Concept and material to create this initial landscape came together quickly. It was early in the year, and Valentine’s Day was approaching – heart shapes were on my mind. From the costume sewing my husband and I did then I had a leftover piece of red taffeta, then in local Joanne’s I found an ivory cotton stamped in a thick, textured dye in a slightly darker shade that formed fir trees – enlivening the ivory and cream were tiny shapes of red cardinals sitting on and flying between some of the trees. Immediately a picture came into my mind of a wintry February vista of the Black Forest in Germany, snow covered firs marching over hills into the distance with – in the foreground – a few of the bright cardinals. I decided it would be a delightful touch of magic to wave my artist wand and transport into my scene a few of these American birds from Pennsylvania to south Germany as a tribute to my father’s great-great grandfather who emigrated from the Schwarzwald after the Franco-Prussian War and settled with his wife – a woman from Strasbourg – in the heart of Pennsylvania ‘Dutch’ (more rightly ‘Deutsch’ country) where so many German immigrants bought land; the couple farmed their acres and raised a large family.
The fir trees cut from the ivory cotton stamped with slighter darker ivory ‘snow’ make the largest of the foreground fir trees; in the middle distance the firs are made from a different ivory pattern cotton – on these I used pinking shears to suggest spiky branches and cut the triangle edges twice to make smaller jags as a single cut was too coarse for the scale of the scene; the firs farther away still are simpler elongated triangle shapes.
A thin gold metallic fabric textured with tiny dots and lines creates the stream running between snowy banks; here and there are twiggy brown shrubs touched with fine ivory glitter to suggest ice crystals. The stream runs under a hump-back, snow-covered bridge of another patterned ivory cotton, its posts and top arc edged in snow glitter; beside it and over the bridge, then away from it, a snowy path runs back to a snow-covered peasant farm house like the one in which my great- great-great grandfather would have lived. The farmhouse is a small piece of brown corduroy, its snowy roof a bit of ivory velvet, and the windows are metallic foil cut to tiny squares; the ‘smoke’ the chimney sends into the cold air is made of cream gauze edged in gold glitter. Two bare-branch orchard trees with glittering snow crystals stand either side of the house, and in the top left corner, high above the hills, snow clouds of gold-gray taffeta have parted to allow a glimpse of pale satin blue sky while other clouds still linger low in valleys between the hills.
After selecting the best five of the red cardinals I’d cut from the ivory snow fir fabric, I coated these in fine red glitter and placed them in the front of the scene – two are flying between trees and the others perched on snowy branches. The surrounding red taffeta is overlaid with cream lace and the heart shape inner scene is bordered with a bronze and gold metallic braid; the outer rectangular frame is created from an elaborate red gimp* with narrow metallic cord in an old gold tint made into repeating ovals around red satin thread. Inside corners of this frame and at top center and bottom point of the heart shape, iridescent Swarovski crystals are set as accents.