Friday, March 10, 2017

Mammals of Oklahoma

I spent most of the month of January working on a new art quilt for an entry that was due the end of the month.  After much scurrying I "finished" enough of it (i.e. faced and turned) to take pictures for the entry.  Just recently I finally actually finished it, with the facing, pocket, and label hand stitched on.  Those last steps sometimes just feel like they take forever!

This project was for a call for textile posters, and asked artists to consider all of the uses to which posters have been put over the years.  I had originally thought to do something medieval to fit in with my illuminated manuscripts series, something along the lines of hear ye hear ye.... but nothing really sparked my interest.  As I thought about it, what kept popping into my mind were natural history posters.  You know the ones with the beautiful botanical/scientific illustrations depicting a bunch of different types of insects, or insects, or shells, or mushrooms, or even dragon eggs.

I'm not an illustrator or painter in this style at all, but I decided to reinterpret this idea using a sort of graphic design approach kind of like what I've done in the past.  I decided to re-work the design I'd used for my quilt Ring Around the Mole.  In my brain this has always been called Mammals of Oklahoma, and I'd always wanted to do something else with the design that could incorporate more of the background information.  A poster seemed like the perfect opportunity.  It took quite a bit of refinement and editing on my original digital file, but I wound up with this.  I do my designing in Adobe Illustrator which is ideally suited to this kind of thing, but it's fairly involved.

I had spoonflower print it on microsuede so that there would be some visual interest.  It's free motion quilted with 100 weight silk thread, similar to the original and with a double batting so that the animals might puff up a little bit.  I wasn't sure how the microsuede would quilt, but it turned out fine.  Very smooth actually and much easier than much of my work that is made out of really weird fabrics held together with lots of layers of fusible.

Mammals of Oklahoma, 32" x 48" c. Shannon Conley, 2017

Mammals of Oklahoma, 32" x 48" c. Shannon Conley, 2017, detail

Mammals of Oklahoma, 32" x 48" c. Shannon Conley, 2017, detail

Mammals of Oklahoma, 32" x 48" c. Shannon Conley, 2017, detail

As I final step, I beaded all of their eyes, which adds just a bit of sparkle and dimension.  I'm pleased with the way this turned out, although in my mind it feels flat compared to the original quilt which used fabric.  The print quality was very good, but I think in future I might incorporate digital prints into things with more other types of fabric as well.

Linking up as always with Nina-Marie and Happy Friday to everyone!  Also linking up this week with Free Motion Mavericks.


  1. I can't praise this quilt enough......the design, the colors and your incredible quilting. It was a great idea to have it printed on microsuede. I love it!

  2. Shannon, this is such an amazing quilt!

    I have been looking hard to see what all the animals are, which just goes to show that it really works as a poster. I particularly love the way the armadillos and opossums are arranged in curves and change colour.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks. For the second week running your quilt is project of the week!

    Love, Muv

  3. What an eye-catching & impressive piece of art! Love it!!

  4. This quilt was on FB (International Quilt Festival FB page) today and I found you and wanted to find out more about your process. It’s really well done and I love your quilt and how it was created.