Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Challenge

For each show the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild exhibit committee comes up with a challenge for the members and this time they chose a great one:  create a quilt that is less than 36" in any direction and is "Out of the Box," i.e., it cannot be a rectangle or a square.  The result was a lively potpourri of styles and shapes, with several members using the challenge to try a technique totally new to them or to just design their own free form wall hanging.  Pictures are no substitute for seeing these works in person, but pictures will give you an idea of what the challenge section looks like:

I was one of those members who chose to do something entirely new--a quilt that moves and changes as the air currents spin the individual pieces and as the viewer changes his or her perspective.

I call this Turn, Turn, Turn, for obvious reasons and it measures about 30" x 32".  I had wanted to make a kinetic quilt for years and had been sitting in a Thai restaurant over a year ago, waiting for Tom to park the car and staring at a chandelier made of off white disks hung on strings that moved when the air conditioning came on.  --Ah--I thought--I could perhaps use the same concept to create a quilt with different parts of a pattern on long strips--  When I began to think about the guild challenge, it seemed the perfect opportunity to see if I could actually create such a quilt.

The project began with my drafting a variety of designs that would create a new design when flipped from one side to the other and deciding which ones created some kind of harmonious pattern.  Of course, the process of selecting colors was the same as in any quilt, but here my procrastination paid off as I had some beautiful fabrics that I had bought at the Lancaster quilt show that had been sitting on my buffet for a few weeks because I loved looking at them.  One was a hand-dyed fabric from Ghana that complemented a deep emerald green and a deep teal that had been hand woven in Bali and had the sheen of silk even though they were cotton.  I added a couple of  other batiks and I was on to solving the batting problem, since my usual cotton batting would not supply enough shape.  Luckily I had made fabric bowls a few years ago and so decided to try Peltex, a perfect choice, since it provided some stiffening but I could still stitch through it.  

After some trial and error, I managed to successfully sew the back and front onto the Peltex and the designs even matched up.  As I finished my fifth strip, however, I began to worry about the next step.  How would I mount these to make them turn.  Would they turn?  Would they line up enough to make patterns?  Before I invested more hours and more of that wonderful fabric, I had to find out.  After running heavy quilting thread through the top of each, I taped the thread to top of a doorway and stood back to see what happened:

They lined up beautifully and turned now and then in the breeze from a ceiling fan!  This was getting exciting. I now had the energy to finish the other fourteen strips.

Of course, when they were done and I had added some beads to the bottom of each, I had to jump the final hurdle:  how to mount all of them so that they could hang on a wall.  I finally decided on a piece of wood about 1 1/2" square with two small hook and eyes screwed into the top to which fish line would be attached. On that I stapled more Peltex that would be sturdy enough to hold the thread.

To cover the wood and Peltex I quilted another piece of the Ghana fabric and then confronted another moment of truth:  Would it hang on the wall?
Indeed it did!
And here is one last alternative view at the exhibit, since this quilt does look different every time you see it:

And if you're still with me, thanks for the company!

1 comment:

Anya said...

Thanks for sharing the process....and the quilt looks absolutely marvelous in person!