Back in the Studio-
I collected a few specimens from the woods to begin working on an Earth Bitch Jacket dedicated to endangered mushrooms. Deforestation, fertilizer run off and unknown, unrecorded, unresearched circumstances are all responsible for the decline of mushroom species world wide. Like moths there are so many species yet to be discovered that many are disappearing before we even document them. This Yellow Slant Line Moth became part of my collection when I found him completely intact in my studio. He/she must have flown in during the spring/summer months. I would like to incorporate this species somewhere on this jacket. I think I know just the right spot!
Designing the Mushroom Layout
After mocking up several layouts for the back of this mushroom jacket I finally came up with a magnified sketch of the scenes captured in my mind. I realized this was exactly what excited me when I was out in the field studying the mushroom’s. The insects were barely noticeable until I was still for several minutes. The textures had so much depth and intricacy. Growing in the middle of the old snow mobile trail were these tiny whitish/beige capped mushrooms no taller than my pinky. I noticed them all fall coming out from under the leaves. I went out in search of one on a cold November day. One is all I found. One unidentified fruit body to build a world around on the back of an Earth Bitch Jacket.
Mocking up the Mushrooms
I made several versions of the mushrooms and as I was playing with the fabrics and trying to replicate the realistic depth and texture I decided I need to pleat the gills. Using fabric scraps I mocked up several versions until I found the perfect match in weight and color for gills to caps. After numerous evenings, several mock ups, countless cups of tea and a few peanut butter cups later I was pleased with what I was producing.
While out in the woods I found a slug hiding under a gelatinous fungal mass doing it’s business. You can find a photo of my inspiration in Mushroom Brief. I used a fabric with some shimmer and shiny button hole threads to bring my slug to life. I recently learned that as slugs glide along their mucus collects and deposits fungal spores and seeds. It also protects them from would be predators like birds, snakes and toads. A slugs little body contains lungs, kidneys, a complex digestive system, a heart, arteries from head to toe and a mouth full of thousands of tiny teeth. And before I named this guy here Mr. Slug I discovered that slugs are hermaphrodites. When they mate they swap sperm and sometimes they do this while dangling from a strand of mucus! Then they lay their eggs in rotting wood, in the ground and in other moist shelters or decaying vegetation. Contrary to popular eradication not all slugs are detrimental to our gardens. Rather they are an integral part of our eco system as they help recycle plant materials and spread seeds along their journey’s. *
Mushroom Gills Taken to Another Level
Well, why not. This mushroom did not look complete without capturing the underside of the cap. Now, for some stuffing please.
Mushroom Artwork Comes to Life
The scene is starting to look like a little world, a beautiful and intricate landscape suitable for a slug. Soon slug will have some friends to keep it company.
1 Cap, 2 Cap, 3 Mushroom Caps
At this point I am ready to cut the mushroom artwork out of the muslin ground and sew it onto the back of an Earth Bitch Jacket. Then I will embroider the little stems and branches in the background directly onto the jacket. These plants are much to delicate to work on the muslin and cut out. I also have some flies to add and Fluted Birds Nest fungi. Oooo… I can’t wait!
* Recommended Reading
In case you want to learn more about slugs and snails. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, was a beautifully written book, intriguing and inspiring. I loved it so much I bought a copy for my best friend and my mother. Even my mother, not a fan of invertebrates, enjoyed the book! It is amazing how much there is to lean from these nocturnal creatures that go unnoticed all around us, all around the world.
*Most of the facts about slugs in this journal entry I gathered from an article I recently found in Wings, the Fall 2007 Issue, published by The Xerces Society. A subscription to WIngs gives me something to look forward to in the mail box and is also a donation toward invertebrate conservation. On Page 6, of this particular issue, I found an essay titled A View of Land Slugs: Soft Bodies in a Hard World by Ingrith Deyrup-Olsen. Also known as “the slug lady”, the late zoologist focused her research on slug’s mucus. A professor at the University of Washington, Dr. Deyrup-Olsen is remembered for encouraging and creating opportunities for aspiring female scientists. It always amazes me how I stumble upon a relevant article such as this while I am working on a piece of wearable art. This issue has been kicking around my studio, un-read, since 2007.
Carrying on her legacy is David Gordon, the author of The Secret World of Slugs and Snails: Life in the Very Slow Lane. A book I have not read yet, but it sounds fascinating especially for anyone interested in learning more about what Gordon calls these “spineless treasures”.