October 27, 2009

Today's Feature: November Pawpaw

I'm posting each day leading up to my solo show at Isadore Gallery, and today's feature is "November Pawpaw". Pawpaw trees seem to be a recurring theme in my life lately, and a few weeks ago I fulfilled a decades-long desire by eating my fill of the fruits. I like the trees because of my child-like delight in their huge leaves, their botanical uniqueness in having the largest edible fruit indigenous to the continent, and the interesting way they grow in colonies.
This quilt, like so many others, began with a ramble in the woods. It was a fine day for mid-November, but mid-November nonetheless, and most of the leaves were down. I found a broken twig with leaves still attached, and I loved how tattered they were, showing the evidence of a summer's worth of insect and weather damage:
I hurried home and used the leaves for a cyanotype on silk. The sun was so low in the sky I needed to do a very long exposure, over an hour as I recall, as opposed to the 10 minutes or so it takes in high summer. Timing the cyanotypes is as much art as science, with experience as my guide; this time I was pleasantly surprised to see I had got it just right and the print was crisp and intricate, showing all the glorious degradation in the leaves.
The left panel is the "wrong" side of a textured silk tweed fabric. The bottom panel is a mix of Harris tweeds and corduroy, chosen for their texture and the suggestion of tree bark. The top panel is pieced from handpainted silks and silk/hemp fabric, and is beaded with my signature not-too-subtle cloud shapes. The colors suggest the tonal qualities of the weak November sunshine.
The right panel is really special--it's an overlay of vintage crochet work I found at the flea market at Root's. It started life as a hand-crocheted doily, and what distinguishes it is that there are two different shades of crochet cotton used. I was raised in the Pennsylvania Dutch culture, with a very strong work ethic and thrift ethic, and I can readily imagine what happened here; the maker ran out of the primary thread and used what she had at hand to finish the work. My work on this piece was finished off with some couched yarn and hand application of seed beads, bugle beads, and abalone shell beads.
"November Pawpaw" has been to several quilt shows, and was included in the PA Arts Experience exhibit at the Lynden Gallery.


Gerrie said...

I am sure that I remember paw paws from my child hood. Love the use of the crochet and the back story.

margaret said...

I've not seen pawpaws here in the UK, either as a tree or as a fruit - perhaps they're available in some of the exotic greengrocers, I must have a look... The distressed leaves are terrific in themselves and really "speak to" the other elements.

Sue Reno said...

Thanks Gerrie! Margaret, if you do come across pawpaws in the UK, I would love to hear about it. I think they are delicious.