This piece was inspired by another fabric I fell for Big Time – a cotton dyed deep black scattered with sharp, non-blurry reproductions of old German black and white engravings and bunches of Christmas greens. Seeing it, I immediately formed the idea of using parts of the different scenes to create one larger picture depicting a traditional Black Forest mill and farmhouse – very like the sort of place that my dad’s great-grandfather would have lived in before emigrating to America.
The ‘path’ into this wintry landscape is the millpond outlet, frozen black on this winter night. This stream passes by snowy shrubs, ice coated grass and an old, thick trunked oak tree, leading the eye to the millpond, the great millwheel and the characteristic double roof Bauernhaus, icicles dripping from its eaves.
The sky had to be made first – and it proved a pain. As none of the fabric medallion scenes had a stretch of sky wide enough for the larger scene I planned, I had to cut sky pieces from several of the pictures and meld these together, being careful to match the black ‘engraved’ lines as these showed different darker and lighter patches in each picture. After I pieced the sky into a whole, I then sewed on stars made from the tiniest size of Swarovski crystal beads- these ‘stars’ are the only beaded items on the inner scene.
Adding in a few more realistic looking branches at just the right angle to make the oak tree higher proved surprisingly difficult – I went through quite a few different shapes and sizes of limbs till I found just the right ones, but I persisted as I wanted some topmost bare limbs to picturesquely cross the night sky while allowing a few cold bright stars to shine between them. Fine white glitter is sprinkled on the scene quite thickly here and there to give the look of ice-crusted snow glittering on a dark, star-bright winter night.
The landscape is centered in a black matte satin, and from the outset I planned to construct a wreath of seasonal greens around it. My husband and I were constantly engaged through our dance teaching and performing years with a multitude of sewing projects – I always kept fabric remnants from these. Years back I’d found a cotton showing small seasonal flowers twining through bright red ribbon on a black ground – we’d made a skirt from this that I wore to holiday dances. The little winter greens on this fabric were the perfect scale for the wreath around the black and white German landscape.
I cut out and backed the best bunches of little flowers from this fabric, then sewed the smallest sizes of several kinds of beads, some clear, some opaque, onto mistletoe bunches, tiny daisies, holly berries and red-veined leaves, then cut out sections of the red ribbon from this print and pieced it around and between the flowers and cedar sprigs so it appeared to be winding through the wreath and binding it together – getting the bits of ribbon to convincingly thread up and down in the clusters of greens tried my patience, but I finally got it looking right. On the top of the wreath the three highest daisies are centered with flat back crystals sewn on with size 15 transparent red beads.
Narrow black satin ribbon studded with acrylic rhinestones provides the outer frame for the picture, and poinsettia ribbon flowers are placed within each of the ribbon frame’s four corners – I found these ready-made at Joanne’s and especially liked their sparkly rhinestone centers and the way their color is a near-exact match to the red in the wreath; the poinsettias also brought a nice dimensionality to the outer part of the picture. From yet another Christmas fabric I found poinsettia leaves the right size and glued these under the ‘petals’ of the ribbon flowers.