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Nature's Smallest Gems

Forest Fungi Inspire Two Botanical Hooked Masterpieces

By: Lyle Drier
Updated February 28, 2018

Fungi I, 17 1⁄2" x 28 1⁄4", #3-, 4-, and 5-cut wool on monk’s cloth. Designed and hooked by Lyle Drier, Waukesha, Wisconsin, 2009.

Once upon a time there was a young woman who loved all things nature. She loved to draw and paint trees. As she got older she started taking photos of trees, their bark, and the colorful fungi that grew on some decaying trees. Whenever she and her husband hiked in the woods, they came home with more photos. The fungi fascinated her, both their shape and fantastic colors.

So now she (me) had all these beautiful photos. What to do with them?  They deserved better than just sitting on my computer desktop in a folder labeled “fungi.” One day a number of years ago (2009), I thought of a way to use them. I said to myself, “How about a hooked piece featuring some of the fungi photos? That could be interesting. But how do I go about turning those photos into a piece of fiber art?”

Lots of thinking, planning, rethinking, and shuffling photos ensued. The hardest part was choosing which fungi to use and how to arrange them. I wanted to balance color and shapes. I decided I didn’t want the piece too large—and there may come a time when I might do a companion piece because I had so many different fungi photos.

I decided that a variety of different size fungi would make the design more interesting, so I made my favorite ones the largest. The final design element was the line separating the blocks. I wanted to make it look like the fungi are in specimen boxes, adding a bit more interest than just a single dividing line or no line at all.

I tried to emulate the true color of my subjects . . . why mess with Mother Nature?

A lot of the color work was done by the dyed fabric; some of it is spot dyed and some is dip dyed. I used textures for bark and leaf litter.

I was very pleased with the final piece and knew it would hang on the wall, so I finished it with rug binding and a sleeve for hanging. Done.



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