Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Mother Always Said

Dorry is always coming up with creative new ideas for quilters, and now, in the middle of organizing Something Blue,  a show of quilts at the ArtSpace Herdon gallery starting in mid-January, she has another. (A click on the show title will take you to the ArtSpace Event page.) With just over a month before the show's opening, she issued a challenge on the theme of something your mother would say. The quilt was to be 12 inches square and was to include the color blue.

My mother, like all mothers, had her favorite sayings, but hers weren't the typical ones at all.  She would say, "Decisions, decisions!" when you were trying to make up your mind. She would say, "First mistake I ever made" whenever she made one.  She would say, "I'm in the garbage!" when you came home and called out, "Mom, where are you?" I asked a couple of my siblings for help to get a saying I could make a quilt from.

Brother Roger came up with "Learn something new every day" which he remembers both my mother and her mother saying.  Mom would say "You learn something new every day" whenever something she hadn't heard of before came in front of her, but I chose to use it as my brother quoted it - more as a piece of motherly advice.  In this age of lists of recommendations for how to age better, learning new skills - both physical and mental - is always at the top.

Norris and I are constantly looking for ways to expand our brains and physical skills. So I set out to make a quilt using techniques I have never tried before, and came up with painting with water color dyes on silk.  I had recently purchased both the Derwent Inktense pencils and some mix-with-water fabric dyes.

I knew enough not to try to make my first piece be the final one. I thought the blue part of the quilt would be the Blue Ridge mountains and started experimenting on a 6 inch square piece of silk ironed to freezer paper. This is a cropped view of that effort - the other edges have color experiments on them.

I started with that purple which got away from me right away, and I didn't like the pencil lines in the sky, but the blue and black mountains and the foliage part are not too bad.

My next effort was 6 x 12 inches and I already had much better control of the flow of color for the mountains.
But then I was unhappy with the limit of the colors I could get with my 6 Inktense pencils and borrowed Derwent Watercolour pencils and Graphitint pencils from my friend Ellen. I experimented a bit more and I thought I was ready to try my hand at the real deal.  Here's a crop of the upper half of that effort.

I was really happy with my sky technique by this time. I was working slowly, only on dry areas, so I also did some on the lower part of the scene, with the foliage. I know that watercolors bleed, but this time, I created such a sharp line of green where I didn't want it and it couldn't be fixed. I also only at this stage realized that the new pencil colors reacted and spread differently than the ink ones I started with.

I considered cutting this piece apart and appliqueing other fabric on top of my water color mountains for the foliage, but by this time I concluded this scene was too complicated for a beginning fabric painter like me, and went to Plan B.

The bluebird was Mom's favorite. With this simpler image using fewer colored layers, I could outline the original bird with black thread and make something recognizable.  I liked the butterflies print for the binding as it has the blue and the touch of purple I used for tinting the sky.

I quilted my bluebird on a floral backing that also included blue and purple and a hint of the pink-red.

Now I'm curious to see what the other quilters' mothers always said and how they interpreted those words into a quilt.


Vicki W said...

Great story and a great piece!

Anna Banana said...

Very interesting journey. You went from memories to completed project through a very interesting learning process. Thanks for sharing! And Merry Christmas!

Dorry said...

I'm so happy you took the time to learn something new for the project! It looks lovely.

Dorry said...

And, I forgot to mention, I think these hills show a lot of potential so I hope you have not tossed them out!