“In the Garden of the Mill Wheel”

“In the Garden of the Mill Wheel” is the second largest commissioned beaded art quilt that I’ ve done. (50.5”W x 32”T x 1″D or 128 cm x 81cm x 2.54cm D) This was one of those commissions that I love creating. The owner had been seeing my work for many years, and was familiar with what I do. She had me out to her house to see where the piece was going to go, but I got to choose the content of the subject matter.

Her lovely home, out in the woods north of Baltimore, MD, has a two story fireplace in the family room. Embedded in among the horizontal layers of stone that make up the surface of the second story is a full sized mill wheel that had been used for grinding grain. It makes such a big statement in their home that I had to of course include its image in the piece. Apparently, the mill had been a local establishment in the 1800s, and there’s a stream that cuts through the valley below the bluff that the house sits on.

Outside of my friend’s home is another important feature that she loves, a small fish pond. In the warm seasons, there are numerous frogs in the water, croaking away. I spent quite a bit of time on-line finding frog beads from all over the world, since that was one aspect of her home that she mentioned that she especially liked, the sound of those croaking frogs. My finds included tiny metal ones from Bali and chunky, ceramic beads with a frog lampworked on the side. Probably one of my best finds was a large, (2″ or 5 cm) gold colored frog button on eBay. While the back had a toggle on it, it’s hard to imagine such a big button ever fitting through a buttonhole without ripping it apart. I also used a lot of dragonfly appliques, as those elegant insects would be found around water, too. There are also some glass buttons from Czechoslovakia that had dragonflies in them, too.

The enchanting glass buttons that are coming out of Czechoslovakia these days are shiny, delightful wonders. After the Russians left, the Czechs opened up their old button factories, especially in the town of Jablonec, near Prague. They’re using antique molds, but new materials, such as dichroic foil. The best finds I’ve located on eBay from a woman who lives only 15 miles south of me here in MD. (Small world,isn’t it?) You can see some of them scattered across the surface, in the two detail shots.

Blue lace motifs were cut out from fabric and embellished to add to the sense of water. There are some flagstone stepping stones around the pond, but they almost became obliterated in the beading. Sometimes, it hard to know when enough is enough. After all, you do want some of the fabric to show through.

Have you ever found the perfect whatever to include as embellishment on a piece of art work, as I did with my frog buttons? Why not tell us about it, as we all grow when we share in other’s fits of inspiration.

You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com 

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