Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday at Daniel Stowe/Debbie Langsam

This is the main entrance to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. This photo was taken last Thursday, when they still had a bit of snow on the ground. By today, it had finally stopped snowing and raining, and the sun actually peaked out a bit. We’ve been having some very uncharacteristic weather for North Carolina this past week!

With the slightly better weather, we had more visitors at Fiber Art Options’ exhibition today. Nancy, Debbie and I were on hand to do demos and walk-throughs for “Orchids: Sensuality Stitched.” Here is Debbie explaining her process to two garden visitors:

Debbie (Deborah M. Langsam) creates her fiber art pieces using several different techniques, but is perhaps best known for her photo mosaics.

This is one of her pieces in the show using this technique. It is called Orchids Squared: Purple Passion.

Here is Debbie’s description of this piece:
From a distance, this photomosaic gives an insect’s eye-view of the “landing platform” and surrounding structures attracting pollinators to orchid flowers. The mosaic’s “tiles” are half-inch square orchid and orchid-related images collected and printed by the artist on fabric. (A key to the photos is on the back.)
Debbie collects copyright-free images (or gets permission from the photographers) and then uses computer software to build her mosaics. Images are carefully chosen to correspond with different values, from solid black (or very dark purple, in the piece above) to very light. All her photos for this piece are orchids!

Here is the same orchid done in black and white. It is called Orchids Squared: Black and White Symphony.

After creating her mosaics, Debbie prints them out in sections on fabric sheets she runs through her printer, then carefully stitches them together. Precision is important so that the tiny images line up perfectly. Then adds batting and backing fabric and quilts the piece along the edges of the tiny photos.

Debbie’s third large piece for the show is called Aerial Roots (below). Here is her description:
A silk background highlights the sensual beauty of these sinuous structures. But beauty is only part of the story; aerial roots attach epiphytic orchids to their substrates, maintain water balance, and produce sugars for the plants through photosynthesis.

Can you tell from Debbie’s descriptions that she is a scientist? Her academic specialty is mycology (the study of fungi) and she taught for many years in the biology department at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.

These days, Debbie and her husband Joal run Barking Dog Chocolatiers. They take no salaries, and donate all profits to local charities, including SupportWorks, a nonprofit organization in Charlotte that helps people find and form support groups and research medical information. Having taste-tested their wares, I can highly recommend their chocolates. Try the Hearts-a-Poppin’ dark chocolates for Valentine’s Day – they have Pop Rocks inside!