Yes, my quilt goes to the Oregon Coast to be part of the Seaside Civic & Convention Center (SCCC) permanent public art collection.
In September 2021 I received a short and sweet message from Drea Frost asking if I was taking commissions. She was working on a project for the SCCC as the curator of their permanent public art collection.
How could I say “no” to this!
Drea invited me to meet with her, with the SCCC General Manager, Russ Vandenberg, and with the rest of the committee responsible for the project, to look at the space where my work would hang. I was in awe with the newly expanded and renovated facility and felt somewhat intimidated by the task ahead of me. More importantly I felt deeply honored that my work had been chosen to be part of this collection.
A month later I had a contract in my hands and the task to create the largest quilt I have created to date: a triptych with a forest theme, measuring a total of nine feet in width and 4 feet in height, to be delivered in six months.
As usual, the design concept immediately started to evolve in my head and since the designated space for the quilt was at the entrance of the SCCC, I knew that I wanted to evoke an invitation to come in, an invitation to look …
And so the work began … I did a little bit of doodling and came up with these not-very-fancy sketches that guided me during the design and construction phases.
The next step was fabric selection! The colors of the background were going to be mainly yellows, oranges, greens and neutrals. Tree trunks were going to be very prominent but I still had not settled on their color. For the tree canopies I had a vision, which led me to do some deconstructive screen printing. That was a fun process with some pretty nice results!
With the fabrics selected and my sketch ready, the next step was to layout colors on my design wall. I was still focusing only on the background and canopies. Tree trunks were coming later.
Something like that! The opening of light in the picture on the right was a reminder to add some depth but it was not going to be in the center.
Now onto the tree trunks.
I started with skinny trees, in mostly dark greys with a few light grey and purple highlights. After auditioning them with the background I came to the conclusion that they were not prominent enough, but making them wider would add too much dark to the design. I cut some of the branches off my skinny trunks, rearranged them and made them my secondary layer of trees. The first layer was going to be made of wide tree trunks in light greys, violets and a few slivers of the dark grey. I cut some wide strips of paper that served as place holders for these trunks.
Now I was ready to start piecing my first layer of trees, wide trunks in light colors.
OK, those tree trunks looked much better!
The next decision was how to piece the background. When working on landscapes I tend to use curve piecing techniques, but in this case, given the size of the panels, I felt that it needed something more, something angular to break up all those curves. This was a great opportunity for a little experimenting.
I liked the look of these angular randomly pieced sections and thought they would look good as the canopies. The slivers of whitish fabric resembled the light coming through the leaves.
And so the piecing continued … lots of hours of designing, sewing, auditioning, undoing, re-designing, sewing again … until things started falling into place.
And one day, I was done with the design and construction!
I think I took a few days off before starting the quilting or maybe even a couple of weeks. This was the “policing period” and I did find a few small sections that needed some tweaking and some re-sewing. Every panel had at least one of these sections that needed extra attention.
After the fine tuning was done, the next big phase was the quilting. This is something I think of a lot while I am piecing: how am I going to quilt this? So, at this point it was clear to me that the tree trunks where going to be quilted in the ditch, the background was going to be free motion quilted with lots of texture and the canopies were going to contain lines, lines in every direction. Most of the quilting is free motion and improvised, but sometimes I use freezer paper templates to help me stay within lines.
And then … to make a long story short … I finished!! and best of all, the three panels were laying flat. PHEW!
The remaining work was a piece of cake but still required lots of hours: squaring up, facing, top sleeves for hanging bars, bottom sleeves for weight bars and finally, labels. Oh, and I did sign the right panel with my stitched name.
This is the way the back looks. I like how you see only texture.
And this is the finished work, I named it “Wandering Through” as an invitation to come into the building, wander through it, appreciate all the wonderful artwork on display and take it all in.
This is the largest piece I have made so far and I am happy with how it turned out. It measures a little over 9 feet wide and a little over 4 feet high. Initially I was a bit nervous about the challenge but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this piece. I am also thrilled with what I learned while screen printing fabrics and now have endless ideas for future work. All in all, the process was smooth and I did not hit any major snags. Of course there was some undoing and redoing, some over dyeing of fabrics and some moments of “how do I put THIS together”, but all of that is part of creating.
Thank you for reading this post. It you are ever near the city of Seaside, take a little bit of time to visit the Civic and Convention Center’s permanent art collection, it is open to the public and you will like what you see!
If you have any questions please post a comment and I’ll post an answer or you can email me.