Friday, October 26, 2012

Copper Lily

CopperLily (4)For the Scent of a Memory challenge, my inspiration was the IV drug Heparin.
For me, Heparin has very distinct taste and smell which evokes a vivid memory. During cancer treatment the nurse would inject this blood thinner before starting the heavy hitter chemo drugs. Every time they injected the heparin I would get an absolutely definite taste/smell right in the back of my nose and throat.

The best way I can describe the sensation: take a deep whiff of a Stargazer Lily while holding a copper penny in your mouth. To this day I cannot be around Stargazer lilies. Their scent makes me nauseous.  (The taste of copper has not really been a problem as long as I don’t put pennies in my mouth.)

I knew I had to pursue this idea because it was the first thing that came to mind when I read the challenge.  I thought it would be interesting to make something positive and beautiful (or at least visually appealing) from this negative association. By using the Stargazer image and copper color palette, I concentrated on the smell/taste itself and not the memory it triggers.

Technique: I used metallic thread to make the veiny lines in the background.  The rest of the piece was created with cotton fabrics and quilted with poly and rayon thread.

CopperLily (7)


  1. Exquisite tribute to a very tough memory. I used heparin for years while nursing (not for cancer treatments but in other areas) and never knew about the taste/smell...

  2. Kate, your piece is gorgeous. I would think a difficult memory? Perhaps this is a bit of a catharsis? You've made it very beautiful ... I know it is not the experience that is beautiful, but perhaps what evolves from it.

  3. Thanks Margaret and Martha! I have actually done a few sketches over the years, themes centered around my treatment days. But I never really brought any of them "to life". Maybe I'm superstitious - like not saying the names of demons for fear they'll appear. But I think mostly it's because I wouldn't know what to do with such a negative piece once I was done with it. But I'm glad the challenge was about memories and smells. This way I could explore the subject but still make something that I'd be willing to hang on the wall.

  4. Wow Kate- strong and beautiful, yet dark. Flower as metaphor!

  5. I agree with Betty...A very strong piece, indeed!

  6. Very brave Kate for facing your demons and making such a beautiful piece. We call these Oriental lilies and their scent is overpowering.