Friday, December 19, 2008

Quilt Challenge, Take 2

So friends, here's the story of "Illuminated Grove." As you know, I was all set to submit a landscape quilt for the quilt challenge. Well, "all set" may just be an exaggeration. I had about 1/3 of the quilt top designed, before going to the quilting festival in November. On the last day, I took a class on design in making a block by looking at a piece of a picture, especially close up. I found this gorgeous picture of trees in a grove, with light streaming in. I fell in love.

So then I started creating 10" X 12" blocks, each one representing a portion of the whole. My vision was that each block would be in a different color, producing a gradation of colors to show how the light progressed from the top left to bottom right. My other thought was that I was going to use all fabrics in my stash, and not go out and buy more.

There were a few adjustments to these goals in the end. One of them being that I ended up sneaking a little bit of an adjacent color into each block, in the hopes that they would show continuity of design. Once I realized that I was having much more fun with this design than the one I was planning to submit to the competition, I decided to finish this as the quilt I would submit to the competition at the end of December. Suddenly this quilt of exploration became something more important. I wasn't just doing it for myself, I was doing it for a purpose.

Of course, this meant buying more fabric.

It also meant creating a second purple block, to incorporate the challenge fabric. Here are the original blocks:

You can see the challenge fabric in the purple block at bottom left; it's the marbled fabric used for the tree trunks. The design process went along happily, and before I knew it, the blocks were done. Then there was the small matter of putting them all together and finding some way to quilt them. I knew that I wanted to keep the blocks separated by some sashing. I tried a few fabrics between the blocks, but only this beautiful black would do. Here's how it looked, as I auditioned the black fabric as the sashing:

Originally, I meant to piece the blocks in with the sashing and borders. But then, as the blocks came together, I realized that the seam allowance would eat key design elements. Thus, I needed to find a way to float them on top of a background fabric long enough for them to be quilted in. I didn't want to add more fusible to the thickness of the blocks, but in the end I would pay for not doing so. Everything else that I tried was only marginally successful at tacking down the blocks to the background fabric long enough to quilt. As with every project, I learned something in the process.

But, in the end, all worked out almost as planned. I'll post soon with pictures of the final piece.

White Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Today was the first snow day of the year, in the true sense of the word. A nasty winter storm blew through Chicago last night and into this morning. I got to work from home with Puppy by my side. I took her out this morning for a walk, and these are the pictures I took:

Pictures, Glorious Pictures

I've been promising pictures for ages now, but been distracted by silly little things like a killer workload and actual work on that quilt deadline (December 31). So, here we go.

This here is a drawing I did a couple months ago in class. We have done all kinds of other things since this drawing, and I've been pleased with many of them. But this drawing is the one that's lived on my fridge.

It was created using charcoal on grey paper, so it was more an exercise in adding dark and light tones to a medium tone, which was the paper.

Now in class we're doing figure drawing. I don't think I'll be posting any of those drawings, though. I feel like I'm learning loads from this class. I'm starting to see what I've learned with this class apply to my quilting. I'm more conscious of shading and more confidant in my ability to just sketch out an idea. Sadly, my last class of the session is this weekend. I'm planning to take a break from classes next term, but will make a concerted effort to continue practicing until the next session of classes comes around.