Recreating fields of Flanders

Hand made poppies to blow in the wind

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014
Flanders fields poppies
RAYMOND BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ

FIELD OF POPPIES: Geraldine woman Diana O’Donnell and the children she has made for the Anzac Day commemorations with the handmade poppies that will bring Flanders Fields to the Rangitata Aerodrome Anzac commemorations.

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More than 2000 handmade poppies will blow in a Geraldine field to commemorate Anzac Day.

Each individual poppy was made by Geraldine woman Diana O'Donnell in an attempt to recreate Flanders fields closer to home.

O'Donnell said she had the idea for the field display six months ago and used any free time to make them.

She said it was a challenge she set herself and "had to make heaps so it would look spectacular".

The majority of the work was done by O'Donnell, although she did enlist the help of a friend when it came to cutting the thick wire.

The poppy-making process includes cutting and twisting the wire into shape, dip dying the tip black, and cutting and sewing the red fabric which make the petals.

The poppies will be laid out in a path around an historic cottage as part of the Rangitata Aerodrome Family Fun Day on the Saturday after Anzac Day.

As well as the poppies, O'Donnell has also made 12 life-size manikins that will be inside the cottage depicting people living in the war time era, including a grandmother knitting socks to send to soldiers, children, and female mechanics.

The idea for the display came about when O'Donnell thought there would be cars and planes for men to look at but nothing for women. "I don't want to be looking at cars all the time, so thought I'd do something different."

O'Donnell said she enjoyed creating what she calls fabric art. She had gone to classes to learn how to make smaller figurines and thought she would try to make life-size ones.

The hardest part was working out how to make the project more economical and finding clothes to fit the era. "I got [the clothes] from any op shops I could find. It was a real struggle to find clothing that would suit."

After the Anzac weekend display all of the poppies and manikins will be stored to use in future years.

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- The Timaru Herald

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