Making Violets in the sunshine


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I read that Jupiter, the mighty God, not the planet! – is believed to have invented violets for his lover, Io, to protect her from his jealous wife. Io’s name is implicit in the flowers name; v’io’let. As an artist, I summoned the spirit of invention, to achieve their likeness in silk.

Each dainty bloom has five violet petals, including one fashioned into a spur, resembling a fairy slipper. A delightful folk name for violets is ‘shoes and stockings’, I’m assuming the dainty slipper petals explain why. An equally delightful name for violets is ‘blue mice’; surely descriptive of the way the plants thin, sinewy stems curl away from the blue, ‘mouse eared’ flowers to the earth.

I cut my petals from lightweight silk habotai, dyed violet blue…of course. After much trial and error, I succeeded in negotiating the central one into a miniature slipper, giving the flower head form. I tucked a cluster and silk floss stamens into the centre of the petals and I drew them together onto a silk bound wire stem. Holding the flower by its stem, I then painted its delicate petal markings, with miniature brushes dipped cautiously in silk dye. In nature, such perfect strikes of dark violet blue, must flutter seductively at pollinators like eyelashes!

So, back to my musings…being an artist I am given to them.

As the flower of Aphrodite, goddess of love, violets have long been concocted into liqueurs, potions and scents, devised to beguile, intoxicate and seduce. In fact, only one of the nine species of violet is sweetly scented. I keep my nose to the Spring air, but have yet to detect a true, sweet violet. It matters not, I was smitten at first sight of Aphrodite’s flower; ‘blue mice’, ‘pig violets’, ‘shoes and stockings’…whatever, I’m in love!

One, two, three…back in the room!

Now for the leaves…they’re heart shaped you know!

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