Monday, March 12, 2012

The Great Snowy Owl Migration

My work talks to me.

And when I begin a piece, I don't always know what it will become. But I usually start out with a few key elements.

For this block, those key elements included snow, the bare tree, and...

An owl.

I even left space for it...


For the past six months or so, I have heard the hoot of the Great Horned Owl in the woods behind my home.

And this past January, I was struck by the stories in the news of the mass Snowy Owl migration.

Evidently, great numbers of snowy owls have migrated into the northern regions of the United States...



I was amazed by the beauty of these animals and intrigued by the mystery of their appearance.

How better to mark this amazing migration and my new relationship with the nocturnal harbingers in my woods...than by placing one in the tree on my block.

My owl isn't any one species. In fact, I started with a picture of a Barred Owl...and traced it's main features and then reduced it to about 1"...


Recycled and felted wool sweaters formed the main body and wings of my friend. I liked the texture that the sweaters give to the bird, allowing me to sculpt it a bit with my needle...similar to needle felting.


That being said, I did not want the stitches to sink into the face of the owl, so I placed a little mask of fusible interfacing to hold the stitches in place. (It's hard to see in the picture, but it's there.)


I had also had some of these barred feathers from my trip to the fishing tackle store, and they just said "owl" to me.

You can see how fluffy my owl started out before it migrated to its true self...


For some reason, it liked the use of the feathers...and became less of a specific owl...and more of shaman-like owl...


A spiritual messenger, a symbol of wisdom and inner-knowing.

In ancient Hindu, Celtic and Egyptian cultures, the owl was symbolic of the keeper of the underworld...a seer of souls, able to connect this life and the next...the keeper of spirits and of secret knowledge.

A quick list of owl symbolic meanings:
  • Wisdom
  • Mystery
  • Transition
  • Messages
  • Intelligence
  • Mysticism
  • Protection
  • Secrets
I was surprised by how my visitor was transformed through my stitches. I don't think I could have planned it, if I tried. But I'm very happy she came to roost in my branches...and I am pondering what message she brings...


Today, I'm off to be a docent for the Japanese Embroidery Serenity in Silk: World of Nuido Collection at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. which runs through April 2, 2012. (And I am allowed to take pictures!)

I'll share more tomorrow.

Happy Monday everyone!

39 comments:

Ingrid Mida said...

Dear Susan,
Your piece is filled with zen-like beauty. Just stunning!
I wish I could be there to hear your tour as a docent.
Best wishes!

Lisa said...

Love the owl ~ my mother got to see one shortly before she left for Costa Rica and we had talked much about their unusual migration. Seeing one on your block was a spark of light in my morning!

Ati. said...

The owl looks great Susan. I think it is a mysterious owl with a lot of wisdom. Isn't it wonderful that everything comes together while you are stitching?
You forgot one word in the list: fabulous! ;-)

Lorraine@creativedaily said...

Your stitching has certainly brought this owl to life. I've always loved the beauty of the snowy owls. We do have owls here but not snowy ones. Never realized the symbolism prior so thank you.

Cathi said...

What beautiful work you do.

Gerry Krueger said...

Your owl is magic....And you went to one of my favorite places... the fly tying section of the sporting goods store. Don't they have the neatest stuff. My favorite scissors are from there...This is my favorite block of yours... Hugs Ger

Suztats said...

Your owl looks magical and all-knowing. We had a barred owl visit our yard one year and I was able to get a couple of pics of her sitting in a large evergreen tree surveying the area beneath our bird feeder. She was perhaps waiting for a mouse to come in search of fallen bird seed.
How smart to look for feathers in the fishing tackle store! I'll have to start shopping there......
Wonderful result!
Anticipating more magical stitchery.......

Wendy said...

Beautiful!
Absolutely Beautiful!
I always love coming to your blog, Susan. I never know what gorgeous thing you'll show us next. I so love your works (your Love, really).
Thank you for sharing.
=-)

Cari said...

OH MY GOSH...she is beautiful. I love the look in her eyes. Excellent work Susan. I love your blog and I love your work. Thanks for sharing.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

A Shaman owl. I love it. Then I wondered at your referral to your owl as She. That's unique. Perhaps the owls in your back woods are a new Animal Totem..I think so. You have certainly created a mystical owl.
xx, Carol

Mouse said...

ohhhh she looks just perfect there and the wee feathers are just the ticket as they say :) love mouse xxxx

Rachel said...

Good to know I'm not the only one whose embroidery talks to her! It's clear from the result that you are a good listener...

Heather M. said...

I love your owl. I am working on one myself right now, but in a completely different fashion. Here in the Lower Mainland of BC we have the snowy owl irruption and they are beautiful.

Saturday Sequins said...

Susan, your piece is coming along splendidly, and I adore your owl. The feathers are a perfect touch!

