Friday, May 11, 2018

Medieval-Inspired Art Quilt

While working on an art piece recently, I stumbled on a half-finished project from a few years ago. The little quarter circles of orange and green and navy and magenta caught my eye as I was auditioning embellishments for the other project. It was an unfinished circle quilt, inspired by a 2011 article by Beryl Taylor in Quilting Arts Magazine about making a reverse applique quilt with a circle motif, then "slicing and dicing" it and arranging it into mismatched circles.

Due to a shoulder injury, I had stopped working with fabric in 2012 and switched to mixed media. Painting is gentler on my shoulder, and I sometimes paint, stencil or stamp with my non-dominant hand to save wear and tear on the bad shoulder. Watercolor and other soft materials are especially kind to my shoulder.

But, when I saw the layers of fabric and the rich colors, art quilting once again called to me.

On the left, the circle quilt pieces were auditioned on a yellow, green and aqua and 9-patch quilt.

A section of the slice and dice quilt with some unfinished artwork.

You can read about Beryl Taylor's technique in her book Mixed Media Art Quilts, and here is a link to my blogpost about trying the technique. I also made another "slice and dice" quilt with squares.

Below are the pieces of the reverse applique, slice and dice circle quilt. I knew it needed embellishment, so I started looking through my boxes and drawers for just the right elements.

As I was rummaging through my stash of fabrics, trims, papers and art supplies, I noticed that the colors of a piece of sari trim from Gwen Lafluer's website that was leftover from my "humble shoe box" project matched my leftover slices of circle quilt.

I had an "aha!" moment of artistic excitement.

The piece of Patchwork Sari Ribbon was just right in the middle of the reverse applique circles.
I realized that the center circles hiding underneath the sari patchwork ribbon were not necessary, and it would be a waste to cover them with the sari ribbon, so I removed them and added them (plus a few extra pieces) to the bottom and made the quilt longer.

There was a gap between the Sari Ribbon and the quilt squares.
However, the sari trim was a little short and a bit raggedy at the top and bottom edges, and the wine-colored fabric backing peeked through, so I looked through my assortment of sari scraps and found a bit of gold fabric that was just right to extend the trim. I carefully removed the gold edging from the blue silk cloth it was stitched to and added it above and below the sari trim.

Using some tiny, sharp scissors, I removed the gold trim from the sari scrap.

The gold trim was added at the top and bottom of the center area.

Once the Sari Ribbon was in place, the gold blended nicely at the top and bottom of the center strip.
I auditioned some embellishments to see what I liked as an accent. The background and center strip were working well togehter, but it seemed to need just a little more.

The paisley-shaped beaded snippet embellishment on the bottom of the photo below was gorgeous, but the shape didn't work with the Dresden Trim at the top.

Audition 1

Audition 2
After snapping a quick photo so I would remember the placement of the embellishments and center sari trim, I removed them and began zigzag stitching the quilted broken circle pieces.

When the quilt pieces were all stitched in place, I used a machine blanket stitch around the edges of the quilt to finish it. Serendipity was still with me...while I was looking through my trim box I discovered that the some of my Darn Good Yarn was exactly the right color to couch along the edges. I tested the five different yarns in my sample pack and settled on the red and orange variegated yarn.

The Spice Market Yarn Sampler - Warm Base, had five yarns to choose from.

I carefully pinned it in place and then hand stitched it with an overcast stitch and orange thread.

Detail of the quilt, with the hand-couched yarn edging.
I had settled on some gold paper Dresden Trim--four pieces at the top and two on the bottom, with a little golden disc that was part of an assortment of Turkmen Jewelry Parts. I didn't want to poke holes in the delicate Dresden Trim, so I used some gel medium to adhere it to the quilt. I hand stitched the Turkmen disc in place with some gold thread.

To me, the finished piece looks like a Medieval Throne. Although the quilted circles are decidedly modern, and the center of sari trim is from India, the Dresden Trim gives the quilt the impression of a Medieval Throne's carved back and legs. The deep, vivid colors along with the ornate gold of the Dresden Trim and Turkmen medallion add to the royal feeling.

 It felt really good to work on an art quilt again, although I must confess, my shoulder did get a little sore. I hadn't worked with fabric in quite a few years. My last art quilt, done in 2012, was a small piece that is hanging in the entryway of our apartment. It was mostly designed digitally, then printed on fabric, and is called Dare to Be an Artist. One of my other favorites--and last art quilts--is Dreaming of Fashion, which was also done in 2012 and appeared in Quilting Arts Magazine's August/September 2012 issue. Both of these old pieces are dear to my heart. This new Medieval-inspired piece reminds me of my roots, that I am at my core a fabric designer and art quilter, and that I should pull out my sewing machine more often and include stitching and fibers in my future mixed media work.


ann barnes said...

Wow, such an incredible project Linda! I love those gorgeous rich colors and that sari piece is nestled in quite perfectly. You have a great eye for color and design. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to learning more about this art! xx

Jackie PN said...

Are you kidding me????
This is outstanding! Absolutely breathtaking Linda!!
Your talent for assembling pieces, patterns, colors,etc. knows NO bounds-This piece is totally gallery worthy!
I am sorry your shoulder hurt, but I have to say, this is one of my favorites,my friend!
Hugs and love,Jackie

Gwen Lafleur said...

This is just gorgeous Linda! I'm so glad you went back to art quilting for this project... the results are just stunning!

Kate Yetter said...

Wow! I second what every one said, this is stunning! I love the beading, patterns and amazing edging that you have put together.

Lynda Shoup said...

I love this and the way you manipulated the color. It must have been fun to dig back in and put this together. The results are marvelous. I am particularly struck by the way that you added Dresden Trim into this piece. I would never have thought of that. I am sure you will cherish this piece. You've hit it right out of the ballpark!