Finished, the Hedgerow Bouquet pleased me enough that I soon started another still life, this one a larger exercise in folk art style – I’d come across a red and green cotton print of stylized folk art flowers that I was crazy about and determined to make the motifs on the ‘painted’ folk art vase that would be set on the window ledge from it as well.
For the background, I bought a forest green taffeta with shimmery ripples and shadings in a tint that would set off the bouquet; after making a tissue pattern for the style and size of vase I thought appropriate to the scale of the flowers, then backing the fabric, I began cutting out individual blooms. This process took several months – I managed quite a bit of the work, using both straight and curved fine point embroidery scissors, when migraines hit and I had to lie in bed for a day or two at a time. When I estimated I had enough flowers, I chose red, yellow, white and clear beads and crystals for flower centers, and these colors plus green in different sizes and shapes, including bugle beads, for the complex inner parts of the largest blooms, flower petals, and for the leaves and stylized ferns. As is my practice, I counted out and sewed an identical number of beads and/or crystals of the same colors on each type of similar flower, leaf and fern. This process took over three months.
Initially I attempted to arrange the flowers into the mirror-image arrangement characteristic of many folk art bouquets, but with the large stylized motifs especially this just didn’t work – when I tried out two of the ferny blooms with paisley red centers near the top on either side, no matter how far apart I spaced them, they put the whole bouquet off balance, screaming ‘Too Much Red here! Too Much Red!’! I had no option but to take one away and substitute a smaller flower with elongated bright red center on the opposite side.
Which meant making a virtue of necessity and turning the bouquet into a more subtle exercise in folk art, using similar size flowers in colors of equal brightness on either side but not always of an identical motif; an additional challenge was the fact that every flower in the stripes of the fabric all faced one direction – I about went nuts turning large blooms and leaves to the angle that would give a feeling of symmetry without the symmetry actually being quite there. Thankfully, this fabric also had lots of small white and red blossoms I could use for accents and fill-in everywhere, though I always tried to keep their numbers the same side to side.
So in this subtle yet symmetrical-feeling bouquet, many of the larger motifs are in trios or groups of five – note the triad of pincushion flowers near the bottom, and the three medium red-centered blooms clocking around the outside, along with five of the large ferns with paisley shape red centers, and five of the larger red marigolds with dark red centers. However, the middle of the bouquet, as is usual in my floral still lifes, displays elements unique to that important central position. .
From a red and green paisley fabric – left-overs from a previously purchased fabric Mark and I made into a skirt for me to wear at Christmas holiday dances – I cut out, backed and glue-sealed various elements, beaded these, then assembled them into two folk-art birds and a small bee straight out of Russian folk tales. These fantasy birds swoop above the bouquet and the little bee buzzes lower down beside the vase. The green vase made from the basic floral stripe fabric has tiny red beads sewn on each teardrop motif and is further ‘painted’ in narrow bands of red and white grosgrain; the window frame and sill are made of wider red and green grosgrain while the top of the frame additionally boasts a looped valence of gold and green seeds beads interspersed with larger red crystals and green bead leaves.