A month ago, I was in Maine, taking care of my parents' house for a week while they tended to some family business in Florida. I kept the fires going and took care of some house projects that needed doing. It was the first whole week I'd had to myself in what seemed like a year, and although I was working as usual during the days, I did manage to take over their kitchen in a complete and thorough way while they were gone—I turned it into a quilting studio. A quilting and whiskey-tasting studio! During that week, I quilted the fifth in what is sure to be a long series of my mother's stunning photographs. This one is called "Floating"; you can view the original image on her Broot Photo website (it's the first photo in the second row). Here's the final fabric-printed image once I quilted it (please excuse the tape which was securing it to the wall when I took this photograph).
Here is the original image printed on fabric. Those are the stamens of a rhododendron flower, but whenever I looked at this image, I always saw some sort of underwater monsters with white-rimmed eyes, so that's what I created—using thread.
I found yet another amazing little fabric store while in Maine this time: Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. It's in the town of Belfast and most certainly worth a stop if you are in the area. The fabrics they have are delicious. Also, it's right next to Darby's where you can eat a tasty lunch (or your stoic partner can sit and drink cider and read a book while you look at fabric). Husband and I used to live in Maine, about an hour from Belfast, and we took many a road-trip that went through Belfast just to get lunch at Darby's. Knowing that this fabric store exists would only mean more trips to Darby's for him. Anyway, I found three gorgeous fabrics that matched the coloring/colouring in the print and bought a yard of each.
My plan had been to make a larger quilt-top out of the image and the three yards of fabric, but in the end I used one of the yards as a backing fabric and one to make the binding. The third piece is already matched to yet another image that I hope to quilt soon.
I had some thread left over from various other projects, and as 2015 is supposed to be a year where I use up all my old stuff before buying anything new, I thought I'd use it up. Also though, I found some other thread on sale that came in a few odd colors/colours that I simply couldn't resist (besides, the $1 price tag made it almost free). And I used a pretty grey/gray as the bobbin thread which appears on the entire back.
I hadn't ever done anything like this type of art-quilting before, and I wasn't sure where to begin, so I put another log on the fire and poured myself a glass of liquid courage. This was what was left of a bottle of delicious Whistle Pig 111 Rye that husband had bought for me when we were attending my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in September. Mom must have hidden it away for my return.
Well, some amount of time later—and the rest of that bottle—I had finished quilting the first of the "monsters."
I decided to use a different color/colour thread to quilt around each set of the monsters, and then I created the movement that I wanted them to have by over-sewing the entire monster with another highlight thread that I used on all of them—so they were all different and yet all had a similarity. Here's a first pass at the second set of monsters using one thread color/colour.
And here's what they looked like after the second thread color/colour was added.
This gives you a sense of how much space between the monsters there was, and how choosing a technique for filling between them was going to cause a certain amount of consternation.
And then another monster was born … and another and another … night after night I would work on these little creatures, bringing them to life.
It took a lot of [liquid] courage:
Here's what the kitchen workspace looked like for that whole week.
As it turns out, my parents' kitchen island is the perfect size for working on a small quilt.
As I mentioned, deciding how to fill in the spaces between the monsters was quite difficult. There were so many options, but all of them were going to take something away from the monsters I had so carefully created over so many, many nights. In the end, I decided to try echo quilting, and I think it was the perfect solution; still organic and not too overwhelming, but still noticeable. Here's what I started with (monsters complete).
This is some of the way into doing the echoing ...
And here shows the fill completed.
Then I trimmed the whole thing to square it up.
And then it was time to make the binding (and have some more bourbon). I was going to make the binding out of the same color as the backing fabric, but decided on a lighter fabric instead (it was a much more natural fit).
Oh so many yards of binding later ...
Once the binding was attached, I had my completed quilt.
Here it is hanging in the dining room. From a distance, this quilt looks like a photograph, but the closer you get, it releases more layers of information to you—it's difficult not to reach out and touch it when you get close enough.