock consists of igneous:  granite (the pinks), dolomite (limestone), basalt (the dark volcanic sections) and metamorphic:  schists (quartz) and marbles.  Here are my supplies:

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I will be using raw mulberry silk dyed in 3 tones to pick up on the overall granite.  I have used silk dyes.  This raw silk comes with little bumps (noils) which I hope will provide the texture of the granite.  In the second photograph I have an assortment of beads and linen cloth from which I will form the lichens.

First, however, I must work on the defined sections of the sculpture that will contain the limestones, marbles and quart components.  For these areas I am using a finer processed silk fibre over the white areas of the sculpture.  Plastic food wrap works well as a barrier that is simply taped in place.  The fibres are attenuated (stretched out) and wallpaper paste is used to adhere the layers (4 layers, each worked against the other (as in crosshatching), provides a good thickness).  It takes about 12 hours to dry enough to be able to peel off in a sheet.

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I will be working on the “background” granite and the featured quartz, marble, limestone areas simultaneously.

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The silk fibre, feature sections are first backed with thin cotton, quilt batting to provide a heavier cloth to work on.  I am beginning here to work with the shell buttons and various beads to provide texture and monochromatic colour.  I work, by hand, with the rock in front of me as a continual reference.

The first section is completed and attached to the sculpture with fabric glue.  The silk edges will be integrated into the background.  I am working first with the lightest colour of my dyed silk noil.  Once this is dry I can begin to build the texture and colour density.  Note that the black charcoal of the foundation layer is strategically left to show through.

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I am ready to begin the lichens.  They are flat and intricate.  The actual lichen below (one of the 3 varieties that I will be depicting) is identified at a white lichen, specifically, Diploicia Canescens.  My research tells me that this species is also found in the British Isles.  Could it therefore be growing on the Stonehenge Saracens?


I back my linen with cotton quilt batting, then take it to the sewing machine.  Machine quilting is very acceptable today among textile and fibre artists.  The motifs are cut, pinned in place, stitched/quilted (this process involves puckering the motif to create a three-dimensional formation). The “fingers” of the lichen are worked up with my acquarelle watercolour pencils to enhance the forms and push back the background rock areas.  These are completed with a scattering of black, grey and reddish glass beads to create a rock background and to tie the plant form into the beaded rock formation.

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Here I am now with the second beaded section completed.


I found some interesting beads today that I may incorporate in my next section.  They are much like granite, in colour and are dull, as the unpolished stone.

Please feel welcome to comment and to ask any questions about what you have seen or read.  I hope you enjoy this process as much as I do.  Thanks for participating.

2016 is a new year and time to diversify.  I had an invitation from my friend Dianne Gibson an amazingly talented textile artist, to enter a work in the tri-annual Threadworks competition.  The deadline for entry is March 1, 2016.  I had given the theme, “Flashback” some thought and decided that my rocks from Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay offer suitable inspiration (featured image above).  I love not only the sense of history, but aesthetically, the depth of colour in the granite, the imbedded quartz and amazing lichens that continue to cling to the rocks.  Yes, this is my challenge!  Parameters:  “A substantial part of the piece must be made with a threaded needle” and no larger than 36″ x 45″ x 9″ (wish I had noted this last detail before starting my 5′ x 2″ sculpture – size chosen to reflect my exact height).  Still, it’s the prototype and I’m now underway with the smaller 2′ version.

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My first job was to build an armature that was sturdy.  If this sculpture is to be publically displayed, it must stand up to being knocked and not topple over.  Here is version 1.  The base is built from layers of wood with a centre that is drilled out to act as a mortice for the tenon of the tree branch – My twig supplies and tools for rustic twig furniture building came in handy here.  The structure was then well rapped with chicken wire mesh and well secured with wire and the cut ends of the mesh – oh don’t my cut fingers know this well!

I further braced the interior with more heavy wire threaded from one side to the other in an attempt to counteract any collapsing.  I am not entirely satisfied with my efforts and am now looking for suitable material that I can stuff into the cavity through the openings at the base.  I’m on the hunt for packing material such as Styrofoam peanuts or bean-bag pellets – free source preferably.  Can anyone help?

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Version 2: I built the support around a slate base from a broken water feature.  The branches are screwed into place and further supported with wires and cables in a woven spider-web that will hopefully prevent the sculpture from collapsing in on itself.  I have used wire screen mesh tied to the cables and fashioned as a “skin” over the surface.

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Here are the 2 versions with just their support surfaces in place.  The white film on the smaller sculpture is white glue which I will explain in the next step.

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Once the armatures were built they needed their first “skins.”  In the larger, version I began with cheese cloth and other fine porous fabrics glued together with my favourite, wallpaper paste.  This is much the same process as paper maché except that it’s difficult to rip the pieces which means they have to be cut in irregular shapes for better and more seamless interlocking.  For the smaller sculpture I used white glue for better adhesion to the mesh to ensure a bonding between the armature and skin.  I have used a muslin cloth for this layer.  Dampening the cloth makes the gluing easier – penetrates the fabric better and crinkling it first creates a texture.

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Now onto the fun part:  I have for the past several years been exploring the use of charcoal, raw from the fire pit.  There are black textured areas of the rock where I felt this medium would work.

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The process involves placing cheese cloth over a granite rock and rubbing with charcoal to leave a textured imprint.  The cloth is cut into workable sections, wall paper paste applied to the surface of the sculpture then glue is applied over the surface to adhere. Scrunching and manipulating are all important, and so too is determining the composition of the dark and light areas.

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I have employed the same charcoal texturing to both sculptures, determining where my light quartz areas will stand out.  The more I worked on the smaller piece with its 9 inch depth limitations (set by the Threadworks parameters) the more the work began to suggest a torso.  If you recall the initial shape that was determined by the arrangement of branches, this likeness is quite coincidental. It means that there is a metaphorical connection that allows me to feel out the composition and the need for balance.

Working up the granite colour and texture comes next.  My medium is dyed mulberry silk noil fibre.  I will be posting these results shortly.  I have been collecting shell buttons and various beads to work up the reflective quartz.  Can’t wait to get there.

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Planters range from small, $15, medium, $18.50 to large, $24.

If you have your own planter and would like a custom made garden, please contact me (available to local customers only unless you would like to drive to Fenwick, to visit this beautiful community). For my personal gardens, I have used everything from old unused containers, to precious gifts that have broken over the years.