December 16, 2009

Reclaiming Nature

When buying antique and vintage linens, there will be times when you arrive home and find that splendid piece that would have made the most stunning pillow has a hole or stain right in the middle. Don't you just hate that?... I have a small box of such linens and hankies dating from 1900 - 1950. I was discussing my list of possible projects with my husband, Bobby, one evening and hoping that inspiration would steer me toward something totally innovative using those slightly damaged pieces. After several days, I still did not have the foggiest idea what to do so put the list aside for a few days.
One morning, I was looking out of the breakfast room window and realised not everyone has the luxury of a beautiful garden right outside their backdoor - nature at its best. I was reminded of the white, pale pink and bright pink peonies in my grandmother's garden back in England. Rushing upstairs to look through the linen box, I came across a selection of of pieces in white, ivory, various shades of pink and soft green. Finally, I knew what I would like to create and I had the perfect colours and textures that would be ideal for what I had in mind. I needed to find some old fuse wire (similar to fine jewellry wire), reclaimed beads old canvases and water based paints. Just a few days later, I was ready.

The trial project would be to create a small collection of artworks using reclaimed materials. The first piece 'Single Peony' was created to look like a fully opened peony with a few additional adornments. White and ivory linen petals trimmed with the palest reclaimed pink and green glass beads. Pale green linen and sage green silk leaves. Each petal lovingly hand stitched and threaded with the fuse wire to enable manipulation of shape. The flower and additional embellishments were carefully attached to a canvas painted with a soft ivory linen effect. The result is simple and elegant. A timeless piece that would grace any home, be it traditional or modern.

Several weeks later and inspiration in full swing, it was time to work on art piece No. 2. This piece titled 'In thePink' reminds me of how the peonies cluster together in pairs with their buds sweeping out to capture the sunlight. Created using a pale pink linen embellished with a white floral applique, simple white and ivory linens all from the 1930's. The peonies had to look like they were just about to open. This called for multi layering of petals for each peony. The first one was created using ivory linen with each petal trimmed with reclaimed pale pink beads. The second peony is a mix of white and pink linens. The reason behind the layering of the petals was to create a flower in transition from white to pink. These flowers and buds sit delicately on the creamy beige canvas backdrop resulting in a 3-dimensional effect. Stunning on its own and works beautifully with the 'Single Peony'.

The final peony 'Pink Explosion' is exactly that. One large fluted peony created from an array of pink linens and vintage lace with a few white petals as a transition from the white and pale pink peonies of art pieces No 1 and No 2. Each petal has been hand sewn and wired to create a fluted effect and tiered with a variety of textures and tones. The leaves were created using the sage green sari silk, pale green linen together with the palest celery green linen and lace with a soft apple green applique leaf pattern. Again, this piece is beautiful on its own or works as the final piece to make an amazing transitional trio.

Bobby loves the simple elegance and softness of the first three pieces but kept dropping hints for me to work with a more colourful palette. First, I had to choose a flower I wanted to recreate so took several trips to local garden centres. I came across magnificent pictures of poppies on the seed packets so that was that - the seed was sown (excuse the pun!). I love poppies and the purple Anenome Poppy is no exception. Simple, clean with precise petals that stand to attention with a stunning stamen trimmed with lavender and black points. Searching through the linen box, I came across some reclaimed plum chiffon and a purple linen and lace hankie from the 1930's. This is a small piece but beautiful nonetheless. The stamen is made from remnants of the hankie and trimmed with reclaimed swarovski crystal amethyst beads and vintage jet beads. 'Purple Promise' has been attached to a simple lavender art board and sits comfortably in a gold metal filigree frame c. 1930.

Whilst travelling around France, I was reminded of the beautiful tomato red poppies that covered the fields. There has always been something magical about wild poppies, the way they dance on the landscape moving to the gentle breeze of a warm summer's day. These bright red poppies invigorate and excite the senses and are perfect in any home no matter the design style. This piece was a labour of love and several weeks later, I had finished all the poppy heads and stamens. Next came the leaves and stems, together with the buds. Bringing all this together was a very slow process but I needed to capture the essence of those magical dancing poppies. I sat and played with the pieces until the picture in my mind was transferred to the pale blue canvas, the pefect backdrop for 'Poppy Heaven'.

On one of my treasure hunts to Old Town Spring, I came across Mason's Fine Art Gallery. Kathy, owner and artist, is wholly dedicated to the work of talented native and international artists through monthly art walks to showcase a selection of bold and eclectic artists. Encouraged to exhibit my collection, it was agreed I needed a few more pieces. I continued with a smaller quirky piece titled 'Howdy'. A bouquet of rainbow poppies tied together with a Texas belt buckle. This very colourful piece is set against a vintage linen covered canvas to keep the focus on the poppies.

I noticed that here in Houston, there's really only one major season, Summer, and just the odd day or week here and there for the rest. I love the seasons and miss them. Our planet has changed and the seasons seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate. With this in mind, I set about recreating 'A Tree for each Season'. Spring has always been my favourite time of year when trees begin to bloom and everthing is new and fresh. Some of the leaves are a slightly deeper shade of green to display the subtle transition from spring to summer. In summer, the trees are in full bloom bursting with an array of leaves in almost every shade of green on the colour spectrum. I played around with a selection of reclaimed hand dyed silks and cottons to create summer with an abundance of layered leaves. My inspiration for Autumn came from a trip to New England. This reminds me of nature preparing to filter the old in the most beautiful way. Leaves transitioning from soft green to all shades of orange, gold, terracotta and brown. A golden glow lighting up the soft grey skies. Winter is minimalism at its best. It is a glimpse of this wonderful planet completely pared back, the intimate cleansing of the earth in preparation for rebirth in spring. Reclaimed brushed cotton with a bark pattern and black crepe with a white leaf pattern were used to represent the coolness and simplicity of the season. The four seasons will be housed in light boxes hand crafted from vintage reclaimed white western pine with a museum glass cover. The lights have been added to create shadow and depth through the branches.

This entire collection showcased at Mason's Fine Art Gallery, Old Town Spring and was created from reclaimed vintage linens and luxury textiles from around the world. An intricately, detailed collection of 3-D mixed media collages, proving that objects of beauty can be created from reclaimed materials that otherwise would have faded into obscurity or end up in one of the many landfill sites that plague this beautfiul planet. Reclaim nature today...



Eliza Interiors and Design

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