Forming the art quilt group Transitions had a profound effect on my quilting journey.... After working in a set format for such a long time, it was difficult to suddenly change gears... All of a sudden I could not rely on first getting the "mental picture" of my realistic quilts as I needed to let go of the creative control I had of all phases of my work. It was such an intense challenge which was very frustrating as it left me feeling out of sorts ... The transition was very difficult...
As the first project for our new group, we decided to each choose a shape to make a small quilt. I chose a square as shape and quickly cut and fused different sizes of squares onto half of a fat quarter as background... I pinned it to my design wall and wondered where this would take me as I had no idea.... My biggest concern was that I could see no change to my previous work of similar design... I became terribly frustrated and irritated as I sat staring at it every day..... After about two weeks, I realized that the edges were too perfect and I needed more uneven lines - I promptly removed the square patches from the background, lit a candle and started burning the raw edges! Just perfect! I burnt the edges of the background fabric to complement the uneven edges of the motifs... At last I felt I made some progress....
My initial idea was to machine stitch the entire quilt and embellish it with beading... I used the raw edge applique method to secure all the motifs to the background, but somehow it looked too plain and flat... I played with some metal and glass beads and realized the texture difference between the beads and machine stitching was too severe, I needed something as filler in between.... I was stuck again! I promptly placed the piece back on the design wall and waited for inspiration... I tentatively experimented with some hand embroidery stitches which immediately added another dimension to the embellished squares.
|Centre panel of quilt (on its side for better viewing)|
At our first creative meeting, we made fabric beads which was great fun. It lifted the spirits in the group as all of us felt a bit intimidated by the challenge of "jumping out of our rigid boxes"... As I was taking tentative steps with my first art quilt effort, I decided to add a beaded fringe to the quilt and made beads using the same colour palette as the "not so square anymore" motifs. I also burnt most of the edges of the fabric for the beads to keep the effect the same as the motifs. Burning the edges, left a very dark edge which was perfect for the earthy colours in which I was working.... I felt the first stirrings of excitement.... But it was still a long way to go...
|Fabric beads mixed with wooden, clay and metal beads.|
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect
But by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.
The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
I decided to decorate one panel of this quilt by writing this quote repeatedly! I also used this quote as heading on the homepage of this blog...!
|Panel with Carl Jung Quote above the bottom beaded fringe|
I also wrote on the one side panel, but somehow it did not look right.... The piece of fabric was just perfect and I wanted to use it, so I had to cover my mistake... I burnt the edges of chiffon, tulle and organza strips and covered the writing with these strips... It created lovely texture and I immediately liked it, but realized I had to counter balance it on the other side using a darker shade... I decided not to cut the threads on the edge as it created extra texture ....
|Side panel with strips of organza, tulle and chiffon covering unwanted writing....!|
The construction was done in an unconventional way. I quilted the different pieces down onto the backing by working from the outside to the centre of the quilt! As I chose the square as the initial design motif, I used it in the free motion quilting as well. After completing the quilting and adding the beads to the bottom fringe, I realized that the quilt looked too heavy at the bottom.... I wrapped a short dowel with fabric and added a short beaded fringe to it which was attached to the top of the quilt which provided a good balance with the bottom beaded fringe.
Transformation - Glow Beyond the Scorched Earth 2009, my very first art quilt took about 6 months to make. I entered it in the 2011 National Quilt Festival which was held in Stellenbosch, South African and I was gobsmacked when it was awarded Best on Show, Art Quilts!