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.
If the sky were deeper it might look more like the big skies of the southwestern desert.
Of course there is a maximum size of 24 inches for both height and width so adding sky (how much) means chopping down below by at least an equal amount.
Trying to make sure I`m happy with the end result, that it will seem to be in proportion and say what I want it to say.
This is just an audition. If I go this route I will be dyeing some yummy cotton-linen fabric from Satin Moon Quilted Garden which I used in the strata just above the black fabric with the dots. There`s still time to think about this, especially in light of the fact that I should build up my supplies of ice before doing any more dyeing.
(written May 14)
Here is the piece as it is today (written May 14)
I succeeded in doing curved piecing so both shores of the river undulate.
But I`m not satisfied with this as it stands. It doesn`t convey the impression I want it to and actually conveys an unintended impression of something quite different.
This may mean
starting over working in a series! Working in a series!
and will almost certainly involve more ice dyeing. A tough job, but someone`s gotta do it, right!
Just to reflect that just as you have to break eggs to make an omelette, in surface design sometimes gorgeous results have to be hidden forever. This is the back of the ice-dyed strata, about to disappear in the middle of a quilt sandwich …
Easier to bear because of the fabric I dyed in the same bath intended for the binding, which looks even better! And won’t be used for binding.