Melissa A. Martin

doing EARTH BUSINESS as . . .

Dedicated to the pollinators' love of flowers and life . . .

Pollinator Tapestry Series

“Bee is for Pollinators! not pesticides” is an earth advocacy tapestry presentation that promotes pollinator awareness and highlights their/our plight and promise. Six weavings that comprise this series are the centerpiece: “Beauty as Revelation: Prayers of the Pollinators,” “Hot Pink Eyes of the Green Bee Holder,” “Sunflower: Plan Bee,” “Superhero, (de) Fender's Blue,” “Bee Mine,” and “The One That Lived.”

If interested in the “Bee is For Pollinators! not pesticides” presentation or in exhibiting the series for this purpose, please Contact Me.

Beauty as Revelation: Prayer of the Pollinators of Grassy Knoll Weaving by Melissa A Martin

Beauty as Revelation: Prayer of the Pollinators of Grassy Knoll

While walking through vibrant conifer forests toward a high mountain field, I knew my boxes of Southwest-colored wools weren't going to work in the great, green Northwest. A friend introduced me to Grassy Knoll (off Hwy 14 in WA toward Indian Heaven) for a luminous day in full summer.

Suddenly, before us was an enormous, rounded hump covered with every imaginable hue of native grass and wild flower; this must be “Grassy Knoll.” Even in the woods, we were overtaken by the hum, buzz, and vibration of the place—a pollinator's paradise. We humans are attracted to exactly the same beauty as the bees. I create on the loom. Each time I got stuck while weaving, I'd throw some bee pollen on the warp and leave 'til inspiration struck anew.

Flowers: Gentian, balsamroot, lupine, paintbrush, bear grass, cascade mariposa lily, thistle, avalanche lily, phlox, & skunk plant. Conifers: Douglas firs.

Special techniques: Wedge weave, inset pick-and-pick, soumak

42” H x 31” W; hanging on a wool-wrapped dowel by warp fringe

Wool: sheep, alpaca, llama, yak, silkworm arrow to top of page


Hot Pink Eyes of the Green Bee Holder Weaving by Melissa A Martin

Hot Pink Eyes of the Green Bee Holder

The gorgeous detail of a green metallic bee attracts attention to the beauty of bees. Bees, afterall, are the most important group of pollinators. Family Halictidae, subfamily Agopostemon are widespread in temperate and desert regions, occasionally seen in the yards of Portland, OR. I say “occasionally” not because they are unusual, but because they are so quick, they whiz by in a blur.

While pollinators drink nectar, pollen particles collect on their bodies, which travels with them to pollinate other flowers. Green metallic bees are short tongued, so they take flat-faced flower food to their dirt burrows to feed larval-stage young. So far, this species has avoided massive die-off from pesticides. It's up to us to keep it that way. Now that you've seen one, look for them!

Special techniques: Wedge weave, ellipses, felting, knots

8” H x 9” L; Framed, 12” x 12”.

100% Wool: Sheep, alpaca, llama, silk.

Thank you, Rollin Coville, Insect Photographer, for photo source material. arrow to top of page


Sunflower Plan Bee Weaving by Melissa A Martin

Sunflower: Plan “Bee”

Sunflowers, family Helianthus, native or cultivated, are one of the great mother plants, attracting a diversity of pollinator species for feeding. Honeybees travel an average of 2 million foraging trips to make 1 pound of honey to feed their hive. That's a lot of flowers! When other flowers aren't available, the sunflower usually is. If you want pollinators in your garden, planting sunflowers is an ideal plan “bee.”

The Great Sunflower Project is an organization that fosters Citizen Scientists, offering yearly, easy-to-follow backyard bee count surveys online to track pollinator populations. With sunflowers in your yard, you assure that pollinators have food to eat and that you have pollinators to count. Hungry bees will beeline toward their dark target centers, like a bull's eye. And, our buzzy friends are completely camouflaged when eating or dozing on one. In fact, I think there's a bee hiding in this one . . .

Special techniques: Wedge weave, soumak, felting, knots.

(Felting Bee Kit by Nuts About Berries,

8 1/2” H x 9” W; Framed, 12” x 12”.

