Do you remember the lazy days of summer during your youth? Growing up my brothers and sisters would run all day long during the summer. We would spend hours swinging trying to see how high we could go by pumping our legs harder and harder. Seemed hunger or tuckered out was the only thing that would get us inside.
I always wanted the night to come during summer. The most amazing array of color in the sky would happen then. Blazing yellow and red one night, purple and pink the next. I still love summer nights, looking at a clear night with all the stars but wait they are too close. To my amazement they are the first signs of summer, fireflies. The yellow and green fluorescent twinkling bugs that seem to make everyone smile.
Fireflies landing on the dew dripped grass of the early evening, it makes me happy. Holding my hand still in the air they land and tickle as they crawl around. I was thinking of this joy as I started a new art work.
I am a member of an art association called MOFA, Missouri fiber artists, who are a wonderful mix of fiber artists including weavers, art quilters, knitters, felt artists and paper makers to name a few. We are having a member show this fall and I decided I wanted to try and capture the fun of fireflies in the summer for the show.
The show requires the use of a stretched canvas, 10 X 10, museum wrapped. This style has the corners mitered with the sides wrapped around to the back. A new venture for my work but the size would make the work go fast. I found a black painted canvas at my local art store that would be a wonderful start.
The next morning while watching a morning show I saw a clip on amazing swarms of fireflies that light up the woods of the Appalachian mountains. Folks will line up in their lawn chairs hours ahead just to be in position to see this summer wonder. That cemented the idea but how would I be able to capture those twinkling glowing lights?
I started with a dark tree fabric, colored it darker with a variety of gray and black fabric markers. These were glued to the canvas to represent a forest of trees. I had green fabric backed with fusible adhesive cut in a fussy way to represent leaves from a prior project. Using a variety of green fabric markers I made some a very dark green. Laying the darkest leaves down first, out came the mini iron. Pressing them down made it go fast, no need to wait for glue to dry. Besides canvas is just another fabric.
The rest of the leaf clumps were then layered on top. I decided I needed some contrast so added embroidery using French knots in several shades of green along with a purple. Also added blades of grass in silk ribbon but they were too light in color. Out came the green and black fabric markers that adjusted the brightness just perfectly. These were really easy to work thru the stretched canvas using a very sharp Japanese needle. I picked an extra long one so I could wiggle it between the canvas and the stretcher bars. A bit tedious but well worth the effort.
Now how to represent those twinkling lights of the firefly? Taking some time to research images of fireflies flying around, I decided that small round sequins in floresant colors would work. Put in an order for 6 mm lime green, light yellow and clear sequins. Once they arrived I used a smoke colored Mylar invisible thread and started laying them on top of the trees, leaves and grass. It was fun to position them in a circular pattern. As I look at the end result from some distance I know it hit the mark. Yes I am smiling and dreaming of sweet summer evenings in the backyard.