Saturday, October 27, 2012

Garden of the Sun God--The End

The last challenge is to find the right fabric for the binding. At first I thought perhaps it would work best to piece a variety of red fabrics together. But then I realized there was a lot of stuff going on in the border already, perhaps one or two fabrics cut on the bias would be a better solution.

It's wonderful when I go digging in my stash and can find a number of possible fabrics for the binding. I chose a red batik with lights, mediums and darks marbled through it.  Perfect. Always cut binding on the bias, the corners will turn flatter, and the long sides will lay flatter. For a thorough discussion on binding your quilt see my booklet on bias binding.

Announcing the completed quilt, Garden of the Sun God, by Ann Fahl, this quilt is now included in my Ancient Artisans gallery on my website.

The completed quilt, Garden of the Sun God, 52.5 x 63 by Ann Fahl © 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Quilting: Garden of the Sun God

By now, you may all hope I am done talking about this quilt. To an artist, the piece they have just finished is always the best work they have ever done.  In time, this may change, as it's success or lack of changes my opinion of the work! But for now, it is one of my best.

Detail of quilting at the base of papyrus
Now the quilting has begun. This is the most exciting for me, because all the time and effort I have put into the fabric selection and embroidery pays off. First, I detail all the pieces using monofilament thread in the top and bobbin. Don't cringe.  I have been doing this since the 1980's and it has been successful for me. When monofilament thread is used in the correct way, it will be your best friend. Outlining and stitching in the ditch are two of the best uses no one will ever see it!

Quilting detail of the pond
Next I pull out all my decorative threads and quilt all the empty or negative spaces.  This is what I'm doing when I feel that I am dancing on the quilt. The texture in the quilting brings the subjects to life. This has become an intuitive process for me, because I have been a machine quilter since 1988. This is why I wrote a book on machine quilting--my variety of course.  It is spontaneous, unstructured and informal.  There is too much stippling and feather making on quilts today, and that doesn't work for me. So I wrote Dancing with Thread so others might feel free to experiment with my ideas and techniques.

Quilting detail on the fish and border
I love quilting little scales on fish.  Using a pastel variegated thread, I detail the face and fins first, then use a little clamshell stitch to create the scales.  Without doing lots of detailed fusing, I just use a hand painted fabric, quilt it up, and it becomes a rather life like fish.

Once the quilting on the interior of the quilt is complete, I work on the outer border. After some looking in my notebook of quilting ideas, and looking at earlier quilts I decided to use half a coneflower on the inside edge. They are evenly spaced out along the seam. I used a silver or a white pencil to mark the outlines of each one. The flower has a spiral in the center, and there is random stitching filling the rest of the border. A bright red variegated thread #832 Rainbow, worked beautifully on the various reds in the pieced border.

Allow me to express an opinion here. One of the sad things I am finding in the quilt world is that more and more people are handing over their quilt tops to someone else to quilt.  By doing this, the quilt is no longer the work of one artist! And.....they are missing the most satisfying part of the quilt making process.  LEARN TO QUILT SO YOU CAN COMPLETE YOUR OWN QUILTS.  It's more fun!

Ann Fahl

Friday, October 19, 2012

Embroidery on The Sun God's Garden

After spending so much time and thought on the composition of a quilt, it's fun to actually begin the machine work. For me, the embroidery is what adds rich texture, and holds all the pieces in position.  I do this in a hoop so I don't need any stabilizer underneath the pieces.  This creates a softer quilt top and allows the quilting (over wool batting) to add more dimension to the finished product. For more information on how Ann handles her embroidery refer to her book, Coloring with Thread.

Detail of Scraps of a Different Color showing rejected embroidery pattern
Being a coneflower fan, I wanted to begin with them.  I had already decided how I wanted to embroider my angular flowers. First I had experimented on another quilt where I discovered that I didn't like my first idea. This is why it is so important to test out ideas first, so problems can be avoided on major pieces of work. So I had to rethink my ideas and this is what I came up with.
Embroidery and quilting detail of coneflowers with honey bee
Each petal was detailed in the opposite direction with a variegated pink thread. This was a simple plan which I could easily accomplish, yet different than anything I had done before.

The papyrus was another challenge.  How will I embroider them?  I chose to use metallic blue and green thread to detail the heads, and gold thread for the sepals. This was lots of fun and a challenge to work with metallics.  I had finished writing my Mastering Metallics booklet by this time, so I tested out some of my suggestions! The detail on the curved edge is really pleasing and adds richness of texture.  I also love the little circles that hold the seeds in the papyrus head.
Harry becomes the focal point using Superior Thread's Midnight Rainbow #844
 And then there is Harry. I knew all the embroidery on the bird was going to make him come to life. I didn't worry too much about individual feathers, I just wanted texture.  Midnight Rainbow add the color I wanted over the double dyed blue/purple fabric. Notice that the grass behind the bird adds more depth to the quilt.

Now that the embroidery is complete, all that remains is the quilting.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Time to put the Sun in the Garden

The sun rests above the garden.
The black "bowl" above the heron's panel is actually a cow horn headdress.  It holds a flaming sun that I created from a commercial fiery red fabric. One of the earliest symbols in ancient drawings and art is the sun disk.  In early Egypt is was shown as a headdress worn by the goddess Hathor, or seen as simply a round disk in the sky.  Now the flaming red sun fabric can warm my quilted garden.

It is now time to permanently fuse all the pieces in position.  I do this on my design wall, after painstakingly removing the paper backing from the Wonder-Under.

I thought I was done. After reviewing a photo of the "finished" piece, I realized that the panel behind Harry needed a little something.
Addition of grass in center panel
I cut out some little grass like shapes and they seemed to fill the soil area behind Harry. Yes, this is a small thing, but the empty field now has what it needs.

Now it is time to begin the embroidery.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Garden of the Sun God -or- Harry leaves the paper

I have been arranging, moving, shifting pieces of the quilt, taking breaks, looking at the quilt again, and using binoculars backwards. Taking digital photos and carefully looking at the image on the little screen of your camera can also give you another view of the quilt.  I've moved Harry up, then down, over a little bit, and finally he is resting on two lily pads in the pond.

Harry finally gets pulled off of his paper foundation.
Almost all of the elements are in place.  Harry has been oh, so carefully removed from the baking parchment sheet and pinned in place.  Originally, I wanted him to rest on the big carp in the center, but I had chosen a light yellow/green/purple painted fabric and his feet disappeared due to lack of contrast.  So, I wound up cutting the fish in half, putting the fish halves on each end, and moving the lily pads to the center, so he could rest on them. Yes I could have fabricated a fish out of a different fabric, but I loved the first one I made, so this shift in plans made everything work!

Look at the papyrus on the left you will see a similarity in my arrangement  to one of my favorite quilts On the Nile. The "swooping" papyrus that crosses over the lower part of the sashing was inspired by a gold box that was included in the King Tut exhibit that traveled the world in the late 2000's.

There is still that empty red spot in the upper center of the quilt.  The symbol of the sun god will go there.  You can see my white paper pattern in the place where it is to rest.