Forces of Nature

Dragons inspired by natural phenomena.   

Size = 13" x 11.5" (14 ct.) 


My friend and creative consultant, Beth, came over one day and said, "The next dragon in your Elements series should be ‘Crystal’, because Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are going to call their next book Crystal Dragon. Wouldn't that be cool?” These are my favorite authors, so, of course it sounded like a good idea at the time, but then I just couldn’t figure out the best way to go about it. How do you make a dragon with a lot of crystal facets look neat? So, the design languished, until, one day I saw a photo of the mysterious crystal skull that had been found in an archeological dig in Central America many years ago and the bulb went on. I could make a smoothly polished crystal dragon instead. So, here she is. The quote is a very shortened version of one spoken by Mahatma Gandhi.

Size = 14" x 13" (14 ct.) 


I heard the words “Only the fireborn understand blue” on a television show many years ago and they resonated within a carefully hidden part of my psyche. These days, I live and work in an ecosystem (the tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains) that would have very different species of plants and animals without the effects of fire. So, fire and burning of the grassland are annual events in my life. Like many people who live and work around fire, I know that the blue color seen in the heart of flames is actually the hottest and most intense part of the fire, when most other people associate blue with the coolness of water. This dragon is the spirit of that knowledge and a tribute to the power and beauty of fire in nature. 

Size = 12" x 13" (14 ct.) 


Water has a number of very useful properties that allow for the existence of life on earth. A little more than half the contents of the human body is water. Without water, we would not have weather. Because water can absorb heat, those huge oceans are a buffer to extreme swings in temperature for all but the most interior portions of continents. The oceans themselves are filled with all manner of fascinating life forms and water evaporates from this source into the sky. It brings the continuance of life to dry land in the form of rain.

The words in this pattern are part of a quote from the movie “Blade Runner”. They were spoken by an artificial human who had been created only to fight for real humans and programmed to die after a very short lifespan. He escaped and spent the rest of his short life fighting for a way to defeat his programming. These haunting words remind us that life is precious and fleeting, like rain in the desert.

Size = 13“ x 12“ (14 ct.) 


Next to the vastness of sky and earth, wind is the most noticeable characteristic of the prairie. A constant and almost sentient presence, the wind’s touch is insubstantial, yet powerful, ranging from a breeze’s gentle caress to the raging fists of a storm wind. Wind can be blast furnace hot in summer and knife-edged, bitter cold in winter. It heralds the storms of spring, strips leaves from the trees in autumn and is the close partner of fire in the cleansing and renewal of life to the prairie.

The quote here is a shortened version of one by Charles Baudelaire and seemed to fit my current life fairly well. I have, with the help of my friend/Creative Consultant, Beth Montelone, also included a pattern page of other words in the same font that you can substitute for “madness” if you happen to have a less morbid mindset.


Smoke is an element that, like the fire that creates it, can be perceived as good or bad. Smoke on the horizon can indicate shelter and warmth to someone lost in the wilderness or it can be a sign of disaster to those approaching after an attack or storm. In the prairies of the world, smoke is often a normal sight as fire renews the grasses and prevents the invasion of woody plants. It was during the annual spring fires of Kansas that I first saw a column of black smoke laden with carbon rising high into the air behind a heavier column of white, steam-filled smoke. Thus was this design born.

The quote is a shortened version of one by Tom Stoppard.

Size = 12” x 20” (16 ct.) 

Size = 14” x 9” (14 ct.) 


As you may know, I’m a scientist. It turns out that scientists share a trait in common with wizards; we are an extremely curious folk, constantly asking “Why?” and “How?” about everything we see. My field of study is Biology, but I’m still curious about all sorts of other things. Two of those being Astronomy and, of all the crazy starts, Quantum Physics. Of course, I understand only the tiniest bit of the math involved but it is still fascinating to think about.

Singularities are the cores of the phenomena we know as black holes. Stars are basically enormous thermonuclear reactors delicately balanced on the edge of exploding. A black hole forms when the fuel runs out and a star collapses. All the immense gravity turns inward and it starts pulling in everything around it, forming a ‘hole’ in space and time that even light can’t escape. Dragons, however, don’t have to obey the laws of Physics or, for that matter, of Quantum Physics. This is my interpretation of a very special dragon restoring space and time from the grip of a singularity.

Note:  The Needlepaints threads used in Singularity are no longer being made and are difficult to find.  Click here to see some suggestions for substitutions.  You could also choose any series of colors that come in seven shades or that can be blended to form seven shades. 

Size = 14” x 13” (14 ct.) 


