Spark in the Back of my Mind
aka The Fire Quilt
The third and final (for now, anyway) in the series of Art Quilts inspired by John Hiatt songs is complete.
This is the line that inspired this quilt :
from John Hiatt's "Back of My Mind"
And I saw that the light I'd been hoping to see
was the spark in the back of my mind
And the cold wind that blew through the hole in my heart
Made a fire for the very first time
From some branches of trust and a kindling of faith
And that spark in the back of my mind.
Listen to the whole song here :
There's also a line from Hiatt's "Seven Little Indians" that could also apply to this quilt :
And every once in a while, he'd get all wound up with one of his stories,
He'd put 'em all on and dance around that blue tv light
Like it was some campfire blazin' away
* * * * *
The Fire Block : The fire piece was created separately as a unit, embroidered, and then appliqued onto the background of the quilt. It puffs up nicely trapunto-style to give it a 3D quality. Making the fire block is similar to my composed fabric technique, with layers trapped under a sheer fabric. I learned it in a class with Linda Schmidt through Quilt University. She taught an Elements in Fabric class where we learned to emulate fire, water, air and earth in fiber and stitch. A very worthwhile class, but I had to let the learnings sit and simmer for a while ...
Wood - The wood in the fire is heavily free-motion embroidered. This was done BEFORE the block was secured to the quilt background, much less the batting and backing.
Words - The "branches of Trust and Kindling of Faith" were "thread calligraphied" onto the wood fabrics. This after a class with the author, Nancy K. I wanted the words to be subtle, and not scream "I'm here!" so there is not very much contrast between the embroidery thread and the wood fabrics. That was intentional. I want my quilts to have some gifts for those who stand close and study them long enough to discover these little surprises. ;-)
As I said earlier, this piece has been in the works for several years. The beauty of having a blog like this is that I can go back to the earlier stages. If you want to see how the fire came to be, revisit the following links :
Progress on the Bonfire Block (from 2008) - Threadpainting the Flames
Progress on the Bonfire Block (from 2008) - Words on Wood
Bonfire Block (In Progress) from 2007
The Batting : A recycled (but not so old) mattress pad. These are good and puffy for wall quilts, and they don't sag and droop over time like my favorite Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly batting--which works great for bed quilts.
The Quilting :
The brown ground is heavily quilted with a red variegated thread. I wanted to this push back and not stand out, giving emphasis to the fire.
I knew I needed to do something with the quilting in the air to simulate sparks being shot up from the fire. These are spaced much farther apart, giving them an airier quality.
The quilting motif in the borders is meant to simulate smoke and how it curls and moves off on the wind. If you look closely, you'll also see some hearts there, perhaps indicative of the love and healing the speaker / singer eventually found "in the back of his mind" or maybe it's "the cold wind that blew through the hole in his heart"?
Sparkle - There are a few crystals in the centers of the quilted sparks. You know I like a little bling, and this called out for it! They were hard to capture in the photographs, so you'll have to trust me on this one.
Does it still need some beads? Maybe ...
Auditioning fabrics for borders last spring.
I put a lot of thought into the borders, colors and widths. They get darker the farther they get from the fire -- as if the heat -- the brightest part is the center of the fire. The yellow, then orange, then, brown, and red and black--more like ashes at the edges of the quilt.
The borders are also intentionally uneven. Part of that was because I hadn't cut the batting big enough to start with (Ooops! Good time to make it a design element!). Sometimes that happens when I work with no pattern, and these pieces grow organically, and take on lives of their own. But it also wasn't going to work for the bottom of the quilt to have the same size border as the rest of it. I wanted the fire to be the star attraction. If it had a 4 inch border along the bottom, it would have thrown off the balance, and really made the bottom third too heavy.
I used a new technique for the binding to add a dark red flange. See the Flanged Binding Tutorial from Sew Fresh Quilts. This technique worked out very well, and was worth the extra trouble to do it.
After thought :
“You have to carry the fire."
I don't know how to."
Yes, you do."
Is the fire real? The fire?"
Yes it is."
Where is it? I don't know where it is."
Yes you do. It's inside you. It always was there. I can see it.”
― Cormac McCarthy, The Road
The other John Hiatt Quilts (so far) :
Northern Lights / Rivers of Light
Mama Let You Lick the Spoon
Spark in the Back of My Mind