Wool: sheep, alpaca.arrow to top of page


The One That Lived Bumblebee Weaving by Melissa A Martin

The One That Lived

Bumblebees, like all pollinators, perform an free service: because plants can't move, they co-evolved with the bees to move the pollen to pollinate a diverse number of flower species. Bumblebees have a trick we call buzz-pollination. Certain flowers need to shake like the wind to release pollen. Bumbles grab flower petals while vibrating, releasing pollen, with an audible buzz in the key of middle C. What romance! Bombus occidentalis, or western bumblebee, like most female bumbles, mix nectar with pollen to place in “baskets” on their hind legs to carry to ground nests. Bumbles are gentle and safe to be around, so if garden edges along fences aren't cleaned up, the bumble queens can have a place to nest over winter.

I had just begun to weave the wings of this bee when the 50,000 bumblebees (25 native colonies) were killed in Wilsonville, OR by a commercial properties landscaper. He didn't follow the directions on a pesticide and used it during the tree's bloom. Why spray ornamental trees anyway that are not used for food? Ornamentals are a logical place to experiment with bio-alternatives. This weaving is to honor those 50,000 deaths. To bee or not to bee?—a question for us in today's world.

Special techniques: ellipses, felting

8 1/2” H x 9” W; Framed, 12” x 12”

Wool: sheep, alpaca arrow to top of page


Superhero (de) Fender’s Blue Weaving by Melissa A Martin

Superhero, (de) Fender’s Blue

Interviewing a Fender’s Blue Butterfly, here’s what it said: “You think butterflies are delicate, beautiful, gentle creatures? From my 2-week life view, I’m a tough teen flying through sugary highs in psychedelic sunlit colors. If you were me-sized and met me face to face, you’d know I’m a fighter!” This front view of a butterfly, the least recognizable, gives us humans a chance to see butterflies differently (wings are cropped here). Researchers study compound-eyed insects for application in many technologies. Butterflies see in ultra-violet neon colors that form ever-changing streaming shapes. This weaving is a stop-action clip of how a Fender’s Blue might see from on top of its favorite sweet purple lupine.

Fender's Blue Butterfly (Plebejus icarioides fenderi) of the Lycaenidae (gossamer-winged) family is an endangered species endemic to the Willamette Valley of northwest Oregon. Gossamer hair on its body and wings is the family’s insignia; white legs and black/white antennae identify the species. It is host-specific on Kincaid's lupine, a rare species of the common sulphur lupine. The lupine's habitat has been decimated by agriculture and urbanization.

Source photos were given to me by Mr. Dana Ross, through the Xerces Society; Thank you, Dana.

Special techniques: Wedge-weave, soumak, cut ends

8 1/2” H x 9” W; Framed, 12” x 12”

Wool: sheep, alpaca arrow to top of page


Bee Mine Weaving by Melissa A Martin

Bee Mine

Friends and students of the Damascus Fiber Art School were asked to weave a 6” x 6” “selfie” portrait in honor of Audrey Moore’s 90th birthday (school's founder) for publication in a gift book, Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I was young, my mother had a pastel portrait done of me by an artist at a local park. I wanted to embody that gentle, pastel feeling I have when I’m with the bees. The piece flowed off my fingers like honey; the bee flew onto my cheek, and we both are happy that way. The relationship between humans and bees is a sacred one, eons old. This is the first time I’ve woven a human being. It was a very special party and I’m honored to have had Audrey Moore, a master of Navajo weaver, as a teacher and mentor. Thank you, Audrey. Many happy returns!

One can no more approach humans without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees. —Tolstoy

Special techniques: Wedge-weave, felting.

6” H x 6” W; Framed, 9” x 9”

Wool: sheep, alpaca arrow to top of page


Welcome to the Present Weaving Gallery

Please Contact Me about my earth advocacy tapestry weaving presentations or for acquisition of tapestries. I sell the weavings outright, do commissions, and exhibit. Fees for advocacy presentations depend on length and scope. Prices for the weavings vary according to size, complexity, and materials. If you're interested in commissioning a weaving, view gallery for color, size, complexity, and ideas.


arrow to top of page