Fireflower by Alison Cole
23rd April 2021
Flowers come in all shapes and sizes, but most people imagine brightly coloured blooms with distinct petals that look stunning in bouquets or flower arrangements. However, plenty of flowers grow on trees rather than directly in the ground, and some of the most beautiful flowers, especially in Australia, don’t even have petals.
Australia is famous for its more than 700 species of Eucalyptus trees. These trees come in all shapes and sizes, from the enormous Eucalyptus regnans or ‘stringy gum’ with towering trunks, all the way through to the Bell Fruited Mallee which rarely grows to more than 3m in height.
What may not be so well known is that many Eucalypts produce stunning flowers in a wide range of colours, including white, orange, lime, pink, purple and red.
What makes the flower of the Eucalyptus tree unique is the fact that they don’t have petals in the traditional sense. Rather, the colour comes from the stamens that attract bees or birds who act as pollinators for the plant. It is the petals that are fused together into a cap, known as the operculum. This cap is shed at the time that the stamens burst forth with their bright and attractive colours.
When it comes to flowering gum trees, one of the most vibrant and well known is the Red Flowering Gum or Corymbia ficifolia. Although this is a small tree, the fiery red floral display is breathtaking. This spectacular native is the subject of Alison Cole’s latest dramatic stumpwork project that appears in Inspirations issue #110.
Aptly titled Fireflower, Alison’s gorgeous design is worked on a black background that emphasises the brilliance of the colours. Alison has an incredible eye for natural detail, and this project demonstrates that perfectly. Combining detached elements and surface details in perfect harmony, Fireflower is a striking project that will look incredible in any room.
What sets this particular piece apart is the wonderful use of texture. By selecting different elements of the actual tree, including leaves at different stages of development, fully open flowers and ripe buds, Fireflower captures the Red Flowering Gum in all of its glory.
By using a variegated silk and long and short stitch, each leaf emerges with a unique colour pattern. The smoothness of the buds is rendered by working satin stitch blocks at right angles and in harmonious shades of red and pink.
Finally, and most gloriously, the detached flowers themselves are perfectly rendered using a modified tassel and wire.
Upon first glancing at this stunning project, what you might miss is the wonderful detail that Alison has worked in amongst the flowers. A closer look will reveal a busy bee, buzzing from bloom to bloom, collecting pollen as it goes.
The tiny wings are created using wire and organza and the body is formed from bullions and Ghiordes knots. Once you see him, your eye will go to him each time as he busily goes about his business in this beautiful native bouquet.
Creating the stamens
In order to successfully complete Fireflower, Alison recommends working the surface elements first and then attaching the detached elements afterwards. That way you will get the placement absolutely right and you can be sure each element will remain where they are supposed to be without any risk of them being knocked out of place.
Of course, you can work the detached elements separately first if you are eager to get going on them, but it is best if you only cut them out once they are all completed.
Despite the rugged landscape and hot, dry conditions that many Australian native trees face, the floral displays that they produce remains a sight to be seen. Fireflower allows you to immortalise that display and hang it in your own home, where you will get the pleasure of enjoying it all year around.
Make Your Own Fireflower
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Fireflower by Alison Cole is a stunning red-flowering gum with stumpwork leaves, blossoms and bee.
Inspirations Issue 110
Fireflower – i110 Digital
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Fireflower includes everything* you need to re-create this spectacular scene: Fabrics (unprinted), wool felt, wires, embroidery threads and needles.
*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.