The Firefly Legend and the Thistle Flower…

There is a family in my area that grew up having to take the thistles out of the farmland so that the other crops could grow. The family members talk of this as a childhood memory that they hated having to do. Now, however, they are older with children of their own and have fonder memories for those times and have embraced the thistle as a type of family crest. At Christmas this past year, I made several items with a thistle design on them just for these family members to reinforce and share that bond. While I was working on a batch of thistle mugs for one of the family members to give as gifts to her many siblings, she wrote me an email which I would like to share part of here….

“I smile in so many ways over these mugs:

knowing the joy you gain through the creation of your hands and the understanding of using the gift God has given to glorify.

I think about what my dad and grandfather must be thinking when they see us reminisce over a flower (weed) we spent days eradicating from the soil.

In anticipation of my mother and siblings when they join in with delight.

and last, I anticipate the envy of the younger generation when they witness how the Thistle has bonded us together, knowing they will want this same bond (but also knowing they would revolt as much as we did when told they have to spend the digging hours to really appreciate the beauty of the Thistle).”

So, I have embraced the Thistle flower and now also embrace their bond of family and memories that it brings but also because I think it is a really cool flower. And I recently made a large pasta size bowl that I wanted to do an unusual decoration on and kept coming back to the thistles. The botanicals that I choose are usually my favorite flowers or veggies but I also went looking for some designs to compliment the thistle when I opened one of my quilt books and found a new story to go with my thistle flower.

Kumiko Sudo does wonderful origami quilts and quilt books. Lots of flowers and textural appliqué patterns. I immediately looked for the thistle, which she did have and found that she had written a legend about the firefly, in reference to the thistle flower. I don’t know if this is a story that she made up or if it is one of Japanese tradition (after a quick google search, there appears to be all kinds of different firefly legends) but I thought it would be fun to share it with you and then show you a quick video of how I used the legend on the bowl that is now in my kiln, firing and will get posted in it’s final form in a day or two.

A Long time ago, a fly thought he would take a nap on a  thistle flower. He loved the softness and the beautiful purple color of the flower. But as he was landing on the flower, the fly accidentally struck his bottom on some of the plant’s sharp needles. Hurt and upset, he waited for the wound to heal. To his great surprise and delight, he discovered that his bottom now glowed in the dark. In gratitude to the thistle for this special gift, he decided to become a night guide for all small creatures. To this day, we can see his descendants, which we now call fireflies, working hard throughout the night.

Kumiko Sudo

And after I got her legend drawn onto my bowl, I added fireflies and thistles and you can watch the bowl spin on my banding wheel. So, stay tuned and after it comes out of the bisque firing tomorrow, it will get a clear glaze and a soft green rim to compliment the legend and the beautiful purple flowers of the thistle. Enjoy!

Orange and Teal

Belle has chosen orange and teal for her wedding colors are  and I absolutely love them. I mean, orange is just so happy (laughing orange) and the teal is a cool color. So, I am putting them into the party that we are doing for them on September the 24th wherever I can. Rather than try to find accessories to fit that color scheme, I thought it would be fun to make the parts to the party myself. I have purchased some things in those colors and in the coming weeks I will share some of those items with you but for today I am going to share the beautiful tablecloths that I am making to put on the banquet tables in the yard. With Herb’s help we are trying a “how to video” posting today, so please bear with us.

Hand painted Tablecloth in process

tablecloth supplies

 for this project, you will need:

  • a flat sheet or large piece of fabric. I used flat sheets that I found at a discount store. Although it seems they are harder to find these days due to sheets packaged as sets.
  • the fabric dye. I used just plain old RIT and “somewhat” followed the directions on the back
  • rubber stamps of your choice, I used the soft spongy kind but you could use a potato or a linoleum block. You just need something that will make a design with
  • paints. I used an assortment, a latex house type paint, a wall glaze and an acrylic.
  • a brayer is nice to have but isn’t absolutely necessary and a piece of glass to use the brayer on as a palette
  • a detailing paintbrush
  • an ink pen
This first video will give you an idea or how to get the orange dye onto the fabric so that the color vignettes from color to white.
And in this next video, I will demonstrate how to stamp the patterns onto the fabric using a printmaking brayer and paint.
And finally, I demonstrate how to add the details to the stamped design so that it looks more handmade and give the design more character rather than a boring stamp. A little glitter and shine make it look elegant and special.