Making a fibre art Sunflower POP

After growing sunflowers last summer, I decided to make a fibre art picture of this majestic flower, and took many reference photos, large and detailed, of the petals and middle. This is my favourite and the composition I decided upon.


I made a start on this project several months later, and chose a variety of fabrics to layer and sew together for the petals, using different values of yellows and oranges and pinks to define each. I then slashed through the layers so the deeper colours would come through and would mimic the lines on the petals. 

The result was less than I had hoped for. 

So I couched on yarn to outline each petal but this did not help. Nor did adding yarn for the lines. Layers of tulle stitched onto the lower petals I hoped would push the uppermost ones to the forefront. But it was still blah. The only answer that seemed right was to put this aside and wait for a solution to present itself. This exceptional flower, after all, deserves a fibre art interpretation that is also stirring.

While I awaited an answer, I auditioned a few fabrics for the middle of the flower. I settled on burlap, which I cut into strips and wove together in a diagonal direction, and mounted onto painted brown paper bag. Yes, this was right. Well, almost. Something was missing.

Something to contrast with the yellows & oranges and the brown of the burlap - a bit of green to help the colours pop. A few green beads helped. A bit. But I knew I was on the right track. Being uncertain what to try next, I again put this to the side to wait for an answer to appear.

The solution came, of course, when it was least expected.  While contrast was needed, it wasn't enough on its own. I needed to to find what would make it sizzle, glow, sing, dance. To pop. To embrace its majestic side. 

This meant finding just the right fabric, and I dug through my stash until I found an old, damaged East Indian dress I had found at a thrift shop. The jewel tones were perfect, and with hints of green, it contrasted beautifully with the yellows and oranges. I cut out what I needed, playing with placement, and finally ironing the cut-outs in place with fusible webbing. In addition to contrast, this added much needed pattern and movement.

Now, back to the middle. 

Again, sorting through my stash, I found the answer. Old lace doilies. Their round designs complement the round middle of the sunflower, adding rhythm and movement, as well contrasting with the texture of the burlap.  

It still needs a bit of tweaking, then mounting onto canvas. But now it POPS, just the vision I was looking for. I call it Boho Sunflower.


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...