Susan Slesinger – Series #2 – Abstract – Cattails 2

Cattails are a perennial plant which grows wild or can be cultivated. They usually grow at the edges of lakes, marshes, ponds and other bodies of fresh water. They can reach 10 feet (3m) in height. People either enjoy them, or hate them and consider them a nuisance to be abated. They are able to propagate from the seeds produced by the spikey flower which are transported by the wind, as well as from the roots.

The inspiration for this series is from photographs taken at Mont Orford Parc, Quebec, Canada in the middle of winter. Cattails were growing along the edges of some of the frozen ponds, and were one of the few living plants visible above the snow. In the winter, their dark silhouette was in strong contrast to the white and grey landscape.

The plants have three main parts showing in winter—–the stem, the large female part of the flower, and the tall spike which is the male flower. For abstraction, I chose to show the plants in motion, both in their entirety and deconstructed into parts. I imagined them flying off to promulgate in new locations. The unusual piece of background fabric suggested the color choices.

Techniques: Raw edge fusible applique, machine quilting, machine stitched embellishments.

Materials: Commercially printed linen/cotton blend fabric; commercially printed fabrics; hand dyed cotton fabrics; commercially produced batik cottons; variegated cotton thread; polyester threads of varying weight; cotton batting.




  1. carolinehiggs

    A bright and colourful interpretation, they are truly on the move…

  2. quilterpaola

    You managed to return the movement of the reeds to the wind. Good choice and distribution of colors.

  3. Chantal GUILLERMET

    Very nice interpretation of your picture. I like how the background fabric gives movement to the whole piece.

  4. joanbrailsford

    Great choice of colours and shapes to interpret your design. There really is a sense of motion both in the background and in the way the shapes have been arranged. Well done.

  5. Lots of movement and beautiful colours in this abstract piece. I would love to see the realistic version of your photograph.

  6. English quilter

    Thank you for your kind comments. I used multiple photos taken over several days in both sheltered and open areas for my inspiration. The photo on the page (bottom left) was one of the clearer ones of the plant’s shape.

  7. I am one of the lovers of cattails I guess, think they look nice in all seasons. The way you used the waves in your background gives movement to the piece. Nice use of colours and stitching.

  8. studiociboulette

    Beautiful abstract. I love the fabrics and colours…

  9. We always call them reedsigars and they are beautiful. So is your quilt. Lovely colors and a lot of movement.

  10. I can just imagine the cattails floating in the ponds and streams or in the air, lovely movement and color. The satin stitching and embellishments brings it all together nicely.

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