ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Tatiana Fitzpatrick took best-of-show honors in the 2010 Army Arts and Crafts Contest with an elaborate "Stone Flower" necklace that topped the accomplished metals and jewelry category.
Fitzpatrick, who hones her crafts at Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Arts and Crafts facilities at Camps Walker and Henry in Korea, relied on her "Tatiana's motif" - a combination of embroidery, bead-stringing and braiding cabochon - to simulate "the Stone Flower" from Malachite Mountain that inspired Russian writer Pavel Bazhov's folk tale.
"I wanted to express the attraction and intangibility of the mythical stone flower, whose living beauty was impossible for Danila, the rock-carving master of the tale, to make out of malachite," Fitzpatrick said. "In my necklace, you can see the Malachite flower turning into a difficult-to-catch bird or butterfly."
Fitzpatrick's use of antique and vintage micro beads make the embroidered piece appear delicate and light. The bottom cabochon is specially made in a unique embroidered frame, which reveals the back of the stone's beauty, she said.
Fitzpatrick also earned an honorable mention in the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-backed contest for her "Set Spring Nascency" necklace and bracelet.
"The idea of this set came to me while I was expecting a baby, and from the experience of spring on the nature of my home city with hills covered in thick snowdrifts sparkling under the sun on the thin crust of ice over the snow with billions of snow 'diamonds,'" Fitzpatrick said. "And a real miracle - flying real butterflies among all this snow - showed me the exact image of this set.
"It has a deep sense of human's closeness to nature, combining ideas of expectance by a mother for her child and Mother Nature for spring. I wanted to accent the beauty of the expecting mother and the beauty of the snow-melting time with its clear, thin delicate ice, sparkling snow and joyful spirit."
Fitzpatrick appropriately spent nine months on that project.
It also took about nine months to inspire Lt. Col. Leon Pennington's "Midtour" sculpture, which earned third-place honors in accomplished ceramics.
"I sculpted this piece as a gift for my wife to celebrate our mid-tour reunion during my Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment," said Pennington of Fort Stewart, Ga., who took first place in accomplished wood with "The Fall of David."
Pennington also earned third-place accomplished metals and jewelry honors with his bronze rendition of "LTC Phil Pugh - A Soldier."
"This portrait of Lt. Col. (ret.) Phil Pugh was requested by his family in celebration of his distinguished military career," said Pennington, who has enjoyed an accomplished career in the annual Army Arts and Crafts Contest. "The sculpture was executed in water-based clay then cast as a bronze using the lost-wax process."
Sgt. Ryan Winch of Yongsan, Korea, took first place in the accomplished mixed media two-dimensional category by using a pencil, black ink pen and Photoshop to provide color and dynamic shading to his "Fixation of an Engineer" drawing.
"It depicts a man tinkering with machines in an attempt to understand them and give them a soul," Winch said. "In the process, he slowly becomes a machine himself."
Winch earned honorable mentions in the mixed media two-dimensional category for "The House of Bunglehon" and in the accomplished drawing division for "Tree of Skulls."
"I'm not usually into the darker images," he said of the latter. "But this one was fun to do."
Jennifer Worthington, a Soldier's wife at Fort Bliss, Texas, won the accomplished ceramics category with "Ekolu," which is Hawaiian for "three," so named because of the repetition of threes in the piece. She crafted the winning ceramic at the Army MWR Arts & Crafts Center at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where she volunteered to help keep the shop vibrant while her husband was stationed at Schofield Barracks and deployed in Iraq.
"I used the arts and crafts center a lot," she said. "I wish I could have used it more because it's probably one of the best arts and crafts centers I've come across."
For Worthington, a former Soldier who holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in 3-D design from Mississippi University for Women, crafting is a lifelong thing. Her work earned three first places and one runner-up finish in the past three years of the Army Arts and Crafts Contest.
"I just like the creative process involved in it - being able to express aspects of your personality through your art," said Worthington, who hopes to own a studio some day. "My husband likes to work on his truck. I like to do art. For me, it's a stress-reliever - something I can express myself in and feel like I've accomplished something."
Fern Damour, a military Family member at Yongsan, Korea, took first place in the accomplished fibers category with a quilt named "In the Direction of Autumn," an original design seemingly brought to life by a multi-fabric background with the use of partial piecing.
Carol Smith, a Department of Defense employee at Fort Monmouth, N.Y., won the novice ceramics category with "Wheel Thrown Teapot with Two Tea Cups" and received an honorable mention for "Japanese Style Lantern."
CW4 Richard Kopitskie of Yongsan won the novice fibers and textiles category with "Halmoni's Garden."
"All of the flowers in the picture were grown by my mother in law, which is where the title came from," said Kopitskie, who used batik, a drawing on cloth painted with melted crayon, crumbled, dyed and ironed.
Kopitskie's "Razor Blade Rose" landed third place in novice metals and jewelry. The piece features copper wire, 18 single-edge razor blades, more than 50 double-edged razor blades, sewing needles, black silicone adhesive and a rubber ball.
"The barbed-wire stem was made from twisting stripped electrical wire and attaching it to a rubber ball," he explained. "The rose leaves were made by heating 18 double-edge razor blades with a torch until they glowed red and were then glued to the stems. The torch-heating changed the color of the blades and allowed bending of the razors. The rose pedals were formed by holding 50-plus single-edge razor blades with needle-nose pliers until heated to a cherry red. Each pedal had to be fitted before being glued in place with black RTV."
Seems perfectly fitting that Kopitskie also took third place in novice water base painting with "Tools of the Trade," which features various artillery-specific equipment, such as multiple launch rocket systems, high mobility artillery rocket systems and counterfire radar.
Andrew Washington, another Army Arts and Crafts Contest regular who works at U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, won the accomplished oil base painting category with "Red Couch."
"This painting started as a sketch and was later sketched onto canvas," Washington said. "I wanted to create a character sitting and appear to be dancing on a flaming red couch. The challenge was adding shadows and light, focusing on the character and not taking anything away from the red couch."
Washington, who regularly paints for passersby on the streets of Germany, also took second place in accomplished mixed media two-dimensional with "Mechanical Mind."
"This piece started as an oil painting," he explained. "Then I raised the right side of his face by using Impasto Gel for a 2D effect. I painted the right side of his face with acrylic and glued watch parts for a 2D effect. The material used for his collar and the cloth in his right pocket were cut from a handkerchief. His collar and handkerchief were glazed over with Impasto Gel for effect.
"His top pocket was raised with Impasto Gel and his black suit was painted with acrylic and oil. Pen and ink was used to simulate veins in his skull and was lightly painted over with oil. A ceramic button was used for his right eye, and oil was used for his face and background."
Perhaps it takes creative minds to illustrate what makes mechanical minds tick - such are the stalwarts of the Army Arts and Crafts Contest.
For complete results, visit ArmyMWR.com.