The Colors of Nature, Art Piece # 121

Eco Dyeing:

In 2019 I attended a class led by Lisa Binkley. The subject of the class was eco dyeing. Put simply, eco dyeing is a process used to dye fabrics or paper using plant material. During the class we experimented with a variety of techniques. From those explorations I harvested several specimens. The center strip of this composition was taken from one of my dyed fabrics.


The eco dyed material was layered on top of turquoise wool. Beneath that is a fringed section of burlap. A row of stitching was added near the edges of the burlap to prevent further unraveling. Borders of a floral print fabric, a blue material with a bed spring design and a solid grey were added for interest.


To add a touch of flair I stitched a row of hand stitching around the perimeter of the eco dyed fabric. Also added were random black French knots. I also stitched around the outer edges of the floral petals and centers. Densely populated French knots were stitched in the middle of the flowers. The blue fabric printed with abstract bed springs received special attention too. Following the outlines of the faux bed springs I added a running stitch with a matching colored thread. The grey fabric was also quilted; running along the inner edges I stitched a simple straight stitch.

To polish off this extra special composition I hand stitched my signature in the bottom right corner and added a silver dragonfly embellishment. I also made a jazzy label for the back. The lettering of the label was hand stitched with earthen colored thread. A decorative row of stitching adorns its outer edges. A hanging sleeve made from the same grey fabric as the outermost border was attached to the back of my fiber art piece with blue hand stitching. In its finished form, The Colors of Nature measured 14 1/4” x 28”.

Before selecting a name for this unusual art quilt I paused for a moment to take in the details as well as the overall appearance. Through my observations I took note of the colors, techniques and special features. All of them brought back memories of my wanderings outdoors. I chose to recognize the varied colors exhibited by nature as the inspiration for this piece.

The exhibit:

This item was included in an exhibit at the UW Madison Arboretum. Mary Oliver and her poems was the theme of the show.

If you gaze at the center area of the art quilt you will find an imprint left from leaves used during the eco printing process. These images remind me of the leaf in Mary Oliver’s poem titled “Autumn Leaves.” Mary refers to the leaf as “Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.” In my eco printed fabric the scattered leaf images seem as if they are aloft, “cheerful as birds” floating through the air as Mary’s “Shinning-Leaf.”

Needing one, I invented her –

the great-great-aunt dark as hickory

called Shinning-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud

or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I’d call into the leaves,

and she’d rise up, like an old log in a pool,

and whisper in a language only the two of us knew

the word that meant follow,

and we’d travel

cheerful as birds

out of the dusty town and into the trees

where she would change us both into something quicker –

two foxes with black feet,

two snakes green as ribbons,

two shimmering fish – and all day we’d travel.

At day’s end she’d leave me back at my own door

with the rest of my family,

who were kind, but solid as wood

and rarely wandered. While she

old twist of feathers and birch bark,

would walk in circles wide as rain and then

float back

scattering the rags of twilight on fluttering moth wings;

or she’d slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;

or she’d hang in the milky moonlight

burning like a medallion,

this one dream, this friend I had to have,

this old woman made out of leaves.

Autumn Leaf By Mary Oliver

Let’s look at photos of my finished project.

The Colors Of Nature, AP 121
The Colors Of Nature, Art Piece # 121
The Colors Of Nature, AP 121, Detail
The Colors Of Nature, Art Piece # 121, Detail
The Colors Of Nature, AP 121 Dragonfly
The Colors Of Nature, Art Piece # 121, Dragonfly

Last A Life Time:

I had a wonderful time in Lisa’s class, dyeing my fabrics, creating my one-of-a-kind art quilt and participating in the special exhibit. The adventures will have a lasting impact on my life for years to come.

thank you!

Before closing let me thank you for showing an interest in my activities. I am grateful for your participation and look forward to your comments.

Best wishes for a wonderful day!

6 thoughts on “The Colors of Nature, Art Piece # 121

  1. I like this one quite a lot. It goes so beautifully with the poem. I like her poetry, but I’d not seen that one before. Thanks for sharing it. It speaks to the wild in me. There is a tiny corner left still. =)

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