Friday, May 19, 2017

Art With Fabric Blog Hop: The Squash

Alida over at Tweety Loves Quilting invited me to be part of her Art with Fabric blog hop this year. I'm pleased to share this piece for the blog hop!

Shannon Conley, The Squash, c. 2017, 9 x 9 x 9

I've recently been working on including more dimensional elements in my work and on creating 3D sculptural forms out of quilts (that is, fabric and batting held together by thread).  You can see some of my previous explorations here, here, and here.   However, I'm still in the experimental stage, trying to figure out how to give my pieces structural stability and support.  I've long been inspired by Art Nouveau ceramics and pottery, in particular by the organic forms and by the sense of dimension, and decided to use that as my inspiration for the blog hop piece.

Paul Dachsel was an Austrian potter who started out working for Amphora pottery, a famous pottery studio at the end of the nineteenth century, before starting his own pottery around 1905.  Though lots of Art Nouveau pottery and ceramics features very literal organic features (leaves, other elements from nature, human figures), I'm drawn to things that feature more abstracted organic forms.  In addition, and in keeping with my current attraction to openwork, I love ceramics that feature open areas, cutouts, and extra "tentacly" dimensional elements.  You can check out my pinboard featuring some of Paul Dachsel's work here.

Paul Dachsel 4-Handled Vase

Even though my pieces don't always look like quilts, I like to include some references to traditional quilt making when I can.  In this case, my piece is formed from a single mariner's compass block.  I started out with a quilt sandwich ~22" square (it was actually leftover from this project).  It was partially painted, but my first step was to paint both sides with my typical blend of latex and acrylic paint. I then marked my mariner's compass block and free motion quilted with a bunch of different threads.
Back and front at various stages in the quilting process.

I next cut out the star, sealed the edges with my woodburning tool, and starting fiddling with it.  This part was the most fun- trying out different dimensional arrangements to see what was stable and what wasn't, what I liked and thought looked right and what didn't.

And this is the final arrangement I settled on.  As a final step, the whole thing was stiffened by painting on a layer of fabric stiffener.

This was a fun experiment and I'm looking forward to making more pieces in this series.  I like the way this turned out, it reminds me of a squash or a sea urchin or Cinderella's carriage.  What does it remind you of?

Thanks very much to Alida for inviting me to participate in her blog hop.  Check out her blog for all this year's participants and definitely check out the others for today:

Friday, May 19th, 2017


  1. Fabric abstraction, very interesting. I'm intrigued and perplexed at the same time. *grins* Looking at your other pieces, the multicolored thread work AMAZING.
    I'd play with the labels too - like "Am I your acorn? Can I be your buttercup?"
    Anyhoo, gotta follow you now, who knows where your fabric journey will take you?

  2. Have you ever considered zig-zagging a thin craft wire along all of the raw edges in your pieces? This can finish the edge and stabilize the shape quite nicely.
    Pat F in Winnipeg

    1. I have thought about it, but I haven't tried it. I think it's a great suggestion and am glad to hear that someone else has tried it an had it work! Thanks for commenting!

  3. That is such a creative and interesting piece! I never thought about making these kind of 3d objects (3d sewing objects to me means bags or clothes). I love the final result and I really admire your experiments! Thank you so much for participating in the blog hop and for sharing your talent with all of us!!

  4. AWESOME!!!!
    I am trying to figure out a certain tropical plant to do three d. One day. I can not be around certain chemicals or burning though. This is just so creative, the end product as well as the process. I am going to send the link to my bee...

  5. This is so cool! Looks like such fun. The colors are wonderful and the quilting adds yet another dimension to a beautiful 3-D piece.

  6. That is really different and I like that you showed how you got there, as well as it's link to quilting (love the Mariner's Compass block, have done a quilt of those blocks).

  7. This squash is so cool! For some reason I thought of OZ. Must be the colors or the unusual shap. very nice. mary in Az