Saturday, June 20, 2009

It’s a start

This was an experiment.  The quilts in the book are all pretty traditional, but for a while now I’ve toyed with the idea that the 13-Square foundation could make an interesting background for an art quilt.  It’s summer break, so it’s as good a time as any to move from playing with an idea to playing with fabric.   Here’s the result:

Terrie makes an art quilt.  It’s my first shot at making something like this, so I’m feeling a bit intimidated about sharing photos of such a beginner’s effort.  But then, one of the things I love about the quilt community is how it encourages experimentation and stepping outside the box.  This is me, stepping out. 

First, I just laid out squares and created the background.

I used a mold I picked up at Joann’s to make the faces (with air dry clay) and painted them with Lumiere paints.  I really love the faces.  The layering of paint colors gave them this wonderful patina effect.

I sewed on bunches of beads.  Let me tell you, those beads pretty much blew the “in minutes” idea right out of the water.  (My husband, the mathematician, said: “It still takes minutes.  Just a lot more of them.” ) 

There was a learning curve here and there’s obviously more for me to discover about balance and design and I’m sure stuff I’m too ignorant to even know that I need to know, but I feel like I answered my question.  Can the foundation work to create an interestingly textured background for an art quilt?  Yes.  (I think so anyway).

And, well, yeah, a beginner’s take, but I think it’s important to love what we make with our hands.  Criticism is all fine and good, but I really try not to let an awareness of my limitations get in the way of enjoying what I do.  So, I’m liking this at the moment.  I like it as a little quilt, for one.  The faces, the beads, the colors.  I also like it as concept.

As I was making this, I kept thinking about dreams and the unconscious.  I’ve always found the fact of the unconscious fascinating, the idea that a significant portion of what constitutes who I am and why I  feel what I feel and do what I do is, for most intents and purposes, invisible, that like an iceberg, 90% of what makes me “me” lies beneath the surface. 

As I sewed on the beads (and sewed and sewed), this quilt began to represent that mysterious, hidden territory we each carry inside us.  The small faces with the closed eyes seem so interior: meditative and self-contained, alien and magic.  They are locus points for what might arise and coalesce.  The larger face, the one with her eyes open, is the translator.  She looks out.  She has the power to actualize. 

It’s a dark underworld with its own underworld geography, a river that glitters and light that arises from itself.  Purple shadows shift in a perpetual twilight and breed the shadows of deeper night.  Shakespeare said, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” 

So, yes, I love my little experiment.  It’s got poetry.


  1. That looks beautiful! I especially love the face + beading in the top left.
    I totally agree with you on the unconsiousness bit - it thoroughly blows my mind sometimes.

  2. It's a great little quilt. I love art quilts. The good thing about art quilts is you can't tell if its the artists first or 50th!

  3. First attempt? Are you sure? This is pretty amazing.

  4. Terrie, this is awesome. It doesn't look like a beginner's quilt at all.

  5. I think it looks awesome! And I love it. I don't think it looks like a beginners quilt at all - it's your expression and it's fantastic.