Another project done!. Life is too short to twiddle my thumbs.

It fascinates me how elements of projects look HUGE in my home but when viewed in an outdoor environment, they seem teeny weeny. It's the sky's fault. The ceiling is a tad too high.

For Vaudreuil-Dorion's Éveil (Awakening) project, the municipality wanted us to re-purpose some of their accumulated art stash if possible. I went over to the building that houses magic bins full of fabrics, chicken wire and more, and tried to imagine what I could possible use to create some faux flora. I came across a bunch of discreet, (one might say boring) black umbrellas and thought that an open umbrella kind of resembled a flower. My only concern was that the stem and handle were in the wrong direction. I'd have to invert it, as though it had been blown out by the wind. 


My initial dilemma was trying to figure out how to attach the flower to the pole the city provided in an aesthetic way. I hoped the umbrella stem might fit into one of the many holes that perforated the pole but unfortunately the diameter of the umbrella rod was a tad too large. An artist friend suggested using tie wraps but that didn't really light my fire.

I spoke to Jacques Grenier who is an "ace" at solving these kinds of problems, and he suggested adding a box over the pole to which I could attach the umbrella rods with special metallic tape. I agreed and Jacques built me a beautiful pole cover out of wood. He also advised adding wooden dowels to the spokes of the umbrella to reinforce it. I completed the buttressing process by sewing the spokes of the umbrella from top to bottom to the existing fabric. 

My plan was to have only one flower but I ended up with three.


Funny how technical preoccupations affect creativity and the making of things. I was afraid the umbrella fabric wouldn't hold up against the elements so I painstakingly stuck on heavy duty canvas to make the material stronger. It took forever because the umbrella fabric objected to merging with the canvas. I slathered on glue and held everything together with safety pins, straight pins (that didn't want to penetrate the canvas) and bulldog clips. This made the flower extremely heavy. Jacques started cutting up my first attempt in his workshop so it would fit into a nearby garbage can. I yelled "WAIT" and suddenly, we both saw the potential of removing the material between the spokes.

I returned home with the damaged umbrella and proceeded to cut away more fabric with heavy duty scissors to create a daisy shape. I wasn't entirely satisfied with the yellow spray paint I bought so I turned to my "artist quality heavy body" acrylic paint to get the colour I wanted. I applied it with a good old paint brush. 


I began spraying black paint on styrofoam rings and balls but they started to bubble up and disintegrate. What in heaven's name was in that spray can? I switched over to a good old paint brush once more and applied black gesso. I sawed off the tip of the umbrella to flatten out the circle centre. 


Meanwhile I still wanted a full flower created from an inverted umbrella.  I prepared another but didn't glue any canvas to this one except on the tips of the spokes.


Challenges ensued with the spray paint. I decided on pink for this flower and started with a brand from the local hardware store to do the back of the umbrella.


Echoing nature, I felt I could get away with many shades of pinks for my flower so I went to the local art store and purchased other hues. I used pig pink for the post and fluorescent pink for the interior of the umbrella.

I cut out half-moon shapes of anti-slip rug material and glued them to the perimeter.


The hardware store pink that I painted on the outside of the umbrella permeated the fabric and repelled the paint I applied to the interior. I had visions of fluorescent pink dripping down on visitors after a rain. I had to find a solution. 

As an ultimate test, I took a hose to the umbrella to see how much of the fluorescent pink would come off. It remained in some areas but not in others. I varnished what stayed on, painted over dark areas with more paint, varnished it again, and finally achieved a decent level of adherence. 


I took another umbrella and cut off the end of the spokes. They were a bit long so I trimmed them again before glue-gunning them onto the centre bit of the umbrella to create my stamens. I used special tape on top to make sure they were solidly attached. I used black styrofoam rings and balls for the centre of the flower and attached trimmed spokes that radiated from the centre. The result resembled a vibrant pink poppy-like flower. 


I worked with styrofoam rings to create the centre of the yellow flower. The slightly disintegrated hoops spawned a beautiful texture. One has to work with accidents. I added some black polka dots.



I painted the post pig pink but it still looked rather plain. My peonies confirmed that ants love living with flowers. It was time for giant ants. I drew one on a letter-sized piece of paper to create a stencil and painted a row of ants on each side of the post in black paint, one army going down and the other going up. 


Two flowers attached to a post made for a rather small bouquet and it soon became evident that I needed a third bloom. I took the "cropped-spokes" umbrella and sewed the overhanging material back onto the spokes that remained. I painted this smaller flower a dark turquoise blue. More non-slip rug material placed at the centre projected lovely shadows.

The flowers decorated my floor while the paint cured. I then parked them on my sofa until the installation date.  

My partner is a very patient man. I literally took over the house with this project. Elements were everywhere and I didn't hear a peep out of him.



I painted the leftover triangles of fabric from the black-eyed Susan various shades of blue, green and violet. I added these at the top of the ant pole to create more fullness up there.


The city installed the flowers of the ten invited artists in a nearby wooded park along the waterfront. Public works did a beautiful job.



This is my upright creation in its beautiful location. May it attract an abundance of pollinators!