May 29, 2013

New Work - In Dreams I Flew Over the River

I’m excited to reveal my latest work, In Dreams I Flew Over the River.
In Dreams I Flew Over the River
It’s the culmination of a lifetime spent living near the Susquehanna River.  It kept appearing in my dreams, so I transported it into my waking hours with textiles.
In Dreams I Flew Over the River, Detail 1
It’s all there--the visible surface currents, the treacherous undercurrents, the many rocks and small islands, the wide variations in depth and breadth, the beauty on a calm day, and the tremendous destructive power when it floods.
In Dreams I Flew Over the River, Detail 2
Some of the shores are lined with productive farmland.  When I was a kid in central PA, I had an uncle who owned an island.  One summer when the river was very low, he drove an old International tractor across the shallows, and kept it in a shed on the island.   He grew corn and other garden crops there, and fished from the banks. 
In Dreams I Flew Over the River, Detail 3
Here in southern Lancaster County, the banks rise into my beloved River Hills, which enfold my favorite hiking spots and the landscapes that provide much of the inspiration for my botanical work.

I began this work by needlefelting the river, layering wool roving and silk snippets and fibers to build up the depth, textures, and transparencies of the river.  The banks are also needlefelted with silks and wool, and couched lace.   The borders are silks that I free-form pleated and manipulated.  I then layered it with batting and a backing fabric, and heavily quilted and stitched it to add even more texture, depth and movement.

The size is 54”h x 43”w. 

Thanks to all my readers and friends for your ongoing support and encouragement.

May 28, 2013

Hiking at Boyd Big Tree Preserve

I needed to make a run to Harrisburg to drop off Silk Mill #3 for the upcoming Art of the State exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Museum.  It was a cool and drizzly but gorgeous spring day, so we  headed to the nearby Boyd Big Tree Preserve in Dauphin County for some exploration and a moderate hike.   The approach to the park kiosk was encouraging--the drive was lined with bluebird houses, and many of them had a bluebird perched nearby. 

A short distance down the trail, it became apparent that it was going to be a good day for macro pictures.  I previously had a Diffcase and set of lenses; I’m now working with an Olloclip for my iPhone.   The macros on both types have really helped me train my eye, and have opened up new worlds for exploration.  Here I am caught zeroing in on some galls on a pawpaw sapling:

Here are two of the galls.  An insect, most probably a species of tiny wasp, lays her eggs just under the surface of the tender bark, where the larvae can develop while well protected. 


Further down the trail,  a wild blackberry blossom got the macro treatment:
Everything was dripping with dew and drizzle.  It took me a moment to recognize what this next plant was--the remains of a giant dandelion puffball, with micro dots of moisture.  The macro lens helps the mundane appear magical:
Another shot of the dandelion puffball:
There was a lot of bush honeysuckle along the trail. It’s a non-native invasive shrub.
The flowers are moderately pretty, but lack the scent of the vining variety (also invasive).
It’s been a cool-ish, wet spring, and things are going great in the wild fungus world.  Here is some lichen growing on a downed tree:
Lichen growing with moss:
More lichen and moss:
Here are some more galls, this time on a maple leaf.  The coloration is quite striking:
Raindrops nestled among the leaf hairs of a mullein plant, Verbascum thapsus, look like an alien landscape:
Each raindrop on a spiderweb holds a reflection of the surrounding vegetation.  Click to enlarge and appreciate the reflections:
The light was just perfect for capturing this amazing imagery:
Near the end of the looping trail we took, we came on a section where the undergrowth was almost entirely ferns, as far as the eye could see.  The fisheye lens captures it well:
I love the deciduous forests and woodland of PA.  This is a gem of a park.  The big trees and deep forest support a lot of songbirds, especially warblers, and the whole time we were walking we were beautifully serenaded with birdsong.

These pictures, and many more from my macro series, are up on my Flickr site--there’s a link to it on the right sidebar.

Thanks for reading and commenting.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you have the opportunity to go out and explore what the natural world has to offer.