Wednesday, November 6, 2013

in nomine Patris: The beginnings

Now that the SAQA Text Messages show has opened I'm thrilled to show you one of my heretofore unshared art quilts.  For anyone lucky enough to get to go to IQF Houston, you may have seen it already.  This is one of those quilts I probably would have written a million in-process posts about, but now I'm just going to split it in two. Today I'm going to talk a little about the planning, design, and construction, then show some final pictures on Friday.

When I saw the Text Messages call for entries, the first thing I thought about was medieval illuminated prayer books, and I decided to make a quilt in that style.

I have a lovely introduction style book called A Treasury of Hours which shows selections from many different books of hours and which was a great source of inspiration since it contains pages exhibiting many different illustrative styles.

The pages contain prayers or Bible verses (usually in Latin) and pictures, usually the pictures illustrating something related to the prayer, or a scene from the life of Jesus or something else inspirational.  Many of the pages start with a common Bible verse, for example, Psalm 50 (51):15 "O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise." followed by a verse or prayer specific to the page.

I had to decide what the theme of my quilt prayer would be, and knew I didn't want to try to feature people.  The verse I kept coming back to was Psalm 121:1, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."  My quilt features those two verses together, beginning with Psalm 51:15.

And of course, with that text, the design had to feature my mountain (Sierra Blanca).  I drafted the design for the quilt by hand and in photoshop. Here's an early stage example.  The large initial D is a scan of a sketch, the small swatch on the right is a scan of a page of the prayer book (I liked that style), and the text is just on the computer.

For many of the design elements, I made fused vinyl silkscreens.  For example, I cut the lettering out of fusible vinyl using my mom's Silhouette machine, and adhered it to organza, then screened it onto the fabric.  Here I'm tediously removing all the middle bits of letters. 

I couldn't do any of the screen printing until the background was all pieced, which meant I had only one shot at the printing! It was kind of scary since many of the screens overlaid several layers of machine appliqued fabric.  This meant alignment was both tricky and critical and that there were many bumpy seams/edges to print over.  In some cases, there were multiple screens for different design elements (one for each color) that all had to line up.  Here's a picture of the background after one round of screen printing.

The mountain is raw edge applique, and all the purple and blue and brown definition in the snowy part comes from judicious use of Shiva Paintsticks.  

Stay tuned- next time, the finished piece.