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.
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.
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.
To make the challenge piece I was inspired to make an impression of the Grand Canyon by making strata in a variety of fabrics including upholstery samples.
I scoured them by washing in Synthrapol to remove the Scotchguard or Teflon treatment, then piece strips onto a muslin foundation.
The work was soaked in soda ash solution then taken out of the solution and placed in the bottom of a rectangular bucket, slightly scrunched.
A LARGE bag of ice was dumped over the top. Then several different colours of procion dye were sprinkled onto the ice.
Here’s how the strata looked after it came out of the dye bath after 12 hours of soaking. There was still a little ice floating on top of the melted water but I wanted to get on and knew it would take a long time to dry because of the heavier fabrics in the work.