Wendy said...

Your block is just stunning! I absolutely love owls and yours is just beautiful! We have a huge owl that lives in the woods on our back property. On still nights you can hear him hooting and sometimes he comes really close to the back deck and we can see him. He is a very big boy and is so lovely to look at.

Best wishes on your tour!

Alex and Cassandra said...

I couldn't love that owl more!
–Cassandra

73mw said...

They are truly magnificent creatures - such beauty and power. Your needle work is stunning - I think you have indeed captured some of her magic and mystery in your stitches. Beautiful and inspiring work (ps, I love the tree too)

gracie said...

As always, I love your work...this owl is perfect in your tree. Every so often a Great Horned Owl visits the trees in my neighborhood and it is a treasure to behold them.

Anonymous said...

Susan, you're wonderful, your blog is my second home. You can not avoid it, because I always feel great here.
You create a beautiful work of art. Owl is really beautiful and not only the owl, I think you have been a bit of work, I believe that the end result will be beautiful, like all your work, thank you so much for what you show techniques, regards :)))
Wanda with The Nederlands

tirane93 said...

that is a remarkable likeness particularly considering the scale. kudos to you!

flower friend said...

Hi Susan, have a great day. Your owl has a calm look about him, perhaps he's just chillin'(lol). Sorry I couldn't resist.
Kim

Arlene White said...

G'day Susan, wonderful work on the Tree and Owl, looking forward to seeing the whole block.

Arlene
http://arlenes-crafts.blogspot.com.au/

Elmsley Rose said...

Oh! He's just wonderful!!!! I love owls, and your tree definitely deserves such a special visitor. Love the use of the barred feathers - I have some of those myself, for a 3D owl 2" high, that I really must re-tail-feather one day....(er, cat, don't ask)

Shirlee Fassell said...

Love your owl!! love the feathers!! Fabulous!!

FlowerLady said...

Dear Susan ~ What a wonderful owl you have lovingly created. He has so much spirit, beauty and wisdom.

Once again I am in awe and greatly inspired.

FlowerLady

Elizabeth said...

Your owl is truly magical !! Brilliant execution and I love the addition of the feathers- Feathers at the tackle store- again BRILLIANT!!!!! I bet that you had a wonderful time at the Embassy!! Can't wait to see the pics! It might have been quite somber there though on the anniversary of the Tsunami and earthquake?????

Nancy said...

Love your owl! I just love seeing your process pictures of how things come together...your work is truly amazing!

Cathy K said...

Oh, I love this owl. The textures, the colors, the mystique! You have rendered a another jewel! Hugs, Cat

Laurel's Quill said...

He is so cute, Susan. You are an amazing artist! Laurel

Catherine said...

Wow! With each step I think how can this get better ~ and there it is! You add something else ~ another magical piece!

Penny from S.C. said...

I just stumbled upon your blog today. Such beautiful work. I'd be interested in the Hari-Kuyo Needlebook E-Course (depending on cost, of course)should you decide to do it again. Thanks for your insight. I love the Owl!

LisaBelle said...

Love your owl!

I live about 15 miles north of Seattle in a little town on the Sound named Edmonds. We have had our very own snowy owl visitor here this winter and our local news website keeps tabs on him for us. He attracted a *lot* of attention when he arrived. I remember I was coming home from volunteering at the Toy Closet (just before Christmas) and there was a CROWD slowing down traffic on one of our busier roads. Traffic came to a standstill, giving me ample time to see what the fuss was about. And our very handsome owl was sitting on a roof.

They say the snowy owls are coming down en masse this winter due to a cyclical drop-off in the lemming population in their regular habitat. We've been told not to approach a snowy owl in any way because they are so tired and weakened once they get down this far that making them fly unnecessarily can literally make the difference between life and death.

Barbara C said...

Thanks for posting your process--the details are so precise. Such lovely work, as always.

Rose Anne B said...

WOW WOW WOW now that is creativity planned out and talk about AWESOME! You did a great job not only withthe owl but in the whole piece!

gocrazywithme said...

Just incredible! I love the owl and the setting! And the story and meanings behind it!

Maureen said...

Wise selections for this awesome owl! Very, very wise!!

Cathy said...

Love your hooter. Thanks for sharing how you made him/her. The message he/she brings?...life should be a hoot!

I have no air-conditioning and live out in the country and there's something romantic about hearing an owl hooting all night long (for a couple of nights anyway).

Createology said...

Your work takes my breath away. I was gone and missed this post. Your attention to detail and research is stunning. It is what makes your work so amazingly beautiful. This owl sitting in the tree is truly genius. I adore your work Susan. Blissful stitching...

vicki said...

Unbelievable-- I'm totally "owl-struck"!!

Vicki

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