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| Peacocks have long been part of the legend and lore of many
civilizations, and still capture the imaginations of artists the world over.
Crazy quilters, too, have a history of rendering this bird in their work in
countless ways; embroidery, beading, appliqué, and just about any technique
you can imagine! Peacocks, by the way, are technically the male of the birds
known as pea fowl. The females are called pea hens. But most often they are
lumped together, male and female, when speaking of peacocks.
Why are peacocks so beloved? Maybe it's because they are arguably the most beautiful and elegant bird of all. But really it is more than that; it's their mystery, their symbolism, and the various beliefs and meanings that are attributed to peacocks.
The end of a peacock's tail feathers resembles an eye, often called the Evil Eye. In ancient times, the feathers were thought to bring bad luck. In many Asian cultures, however, those same feathers mean protection of the home. Some cultures believe (wrongly) that the Evil Eyes mean that peacock meat is poison. More likely, however, is that these beliefs sprung up to protect these beautiful birds from would-be hunters. Peacock feathers are highly coveted, even today. Check out this wedding dress, made of peacock feathers at a cost of $1.5 million.
The peacock's tail feathers typically cascade in a train that accounts for more than 60% of the bird's total body length. These beautiful feathers with eyes are often spread into magnificent fans when the peacock is wooing females, who are said to choose mates according to the size, color and quality of the feathers.
The Peacock in Crazy Quilting: the most common renderings of peacocks in crazy quilting (indeed, all artwork) can be grouped into four basic shapes. They are: Front-Facing Peacock with Fanned Feathers (with or without legs), Side View Peacock with Fanned Feathers Down or Curved, The Peacock Feather and the Eye of the Feather. Let's study these one at a time.
FRONT FACING PEACOCKS WITH FANNED TAIL
Ina at Let's Learn Embroidery stitched a marvelous peacock last January for Sharon Boggon's TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday) challenge. Using primarily the Fly Stitch and some sequins, she created this beautiful peacock.
Visit Ina's blog to see how she accomplished this simple and elegant design. http://letslearnembroidery.blogspot.com/2012/01/peacock-design.html
Another way to depict tail feathers would be to use Straight Stitches or Lazy Daisy Stitches, and beads or French Knots of metallic threads to represent the eyes. Or, here is a great stitch to try, courtesy of Nicole at Follow the White Bunny.
To learn this stitch, visit Nicole and see her complete tutorial at: http://blog.followthewhitebunny.com/2010/09/lazy-daisy-peacock-feather-stitch.html To simplify things, you might choose to represent just the basic fan shape of the tail feathers. To do this, appliqué a fan-shaped piece of fabric or felt, add a few Straight Stitches and beads, and you have a simple peacock tail. Or, if working on a larger scale, try using the thin ends of men's neckties to represent the blades (feathers) of the tail. A crocheted or tatted fan shape, or the pineapple pattern in a half circle, also make great peacock tails.
SILHOUETTE PEACOCK WITH HANGING OR CURVED TAIL
The sky, or in this case, the tree branch, is the limit when you choose these poses. Whether the tail hangs down, or curls over and up, the focus is the feathers in all their glory.
Pam Kellogg's Tutorial Pam has a great step-by-step tutorial describing how she made this fancy peacock and tail. http://kittyandmedesigns.blogspot.com/2010/07/pams-peacock-tutorial-for-crazy.html And you can substitute other fibers and other colors according to what you have in your stash.
This amazing golden Peacock was created by Gerry Krueger for a recent "Fools Gold" round robin she was participating in. Using Goldwork techniques but with less expensive, everyday materials, Gerry drew, stitched, Couched and beaded this lovely bird into existence. Her first step was to find a design and adapt it to the space she had to work in. Read her enlightening design blogposts here: http://olderrose.blogspot.com/2012/03/tips-on-adapting-design-to-fit-your.html and http://olderrose.blogspot.com/2012/03/tips-on-adapting-design-to-fit-your.html And then to watch her stitching progress and techniques, visit these posts: http://olderrose.blogspot.com/2012/03/pretty-peacock.html http://olderrose.blogspot.com/2012/03/and-peacock-has-partial-tail.html http://olderrose.blogspot.com/2012/03/progress-and-couple-problems.html
Now look at this vintage peacock artwork. Can you see design applications for crazy quilting? A crazy pieced tail? Perhaps a solid tail with different types of stitching for each feather? Appliquéd fabric feathers? Aha! Now you're getting the idea!
The feather itself is often the focus you want. Let's face it, the peacock's feathers are the primary focal point. Take a look at how Kerry Leslie has both stitched and beaded this stunning gold peacock feather on a round robin block.
Another idea: Take a silk leaf (from stemmed silk greenery) and shape it with scissors to your liking. Then stitch veins on to represent a feather. Or glue beads or sequins on to represent the eye.
THE EYE OF THE FEATHER
The eye of the feather itself is basically spoon-shaped. See the first picture for reference. The inner circles are more round (or heart-shaped) and of bright, yet differing shades of blue. We can pare those down to two colors. The next outer section is primarily a golden brown color, and begins the spoon shape. The outer few rings (and if you are appliquéing, one would be sufficient) are again bright colors. Try fusing layers of fabrics, stacking layers of shirred ribbon, burning and nesting silk fabric pieces, or thread painting these layers.
Vintage Embroidery Patterns: Here are a couple vintage embroidery patterns to get you started.
EYE CANDY TO CHECK OUT:
See Di Van Niekerks's amazing peacock here: http://www.needlenthread.com/2011/10/needlework-around-the-traps-2.html
Incredible Italian antique needle lace peacocks and feathers: http://italian-needlework.blogspot.com/2010/03/aemilia-ars-needle-lace-from-bologna.html
Link to draw a peacock: http://www.dragoart.com/tuts/1442/1/1/how-to-draw-a-peacock-bird.htm
Cute appliqué peacock and tail parts: http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/quilting-made-easy/dresden-quilt-designs/
Strings of beads as tail feathers: http://blog.thelonebeader.com/2008/12/28/bead-embroidered-indian-peacock/
TRY THESE GOOGLE SEARCHES:
Embroidered peacock, peacock needle work, peacock art vintage, peacock art, lace peacock, peacock appliqué, beaded peacock (or peacock tail), crocheted peacock, peacock tatting, peacock jewelry
And finally, did you know that a group of peacocks is called a party? Let's go party with the peacocks!
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