July 22, 2009

Genealogy of a Quilt

Not only did I need a break from the concentration of working on Shelter, I also needed something easier to balance the intense work I'm doing for my job this summer. So, I spent a week or so piecing this top, made up of rectangles of various sizes that I had cut for another project, since abandoned. It was just the right thing to be doing--playing with colors and placement, but not a lot of intricate planning or sewing needed. Here's the story of how I happened to have all these rectangles on hand. They have their origin in two different ideas.

This little maquette (12x12") dates back to 2005--my first attempt at abstraction. My intention was to evoke the feeling of a very quiet place at the summer camp that I attended as a child, the "Pine Grove." Away from the busy-ness and activities of camp life, this was a place further down the lake, a walk down the road, a place where you could sit along amongst the pine trees, hear the lapping of the water, and just be by yourself, quietly, for a while. I don't know that I'll ever make this into a quilt, but when I saw solid fabrics in related colors, I would buy a half-yard or so. A few years ago, I started thinking about working with images of stones, and my eye was caught by a pattern in Jean Van Bockel's book, Meadowbrook Quilts: 12 Projects Inspired by Nature. Her model used mottled fabric for the stones and various beige fabrics for the backgrounds. I started out trying everything in solids, including a wider range of colors for the backgrounds:

But I thought these looked like dinosaur eggs, rather than stones, so I bought a lot of quarter-yard pieces of fabric that had stone-type textures and tried out several blocks with those:

This was better, but I didn't like it enough to go on, and I eventually went in another direction with the idea for stones, painting my own fabric and working with other sorts of compositions. That left me with a large number of solid rectangles cut up--some from the "pine grove" fabric and some purchased to fill out a palette for the background to the stones. About a year ago I used some of the rectangles to make this hanging, about 28x40:

It hangs on the wall above my computer at work, and is a welcome restful spot for my eyes. Then a couple of weeks ago, I went back to the box full of rectangles, and I made the top at the beginning of this post--about 48x56 or so. Finally, I used up the last remaining rectangles making three place-mat sized pieces. I'll use these to test out possible quilting designs for the larger piece, and then have them for placemats afterwards:

And what about all the leftover "stone"-type fabric? Perhaps I'll use that for the back of the quilt, along with the abandoned blocks.