Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Reflections (aka Visualize Whirled Peas)
Talk about pushing the envelope! This quilt goes in so many new directions (pun intended!).
First: the design. This particular pattern, and the 3D scrolls technique, come from "3-D Explosion...Simply FABULOUS Art Quilt Illusions" by Cara Gulati. In this book, Cara explains how to start with a simple "S" shape and add perspective lines to make a scroll. Adding and/or repeating scrolls builds the design. Appropriate use of colors and patterns (especially the stripes) enhances the 3D effect. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the primary striped fabric is the same one I used in my previous quilt (the attic windows). All of the rest came from my stash!
Next: There is no piecing involved! That's right! Until I got to the quilting phase, I never went near my sewing machine. Cara builds her designs using a combination of freezer paper, glue stick, and machine applique using invisible thread. Since I really don't like to do applique, I took a slightly different approach.
Background: In March I visited the Visions Art Museum in San Diego. There I purchased the book "free expression...the art and confessions of a contemporary quilter" by Robbi Joy Elkow. For Robbi, it's all about the designs, the colors, and the quilting. She definitely does not like to sew hundreds of pieces together. Once she has the design, she cuts the distinct pieces to make templates (exactly like Cara does), but then she use fusible webbing to fuse the pieces together. No stitching! No applique! Then, heavy quilting. Her reasoning is that these pieces are meant to be hung, so there is no need to worry about the raw edges.
As I contemplated making one of Cara's quilts, I realized that I could use the fusing (and other techniques) from Robbi's book! So I was able to take the best of both approaches to create this quilt.
Now, most of you probably know that I consider quilting to be the least important design element of my quilts. It is almost entirely functional (to hold the quilt sandwich together), and I almost always use thread colors to match the fabrics so that the quilting is basically invisible. These 3D patterns are perfect for that mentality! Once again, here I followed Robbi's advice and quilted each piece in a way that mimicked the shape of that piece. So the quilting is both semi-invisible and highlights / reinforces the scrolls at the same time! And it is critical that the quilting go to the edges of the pieces (a faux applique!) so that they are tacked down thoroughly. Though I do a lot of free-motion quilting, as I was doing this piece, I felt for the first time that I was actually "painting" with the thread!
The final oddity: At the Visions Art Museum I saw a number of art quilts that were mounted on wooden stretcher bars (just as a painting on canvas would be). How perfect for this piece and any of Cara's 3D designs. These works are like canvases and the designs are meant to pop off the background. I am always a bit dismayed when my quilts do not hang straight and flat on the wall. The stretchers also solve this problem. And, since the piece is stretched around the bars, there is no need for a border nor a binding!
To see more pictures which go through the entire process of making this quilt, click here