Caroline Higgs – Copper Plate Sunflower
I set out with the idea of tree-bark to show texture but flipping through one of my mother’s books I found a picture of a sunflower, a copper plate print made by Basilius Besler in 1713. I liked the idea of reproducing the print but at the same time bringing to life, while staying true to the colours and showing the etching marks on the leaves, but I also wanted it to be alive to leap from the background. At the same time I gave myself the challenge of creating texture with just fabric and thread.
The fabrics used were to give texture as well as the stitching, the centre is velour which has been hand painted and then stitched, the whole central piece is on a piece of thin foam; the eye is machine stitched to try and get the natural circular pattern of the seeds and the surrounding head is stab stitched to create a mottled surface. The petals are in two different fabrics, the base layer of silk satin which are bond-a-webbed on to the background, the next layers are stiffer, two layers of different hand dyed cottons fused together with some stuff I bought in the States years ago and which stiffens on bonding, there is some fabric paint and stitches to try and create the colours produced in the printing process. The leaves are two layers of cotton, one cheese cloth, with the leaf veins bonded between the layers and then top stitched. The leaves are then stitched in a matching colour with the idea of showing the etching lines without detracting from the ‘living plant’. The leaves and petals are relatively free, well attached but flop a bit as a real plant would.
This piece has been constructed during a time when there was rather too much going on in my life, I didn’t have as much time as I thought but was determined to complete on time. I have come, to my mind, to a satisfactory finish, working on the idea that less is more. I like the simplicity; I was in two minds about quilting the background but in the end decided that I wanted all the attention to be drawn to the plant so I left it untouched. I would love to know what others think about it and hope that my take on texture is acceptable!