Joan Brailsford – Decay
Agents of Decay
I wanted to continue my underlying theme of trees when creating a piece for the Decay topic. So, I examined the things that caused the decay of trees, and fungus was one of the main agents of decay. I chose ‘pleurotus cornucopiae’ as the fungus to depict, as this is often found on dead and dying tree stumps, and my design soon followed once I made that choice.
For the mushrooms, I used a trapunto-type method, of silk paper backed with fine cotton, then machine stitched the design lines before painting their caps with Koh-i-noor paints. I used dyed muslin, Tissuetex and scrim to create the stump then couched painted threads and silk straws to add more texture. I added rough silk paper to depict decaying bark on one side, and hand-stitched the grain lines on the stump. I then applied the tree stump to a hand-dyed, close-weave muslin background in a soft woodland green colour. I added the mushrooms, but attached them only at a few points so that they stand out slightly to give a 3D appearance. Finally I machine quilted the background in straight lines to suggest trees standing in the distance. The design has been kept intentionally simple so that the fungus is not overwhelmed.
Close up views: