Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday at Daniel Stowe/Nancy Cook

Today, four of the seven members of Fiber Art Options were at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden for the opening of our exhibition, “Orchids: Sensuality Stitched.” We did walk-throughs of the show (that’s Grace Howes guiding a group through, above) and demonstrations.

Nancy G. Cook demonstrated how she inks her pieces with Tskuineko inks.
Here are her three large pieces for the show:

I absolutely love the minty green color in this one, Rhythms: Stems and Leaves. On one of the tours I conducted, there was a Belgian woman with two young children. Her young son (probably about 5 years old) was very enamored with this piece because it was his favorite color: turquoise. Interesting that he called it turquoise and not just blue, or blue-green, I thought. He took me all along the hall and asked me about lots of the pieces, and made interesting comments about them.

I told his mother that she might have a budding artist on her hands. Not many kids know specialized words for colors, in my experience. The visual ones learn words like “chartreuse” and “maroon” earlier than most. Her daughter loved my MOO cards, and was having a hard time deciding between two, so I told her that she could take both home. It is great to see kids interested in art.

Nancy based this piece on my photo (below), cropping in on just the top section of the photo, and changing the color palette.

This is Nancy’s Orchid Rhythms: Petals. Nancy is usually more interested in plant buds, stems and seeds than in the blooms. In this piece, she focused on the gorgeous patterns and color on one orchid’s petals. This shot does not show the magnificent lines of stitching.

Nancy starts most of her pieces with hand-dyed fabric by Heide Stoll-Weber. She makes detailed drawings of the subjects from photographs (or actual plant samples scanned in on a scanner to her computer). She creates stencils from freezer paper and irons them to the fabric, then uses Tsukineko inks to shade in areas, making them darker or a different color than the background. Her pieces are heavily machine quilted with “hand-guided machine quilting,” with her feed dogs down, guiding the needle in both straight lines and curves.

One of the things I love about Nancy’s work is that it takes you up close and personal with parts of plants that you might never notice at first glance. In her Rhythms and Buds you can see that in this orchid, she was interested in how the buds grow out of leaf structures that look like little canoes.

Grace took this photo of me starting to paint a new small piece that will be donated to Studio Art Quilt Associates for their fund-raising auction. It is based on a photo I took of a red and green coleus leaf.

We are going to be back at Daniel Stowe tomorrow, so I’ll take more photos then. I’m going to try to post some shots of each member’s work in the next week, so that you can learn a little more about their work, processes and techniques.


  1. LOVED seeing those pieces of Nancy's - FABULOUS!!!
    Hope tomorrow goes well for you all also!
    GREAT JOB Susan!!!

  2. Beautiful pieces, love the way they use the inks on the fabric. I looked in one store, but not the right types, so will have to hit some more craft stores, and we do have a new art store in town, they might have the real art inks.


  3. Seeing these pieces in person just literally took my breath away! Amazing work! Such a great inspiration! We'll look forward to seeing more pictures as well! If you're in the area it is so worth the trip to view this work in person! And to see the greenhouse full of orchids of every type and color! Take a camera to get lots of photos!

  4. Thank you for the show details. I just love it. A beautiful show.


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