Snowflakes are ice crystals formed when water vapor in clouds slowly freezes. They have six points because they start from six molecules of water that join together to form a hexagon then grow into beautiful geometric patterns as more and more water molecules are added. The type of pattern of an individual snowflake depends on the temperature and humidity at which it forms. According to physicist Kenneth G. Libbrecht from the California Institute of Technology, it is highly unlikely that any two snowflakes in the world are identical. However, he also rightly asks “…if two identical snowflakes fell, my inquisitive friend, who would know? And can you ever be sure that no two are alike, since you cannot check them all to find out?” You can, however, find a lot more information about snowflakes at the website Regardless of how they are formed, snowflakes are some of Nature’s greatest works of art, capable of inspiring us lowly humans in many unexpected ways… like seeing dragons in miniscule ice crystals.

This quote is from “The Hobbit” by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Size = 13" x 11" (14 ct.) 


I am a Biologist and spend a lot of time outside running around in the wilds of Kansas. So, you may very well ask, "Why did you not make a design entitled 'Earth' with green things in it?" It's a good question as that is the way most people think of our planet. However, I happen to have a weird fascination with fire and the color red. Partly because of this, when I think about the Earth, I tend to think more about the rejuvenating processes of fires that burn off old vegetation and volcanoes that are the primary source of new land on the planet. And, let's face it, as far as natural disasters go, volcanoes have some of the most destructive potential in the world. A big enough eruption and everything all over the globe could be affected, not just the area around the volcano itself. The body of this dragon represents a flow of very hot liquid lava while the wings represent the cooling edges of the flow. 

size = 13” x 12” (14 ct.) 


I have an odd morning ritual. When I arrive at work and boot up my computer, one of the first things I do is visit the 'Astronomy Picture of the Day' website ( I always wanted to be an astronaut, but since that isn't possible, I try to take a minute each morning to marvel at the cosmos vicariously through images. Some of my favorites are of nebulae, the enormous clouds of dust, hydrogen, and plasma that over many millennia become stars. This dragon was inspired by nebulae and my never lost dream of spaceflight.

The quote is from Jalal ad-Din Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet and mystic.

Size = 11” x 13” (14 ct.) 


This design was actually inspired by the incredible shapes of our local oak trees. The area of the Great Plains where I live can support some trees near streams but it is still a harsh, dry environment for trees. So, the tough old oaks in the area take on some very interesting growth forms. Though the inspiration came from oaks, the tree I modeled this dragon on is actually the weeping willow. These ornamental trees are apparently hybrids between two species of willow, the Peking willow (Salix babylonica) and white willow (Salix alba). Weeping willows are most often found near water where people have planted them.

This design is also a tribute to my favorite authors, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and the clan of fascinating characters in their books whose symbol is a tree and dragon. The clan also has a most interesting member in the form of an enormous sentient tree.


This design came about after I had recently seen a catalog of blackwork that included a beautiful butterfly design. I sighed and expressed the opinion that I wished I could do a blackwork dragon. It's not easy to do traditional blackwork in cross-stitch and so I didn't think I would ever come up with something l liked until my friend and creative consultant (Beth) said I should do an ash dragon. After some more thought and doodling, this design is what emerged.

For those of you who don't live in an area where fires are a natural part of the ecosystem, this quote may give you the feeling of post-Armageddon or something similarly foreboding. But, I've actually experienced this feeling after we've burned a bit of prairie and all the workers have left and the world just seems to be waiting for the new grass to begin to grow so life can continue. In fact, without fire, the prairies where I live would rapidly become a tangled mass of scrubby red cedar trees where few other plants and animals can survive instead of a grassland rich in diversity. So, the feeling I get when I read this (and when I made it up) is one more of renewal than destruction.

Size = 21" x 10.5" (14 ct.) 


As you have probably noticed from some of my other designs, I like the mixture of red and grey, especially dark, charcoal grey. The design ‘Ash’ was one such that I came up with after looking at some blackwork designs in a catalog. Then, once I discovered the lovely cloth color by Picture This called ‘Dusk’, I couldn’t resist making a companion piece for ‘Ash’ in the reverse colors.

Similar to the saying on ‘Ash’, I made this one up while watching the end of some of our annual grass fires. Despite the need to make certain that no embers escape that are capable of carrying flames into an area we don’t want to have burn, there’s something indescribably sad about watching them flicker into cold darkness. Of course, fire is not alive as we define it, but it still has some of the properties of life and has certainly been important in many ways to the continuing existence and advancement of the human civilization. All else aside, a warm fire is very comforting on cold, dark nights and has a hypnotizing beauty capable of enthralling any us. It’s hard to watch beauty fade gently away at the demands of necessity.

Size = 21" x 11" (14 ct.)