Here is the finished artwork that is going to be auctioned off on Friday:
The Kindergarten class follows a project-based curriculum and their latest project was "Fabrics through the world". How fortunate for this mama!
I presented several ideas to the team in charge of the auction art, each of them using fabric in some way so the kids could celebrate their new knowledge and skills (cutting fabric!). When the auction team saw photos of my previous burlap art, they suggested I go with that. I initially had a vision of doing something new and edgy for this project, but it turned into a huge headache, so I went with a tree and leaves -- familiar territory!
Working with kids, I knew the project could easily become more whimsical and, well, crazy, than I intended, so I picked a specific palette to work with. It was a mix of these two, courtesy of Design Seeds:
I must have been hungry!
I selected a range of fabrics according to this palette, and created leaf templates for the kids -- both small and large.
The kids did such a great job tracing and cutting their leaves! I was very impressed. Each of them thoughtfully selected 2 pieces of fabrics and got to work. We were done with this part of the project in less than half the time allotted by their teacher!
Back in my home studio, I prepped the canvas for this artwork: a large piece of stamped burlap upcycled from a coffee sack. I love working with used materials, since they are infused with meaning and stories. Being a coffee addict and a Seattleite (are those two things ever separate?), I feel a strange connection to these burlap bags. Creating fresh artwork from them allows me to tell a subtle story about our environment, about recycling, about awareness in our consumption-addicted society.
But back to the Kindergarten project...
I cut the background and marked a 20 x 20 inch square for the area to be filled by the tree. I then created the tree trunk from a large piece of natural linen (another favorite material, I love its texture!).
I played around with some of the leaves and applied a few to the background burlap. Instead of separating the pair of leaves cut by each kid, I used them together in a "two-layered leaf". As a result, there are 26 fabric leaves on the tree: one for each Kindergartner.
It was then time to head back into the classroom to show the kids our progress. They brainstormed names for the piece and took a vote. The winning title was "Queen Anne Friendship Tree".
Back to work... I applied all the leaves to the "canvas". Each individual piece of fabric is fused, then stitched with white cotton thread.
I then added a handful of grey and white birds throughout the tree. Since the kids called it a "friendship tree", I thought it needed some friends living in it.
The final step was to add some leaves cut from two shades of green wool felt. I attached them with simple embroidery stitches.
The result is colorful but cohesive, and wonderfully textured.
I stretched the artwork onto a wooden frame and finished the back so it is ready to hang with a wire. There is also a special image tucked into the back that shows the tree with each leaf labeled with the name of the child who created it.
I am so happy with this artwork and hope our Kindergartners will be too. I am taking the finished piece to the classroom in a couple of days to show them, just before it heads off to the auction!
The palette worked so well with the burlap that I will be making several pieces for my shop with similar fabrics. Check back soon!