Monday, March 23, 2015

Mama Let You Lick the Spoon : Quilt Finished : The 2015 Challenge with Idaho Beauty Part 1


 The full quilt.

Several years ago (2009?), I took an online class with Terri  Stegmiller called Faces on Fabric.  She taught us to paint the faces and add shading and highlights.  I'd done an entirely appliqued face with The Oliver quilt, but didn't want this sweet little girl to look like Frankenstein with all the stitching required with applique.  I am so pleased with this result!

Did I mention : I dyed the fabric for the gray background and her skin?  
Her hair is entirely commercial fabrics.
The antique bowl is a piece of a wide ribbon folded over on itself.
The spoon is completely free-motioned embroidered.

My friend Sheila over at Idaho Beauty and I have begun a tradition of challenging each other to go beyond our normal paces, to try something new, or to finish something ...  Last year, I tried a few new techniques on a Journal, and Sheila did the same with a padfolio.  This year, she's working on some thread sketches (a new technique that I think will work nicely with her sketch book sketches).   I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

For my part of the challenge, I'm committed to finishing the John Hiatt Quilt that I started many years ago.  I kind of lost steam when my Art Quilt Group fell apart, and I no longer had the influence and ideas of those creative ladies to keep  me moving on the project--to get me unstuck when problems came up.   Now Mr. Hiatt is on tour again, and coming to my neck of the woods with an acoustic show (my favorite), I can't think of better inspiration to kick start this project back into being!  I had originally wanted to do 6 or 7 blocks, but I think at this point, I'll be happy to finish the  3 I started (more may come later ... I have ideas ...).   John Hiatt's songs and lyrics are wonderfully VISUAL.  They easily lend themselves to visual interpretations again and again.

Here's where I left the Spoon Girl, aka Sienna, aka "Mama Let You Lick the Spoon."  Just didn't have the heart to continue--until now.  I've missed her--truthfully!  She's been around so long, she's like my own little girl who never grows up. (Actually, I think that's sorta the point of the song ... )

I hung her (along with the other two unfinished blocks) on my design wall early in the new year--just waiting for inspiration to strike.    In my disaster of a sewing studio, I was delighted to be able to find the John Hiatt Quilt folder easily and effortlessly amid the clutter.  Does this mean the time is right?  the stars are aligning?

Design Question 1)  Do I try to piece them together into a single wall quilt?  Or do I work them up as individual pieces?  The original idea was to do a compilation piece -- in the style of McKenna Ryan's picture quilts with  7 blocks.  Each one could easily stand on it's own, but they would also work well together as a tribute to Mr Hiatt's wonderful body of work.  I decided that I should quilt them individually, and not try to put them together in one single quilt.  If I work on the blocks as individuals, then I can tie them together--maybe that means "working in a series" rather than putting them together in a single quilt.   Each individual block is too big to put them all together.  Best to treat them as individual wall hangings.

 Auditioning borders.  The dark one in the middle is a flange.  In the end, I decided to go with a darker green than this gray.  It was the obvious choice since it made everything else "pop."

This where I left her on Saturday.  Still need to quilt the outer border and bind it.

You can really see the quilting on the gray background here.

Design Question 2) How to quilt the backgrounds?   My signature bumblebee meander works for  the gray background behind her.  What about the borders?  I wanted to include the lyric that inspired this portrait quilt : John Hiatt's Angel :

Y'all put that hammer down and drove through Love's angel food cake
Tastin' every spongy layer and lickin' frosting off the moon
Wild-eyed with excitement but childishly disappointed
Maybe even tasted better when mama let you lick the spoon

This one shows the quilted words a little better.  It's subtle.  I didn't want to hit anyone over the head with it.  Those who know John Hiatt may want to dig deeper, and smile with recognition.  I thread-sketched the words in cursive writing  : That will be a secret code that many young people today don't know how to read, nor write. He-He!

Around the words in the outer border, I used a leafy vine (aka vine heart).  I was doodling that pattern way back in high school.  Been with me a long time!

Design Question 3) Do I add beads and embellishments? Yes--where that treatment works.  It doesn't fit on Spoon Girl. 

We have tickets for the Hiatt concert in Green Bay, WI, later this month.  What do you think are the chances to actually meet John Hiatt, show him the quilt, and ask for an autograph?  Do you think he'll recognize which songs I'm trying to illustrate?  He probably gets quilters all across the country who show up at his concerts with the same idea!  ;-)   I left the lower right corner "open" for John Hiatt's autograph should we manage to meet him on Friday.  "Cross My Fingers!" (That's yet another John Hiatt song!)


Vicki W said...

I love it!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Oh Michele, she is LOVELY! A beautiful resolution. I would not have thought to add the final border in blue but it surely does work. Now you're making me anxious to get started on my end of the challenge. If I can just get this current quilt for the April exhibit out of the way... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh Michele - how exciting! She is beautiful, stunning,. I'm so glad you decided to take this on for your challenge. So many things to love about it. The cursive quilting in the border - an important touch I think and I love that little gibe to those who don't think cursive important anymore.

The big surprise for me was your addition of a BLUE border. I would not have thought to go with blue so I am amazed at how well it works. I just love it and look forward to seeing the next ones in this series.

I'm going to share this with my friend Meg from the art group. She's the one who is making the stand-alone children and birds and such. She is struggling with finding good skin fabric, even when she tries to dye it herself. She is currently painting the features on with acrylic brush and sometimes an airbrush, but is wondering if there might be a better way. She does the hair much the way you do. It is all fused onto Peltex with limited stitching so she too doesn't have to bother with what stitching over a face might do. I see a similarity in the spirit exuding from your girl and her kids.

Well, this makes me want to drop everything and get going on my thread sketching. Dang - well, at least it makes me want to hurry up and finish this latest quilt so I CAN drop everything else and start thread sketching. ;-) I'm so glad I can in some small way stand in for your lost art group and help spur you on.

Enjoy the concert and good luck in getting that autograph!