November 3, 2009

Today's Feature: Sumac

Today's Feature is "Sumac", named for the smooth sumac, or Rhus glabra (not to be confused with poison sumac). It's a very common wild plant here in Pennsylvania, and it puts on a magnificent display of fall color. There's a big patch of it in a wooded spot at the end of my street, and when the slanting fall sun hits it in the afternoon it's just spectacular.
The main panel is a heliographic print, done with textile paints on fabric and using the plant itself as a resist. I got very lucky with this one and captured the colors and leaf images just right on the first try. It hung on my design wall for months while I concocted and then discarded various schemes for enhancing it. I don't usually dither, so dropped the indecisiveness and jumped into a simple and elegant scheme of warm tones and rich textures. There's velveteen (which sucks up the light and doesn't photograph well), red and yellow silks, a bit of Seminole piecing, and just the right amount of embellishment with seed beads, larger glass beads, and semi-precious stones.

"Sumac" has done well for me on the show circuit; it was juried into Materials Hard and Soft, a fine craft exhibit in Denton, Texas, and it won an award at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. It will be one of the works in my solo show, opening in a few days, at the Isadore Gallery in Lancaster, PA.

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