Still enchanted with the Milkweed pods

Late last summer and last fall I took two online classes with Jane LaFazio at  For one of the lessons, I chose a milkweed pod that I had found by the roadside.

One of the pods releasing its seeds, ready to sketch

My friend Kathy laughed…. I didn’t know what these were, but was enchanted with their prehistoric look–she called them the bane of her gardening existence!   It would appear they are quite common not just in Maine, but I didn’t have a clue (what else is new, right?  Laugh along with me!).  Anyway, that class exercise fed the flames of my passion for these amazing products of nature! I swear they look as if they belong in the Cretaceous with the dinosaurs!

After looking closely at the silks/seeds I realized that something I had glued into my sketchbook in Fall 2010 before at a soccer practice–a wisp found in the grass–was in fact one of the seeds and silks!  Then when popping in at my friend Kate’s house, I found a lovely huge stand and twisted off a bunch of the stems to take home.  The ones with fewer silks are now in a vase as a dried arrangement in my studio (I told you I’m besotted!), the others were for sketching.  There is ABSOLUTELY a quilt, if not several, in these things!

So for the end of 2011 and the start of 2012 I decided I needed to sketch the ones with the silks–which had been fluffing the kitchen for far too long.

My first sketch... just the line drawing for now, no color until I make photocopies to use to make some screens. These are drawn on 9x12 paper, so larger than life-size.

The pods outlined

I had this bright idea to do the drawing in two phases:  the pods on the page, the seeds and silks on an overlay, so that I could make two screens (without having to re-draw them!):  one of the pods, on for just the silks, then I could screenprint with two colors.  Well…despite the cover of the package of Vellum saying it was suitable for ink, pencil, paint, etc., my *permanent* Pitt India-Ink/waterproof pen SMEARS.  Grumble.  Will have to muck around –maybe a Sharpie won’t smear?  And I’ve waited 36+ hours and the ink still smears.  If I try to erase the pencil guidelines, it takes the ink and smears it all over.  Bleah. Good idea, materials need refining. Ahem.

The pods, with the seeds/silks on a vellum overlay

And here is just the overlay:

Just the seeds/silks thingies on the vellum...lovely eh?

Another pod...yes, I am obsessed

And yet another that shows how the seeds cluster inside the pod. Mother Nature is really so clever...these little puffs float on the lightest whiff of air and then cling with the silky tentacles--to EVERYthing in the kitchen!

I can totally see making some screens, with the drawings in different sizes, to do some printing on cloth as well as rendering these in fused applique…. now, I just need to make the quilt for the Dinner@8 challenge for this year (a juried invitational quilt exhibit…see here for more info on past exhibits), then I’ll dive into this one!  It feels so good to be energized and excited about making art!  It has been a rough several years, and I think we really are moving into a less drama-filled life…this is GOOD!

6 Responses to “Still enchanted with the Milkweed pods”

  1. kathy Says:

    lovely photos and lovely sketches!

  2. Maggie Szafranski Says:

    Yeah, we have them here in Illinois! They are beautiful!

  3. Ann Says:

    We have them in Tampa. They are great butterfly plants, both as a host and for nectar. I love that they self-sow and I can always count on Monarchs gracing my side-yard because of them. I sometimes collect the pods when friends want seeds and have to be SO gentle or they will burst open in my hands, making me laugh out loud as they virtually explode with fluff.

    Ann in FL

  4. Barbara Says:

    I love these sketches and I am going to pay attention to those milkweeds now.

  5. JACQUIE Says:

    You see beauty in the commonplace. Can’t wait to see your designs in use.

  6. Linda Jacks Says:

    Your sketches are so good – catching the idea of the pods with just the right details. Inspiring.