Recently I’ve been working almost exclusively on my Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) annual Benefit Auction quilt-a mere 12″ square piece. How hard can that be and how long can such a tiny piece take? I discovered the hard way that it took a LOT longer than I thought.
Each year SAQA asks for its members to donate a piece no larger than 12″ square to their fundraising auction. Design is not my forte-I have to work hard at it. Although I started playing with different ideas several months ago, none looked that promising. As the deadline approached, I realized I just had to go with what I had-The Perfect Quilt was not in me.
I hope you will go to the SAQA page and look at the fabulous pieces that were donated. The Benefit Auction gives you a chance to own a piece made by some internationally renowned artists-check it out.
I promised myself that I would include both success and failure in this blog-that would accurately reflect the true process of creativity. I know that even the most successful artists/quilters routinely have failures in their work. The making of this year’s SAQA donation quilt took me through two “failures” and one “success”-kinda.
So I am including my less successful starts here for you to see-it’s real life.
With this piece, I started with a wonderful hand dyed fabric. There’s so much interest in this piece-I saw kind of a forest floor/woodland scene. I began to take the fabric and quilt what I saw into view: leaves, plants, flowers. I got to this point and realized that it was not working: there were problems with scale and cohesiveness-it just was not a complete story. It could be resurrected at some point but I didn’t have time to find out.
So I went back to what I intended to do in the first place-a piece made from sheer fabrics. On this “play” piece, I liked the general feel and was excited about the thought of burning the edges of the border to create a textured, irregular edge. But I didn’t like the way the whole piece rumpled from quilting and I was not pleased with the fill stitching, and that feather in the middle? Ugh. I played with several other ideas -it just wasn’t happening.
So I defaulted to what I know best-wholecloth quilting. I quickly designed the center motif on paper, the old fashioned way. I chose a buttery cotton sateen for the center and a luscious silk for the border and back. The pictures of the silk do not do it justice-it glows and is so luxurious, the stripes actually have purple and gold and brown-it’s divine. The back is pretty too!
I auditioned over 30 threads which is not unusual for me. And, I decided to quilt it on my Bernina 185 instead of the Baby Lock Jane. Here’s why: when auditioning, I often had to change my threads as well as needles because I was using tiny,skinny 100 wt silk and twine-like 30 wt 2 ply cotton.
I timed it and to change the needle and rethread my Bernina takes 45 sec and with the Jane, the same process took 70 seconds. If you’re auditioning 30+ threads….well you see why I chose the Bernina! (I know, I’m anal…!)
I just sent it off to the auction and hope it’s well liked. But it bugs the crap out of me that that one upper right hand corner is not square….