Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Update on Foraging-Scapes: Food
This is an update on 'foraging-scapes', my little cloth project to help me think about pollinators and the work they are doing in our gardens. I'm thinking a lot about the ways their work is creating the landscape that our gardens are part of.
Most of the cloth is made from stuff I have found, except some cast off bits given to me by family and neighbours. I've dyed the cloth using stuff we've found, too- berries, leaves, walnuts, washers for shibori dots, a segment of copper sheeting. The thread is mostly single strands of bamboo yarn, waxed with plain beeswax. This update is about how I've chosen to represent pollinator food- you'll recognize Jude's stitches from Heart Whispering below....
I have been working on representing pollen. While pollinators eat nectar, they rely on the nutrients in pollen for growth, to feed their offspring and to fight off disease.
And pollen comes in the most eccentric shapes. I'm particularly taken by the pollens with hooks- microscopic little curved rays that stick out of individual pollen grains. One of my favorite native plants, Cardinal Flower, produces such wonderfully shaped pollen.
My fascination with these spiny pollens aside, pollinators require a diversity of types of pollen- they are malnourished if they don't have that diversity. So lots of different kinds of pollen are getting worked in too.
These are Jude's thread beads, and at first I was making them as a mass of little bits of pollen, but then I started to think they look like the little clusters of honey pots that the social bumblebees build as food for their offspring. So I'm going to make more of these little clusters here and there.
A note, also, on colours. As far as I have read, bees and hornets and wasps don't see colour, and in particular don't see red. On the other hand, most pollinators can see light in the ultraviolet spectrum. This means that there is stuff in the world, in the garden, that they see that we don't.
The spectacular thing about this- wondrous even- is that many plants produce flowers marked with ultraviolet reflective and absorbent compounds, producing patterns and markings that only the bees can see. So I'm working on this idea, too.