Friday, January 27, 2012

It all started with holes

Cabbage white (2005)
This winter, on my way to shower every morning I have looked out of the window at next door's veg. patch, and admired their cabbage leaves.  I love their sculptural shapes.  And indeed I have been thinking about cabbages for other reasons recently.  (Not least because now is a good time of year to eat them!)  And also in looking for design inspiration for my printmaking classes I looked more closely at the above image.
Crambe maritima
Amongst recent photos I took at Dungeness were some of sea cabbages which proliferate on the shingle.  In November it was their skeletons which attracted my attention.
For whatever reason - the contrast of the regular grid with the natural form of the leaves, or perhaps a symptom of my control freakery - I am drawn to photograph cabbages under netting.
One year despite netting over my own cabbages the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly had a banquet!  The resulting lacework of holes was magnificent, however, so I photographed them, and decided somehow to make a piece of work from those photos.  I scratched my head over what to do for a long time until I turned my thoughts towards the caterpillars and the holes.
So, I stitched the whole of a piece of off white silk noil, which would become the background and support.  On the computer I whited out the holes and took away extraneous elements.

I heat transferred six or seven of these onto silk habotai.  The result stiffened the silk, and also was double-sided, having also printed onto the cotton which I had under the silk.  I used the same piece of cotton under the silk, and so used that as my base for the figure, which was stitched densely by hand.  I cut out all the holes from each sheet of silk, and then arranged them on the white background, catching them in a few places with a couple of stitches.  I was so pleased with the result that I have the framed piece hanging on my studio wall.  The silk has darkened a little, but retains more green than is evident in the photo above, and I think still looks good.
I never grew cabbages again, however!


marja-leena said...

Such a fascinating process! I wish I could see the hanging itself for the cutouts/skeletons are quite beautiful - not something I would think of when appalled by that destruction in the garden. (I have tried growing broccoli and kale and lost the battle.)

Olga said...

Thanks Marja-Leena. I was so entranced with the stiff silk leaves that I have used the process again a couple of times, but as an applique.

I concentrate on growing beetroot now, which seems to be immune from caterpillars - although the deer do nibble it if they find it. The beets last me a long time, and the leaves provide me with salad fodder while they are developing their root.