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:



  1. Beautiful, a better side of decay – bright and sunny, perfect!

  2. carolinehiggs

    Beautiful. I really like the way you have created a 3D effect by adding the fungi to the trunk. I really like this.

  3. You succeeded in giving life to the degradation. The choice of material, colours and 3D appearance create a magnificent result. Well done.Congratulations!

  4. This is a beautiful piece ! your funghi are really realistic and I love how you created the tree stump. Very good choice too for quilting and background.

  5. Perfect design and perfect execution. Love the mushrooms and the tree. Well done!

  6. studiociboulette

    Very nice. I love the effects you achieved with the details of different fabrics.

  7. What a nice quilt Joan. Love the way you used your background to give life to your tree stump and fungi. Beautiful interpretation and execution of the theme.

  8. Lovely result from clever techniques. The positive side of Decay – thriving fungi.

  9. Your mushrooms look so natural and stand out beautifully against the tree-trunk. Indeed Decay in al its glory. Love the colour and the composition.

  10. Very nice work. The effect you achieved with the details of different fabrics is inspiring.

  11. I love it how you did the tree stump and the 3D mushrooms. The straight line quilting of the background is perfect.

  12. The simplicity of the background really enhances the layers of texture of the decaying stump and makes the blooming fungi more prominent. A well balanced composition.
    Well done Joan!

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