Monday, February 05, 2018
Big Blue Tree Art Quilt is Done!
Ever Arise Eventide, 44x40"
Way back in October, I was itching to start something new and I wanted some new work to enter in the Quilters Guild of Dallas show... and the Studio Art Quilt Associates new exhibition Dusk to Dawn. Each year the Dallas show includes a category called "show chair theme" and this year it is Tree of Life. So, I got it in my head to make a quilt with a tree in a nighttime setting that would fit both calls for entry. I decided the tree should be dark blue, so I went shopping.
Looks like someone had an accident -- at least they were in the appropriate color section.
I ended up buying these three pieces of fabric, the blue for the tree, the gray for the background and the stripe because I thought it would be an interesting accent piece. (I was wrong. It never worked itself in.)
Next I set about drawing the big tree.
I put the sketch up on the design wall to get a sense of scale and proportion that I couldn't see on the table top. You have to be able to step back. (True for art making and for life in general.)
Then I cut it out. (The blue fabric already had Misty Fuse fusible webbing applied to the back at this point.)
As I cut, I carefully preserved the negative thinking it could make a good background for a second big tree quilt. (My trusty iron should give you a sense of scale. It's a nice iron. And it's green!)
Ok, so I've got the tree. Now what? I made a few notes and sketches to help me move on to the next step. It was important to consider the size requirements of the SAQA call for entry. (Looking back at these notes, I see I didn't follow through with adding any new surface design techniques, but I did keep in mind "less is more.")
Not too many pictures from the next few steps, but I must have done lots of auditioning, considering, folding, pinning, scrunching, considering and reconsidering before I eventually ended up with this.
Next I needed to design a moon. I considered these fabrics.
I really liked that piece with the handwriting, but the scale was too large. So I added some smaller, tighter handwriting to a new piece of cloth and eventually cut out this moon shape. (Here is my video tutorial for adding handwriting to fabric from my YouTube channel. It's also covered in my Art Lesson Expressive Surface Design. Here's my favorite pen.)
So, here's the background with the moon. (That swirly gray print on the left by Leslie Tucker Jenison is beautiful, but definitely wasn't working here.)
I worked through several different ladder designs and finalized all the background fabric details. Then I fused the top to batting. (I like Hobbs Premium 80/20.)
I always add hand stitched details to my art quilts. Those stitches go through just the top and batting, so here I'm auditioning various thread colors.
Because this quilt is so big, I often had to lay it over the red loveseat in my studio to decide where the next stitches needed to go.
After the hand stitching was complete, I fused on a backing fabric. I love this stage when it starts to feel nice and flat and the backing gives it more structure and it's ready for free motion quilting. (Sitting on the ironing board is my workbook Head, Heart and Hands: Developing Your Creative Voice. I swear, this isn't deliberate product placement. I'd just come back from teaching at Craft Napa and unpacked items were strewn everywhere. But if you'd like to check it out, you can find it in my Etsy shop spiral bound or pdf download.)
I wanted to create a bit of a glow around the moon, so I sketched some possible quilted motifs.
Here's what I ended up with.
Once all the free motion quilting was done, I squared it up. I didn't actually use the floor tiles to measure, but it's nice to see it lined up and straight.
And here is the finished quilt (same picture from the top of this post).
Ever Arise Eventide, 44x40"
I think the glow around the moon turned out quite nicely. Can you just barely see it in this picture? That's how it's supposed to be!
Here's a detail shot where you can see the sprout stitches and the Y stitches. (There is a video tutorial of both of these stitches in my Art Lesson Tiny Textured Treasures with Cloth Paper Scissors.)
I was also really pleased with the wavy, contour lines in the gray background area. They add really nice texture, but not too tight and stiff. They also suggest rolling hills which emphasizes the idea of a contemporary landscape.
Here's a detail of the top section including a perfect stripe from Turtle Hand Batik.
I took my time with this quilt, a full four months from start to finish. There were lots of things happening during that time. (I taught at Quilt Festival in Houston, Thanksgiving and Christmas, teaching in Nebraska and at Craft Napa, another trip to California to see my sister, and you know... just everyday stuff.) But, I enjoyed each step in the process and the pace felt just right.
I hope you're looking up in the evenings and noticing the shadows of the trees and the cycle of the moon -- and the cycle of ever moving upward.
(Note that all Amazon links in this post are affiliate links which means that if you click through and purchase the product I get a small percentage of the purchase price at no additional cost to you. Thank you.)