Sunday Stories – Gaia 2

Gaia 2: Beginnings. Photography Steven DeVol

I love this piece, absolutely my favorite so far of everything I’ve ever done. I really had no idea going in to this just what would emerge…everything was trial and error, but thankfully, very little error.

This piece started as a result of finishing a commission that was done on red unpolished satin. Six half-yard pieces were marbled, with my using a total of four of the finished pieces. My idea was to create a piece that would represent the volcanic origins of the earth and the goddess Pele. For the longest time this piece was known simply as “Pele.” I used a different marbling pattern on each of the half-yards, as I wanted interest within the piece.

Ever since my first teaching job on Maui, I have been fascinated with the stories of Pele, the Fire Goddess, and I was always on the lookout for the Lady in White when I drove home over the Pali at night. I didn’t realize it then, but Pele and fire have woven their ways through much of my work.

I really had no idea how these were going to weave together. I experimented and ended up with this weaving, starting with a tighter bottom and then “exploding,” much like magma does as it reaches the surface and becomes lava. The only problem with this shape came as I realized I had to figure out a way to anchor everything together. The strips are heavily hand-stitched together on the back – twice, as I discovered I had to make it much tighter to hold the weight of the piece.

A free-form pattern makes up the bottom four strips. The next four strips are the “wave” pattern, and the last four strips are what we call the ”fountain” pattern. A fourth pattern of a very small feather was ultimately not used in the weaving.

Each piece was sandwiched and serged with a variegated thread before any quilting was done. I liked the effect from the variegated thread, and I use that technique a lot now. But I have since changed how I put the individual strips together, with serging only one side or none at all, leaving another design element for later. The free-form strips were quilted using a variegated Sulky thread to accent the pattern. The four “wave” strips were quilted by following an initial curved line throughout each of the pieces and then coming back with a different metallic thread to accent the marbled pattern. The four “fountain” pieces were quilted in a distinctly different shade of thread to accent the eruption of lava.

Gaia 2: Beginnings. Photography Steven DeVol

Now, you have to understand I hadn’t done a whole lot of machine quilting to this point, beyond stitch-in-the-ditch. This was brand new territory for me! But ultimately I was hooked….I quilt most of my marbled fabrics now, and the patterns can be very zen-like to quilt. Here’s another close-up:

Close-up of Quilting

I truly love this piece, and I know I’ll never get another one just like it. It’s a little bold for any of our walls where we are living now, but one day, when I retire and the place is a little bigger, it will hang again!

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And…tell me the story of one of your favorite pieces. I’ll include stories in a future “Sunday Stories” post.

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4 Responses to “Sunday Stories – Gaia 2”

  • This work is amazing…the beautiful fabrics and your design elements woven into an intriguing composition!!! Well done my lady! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  • Thank you, Mary Helen. Pele is one of my most favorite pieces for so many reasons. When I show it, I get a lot of positive comments. I’m looking forward to eventually having another wall for its new home!

  • Mary:

    This piece is absolutely stunning! Isn’t it interesting, how sometimes our favorite pieces seem to grow on their own from unexpected sources? Perhaps it could find a temporary display home in a local gallery or college art center. I suspect being enjoyed by others keeps the goddess (and the artist) happy!

    I love not only your marbling of fabrics, but how you choose to quilt them. Thanks so much for sharing.

    – Mary, The Curious Quilter

  • Thank you, Mary. This is by far my most favorite piece of anything I’ve done over the years with marbled fabric. I keep hoping each new piece will come up to this one, but not yet…I agree you have to let them speak to you and take their good sweet time!

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