Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Studio Series: Fire 1 quilt

Fire 1 © Karen Thiessen, 2012
Fire 1 has a modernist feel. It was as if Anni Albers' spirit was in the studio with me while I was designing this quilt. What do you imagine when I say "design?" Do you visualize me with pencil and paper, or sitting at a computer? I do neither. When I design a quilt like this, my "paints" are dyed fabrics that I have on hand. Often I'll have a few pieced modules to choose from. My "canvas" is my cotton flannel covered homosote wall on which I place the fabric pieces. There's no need for pins: the fabric sticks to the flannel. If you are older or went to a low-tech church or school, you may remember flannel board stories. Once I find the right combination of fabrics, I piece them together with the sewing machine. After a good ironing, I place the larger pieces or the quilt top back on the wall and then I look at them/it while riding my exercise bike. It's all very physical, especially with large quilt tops, as I stretch on tippy toes or climb a step ladder to put the top on and take it off the flannel wall. Beyond the physical aspects, designing quilt tops is mentally strenuous, like a chess match. It involves active focussed looking and testing numerous options. When I'm designing, I need complete silence so that I can fully concentrate.

Fire 1 is part of the Tangents series and I made it using fabrics that I dyed with onion skins or Procion dyes and printed (silk-screen & block) with dyes or screen-printing textile inks. Jacqueline Harris machine quilted Fire 1 with wandering grid, a pattern that I designed. Later I went in and adding some hand-stitching. The quilt measures 58.25 inches by 77 inches and was quilted with cotton quilt batting.

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