Monday, July 13, 2009

Flowers on the Mantle

Much of our garden flora is derived from Greek lore and legend — Paeony, Adonis, Narcissus, Rose, Daphne, and Laurel are among them. But all these stories end in tragedy. I found two Greek flowers that have a more auspicious origin: Cosmos and Aster.

Cosmos are one of my favorite garden flowers — mostly known to mean "the universe" in Greek. But it's also the same word for beauty. I guess the ancient Greeks saw beauty in symmetry and order. As I pick loose bits of yarn off my feet I admit I could use some order in my apartment. I wonder if there's a flower called "Chaos." So the words "cosmos" and "cosmetic" actually have common etymologic roots — one word has a more profound heavenly meaning and the later more decorative.



I'm meeting Gabbie tonight for the final fitting of her wedding shrug (Barathyel Bolero). I crocheted some single and double cosmos from ivory silk that I bought from Habu Textiles years ago. It's washed, blocked, and pressed — the last thing to now is to decide where to place the flowers. These flowers are not just decoration, they have a weighty purpose.



This lace shrug is designed to be light and comfortable on a warm July day; the asymmetric construction emphasizes fluid movement. But it also needs ballast. I suggested placing large flowers on mantle's hem at the lowest point to keep it in place. Sounds easy no? Last night I spent about an hour or so pinning them into a composition. The arrangement should look natural, as if the flowers grew into place. But what does that mean when you're working with artificial flowers? A lot of arranging. They look more natural if some of them overlap in clusters.



To add more structure to this garment I used a crab stitch border and some scallops along the entire edge — otherwise the mantle tends to crawl upwards and inwards.



Finally, the bell sleeve cuffs also need some weight so I made four asters for each cuff. Aster is the Greek word for star. The phrase "ad astra" is a metaphor for infinity, it literally means "to the stars." In Greek mythology, flowers sprang from the tears of Asterea, who cried with compassion when she looked down from heaven and saw no stars on earth. This tale of tears makes absolutely no sense to me at all... is this a story about compassion or mania? But I believe cosmos and asters are auspicious symbols of matrimony.


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