In this post, I would like to share the process of how I created these landscape pieces. They are based on the hand-drawn maps of Lewis and Clark. As you can see in the picture below, I was looking to break up the landscapes to make interesting, individual compositions.
I first dyed white perle cotton thread. Here, I have begun the hand stitching. Sometimes I quilted the entire quilt by machine before stitching by hand, because otherwise I had to quilt around all of the individual stitches, which was more challenging. But sometimes the effect was worth the effort, as it caused the hand stitching to pop out even more from the surface. You'll see this effect in a following close-up.
Now I have most of the hand-stitching completed. The extra fabric on the sides of the silk cloth were basted (loosely stitched) onto the silk in order to make it more convenient for the embroidery hoop. The yellow strip at the bottom was there for such a purpose, but in the end I decided that in fact it was a great design element and kept it. That was one of those accidental results which can happen in art making and which can be very fun and exciting.
The piece has now been machine quilted. If you look closely, you can see how there are no machine stitches crossing the embroidery, they go around and among it.
Below is a view of the finished piece. You can see the variations in color from hand-dying the silk fabric and cotton threads. I personally really like this effect, as it's more interesting and adds overall depth.
If you'd like to purchase this work, visit Roberta and Bob Rogers Gallery.
When I first began making art 9 years ago, I had no idea what the job was about. I simply liked to quilt. It was that passion which got me started, but it wasn't the only skill needed to reach some level of "success". Little did I know how many hats an artist has to wear. And I took it for granted as simply something which one needed to do - period. But now that I'm in my period of reflection and preparation, I'm thinking a lot about the multifaceted set of talents an artist needs to have, completely beyond the scope of the artwork itself. Considering that their pockets usually aren't overflowing with money, rather than hiring other people, they are required to constantly educate themselves in so many different areas, in order to effectively share their art with others.
Spectators see the artwork and marvel at the skill and time needed to create it, but rarely do they understand all that needs to happen behind the scenes so that they can know about and see the work. This is not a complaint - in fact I'm writing this essay because I realized recently how much I love this aspect of being an artist - needing to be everything in one - a photographer, photo editor, website specialist, social media master, writer, videographer, bookkeeper, archivist, etc, etc. It keeps life interesting, it keeps one on their feet. Aside from never ever completely mastering one's skills in the making of art, one is also always developing these other skills, never running out of ways to progress and perfect their approach, make improvements.
This room for continual advancement of my abilities, this is my motivation. Do I love taking photos? No. Do I like figuring out how to take better photos? Yes! Do I have a passion for websites? No. Do I enjoy improving my own website and seeing the results? Yes! Do I find myself craving to write biographies and statements? No. Do I think it's an important way to help people understand my work? Yes! Do I have a passion for maintaining spreadsheets? No. Does it make my life as an artist easier? Yes! In fact, I think of my 7 year inventory spreadsheet as a work of art in itself!
The list goes on and on in this fashion.
When I stopped making art two years ago, I thought at the time that I wasn't using my brain enough, as if I was only using some imagination and my hands. It's only after my return that I see in fact how much of one's mental capacities are needed to progress in this field. I had simply taken it for granted at the time. So next time you go to an art exhibition and speak to the artist, in addition to congratulating them on the art itself, don't forget to appreciate all the work which happens behind the "work"! It's a constant, never-ending process which is always happening in parallel with the making. It's really a pretty amazing thing!
This quilt, "Into Matter" (from the Parallel Worlds series) , was a tricky one and required a lot of testing out of different ideas and materials. I generally knew the direction, but not quite how to achieve it. Therefore, I have many process photos so that I could carefully track where I was going. Photos are very helpful because they are the best way to be able to step back and get an overall view of your project.
At the top of the artwork you can see little spots of white. These are scraps of paper which I have not completely removed. Since it is difficult to draw directly on cloth because it shifts around, for this and other series, I would draw onto tracing paper, pin it to the quilt where needed, and quilt through the paper. Then I would tear it away. Sometimes this was easy, sometimes painstaking, simply depending on the amount of lines and space between them. Here I also tested out having a different base at the bottom of the cube.
In this slideshow, you can see how I began to build up the pillar within the cube with wool, then add thread snippets and then finally stitch the cube walls. You can also see how the quilt gets progressively more rippled as I add more stitching. This is generally not great because it makes it more difficult to work with as I go outwards from the center.
In the end, I settled on the idea of the flowing flames of fire to contrast with the icy, rigid crystals on top. Here I'm building up the flames in layers.
With some added hand-embroidery around the cube and other features, and quilting in the background, this piece is coming to a close. All that's still needed is to give it a good stretching so that hopefully it will lay flat. The amount and density of quilting in different areas has a direct impact on how flat you can get your quilt to lay. The more even the density throughout the quilt, the better. The more variety in density, the more likely the quilt is going to ripple a little.
This work was featured in Patchwork Professional March 2020.
This work is in a private collection, but other work from this series is available for purchase from Roberta and Bob Rogers Gallery.