Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Making and Meaning of a Thistle

My May BJP was inspired by my experience at the Liberty to Liberty Triathlon where me and a group of girlfriends traveled from New York City to Philadelphia via bike. You might recall that I had to walk instead of run the last part of the course. While walking, I noticed this thistle which distracted me from my sadness over an injury and got me thinking about how I might stitch it...


Just like most of my bead journal projects, I start out with one, simple journal topic in mind and I start to stitch. But, invariably, my simple beginning almost always transforms into a larger thought, a personal treatise, if you will, on some underlying belief or memory or feeling that I wasn't even aware was there until it was brought into the light by my stitching. The hours spent with needle, thread and my own head sends me down avenues that I never envisioned I would be traveling at the outset.

Well, May was no different. And it became increasingly important over time to make sure I included this thistle in my piece. So yesterday, I pulled together all the supplies.

Luckily, I had a pink rosebud Hanah-dyed silk ribbon in my stash that looked like it would be perfect. I fused two ribbons together to make a more substantial petal and to prevent fraying.


And I had copied my picture onto black and white and reduced it to the size I needed so I would have a good idea of how large my petals should be.

I knew I needed that dark magenta center and I decided to stitch needlewoven picots around the center using silk buttonhole twist thread. SharonB has a beautiful tutorial for a needlewoven picot on her blog Pintangle.


I then cut out individual petals and sewed them into place after first using the tiniest dab of fabric glue to hold them into place before I stitched...


It was also very important to me that a copper penny be in the middle. The final thistle is in the bottom corner of my piece with the Statue of Liberty crown which is also made of copper. It's significance is multi-faceted representing the primary monetary unit of our country and the face of Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest Presidents who said:

All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.

And so my May BJP started out as a journal of my Triathlon but has ended as a personal exploration of my thoughts and the importance of our minds and how we choose to think about situations. Because it wasn't my actual performance at that triathlon that made it a great day -- it was how me and my friends approached the day, even when it wasn't going so well...

I'm almost finished, just another small section to wrap up and then I will share the whole thing.

Here's a picture of that thistle opened. It turns out that it's a Canadian musk thistle and is considered a noxious weed in all the links I found on google. Well, one of the definitions of noxious is that it constitutes a harmful influence on mind or behavior.


I couldn't disagree more. It helped me more than you can know and I still think it's an amazingly beautiful example of symmetry in nature.

See you tomorrow for Charm School.

26 comments:

Muriel said...

As soon as I see one of your posts on blogger board, I know it's you, it attracts me each time :-)!

Chris said...

I never knew how beautiful thistle flowers were until we moved to the farm. Every stage of the flower bloom is something to behold. I love how you captured the essence of the flower and those copper colored beads are perfect. I have serious stash envy.

Vicki W said...

Oh wow! Amazing! I can't wait to see the whole piece.

pam T said...

oh this is going to be beautiful! I have that same ribbon in my stash and can't bring myself to use it... I just fondle it! lol. your previous post on the dogs and Jack - adorable!!!!

TattingChic said...

That is beautiful! It was kinda neat to see your creative process, too! :)

Thank you for entering my giveaway! Good luck to you!

Denise Felton said...

Spectacular! I just put a link to this post on my blog. I know your post will give my readers so much enjoyment.

Denise
http://needlework.craftgossip.com

Allison Ann Aller said...

As always: thoughtful, well put, innovative, and beautiful.
You rock, Susan!!!

And I love the tip about fusing the Hannah silk ribbon. What a great idea....thanks so much for that.

FredaB said...

Oh Susan you have really touched me with this one and I don't know why. Maybe just the sheer creativity of it. Fusing the ribbons for more heft was a great idea. You continue to amaze me.

Every time I think you can't beat this one up you come with another. Just wonderful.

Hugs

FredaB

Judy S. said...

Susan, this is gorgeous! The thistle may be a noxious weed, but it is also the floral emblem of Scotland, and I just learned on some of their money when I checked to make sure I was correct. You reminded me that I bought a little thistle stitchery when we were there....another project! I like their toughness as well as their beauty, and as my neighbor once said, "A rose in a football field would be a weed."

sheba said...

beautiful! did you know the artichoke is in the thistle family? I have them in my garden and they are beautiful when they flower.

I have been trying to figure out how to journal my triathlon training... you have reminded me that it doesn't have to be so literal

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

At first I was thinking what a 'prick that thistle was', in jest of course, but then to find that the thistle is considered a 'noxious weed', that takes the pun-ch out of the prick, because we all know that a prick is a noxious weed in disguise.

On the other side of the coin, the thistle is the choice of flower for the Monarch butterfly, and no one would call them noxious.....would they?

black bear cabin said...

your bead journal projects are always stunning...so much thought goes into each piece...i cant wait to see the whole thing! Im loving what you have shown us so far :)
and the copper penny in the center is a wonderful touch!

Robin said...

What an interesting and complex post, Suz! Wow! I'm thrilled with how you constructed the thistle using the woven picots and Hanna silk... PERFECT!!!!

I wondered if you would bring up the noxious weed part... we have so many thistles along the road where I walk... more every year. It's taking over other plants. BUT, the flowers are so beautiful and they always make me think about the juxtaposition of beauty and sharpness. Lincoln's quote and your take on the thistle's beauty make me feel better about not pulling the thistles as we walked (when they were young and small)...

victats@gmail.com said...

Absolutely wonderful! Can't wait to see more. My mom's china dishset is the Scottish Thistle.

Ingrid Mida said...

Glorious!! I never thought a humble thistle could be so beautiful. Thanks for sharing the step on how you transformed a photo into your plan.

Mary Timme said...

I love the Canadian Thistle too even if it is a noxious weed. My horse Spot, (she was a black and white pinto!) used to love to eat them as we would go out to get the cows and then bring them in late afternoon, early evening to be milked. She was so funny when she did it too. Evidently they were a great delicacy to her as she would dive for any that grew along the cow trail.

jessicamae3 said...

Stunning!

Cindy Is Crafty said...

Wow, the beading is AWESOME!

Wanda said...

I love the walk you give us through your thought process and steps. This is stunning. You have the most creative mind! You see in details. Your sense of color is great. You see beauty in things that are often just overlooked. wow

Carol said...

Another thoughtful and creative post. You always amaze me as you post how you actually make these wonderful creations. You are like Carol Duvall ( I would say Martha, but I don't like HER). Like Carol because she always has something of interest on the show and she is so knowledgeable in so many areas. Yep, you could have your own PBS show. You wouldn't even have to have guests. You could carry the whole thing!

Boy, if only my hands were as talented as my imagination!

Seriously though, its cool that you recalled the thistle from that day. There is a thistle that I pass on my way to work. One lonely plant standing alone and tall. I often think the same thing when I see it. I should stop and take it home. But then it my die in the transplant and I would be devastated. Besides I would miss admiring it each morning.

BTW, I have a tat of a thistle on my right thigh.

coral-seas said...

I love how you made this thistle, I've a feeling this BJP is going to be another show stopper.

sharonb said...

I am catching up on blog reading after being away and discovered this. I just had to say how impressive it is - love it!

verobirdie said...

What a beautiful work you have done! It is perfect...

Sara Shalom said...

Hi! This is Sara from Calamity Kim's site. I just found you via your comment. Your work is just breathtaking! Thank you for sharing with us. :)

freebird said...

What a lovely flower you've made. I love the penny in the center. So much work has gone into your piece but it is so wonderful. Waiting for your computer troubles to be over so we can see the whole page.

Veronica Arteira said...

Oh! So beautifull!!!
Espetacular, maravilhoso, lindo!!!

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