september buckeye

September has landed in Illinois with a dry, cool breeze and a bright blue sky. Of course, part of that is because we're in a drought. But leaves are starting to turn, and the buckeye pods are ripening. The leaves are starting to turn yellow and dry up.

And in looking back at the previous months, I thought it was time to capture the clusters of buckeyes. The pods are kind of elongated, almost pointy on the ends. The buckeyes inside are fairly round, but the pods aren't. One morning this week, they were capturing the sun on their fuzzy surface, and I saw what I wanted to depict.

I began with a piece of tablecloth linen that I had dyed using osage orange and some nails. Using Shiva paintsticks, I first drew on the shapes of the pods. Then I used a small stencil brush to smooth out the color and to add highlights and lowlights of other colors. I have found that unless I'm using stencils, I like drawing directly on the fabric first with the paintsticks. Probably it's my impatience, but just using stencil brushes seems to take too long to start seeing the look I want.

I stared at the impressionistic cluster of pods for a while. I thought I was going to stitch around them and add hints of leaves using thread only slightly different in color than the background. But when it came time to do it, there was black thread on my machine and I was compelled to try it out first. Liking what I saw, I continued (the piece was backed with a piece of felt by this point) doing the whole thing in black. I think the result looks like a pen and ink sketch.

The words are 'September Ripens', a reference to the setting in of fall. By October I fear all the leaves will be off this little tree, and the cold winds of winter will be heard faintly in the distance. The year has sped by, as usual, but the little line of these pieces on my design wall marks the time passage.