"Cosmic Connectivity," 21.5" x 32.5", August 2012
This quilt is made with commercial cotton fabric, hand-dyed cotton fabric, hand-painted lace, hand-dyed sheer fabric, netting, glass beads, and yarn. It is machine pieced, and machine and hand quilted. The yarn is machine couched and the beads are hand-beaded.
This quilt actually began a few years ago. It started with some hand-dyed light blue fabrics with a central fabric mosaic made of small pieces of dark blue fabrics. After several weeks I decided it wasn't working so I put it away to work on other projects. It sat in the back of the closet and in the back of my mind for a few years.
I usually have a pretty good plan for most of my quilts when I start them, but this one eluded me. I recently pulled it out and worked on it one element at a time, not really by planning but by experimenting every step. I also already had the batting and backing material sandwiched, so all the additions from this point on were accomplished via quilting. There isn't a lot of quilting visible from the front of the quilt but trust me, there's a lot of quilting on this quilt.
It was originally square so I tried visually cropping it and decided to cut it down so it was rectangular rather than square. I originally pieced it with some raw seams on the top and now both the left and right sides had a spot where the raw edge acts like a fringe (and that made the binding step a bit tricky).
I played around with the hand-painted lace piece until it found a place that I liked. Originally I wanted it to be a mono-chromatic piece, just the blue, but emphasize the contrast with the dark and light shades, but I decided it needed a pop of color. When in doubt, always go for the color that is opposite on the color wheel. I put small pieces of orange and yellow-orange fabric under the light blue lace and I really liked the effect.
I decided it needed some dark blue in the rest of the quilt so I cut some dark blue "spikes" and appliqued them to the top as raw edge machine applique.
The background still seemed a little dull so I cut up some more of the hand-painted lace and attached 8 of them to the background, with three in the dark blue fabric mosaic part. These also had the orange and yellow fabric beneath them.
I found some light blue yarn the exact same color as the hand-painted lace, but I wasn't sure how to use it. I experimented with many different ideas until I came up with having them connect the lace parts. It literally ties them together. I also decided to couch a dark blue yarn next to the hand-painted light blue sheer fabric that covers the edge where the fabric mosaic sits on the background.
I wanted to do some hand quilting using thick yellow/gold floss. I tried several ideas until I hit upon making circles around the lace parts. A darker floss outside the blue yarn and a lighter color inside the pie-shape left by the blue yarn. (Here's a tip if you end up taking out quilting and want to get rid of the holes left by the needle, spray the area then use and iron to steam the holes closed).
I used my favorite strip-facing binding technique then it was on to embellishing.
I picked out several blue, yellow and gold beads and tried many, many different arrangements and beads. Eventually I decided to echo the circle motif using bugle beads (glass beads that are long and narrow). The lighter blue circles have 10 beads while the darker blue circles are a little smaller and have 8 beads each. I used some washers as a template to get the sizes consistent.
I added some large beads at the center of the lace spirals and many beads in the lace areas.
All that was left was to name it. I had recently seen the movie "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and looking at this quilt made me thing of the line from the movie: "When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me, flying around in invisible pieces." There was something cosmic about this image, although I imagine it's much darker out in space.
I joked that I would call it "Space Snails" because of the spirals but instead decided to use alliteration (always a favorite fallback of mine) and call it "Cosmic Connectivity." Even when the lace spirals have been separated from the larger lace fabric, they are still connected to each other, even when confronted with obstacles such as the dark blue fabric mosaic.