I’ve just completed a piece that I’m quite happy with. This piece is a very satisfying combination of old, new and hand made: my old cyanotype print on silk of a eucalyptus branch and new cyanotype prints on hand-dyed cotton of young fig leaves; some of my hand-painted fabric and hand-made fabrics from Africa. I met Janet Rothermel last year in a class at Oregon College of Art and Craft. Janet is a local pastel artist focusing on landscapes — check out her work here. Janet has a thriving garden filled with endless possibilities for printing and she was gracious in sharing some young dried fig leaves with me. The small size and great detail of these leaves are very inspiring.
After the concept for this piece was formed, the fabric was pulled for audition. Click on an image for a larger view.
I don’t expect to use every fabric; I do want enough choices to put pieces on the design wall and see how they work together. Here I’ve begun to cut strips and place them in possible layouts.
Possibilities include the direction of the cyanotype prints.
This step takes patience but is well worth the experimentation. While I was still considering a variety of possibilities, I became eager to begin the thread painting process. So, off I went to the machine.
I truly enjoy each step in the creation process, but the thread-painting step is probably my favorite. A little side note about the print: The eucalyptus trees that were near my home in California are the variety with long, slim leaves and beautiful acorn-hard capsules. The print above was created using a variety I found just outside Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward. The leaves of this variety are shorter and wider, have a lighter grey-green color and, at the stage I took a branch, have clusters of tiny buds that will eventually open with white flowers. I enjoyed rethinking my process for defining the leaves and blossom buds. I began the process with a variegated green trilobal polyester thread. Next I went back with an olive-green polyester thread and finally I did some shading with a brown 50-weight cotton. Once the thread-painting was complete, I stitched together the fabric strips for the quilt top.
I spray-baste my quilt layers. Yes, sometimes I get a bit heavy handed with spray and that can lead to a sticky build up on the needle. It always cleans off easily and I move on. I am less annoyed by this than the process of removing pins or other stabilizers while I am quilting. I began by quilting the eucalyptus and the fig cyanotype prints using blue 100-weight silk thread. Next I marked the remainder of the quilt with guide lines.
See those vertical white lines? Those are my guides. I use just two marking pens. The pen on the top of this picture leaves white lines on dark fabric. These lines will disappear with heat from the iron when I block the quilt.
The blue pen creates blue lines on light fabric and is removed with water. Now the quilting can continue.
When the quilting was done, I blocked the quilt, trimmed the sides and top and put it back on the design wall to determine how long I wanted the bottom panel.
I decided to trim 3 1/2 inches from the bottom. Next came binding and the hand work.
My studio assistant aka Cooper was more than happy to stay close while I was busy stitching Colonial knots in each of the bud areas. This art quilt measures 48″ x 19″.