On Steichen’s Pond

Nature is a constant source of inspiration for my fiber art! Working in raw-edge fused appliqué and (often dense) free-motion quilting is, quite simply, pure joy. Having never taken an art class, my creative practice was fueled by the advent of smart phones and tablets, which enable one to interpret a photo in colorful and tactile ways.

I created this summer landscape piece for a European quilt magazine from a photo I took a few years ago; the famous photographer Edward Steichen lived in a dramatic glass house at the water’s edge in my Connecticut hometown. An important part of my art practice is to take lots of photos- you never know which one could provide the spark for your favorite art quilt.

  1. I selected batiks that would sing nicely together- these are Baliscapes by Anthology Batiks, which will ship to quilt shops in August. http://anthologyfabrics.com/new-release/january-2021/ Choose a range of values to ensure good contrast!
  1. Opening the Apple app for iPad, Procreate, I began to “rough out” the large background areas of the piece (sky, ground, pond, and so on) by free-cutting with my rotary cutter. Relax when you do this part – Nature does not always strive for perfect symmetry ;)!
  1. Then, consider the small bit important accent elements. I moved the house and made it more colorful, then imagined a friendly frog sitting on one of the lily pads, gazing at a butterfly. (Note, you can search the internet for copyright-free images of these elements and trace them.)
  1. Next, I put a pressing sheet on top of the quilt and fused the pieces into place. Using a fusible which you can lift, move and re-fuse is a HUGE help – I could not live without Mistyfuse! https://www.mistyfuse.com/
  1. Thread selection is nearly as important as fabric – it is an excellent idea to select a palette of threads for your scene before you begin. I used Aurifil’s 2021 Color Builders in 40wt, which added a bit more texture than my usual 50wt. https://www.aurifil.com/2021-color-builders (So that I don’t lose my mind, I keep monofilament in my bobbin – a big help when you are changing top thread colors frequently.) Don’t forget that sometimes the best thread color is 2 colors together, if your machine has a second spool pin. Blend threads the way painters blend their paints!
  1. Ready to stitch- first the large background areas (in appropriate “fill” patterns – I stitched leaves into the “tree” fabric and gentle ripples onto the surface of the pond)…then smaller more precise stitches for the smaller pieces.
  1. Your quilt always tells you what it needs! The house deck looked empty so my cat Jackson moved in…then I realized he must be looking at a butterfly…and so it went for nearly 160,000 stitches!

Because the back of your quilt should be as much fun as the front, I used Spoonflower’s marvelous print of their color chart for the backing:

This piece was pure joy from start to finish – landscapes are wonderful projects to consider if you are thinking about dipping your toe into art quilting. It may be summer here but it is autumn 🍂 in my studio where I’m about to begin another seasonal landscape featuring the color-drenched collection “Pura Vida” by Shayla Wolf for Anthology 😍- stay tuned!