A Ribbon and the Story Behind the Quilt!
I am thrilled to share that my wholecloth quilt, “Morning Breeze” received a Second Place ribbon at Pacific International Quilt Festival last week! I can’t wait to get the judges’ comments back-I am much more interested in learning how I can improve than I am the kudos though.
This is one of my largest quilts at 49″ x 69″. It is my belief that if you make a large quilt you’d better have something to say! I have posted some of these photos before but I will include them here again. I know my readers are visual and they need photos to keep the interest up-am I right??
This quilt actually gave me a lot of angst. It took me 6 months to complete Morning Breeze but not because I was actually quilting that whole time. I was working outside of my normal box and I had to think and sketch and quilt and fester, then rip a little, then think, sketch, quilt again. I received valuable input from artistic friends but you know, at the end of the day, it’s just you and your quilt. You have to decide which way to take it.
I’ve written about the process of making and blocking this quilt before here, here , here and here, but I’d like to explain a little bit about my thoughts while making this piece.
I really wanted to get outside of the box, literally. I decided to move away from the “center medallion+wide borders+quilt-it-to-death=Quilt” process. I love that look too, but I felt drawn in another direction.
I’ve been kind of itching to do this for awhile, but when I went to the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference in Santa Fe last April, I volunteered to be “voice” coached by Leni Wiener in one of the breakout sessions. There was quite a bit of prep involved: submitting an extensive visual portfolio, answering thought provoking questions and writing about how I felt about my work and where I wanted to go. The idea was to help me find my artistic “voice”.
Leni skillfully walked me through the process and helped me realize that I wanted to head in a more personal and artistic direction. She suggested that I consider moving away from the geometry of the center medallion. That resonated with me…and scared me. I knew what the subject of my next piece was going to be, but I no idea how to approach it without boxes!
My yard with its native plantings provides daily entertainment and inspiration. I wanted to capture the magic of my morning stroll. It’s about movement and texture, birds, butterflies and dragonflies. I also was weary of making whole cloth quilts (which I love) that looked like a blank slate if you got 6′ away and the light was not just right.
So the thought was born to use white sateen and black thread on the front and black sateen with light gray silk thread on the back. I tried a sample and yes, you could actually see the motifs from 20′ away! But what a challenge-my tension had to be per-fect all the way through or it would show. I used wool batting to further emphasize the quilting.
After countless sketches and significant angst, I was ready to start, confident that I had a plan. Hah! I changed that plan many times! I always feel insecure about not having formal art training. Surely Real Artists can tell!
Work was slow because I had so many changes. Of course I ended up with impossible amounts of work to do right before the deadline. I sincerely did not think it was humanly possible to finish that quilt in time for the deadline. I still marvel that I finished in time.
I was only able to spend one day at the Pacific International Quilt Show. I rarely hang around my quilt to hear what people say-I just don’t. But as luck would have it, there was a single chair set up directly catty corner across the aisle from my quilt. It was odd too because there are never chairs among the quilts. And besides, I was tired-walking a major show is very aerobic!
So I sat down and listened and watched. That was such a treat and I’m glad I did. I loved that people enjoyed the quilt-they experienced it, they talked about it, moved farther away, then closer in, they discussed it among themselves.
Isn’t that what we all want-viewers to “hear” what our work is saying? They heard me-what a delight! The ribbon is very nice, but to have viewers enjoy it and “listen” to my quilt-that is a Gift.
It’s a beauty, Jenny; your award is well-deserved! :-) And yes, I love hearing what viewers say about my work. Even at an art show and sale, when it’s clear that the person sitting at the booth is the creator, viewers often seem to ignore the person in the chair and chat with each other — or even speak out loud when alone — and it’s always fun to eavesdrop on what they say!
Thank you for that insight Margaret-I think you are right, it is good to hear what viewers think.
Congratulations Jenny. This is a spectacular quilt that speaks such beauty. Great job!
Oh thank you Wendy-I hope to meet you in person someday!
Jenny, Your quilt is stunning! I took a quilting class from Freida Anderson. She mentioned that she was a judge and how much she admired the black and white quilt in the show. I knew it was yours as soon as she described it. She used your quilt as an illustration of how a quilt can have a lot of quilting in it but not be too densly quilted (she considered many of the quilts in the show to be too densly quilted).
Wow Barbara-that means a lot to me and thank you for passing that along. I do think that some quilts now are over quilted and I know some think mine are over quilted, giggle. But it means a lot to know there are judges who appreciate a bit of editing.
Rebecca Grace says
Congratulations, Jenny! It’s beautiful, and it’s so interesting to read the story behind it and kind of walk through the process with you. I think some of the best art is the kind that takes on a life of its own while you’re creating it, and it kind of TELLS you what it wants to be. I’ll bet more “real artists” create that way than stick to their initial plan like it was law. Great job on this gorgeous PRIZE WINNER!
