If Lonesome George was the catalyst for Sew The SEEDS, then Martha is at its heart. As a child, I read about the Passenger Pigeon and listened to my Dad’s stories. There had once been as many as 5 billion Passenger Pigeons in North America. Flocks so huge, they darkened the skies. Nimble and acrobatic, they could fly as fast as 60 miles per hour and pass overhead for days on end. Over exploitation through market hunting for food and recreation drove the passenger pigeon to extinction. Deforestation reduced the places the bird could nest and roost, thus making the bird more accessible to hunters. They were hunted to oblivion. Martha, the very last Passenger Pigeon, died alone in a Cincinnati Zoo. As a kid I couldn’t understand how people could let that happen; it just struck me as incredibly wrong. I felt cheated that I would never be able to experience those amazing migrations. The feeling has stuck with me ever since.
So my first panel was for Martha. It is hand embroidered and appliqued, using remnant fabric. The blue fabric underneath the male pigeon was dyed with wode, and the base is unbleached muslin. The only machine sewing, the black borders, were sewn on my 1906 Singer treadle machine.