Photos can be combined into a beautiful art quilt!
I once had an inquiry about commission for an art quilt essentially designed by the customer. She asked if I could combine 3 images into a single picture for an art quilt. The quilt was a gift for a friend and the first image was his view from his home. Nice, huh?
The next image is a photograph of a sunset taken through a shop window so there’s lots of reflection. It’s a beautiful sunset–not sure if it was a painting or a print of some sort.
Then she included this image of 3 horses running through a stream.
So the request for the commission was to combine these 3 images into a single image.
Here is my art quilt:
I tried to replicate the outline of the mountains from the “view” photograph, with the beautiful sunset colors in the sky and mountains. I couldn’t find a fabric for the sky that I liked or thought would work, so I got creative with my watercolor pencils! They were my tenuous, early effort at fabric painting.
The horses running through the water fit nicely in the foreground. I did the whole quilt in raw edge applique. You can see in the background I used both hand-dyed and commercial print cottons. I did use a bit of watercolor pencil for shading on the horses. They weren’t large enough to do the shading with piecing.
This piece was made about 6 or 7 years ago and was one of my early landscapes. The water and rocks came from “themed fabrics” that I cut up and rearranged and appliqued to mimic the picture. I’m not a big fan of using these fabrics anymore—I’m liking the challenge of creating the artwork through interpreting with fabric. It’s like a painter cutting out pictures from a magazine vs using paint to create their image. Both are fine—it just depends on what the artist wants to use. I do like how this came out, and the customer was very pleased with the finished piece—as was the recipient.
A long-term dream of mine has come true! One of my art quilts has been published in Art Quilting Studio magazine! The Summer 2013 Stampington Press issue has just hit the news stands. “Ghosts in the Holler” is the quilt they published, with a short description of the techniques I used to create it.
Quilt from Men’s Shirts
This is a memory quit from 12 men’s dress shirts.
The man who commissioned this memory quilt requested that I create a Queen sized quilt from his shirts He wanted a contemporary style pieced quilt and even sent me a “rough concept” painting to give me an idea of what he wanted. He didn’t want a memory quilt that had collars, cuffs, etc. I was to only use the fabric from his shirts.
I enjoy corresponding and collaborating with my customers and Aaron and I exchanged quite a few emails about his quilt. We discussed the color options (given the limited palette of blue and brown with a single shirt with orange in it.)
Aaron wanted the quilting done on the top with an orange thread. He chose a Kaffee Fassett fabric for the back that had stripes of different widths on a brown background. I used a dark brown thread in the bobbin. I even sent him ideas for the quilting design so he could give me an idea of what he liked. I ended up doing the quilting in a pattern of squares and rectangles that complimented the overall design.
I did lot of different styles of piecing—some straight edge, some softly curved. I did strip piecing, cut the blocks of strips and switched them around to create new blocks. I cut right through blocks and inserted strips in crisscrossed patterns. I did some log-cabin style piecing, some crazy piecing, some nine-patch type piecing. This was a big exercise in piecing with a very contemporary twist.
Limits Push Creativity
One of the things I enjoyed most was the challenge of the limited palette. Having boundaries/limits is a great way to push yourself creatively. It seems counter-intuitive to say limits are creatively freeing, but it’s true.
Designing a quilt from someone’s clothing is an exercise in designing with limits. It’s really so much easier to go the quilt shop or dig through a stash and pick out just the right pieces of fabric—and go back and get more if things get challenging. With a memory quilt, I can’t do that. My boundaries are to use whatever I am given and make the most of it.
Aaron was concerned that there wasn’t enough variety of mediums and darks. Well, one thing I did was use the reverse side of some of the fabrics. One of the blues was woven so that the right side was a very pale blue while the wrong side was a rich medium hue. Both of the brown striped fabrics looked much darker on the reverse sides (the stripes were much duller on that side) so I could use those wrong sides as an almost-black. I think from a distance you can’t really tell how few fabrics there are in this quilt!
Just for fun I took a photo of what was left of the shirts, backing and batting when I was all finished. This is it. I think I did pretty well using up my materials!