Thank you Rebecca, I am so glad you enjoyed the story too! I know I like to hear what the artist was thinking and about the process. The more I know about the art that I admire, the more I realize it it rarely a straight-to-the-finish line process.
Martha C. Hall says
It’s exquisite, Jenny! from both near and far. I like seeing the close-up details. Congratulations on your well deserved ribbon! I’m interested in how the voice coaching helped you and am still pondering the lessons that Leni talked about that day. My resistance keeps kicking up because I think I’ll need to give up on a lot of my ideas in order to fully pursue one idea. Did you find that to be the case?
Thank you Martha! Hmm, I think I had to let the top note from Leni speak to me and then look at the sub categories if that makes any sense. In other words, her main point was that she thought she sensed that I wanted to go off in a different direction.
She saw some continuity in working with sheers and holes. And I had never noticed that before. She said some other things which escape me as I write this, but I went out and immediately wrote it all down, knowing I would forget if I didn’t!
I am in a “Trade Off” period, meaning, I want everything but I know I need to focus and that is the trade off. I have to learn this one lesson: leave cards on the table, it’s okay. I can’t pursue everything, I just have to leave cards on the table sometimes to play the really good hand that I have. Otherwise I’m chasing my tail. Gosh I hope this makes sense!
So YES, I do think I have to give up on some of my ideas in order to fully pursue one.
Connie Horne says
Jenny, your quilt is beautiful and your quilting is out of this world. I am so happy for you. I know there are more ribbons coming your way. See you soon.
Thank you Connie! I hope that next year I can plan to be there for the Fri Fashion Show and see your work on the runway!
Patty Hsiu says
It’s a well deserved ribbon and beautiful quilt. Thank you for posting about the process. I remember your quilt from last year’s PIQF and saw this one this year and loved that you branched out from the medallion theme. I always take pictures of the quilts I like, and I post the ones I love – I posted pictures of your quilt again this year. Go here if you want to see: http://piecedgoods.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/pacific-international-quilt-festival-2013-stitchy/
Thank you Patty! I enjoy your blog and thank you for featuring my quilt there. I tried to sign up for RSS feed but I get code when I click on it:-(
Jenny this is amazing!!! I LOVE this kind of whole cloth quilt! I love your ability to paint a picture with thread and cloth. I need to take an other class from you.
Thank you Cheryl! I especially appreciate that you like the new direction I’m taking. I think I’m going to keep going down this path for awhile.
Jenny, you have found your artistic voice, and you are a real artist! Congratulations!
Thank you Laura, that is an especially encouraging comment! I hope to continue on in this vein for awhile and I’ll see where it takes me.
Janet McElroy says
Jenny, I love your quilt, it truly is wonderful, it is very peaceful to look at, such a great idea to emphasise the major parts on it so it can be seen from afar. I read your page and was smiling at parts of it, particularly where you mention the ‘quilted to death’ part. I am at that stage now in my quilting, I feel I cannot get enough quilting on there so just keep on adding more and more, I think it happens to all of us, then we have a ‘light-bulb’ moment and realise as you have you just don’t need it all. Hubby always remarks on how much I put on the quilts, tries to find a space so he can say – ”aha you missed a bit” sad…. I will get there I guess one day, meantime I will enjoy viewing yours and others great works. Thank you so much for sharing this and your thoughts through the making of it. Jan from across the pond.
Oh Jan I love your comments! We’re all on our own journey-I don’t mean mine to be prescriptive to others, it’s just me! I am grateful that the judges appreciated my editing of the quilting. It did take some courage to quilt in black, on white, giggle! I feel like we’re friends-perhaps we will meet someday.
Felicidades por este premio merecido. El edredón es fantástico. Mucho trabajo y mucha verdad en todo lo que has dicho. Me gusta la redacción y el contenido de tu artículo. Coincidimos en nuestros pensamientos. Felicidades otra vez.
I put this into Microsoft translator:
Congratulations on this well deserved award. The quilt is fantastic. Much work and much truth in what you’ve said. I like the wording and the content of your article. We agree in our thoughts. Congratulations again.
Thank you Jacqueline! I follow your blog and really enjoy it (translated!). I think we are much alike.
Roxane Lessa says
Such a well deserved ribbon! All your hard work has paid off! I hope you are having fun teaching in Houston!!
Thanks Roxane-I’ll be teaching next week and I’m excited! We will run into each other at a show sometime-I’d love to meet you.
Franki Kohler says
wow and wow! Can’t wait to see this up close and personal in November. (Don’t even think about being at the meeting without it.)
Uh, yes maam!! Thank you Franki!
You thought Frieda’s comments in her class were nice? Look at her blog!!! So well deserved, too. Again, thank you for sharing your process, techniques, talent!
Maggie in Arizona
Oh wow, thank you Maggie! I didn’t see this!