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Bird-of-Paradise Pillow

Tropical colors for summer

By: Marinda Stewart/Photography by Kathleen Eckhaus

Bird of Paradise Pillow, 14" x 14". embroidery floss on silk. Designed and punchhooked by Marinda Stewart, Round Rock, Texas, 2014.

The bird-of-paradise is a dramatic flower originally from South Africa where it is also called the crane flower because of its resemblance to a bird’s head. Its appealing,  bold, complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel) command attention.

A mature plant looks like a cluster of happily chattering birds. Incidentally, it is also the emblem flower for Los Angeles, where it grows easily and in abundance.

Regardless of where you live, the beauty of a bird-of-paradise can be added to your home through a beautiful piece of artwork if not in all its living color. This design is close to life size. Once embroidered, it can be framed, or as you see here, finished into a pillow. If you have limited sewing skills, you can hand sew it to a purchased decorator pillow 14" square or larger. Or, for a larger-than-life splash of color in your home, enlarge the design to make an area rug.

The background fabric I chose is unexpected. I used raw silk tussah because of its bark-like texture rather than the usual Weaver’s Cloth. Tips for working with silk are included in the directions. I used hand-dyed, variegated floss for all the green elements; the subtle color variations add realism, shading, and luminosity to the leaves and stems.


This article is from the June/July/August 2015 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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