It’s that exciting time of the year again!
For those who can’t go to Houston we have the Bloggers Fall Quilt Festival, and here is my entry to the art quilt category …
This piece evokes the Grand Canyon where you can gaze down at millions of years of rock layers carved by the Colorado River, then up at the big Western sky.
I made this in late spring using a variety of techniques, creating strata which I pieced like bargello for the rocks at the bottom, which I then ice-dyed (soaked the piece in soda ash solution, then placed it flat on a rack in a large pan, covered it with ice cubes and sprinkled various procion dye powders over the top).
I used a similar ice-dyeing technique for the sky at the top, making several attempts before I was satisfied.
The river is a synthetic fibre. I made several trial blocks to get the curving effect.
It’s 17 inches wide and 22 inches high, and was my entry into our Guild retreat’s challenge. Our theme was the Wild, Wild West and really nothing is wilder than the Grand Canyon.
First featured here
with process posts here, and here, here, and here
.. and now I’m off to check out everyone else’s entries! Yay!
P.S. For the first time, I’ve entered a second quilt in the festival, in Baby Quilts
I was just browsing through old posts and realized that the photo of my Grand Canyon piece was all scrunched up so all my thoughts about the design process and which fabrics I liked best would have been completely meaningless to anyone reading. Talk about embarrassing!
That is now fixed, at least if preview changes is to be believed.
This time I didn’t try to ice-dye fabric for the binding. Instead I auditioned from my stash and picked out this batik.
- From now on, make binding wider than two inches! This piece is quite thick in some places (the stretch corduroy) and then the sky is thinner since it’s one piece of ice-dyed cotton.
And here we have the finished piece!
I’m pleased that:
- I experimented with the sky and the river fabric instead of persevering with something that wasn’t the best choice.
- I tweaked the method taught in Ana Buzzalino’s workshop by ice dyeing the land and the sky in two separate sessions
- I was brave enough to free motion quilt using my beloved Valdani variegated cottons
- I got it finished in time for the retreat — need I add I was sewing on binding the day before it started!
- This piece actually looks better from a distance. This became apparent at the retreat when it was displayed in the dining room of the college. At home the farthest I can get from my design wall is only about 12 feet. If you have any ideas of how to show that in a photo online, speak up, don’t be shy!
- My favorite fabric is the shiny, glittery strip towards the bottom below the darker strip. This is one of Hoffman California’s Bliss Blenders and it overdyed stunningly, which was what I hoped would happen.
Does this scream RIVER!!!!
Having found better fabric for the river at the Fabricland in Duncan I decided to make a paper mockup and note my steps, so I don’t paint myself into another corner. I now have less than a week to do this and other responsibilities still have to be taken care of …
The new fabric is a poly/rayon blend so won’t absorb much dye. In fact I could try piecing all the strata, piecing in the river and then ice dyeing. But I want to be happy with the results so I probably will piece the river in afterwards and perhaps try ice dyeing a small offcut of the river fabric just to see what happens. I bought half a metre and it’s 54″ wide so will go far. I can see this may be one of those fabrics that I will later wish I had more of. Oh well.
In this photo the green is the stand in for blue river and blue sky, as I had no blue paper to hand and wanted to get on with this project.
Of course the piece will be trimmed and the fabric I’ve earmarked for sky is not the same as the river fabric.I made the strata by making striped paper using E-Z Tints scrapbooking daubers. They’re not pens, they look like bingo daubers, and I’ve only seen them in scrapbooking stores. I think mine are actually discontinued. Then then cut the paper into vertical strips and pasted them slightly offset onto another sheet of sketchbook paper (65 pound). Then I cut that apart to insert the river. The bend in the river is important to me.
Here’s how the back of The Emperor turned out. It started life as a royal blue background with white hibiscus.
What’s your approach to backing? I like to have something worth looking at on the back myself. And as many of my pieces don’t have borders, it’s a great place to show off the big florals and the splashy colourful prints that begged me to take them home, then sat around in the stash for eons.
I saw one recently with veggie prints on the top and donut fabric on the back, thus covering all the food groups!
Compared to the last photo before it went into the dye bath.
How did the predictions turn out?
That the printed cottons (pink with Chinese characters and the purple and pink dots around the border) will take up less of the dye than the other fabrics.
Not really, the pink and purple dots are the darkest elements in the piece now and you really have to look to see the dots.
That the upholstery fabrics will retain more of the dye than the piece used in my other workshop project, which glowed when it came out of the dye and then mostly rinsed off.
Yes, that worked better because I hand washed the upholstery samples I was planning to use with Synthrapol.
Quilted with purple polyester serger thread, which will retain its current colour and contrast with the dyed finished wall hanging.
That happened and now that everything else is a similar colour I like my free motion quilting better than when I took it off the machine.
- It was weird to see the turquoise polyester stay brilliantly its own colour throughout the dyeing process. It positively glowed as I was agitating the dye bath trying to ensure that everything dyed evenly with no freckles or streaks or unintended weirdnesses.
- Not sure about the butterfly shape above the central panel. I will say no more. It will tell me what to do over time.
Points to Ponder:
To dye something evenly you need to stir the dyebath fairly constantly during the first half hour, and then at intervals after that. I had planned to do this Saturday morning but by the time the piece was ready to go in, I was planning to meet friends for coffee, so I postponed it until the late afternoon. Even then, I spent several hours out at dinner, but it had been stirred around enough in the early stages that it was okay.
One of the most important safety principles in dyeing is that nothing can be used for food once you’ve used it for dyeing. I have a jug, measuring cups and spoons, old yogourt containers, a bread knife and a form that have all been dedicated to dyeing and surface design. For this piece I needed something to stir the pot with and hesitated to sacrifice a wooden spoon. My main objection was not the expense of replacing it as much as the nuisance of needing to do so. Me eye fell on a nice smooth piece of driftwood occasionally used as antlers by Young Sprout to be a “boy deer.” Perfectomundo! Problem solved! And there’s plenty more where that came from …
Trim the edges
Make bias binding