Probably everyone knows the story about teaching the cranes how to fly to their wintering grounds because of the movie which was done about it. Here, Marlene Gustafson from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin has interpreted it into cloth in this piece called Operation Migration: The Flight of the Whooping Cranes.
She's simplified the cranes, as well as the landscape into an effective pattern. At 35" x 28" it was one of the larger pieces in the show.
Here's her artist statement about the piece:
"In 1941, there were only 21 whooping cranes in the world. In 2001, an organization called Operation Migration devised a plan to raise the cranes in Wisconsin and then lead them with ultralight planes to a wintering ground in Florida. Every year since, they have led a group to Florida and every year the cranes migrated back to Florida on their own! My quilt is a tribute to those who are reintroducing these beautiful birds to our earth.
The thread lace "ghost cranes" represent those that have already disappeared from our world. They form a protective circle around the young cranes helping them on their journey.
This quilt just flew out of my brain and fingers. As I worked on it the young cranes were on their way South, a long and arduous trip for both the birds and the humans guiding them on their way. I love the cranes, I love this quilt and I hope the visitors will love it too."
Whooping cranes are native to the prairies of the Midwest. When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in southwest Michigan, Rachel Carson's book was making great impact. I had never seen a whooping crane, and had only seen one injured Sandhill crane (which was used as surrogate parents to hatch out whooping crane eggs) at an Audubon center.
Imagine my great surprise when I returned for my 20th high school reunion to see a flock of Sandhills beginning their migration to Florida...and then I saw them IN Florida. While I have yet to see a Whooping crane, I, like Marlene, am very fond of the cranes I have seen.
Nancy Linz of Mukwonago, Wisonsin completed this piece called Autumn Marsh. I love the colors and the dynamic contrasts she's used here. Once again, a heron makes the central appearance. Another reference to birds is the line of flying geese blocks which wind off the side of the quilt.
Nancy used bleach discharge to make the smaller herons you see here. She made a mask, probably out of freezer paper (cut into the shape of the birds), and ironed it to her black fabric. She then put bleach or Thiox (a bleaching agent which is a little easier to work with than chlorine bleach) over the top. This bleached the black out and left the gold-ish color of ground. I've been playing a lot with bleach lately and was very pleased to see this method used in the show quilt.