November 2, 2009

Today's Feature: Tall Blue Lettuce

Today's feature of work that will be at the Isadore Gallery is "Tall Blue Lettuce", eponymously named for the plant, Lactura biennis, whose leaves form the prints. It is yet another example of easily seduced I am by an oversized leaf. I was stopped in my tracks while hiking one day by this six foot, rankly growing plant with foot long, hairy leaves and blue flowers, and hurried home to begin work on this interpretation.
The biennis in the name refers to its growth habit; as a biennal, it grows a rosette of leaves and a taproot in the first year, and in the second year it uses the reserves in the root to shoot up and produce blooms and seeds. It has a variety folkloric uses as a herbal remedy, not that I've tried any of them, and is very common over a wide range in North America. Once you've identified it, you spot it everywhere, especially in moister environs, and in your own backyard if you've been slack about the weeding (ahem).

The print on the left is a cyanotype on cotton, the one of the right is a heliograph, and for both of them I added the veining with hand embroidery using variegated threads. The borders were pieced with Seminole work, and it's extensively machine stitched in a variety of patterns. It's a big, cheerful, in-your-face kind of piece, not unlike the plant, and has proven very popular on the show circuit, winning an award at The Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, serving as the cover quilt for an issue of The Professional Quilter Magazine, and as part of a feature article in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine.

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