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Monday, May 2, 2011

Prairie Restoration Marianist Environmental Education Center Show

 Every year the Marianist Environmental Education Center has a themed, multi-media show at their Gallery St. John in Dayton, Ohio.  To acknowledge the 25th anniversary of their prairie restoration project, the theme for 2011 is "Restoration."    I thought of many things which would be great, but I wanted to highlight the intent of the show. 

In order to maintain a native prairie, fires must periodically sweep through the grasses.  Most native prairie plants are fire resistant, developed over millenia of fires started first by lightning strikes, then by man.  Failure to allow a burn means that invaisive (or non-native species) can grow and push out the natives, or that the prairie will go over to forest land.  Prairies are rich areas of marginal lands which provide homes for many species.  Here, in an unacredited shot which appeared in the Troy Daily News, a controlled burn is started at one of the several restored prairies around Troy.

In March, I went up to the Aquifer at Mt. St. John on the restored prairie at the center and took this shot.  I didn't know when they were going to do their burns, and felt that this was probably one of the more scenic areas.

I thought this might make a good project to work on when I took the class with Noriko Endo  at the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati.  I thought that the fire and ashes would really lend themselves well to her method.


 While making it, it was sort of amusing...since I had a specific theme in mind and it isn't really a "pretty" scene like most people were working on, people would walk past mine...look and pass on...not taking any photographs or making any comments.

I'm not sure if I really got as much out of Noriko's class as I wanted...it is a very simple idea and I had pretty much figured it out.  She's a good teacher and very supportive.  It was interesting. 

Noriko uses two layers of fine tulle (illusion or net) trapping one layer, then placing more "confetti" on top and trapping it with a final layer.  She added the purple in the background. 

I felt that the two layers made the sky too dull as well as the water in the aquifer, so I cut those layers away, leaving only one layer.  I had already thread painted the branches on the Burr Oak tree on the left side, so I left the second layer in place around the twigs to give it the hazy effect that the smaller branches/twigs on a tree would leave.   I used miniature oak leaves which were originally made as confetti for the young burr oak on the right side.

As I was working on it, a woman who is leading a trip to visit Japan and Noriko stopped by and saw the Troy picture... I apologetically explained that it didn't look like much yet as I had a lot of thread painting to do on the tree, grasses and of course I had to add the smoke.  She said that silk cocoons would give me just what I needed.  I tried that, but it didn't give the look I was going for.

This, however, I think does it well.  The fiber I ended up using was soy roving. 

To lighten the sky and give it more interest, I used a "cloud" of Angelina.  I don't like the quilting in it but at present with my hands and eyesight, this is as good as it gets.  I'm going to have to get some magnifying glasses on my sewing machine...and I don't know what I'll do about my hands other than accept that they don't work well until I can get off the chemo.  Maybe I'll "unstitch" the quilting and try again when my hands are better.

As always, critiques and suggestions are always welcome.

4 comments:

Judys Fiber Art said...

Like most techniques, these artists have spent so many hours perfecting them, that we can hardly expect the same results on our first try. I have been studying this technique on a different level. I have been making confeti cut components to add texture in isolated areas. I used it on a recent piece called "Grounded" on my blog, if you would like to take a look at another way to go. http://judysfiberart.blogspot.com I also used it on my latest post called "Ice Age."

Michigoose said...

Thanks Judy. I didn't expect to conquer her technique...I just don't think it is my style. In addition, I think that the original photograph, although it depicts the location I needed to show, it is some what lacking...there just wasn't any vista which stood out.

I did learn that you need to use solids or batiks which have the color completely through the fabric as too many of these prints although they were solid or almost solids, showed the lighter backside, something I wished I had realized before I started this so I could have brought along the more appropriate fabrics.

I did giggle as the person at the center said "Wow! That looks like smoke!"

Helen from Hobart said...

Don't unpick anything. This is your work with your hands at this moment in time. Later you may decided to try again - fresh look at the subject, fresh fabrics, more experience and steadier hands... making a fresh attempt.

I feel it is important to retain our "failures", so that we can remember what didn't work for us and learn from it. My friends often seem to like my failures - perhaps because they only see what is there in front of them, and not what is there in my mind.

Only I can see my dreams.

Michigoose said...

Lol...but I would LIKE to not remember this time (ie my chemotherapy)...and I may not have a chance to make it again! It is a little disappointing in that my body isn't co-operating, however you are correct. I am trying to re-find the part in the Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal) which is in the service for one of the "end of day"--I thought it was Compline or Evensong, but I can't find it...at any rate, it has this great line "what has ween done is done, what is undone is left undone" and goes on to ask for peace for both....love it! and it think this goes for quilting as well.

My entire life has been one where I have a vision and when the vision turns out less, then I can't help but be disappointed, even if the result is from something completely out of my hands. When I was 16, I took a Raku class at a local art center. Needless to say, I was the youngest (by far) person in the class. I used resist in a swirling pattern on a piece and put it into what I thought was a red glaze which when oxidized, had gold through out it. I visualized how wonderful that would be with the black swirls. Another piece, I used a cobalt glaze. When I got them out of the kiln....they were BOTH Cobalt...someone had moved the label on the red glaze. I was visibly disappointed. Poker faces in these circumstances have never been my strong point.

The teacher looked at me and said "You're so negative! This is a pretty vase, be happy with it." I have had that burned into my head..not is a good way, ever since. While I can appreciate mistakes and sometimes they are happy ones, I still don't think it is wrong to aspire to the vision. Often it may take a couple (or many) tries to get there, but usally the end result is worth it.

I sort of goofed when I dropped this off....I didn't write an artist statement for it...partly because they put the artist statements in a binder and I didn't feel it was worth it). The person I dropped it off with said "Oh! This looked like smoke!" I asked her if she recognized the location...she did...and then I explained that it was the restorative burn...the the red was the flames and pointed out the blackened areas where the fire had passed through and smoldered.... she nodded. But the fact that I had to explain it to her..

On an interesting note, usually the grass as it is burning doesn't put off as much smoke because it burns so hot, but if you look at the photo of the Troy burn, you can see that it is the edges of the flame which smolder and smoke. This same person had been involved in this years burn and she said it burned extremely hot--perhaps from our extended drought. They wear full heat/fire protective gear and helmets with heat-shields. Her stomach got some light burns and her face-shield was completely warped from the heat...an extraordinary thing.