I love reading blogs about the stories behind the art we create. It occurred to me I could document (primarily for myself) the process and story behind some of our pieces in our gallery on the website. There is a page on the site with some very early quilts, including an original design for a math program I participated in.
This is the PRIME quilt – the name of the program was Promoting Reform in Mathematics Education, and it was a total of 6 weeks over three summers at the University of Arizona. We gave this quilt to our professors at the end of the third summer, and it still resides in the math department.
The center is the program itself, with the first few prime numbers. Each triangle attached to it is the name of one of the professors, with a little graphic representing each one; Fred, for example, had the calculator. The four corners are the teacher assistants we had, and each of the blocks is made with marbled fabric and a PRIME number of pieces. Let me tell you, the block with 37 pieces was a doozy to do.
We all signed the back of the quilt and presented it with the message that a puzzle was built into the quilt. Five 9 years later I filled in two of the professors as to what the puzzle was – the prime number of pieces. This was a fun quilt to design.
The quilt that started me on my present journey with marbled fabric is Gaia 1: Interdependence.
This is kind of a cross between a traditional stone pattern, some basic combing of paint, and some chevron pattern. When the fabric came out of the tray, I liked the interplay of the turquoise with the earthy colors. The turquoise reminded me of the gifts from the earth. I don’t know why I started to cut into strips – maybe just because I wanted to try weaving something. I really don’t remember.
I had five strips and nothing was working. Then I decided to just weave it back and forth and see what would happen. I liked where it was going and cut the strips in half so I would have more to work with. I used a thin batting (which I since use exclusively) and backed it with a fossil fern fabric. Then I started to quilt, just by following the lines of the fabric. I went for three hours without stopping because I was loving how it was working.
I didn’t want bindings. I thought it would detract from the message of interdependence of all the elements on earth. Then I hit on serging the edges. Now this was before I really understood what a serger can do. I still hadn’t figured out rolled edges. But I knew I wanted some type of variegated thread, so I just experimented.
Then came trying to hold it together. I used a LOT of pins and very carefully pulled the weaving off the design wall onto the quilting table upside-down and started to stitch all the strips together. Let me tell you, that took forever….
Well, the problems weren’t over. A basic sleeve wasn’t going to work for hanging, so I spent a few weeks trying to figure that out. I ended up buying a set of napkin rings with an earthy feel to them and looked for a piece of bamboo. The big problem was anchoring the napkin rings to the strips – with a lot of delicate sewing….but the piece has hung for five years in an office in Tucson with not a single problem.
I knew when this was finished I was on to something. The bamboo I am currently working on will be the fourth in the Gaia series of weavings. I do want to do more…the images I saw of rice paddies in southern China would make another interesting weaving…..