Nellie"s Needles

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Ode to the South Pacific" - The Beginning

This is the piece that started my journey into making "crinkle quilts".

"Ode To The South Pacific" - 30"x30" - 2003

Five years ago we took a wonderful two week cruise along the north and south coasts of New Zealand plus a week in Tahiti to celebrate my 60th birthday. I cannot go anywhere without needlework ... especially a trip that involves long periods of sitting. The prohibition of scissors on airplanes had been invoked just a few months before. I was desperate for a sewing project to take on that trip.
Three years earlier I had sewn this top together. I was just playing with blocks that had been cut from every piece of fabric in my stash (it was rather limited at that time). The ones I put together looked like a painting. I knew then that someday I'd figure out a way to make it look like a picture painted with a palette knife. To get that kind of texture I wet it, scrunched it up into a ball, secured it with rubberbands and let it dry. Then it sat balled up in the corner of a storage chest until I needed this project.

I called my quilting friends who had taken workshops at Paducah and Houston asking for advice about setting wrinkles into a quilt top. With the results of accumulated information, I spot adhered the piece to batiste cotton with iron-on adhesive (Wonder Under, I think) using the tip of the iron

My wrinkled top was layered with batting and a muslin backing then basted together. I determined at this point that a frame would not be required to do the quilting. To solve the ban on scissors problem, I cut 24" lengths of about 100 different colors of 6-ply embroidery floss. I packed a few needles with my basted quilt plus the hank of floss. Put it all into a plastic baggy and I was ready to GO.
I used 2-ply strands of floss to stitch meandering rows across the piece between the lumps and bumps of the quilt that I held freely in my hands. I also added areas of seed stitching with a 1-ply strand to help distribute or emphasize spots of color in the compostition. I stitched on the airplanes, on board the masted ship, in the tropical paradise of Tahiti, as well as in the car driving between Knoxville and Chicago (we flew out of O'Hare).

The title came to me while I was stitching on the south seas. I felt the elements of fire, water, air, and earth so strongly in that part of the world. We sailed past an active volcano and walked in long dormant ones. And then of course not only were we on the water, but it seemed to be everywhere ... even when we ventured on land. Land was always visible as we sailed along the coastline ... and it felt so good to stand on firm ground when we went ashore. It seems as though we lived in the open air while on ship ... very little time was spent in our really nice cabin.

The wrinkling and stitching gave an irregular shape to the piece that I really liked. The only way I could figure out to finish this piece was to reverse applique it to a larger piece that I hand quilted. I laid the "crinkle quilt" on the large outer piece then traced around it and drew radiating lines out to the edges with chalk. The "crinkle quilt" was machine sewn to the large piece that had the quilted borders. The excess background quilt was trimmed away from behind the "crinkle quilt". The raw edges on the front were finished with couched yarn while those on the backside got bias tubes sewn over them.
There are many joyful memories as well as the pleasure of stitching in this piece. It is the only "crinkle quilt" that I've kept. It is one of the few quilts that's in the rotation for the one quilt hanging spot in our livingroom.

I thoroughly enjoy every step of creating these quilts and can picture myself making them for a long time to come. Since making this first one I've refined the wrinkling and stitching techniques and have mounted them in frames and more recently on plexiglass. To see all my pieces and read more about the technique click on the label, "crinkle quilts".

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4 comments:

Ferret said...

That is amazing. I love the colours and the textures.I really need to have a go at these wrinked quilts myself.It adds a whole new dimension.

teodo said...

I'm fascinated by your works. This done travelling is very fine and I think that it is a good memory of your birthday travel. ciao ciao

Di said...

This has got a 'Turnerish' look to it. It's fabulous. I have never heard of 'crinkle quilts'. Can you tell me more??

beehive maiden said...

your works are so inspirational, thanks! they're quietly encouraging me to pick up my sewing again!