Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Beaded Quilt in Process
This is my little (16 months younger than I) big (6'4") brother, Thom, with his wife, Jennifer, and me in my studio in 2006. In front of us is one of his beaded quilts, Blue Miranda, and you can see more of it on Thom's website, here. He was also in the first year of the Bead Journal Project and you can see his 12 beaded mini-quilts here.
Thom is making a name for himself in the quilting world, bringing both his art/painting training and his passion for embellishing with beads to his quilts. Thom and I are beading buddies, frequently spending hours on the phone talking about our latest projects, bead sources, techniques, etc. It's a blessing for both of us and has deepened our friendship with each passing year.
We also totally enjoy getting together when we can (he lives in central California, whereas I live in northern Washington state). We just had a great week together, beading and sharing in my studio (same place as picture above). What was really FUN for me was to see his process as he went to work on the very beginning stages of a new quilt!!!
Finding himself inspired by two things (1. a strand of stone, disc-shaped beads, dyed to look like turquoise and 2. a funny technique with organza), Thom's mind went to an under water look, with anemones made with the discs and some sort of puff creature made with the organza.
Here's how the discs look, made up as sea anemones. See how he circled the discs with dagger and claw-shaped, glass beads.
Here are the puff creatures.
The puff technique uses polyester organza (Thom uses two layers of different colors stitched together with a contrasting thread color) wrapped around small stones or pebbles and fastened with rubber bands. After fastening a bunch of them, throw the whole thing in a pot of boiling watter and let it boil for 10 minutes. After cooling and removing the pebbles, the polyester is permanently bubbled in the shape of the pebbles. You can crush it (like those cute tops you can buy at shows), but it always comes back to shape when released.
But I'm getting ahead of myself with the pictures... Knowing he would use the puffs and the disc beads, Thom gathered some fabrics from his stash (a blue-brown, blended stripe, which he could use for wooden posts, a blue-aqua batik for water, a brown batik suitable for rocks, a purple batik that might work for the sea bottom , a navy-blue tulle netting to layer over fabrics and some angelina for sparkle). He's been doing a series of quilts 18" x 52" and wanted this one to be in the series. Spreading things out on the table, he began cutting and laying out the pieces.
Soon it took shape! Two posts and some cross bars, angelina used to add a sense of movement to the water, purple sea floor and brown rocks. He used permanent marking pens to create the illusion of depth and texture on the rocks and wood. Then he added 1 to 4 layers of tulle netting to hold everything in place and to give the appearance of depth. Next came a whole lot of stitching, hand-quilting everything in place! By the time he returned home, the quilt looked like this (except for the seaweed).
Remember my previous post about silk ribbons and Nancy's Sewing basket???? Well, Thom and I had a glorious time shopping at Nancy's just prior to his flying out of Seattle. In the ribbon room, Thom immediately spied a large basket filled with hand-dyed China-silk, bias-cut "Hanah Silk ribbons." Gorgeous! Drop-dead gorgeous (and reasonably priced from $.75-5.00/yard, depending on width - up to 4 inches) these could be used in many ways, including quilt bindings. Thom instantly saw them as seaweed for his quilt. Since it's cut on the bias and therefore doesn't fray much, he could re-cut strips of it in seaweed shapes and apply them to the quilt with tulle. Here's how the seaweed looks pinned down.
And here's how it looks hand-stitched in place.
Here's how the quilt looks now after he's worked on it at home during the week since he was visiting me. (Be sure to click to enlarge and see details.)
Are you curious about the fish and the sign? Have aquarium, have some old wood and marking pens, have camera, have photo-editing program, have printer, have ink-jet-printable fabric... and yipppeee... soon you have fish and a sign ready to sew on a quilt. Neat, huh!
Oh, yes, I forgot to mention above... somewhere along the line, it came to Thom that this piece seems to say something about global warming and rising sea levels. Although it's not even half way finished yet, he's named it Global Warming.
I'll post a picture of it when it's finished. Hope you are having fun seeing the process.