Firebird fantasy – Cornucopia

Cornucopia in textiles

Firebird Fantasy is  1 of my 14 pieces in the ‘Thread Connections’ exhibition, a collaboration between 2 fellow textile artists and myself. With  no limitations and just a germ of an idea  about making a cornucopia, this is the result. The asymmetrical shape of a cornucopia is appealing and my interpretation reflects a tubular flower that a mythical ‘firebird’ might feed on.

 Making the ‘flower’

Using paint to create a marble effect, ping pong balls become the inner ‘Seeds’. The throat of my ‘flower’ consists of multiple overlapping panels using matte natural fabrics, fibres and stitch. The outside consists of scales cut from a large sheet of  layered synthetic fabrics  which include organza and angelina fibres.  With the help of a heat tool similar to a woodburning / soldering iron, each scale is cut out separately.

The framework of this piece consists of cane with a covering of Plaster of Paris bandages. To be honest, now that I know more about armatures, I would create the framework quite differently! In addition, the whole piece uses glue of various kinds to hold it together. This creation is around 40cm X 20cm and due to its shape has 3 small rubber feet to stop it rolling around.

Thread Connections Exhibition 2011

‘Thread Connections’ was a collaboration with 2 fellow textile artists from Perth – Marilyn Farrow and Jennie Abbott. So, with months of planning and creating, it all came together in a successful exhibition at the Old Bakery, Maylands, Perth. While this venue no longer exists, because of its size, it was a perfect place for us at the time.
Carl Altmann opened the exhibition with some high praise, but also a lot of hilarity! He has been involved in Art Education, Design, Visual Literacy, Drawing, Painting and Textiles for many years as well as judging. In addition, his own artworks have been exhibited both in Australia and internationally.

My thread connections

As a result as many hours of happy creating, 14 pieces came to fruition. Most are shown below with links to more information.

sara quail layered textile
Rainbow Burst – Sold
Cornucopia in fabric and fibre
Firebird fantasy – In gallery
Sara Quail carrier rods organza
Pik-a-Poppy – Sold
3d textile with zips
Sara Quail free machine embroidery
Enchanted forest – Sold
silk paper machine embroidery
Ember glow – Sold
free machine embroidery applique
Seeds of the sun – Sold
kookaburras in textiles
Mates at sunset
Sara quail glue and fabric
Sundowner dunes – Sold
3D textile Sara Quail
Sara Quail indigo shibori
Moody blues
Layered organza stitched sara quail
sara quail wire and fabric
Billabong blues


The gallery above contains some candid shots of the opening night and general layout of my exhibits in the gallery.

Pik-a-poppy – framed textile


Because this piece consists of relatively delicate elements, it is under glass to prevent damage, which makes taking photos a bit of a challenge. Pik-a-poppy expresses the fragility of poppy petals in stark contrast to their sturdy stems, leaves and seed pods.  Apart from the stems, the entire background is painted including the poppies and leaves.  The poppy petals are cut from 3 shades of red organza with a heat tool which seals the edges.  The painted area gives more depth to the layers of almost translucent petals that are then applied over the top. The stems are made with many layers of machine satin stitch which start off narrow, becoming wider, until a rounded effect is achieved.

Silk carrier rods

As a by-product, silk carrier rods are pretty nifty for textile artists. They form as firm little cylinders around the carrier rods on the equipment used for unreeling the cocoons. They still contain a lot of sericin and can be used to make silk paper. In this project, they were hand dyed, split into thin layers, ironed and laid down with stitch to create the leaves. As the dye spreads unevenly through the layers of the carrier rods, different shades and mottling results, creating more variations.


Rainbow Burst

As well as texture, Rainbow Burst is an expression of my love of colour. In particular I love to graduate coloured fabrics, which in this piece included feathers. In fact, it is a bit like a flat version of Dreamkeeper, but without the zips.

Fabrics include synthetic and natural, and for the most part are feather shapes. Thread colours change as often as the fabrics and blending both became an organic process. I seldom work with black, but this one works and I guess somebody else thought so, as it was the first piece to be sold on opening night.