Traveling back in time, on this 7th of my posts exploring
the origin of the species some of the techniques I use to texture and quilt my work.
First, here is a photo of a sword fern frond, its sinuous lines highlighted with bright colours, lacy edges and all. It’s an introduction to the sinuous lines of a quilt I made long ago, celebrating my son’s birth, and my memories of the hours that preceded his arrival.
During those hours, I was hooked to a monitor that kept track of my contractions, with a very wavy set of lines, a visual description of what my body was going through.
A few years later, while paging through a photo album, I came across the monitor printout. Memories of that day just flooded in. I thought I could interpret those lines in a quilt. In hot colours.
Here is Contractions:
First, I inserted wavy lines into a black piece of cloth, using reverse appliqué.
I used bright colours to highlight the electric waves of contractions I remembered so vividly…
And about bright colours: I think that any rules you were taught (or read about) are meant to be broken, at least a few times.
To illustrate that, here is a close-up of a Rufous hummingbird.
Who knew that hot pink can be jazzy near this delicate buff, and russet? And that the heat of that hot colour actually brings out the subtle green below? Not me.
In nature, almost anything goes, so why not in textile art?
Back to stitching: after inserting the bright reverse-appliqué lines and shapes , I moved on to the finishing of raw edges. Lots of plain old satin stitching. Let me tell you that satin stitching along miles (or so it seemed) of curvy lines got a tad repetitive.
I started playing with the thread colours and the tension in my machine. I used two thread colours in the top, and a third in the bobbin. I added extra tension on top, to “pop” the bottom thread.
In a way, this approach is the equivalent of creating your own variegated thread. All three colours show up and blend. The above photo shows the progression from plain satin stitch on the left and middle, to jazzy “bubble stitch” with three threads on the right.
Between the wavy inserts, I added more texturing. I was hoping to create flow between the rows of contractions.
Above, the left blue and red curvy shape is entirely thread-play. The right reverse-appliqué in red is edged with moss stitch. This is very tight figure eight stitching. Very time consuming. And thread consuming too…
Above, on the left: regular satin stitching with two thread colours and with really tight top tension, pulling up the bobbin thread to the surface, and creating an interesting variation in the process. A “tribal” effect. I really like it.
On the right: satin stitch with spikes, in purple. The spikes were achieved by jerking the piece at some points, to break up the regular sating stitching.
Thread play. It’s fun, it’s not dangerous. It can keep you out of trouble. Well, you may end up investing in threads… So it could be dangerous, after all.
In closing, I offer up a sea star, gloriously red and ridged, hanging out on the side of a rock. Colour and texture, always a winning combo.