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The King

This the largest quilt I’ve done so far.  Nine feet by nine feet. Eight-one square feet of hand-dyed Indonesian batiks and colorful Hawaiian prints (162 square feet if you count the back).  I pieced together strips to create the beach landscape, moving from sunset sky colors down to ocean colors and finally the sand.  I love the way the long horizontal strips create a feeling of vastness and make you feel like you’re just catching a glimpse of one small part of a much broader picture. The border is mixture of more of the batiks and Hawaiian prints and gives it a finished look without harshly cutting off the beach scene.

After stretching the background out onto the frame, I free-formed the designs on top of the beach scene, cutting each piece out of paper first to make sure proportions were correct.  Once I had everything laid out correctly, I cut the pieces out of fabric.  Each appliqué has the edges turned under and ironed down, making it a very useable, washable art piece.  It is a king-sized quilt, however that isn’t completely why I called it
“The King”.  One of the Hawaiian prints shows a King Kamehameha style character surfing in an old helmet. There are old structures and lush foliage that hint at ancient Hawaii. He’s not a prominent part of the quilt, but he seems to be there watching over it.  It’s one of the many little subtle details you will find as you explore all the images in the batiks and prints.

After I lay out all the fabrics and get the design just right, then it’s time to take the entire piece off the frame and add the finishing detail work with lots of freehand quilting.  I always compare it to drawing, except I am moving the paper instead of the pen.  All the thread work is my own design and is created as I go along.  No computerized stitches, no pre-programmed patterns and I don’t draw patterns out ahead of time onto the fabric.  It’s just me moving the quilt around under the needle, drawing with the thread.  Not only does it add beautiful lines and textures, but it is another layer of subtle details to be explored.

The backs of my quilts are always a favorite part.  The front has all the variety of colors, but the back is just the thread work on one large batik.  That allows for a graphic line drawing version of what’s on the front.  It makes it visually beautiful from both sides, which is important for a quilt that will be used and scene from both sides. In this case, it is a dark blue batik with a multi-colored tropical foliage. I used a variegated thread for the back that is the same tones as the batik design.

My quilting business started with a surfboard quilt very similar to this one.  It was a twin-size quilt that I made for my son eight years ago.  But, despite the fact that I’ve been making these surfboard quilts ever since, no two are ever exactly alike. Or even too close.  I don’t reuse patterns, and although the theme of the surfboards in the sand recurs quite frequently, the sizes, shapes, colors and fabrics are never the same.  Each piece I create is always a complete original. This quilt represents about 70 hours of work from conceptualization to construction and all the finishing touches.  Stop by and visit Studio 19 to see it in person.  It’s too big to hang on the wall for display, but that means it will be on my table and you can touch it and inspect it close up.

“The King” is for sale for $2900.

This little crab might be my favorite thing on this quilt.
Although I do love this sandcastle as well.
The photo doesn’t capture the sparkle of the stitching. I used a satin yellow thread and a gold metallic thread to add some shine.
I stitched wispy cloud-like lines and swirls into the sky to give it a different texture than the ocean.
I really love the batiks on this sailboat. That seagull batik is one of my all-time favorites, and the leaf one has the exact same color palette but compliments it with the larger scale print.
What ocean sky is complete without seagulls?
I absolutely love the surfboard prints in this quilt. And they were a second choice when I couldn’t find the one that I thought I wanted. Love those happy accidents.
I stitched the border in a lavender thread. I wanted to add some fun details like more tropical foliage and ocean waves, but I wanted the center of the quilt to be the star. There is a lot of detail in the border, but the color is subtle.
The back! I absolutely love quilt backs when done right.
The border.
I just love how the designs look pared down to just the stitching.

The sandcastle.
Laid out for photographing.

 

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Poppies!

I’ve always loved working with textiles. I’m a painter by trade and worked as a scenic artist in the theatre for many years. But, when I got back to working with fabric, I found my love. Part of what I love is that the way I create detail with the prints and colors that someone else designed keeps me loose and free in a way that holding a paintbrush and zoning in on small details inhibits. Not that you can’t be loose and free with painting, and in fact, painting scenery requires it. But fabric—it’s a whole new world.  I love that I layer tons of different prints to create a field or a sky or in this case, that line where they both mesh together. Where a close up view of tall grass breaks the straight horizon line you might see from a distance and the blues and greens blend together. I love all the fun prints that make that happen. So, when it came to these poppies, I decided they needed to be more solid in color.  A bold pop of brilliant red with no print to help make them blend. I wanted them to stand out. To stand strong against the meshing of the field and sky. Blocky stems and large, rounded, more abstract flower shapes make them the focal point of this piece. I used orange thread on the poppies to add a touch of highlight to the two red fabrics. The background was stitched in lighter weight blues and greens to add a hint of the sky and grass textures. Heavier weight dark blue and dark green threads finished it off, sketching in stem outlines and a horizontal bold skyline to offset the horizontal stitching of the grass and stems. A little abstract but fully recognizable.

 

  

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“Connected”, 50″x70″

We are all connected. The seas, the creatures, the moon and stars and sun all move together to create life and write our story. We rise and fall like the tides and somewhere in there, there’s a splash of magic.

That was my artist statement for this quilt.

This quilt is one of the first ones I’ve done that has more of a story to it.  The original idea was to have sea stars rising up from the ocean and when the cross the horizon line, they become the night time stars. I loved the idea of a strip quilt for the background.  It gradates from a dark night sky into a sunset, and then from the bright surface of the ocean dow
n to the darker depths. As I was looking at the original sketch, I thought there needed to be more life and more connection between the sea creatures and the elements. I had this idea that an octopus would have his arm(s) full of sea stars and would be sending them up at dusk. This created an incomplete circular motion, so a setting sun seemed to complete that circle.  But, of course we needed to have a moon in the sky with those stars, and I loved the idea of it being a crescent shape to mimic the crescent wave.  The moon affects the tides so that seemed like another beautiful connection. I love the overlap of the two crescent shapes, especially since they both are in constant motion.  The last piece to be added was the mermaid.  Since all the other elements were connected in some way, I thought another creature should be involved in helping the moon to rise up into the sky. When I added her, it felt complete.  I love all the bold colors and prints and how they work together to create a beautiful composition that feels like it is in motion.

Each sea star got it’s own little design with the free motion quilting.
I thought the moon needed the mermaid’s help.
The batik I used for this octopus is one of my all time favorites.

 

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