This the largest quilt I’ve done so far. Nine feet by nine feet. Eighty-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.