Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hot Springs ... It's all about the WATER!

(Above: Water Vessels II and III. Click on this or any image in this blog post for enlargement.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the water here in Hot Spring National Park. It is the very thing that makes this place special … for over 4,000 years. Yes, it’s hot … averaging 143 degrees when it hits the surface. The National Park collects 700,000 gallons a day for public fountain and the bathhouses. So … how to capture the essence of this water in fibers and stitch?

(Above: Hot Springs' Water, an art quilt. 26" x 25". Click on image to enlarge.)

Walking along the Promenade Ramp behind the bathhouses, I noticed lots of metal boxes … places used to collect/gauge/monitor the water? Man-made “covers” for the springs? I’m not really sure, but there are lots of water meters too … including one round metal lid with the single word “WATER”. At the base of the Hot Water Cascade, there’s a large manhole type cover with a center star. I used a gray crayon to make rubbings of these two metal covers. Why gray? Well, the water is pure … absolutely perfect … and colorless. Knowing that both “black” and “white” are “neutrals”, not really “colors” on the “color wheel”, I decided that the perfect “neutral” for the clear, perfect water was gray.

(Above: Hot Springs National Park water information sign.)

Free motion embroidery put all the information from a National Park sign about the water onto the art quilt. The little circles for the rest of the stitching represent “bubbles”, of course!

(Above: Reverse of Hot Springs' Water.)

I’ve made a sleeve for a hanging rod … just haven’t attached it to the back yet. All this water comes from 47 springs. Most of these are under protective covers. One spring is on view in the basement of the Fordyce Bathhouse, the National Park Historic Museum and Headquarters. So, I’ve been thinking about “springs” too. It’s funny that we tend to think of springs as being round objects … like wishing wells or bathroom sinks. Even the “display springs” here in Hot Springs are fairly round and are “circles” on the official literature’s map. Also, we tend to think of “water” from springs being collected in “vessels”. So, I made a large quantity of cording and then four vessels.

(Above: Water Vessel I. Click on image to enlarge.)

The first one is bluish green to represent all the lushness of nature that results from life-giving water. Of course, the coloring is mostly due to the zigzag stitching used to turn the cording into a three dimensional shape.

I start out with just a little spiral of cording which I hold together with a few hand stitches.

Then, I start zigzagging on using the machine … attaching the cord to the spiral … around and around. (Yes, this is my “back up” Bernina. How lucky can I get having two machines set up at the same time!)

When the circle gets larger than the flat area under the presser foot, I start “shaping” it, curving it.

Finally, the “bowl shape” starts to appear and I must carefully position the machine to accommodate the vessel. Often, the end of my machine is off the edge of my table. The vessel rotates almost like a clay pot on a potter's wheel ... just really, really slowly and not wet!

To end the cording, I remove the stitching that holds the individual strands of the yarn together and cut each one to a different length. This allows a smooth transition for the rim. The rim is heavily zigzagged, finishing it off. I took the photo of the first vessel, Water I, (further above) on the stone steps to my cute little “ranger house”.

Then I decided to take Water II and Water III to the nearby creek for a "photo shoot" with some of Hot Springs water. These were made using the same cord. They are totally different in coloration because I used metallic silver embroidery thread to create the vessels. This thread was selected to represent the shimmer of clear water in the sunshine … just like it appears all around this little snake that was also enjoying the creek.

I’m told that it is a baby water moccasin … and from what I learned using my “smart phone”, I think it is one!


Lynn Cohen said...

Absolutely lovely lovely vessels. I had no idea what you'd do with that ball of yarn and look at these...true works of art! Beautiful colors, love the silver thread; and stunning in their structure! Thanks for the tutorial. I'd love to try this. It looks like one could make a hat this way too. Maybe?

Unknown said...

I love the water rubbing! I have often thought that the manhole covers around here are really great designs. You have turned this one into something very special. The vessels are great. Love that bule!!

Darlene said...

Since I live near Hot Springs I take it for granted and reading your blog reminds me of just how special it is.
I love the bowls! They are a work of art.
Watch out for water mocassins. They can be aggresive.

Wanda said...

I love the vessels! You haven't made one in a while, that I know of. I'm so glad you can click to enlarge because it really shows what's all involved and the colors. The quilt is great! I never thought about those manhole cover things...I will from now on. And you've turned something pretty common and really mostly unobserved into a work of art. Wow.

Wanda said...
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lynda Howells said...

wow....words fail me ..quilt and bowls are just amazing.xxthank you for sharing and my word what a lot of hours went into these amazing pieces of work. xxxlynda

Julie said...

I have photographed lots of manhole covers but never taken any rubbings. This is an engaging piece of art. I love the blue/green vessel particularly.

Cynthia Nicole said...

Absolutely beautiful work! The baskets...the


Booo for snake! Love the vessel!