Chameleon

August 2008
61 x 51 1/2
$2200

I started this piece about a week or less before moving last February. I had the idea in my head and the muse commanded me forward. I had a very short amount of time to get the preliminary blocks done.

I started by taking profile shots of my face. I needed a face and mine was the closest one handy. I had no success creating a good usable image until I went into my windowless closet, shut the door, and used a full spectrum light to get the depth of value that I needed. I wanted the profile to be as simple as possible.

With four values, I made six different colorways of the same image using mostly commercial fabrics. I made the pattern, fused the fabric, and collected them into bags to be cut while the movers packed. I finished that part just in time.

But while I was cutting the pieces, I knew that I wanted to go farther. I wanted the six colorways to interrelate, to blend. To do this, I made intermediate steps between the blocks that would use 2 light values from one color and 2 dark values from another color. Using this methodology, the quilt quickly grew to 28 blocks.

I couldn’t bring myself to put them together on a traditional background. I painted a wholecloth to the light blue I wanted and placed the blocks. Then I used paintsticks and a stencil to create the fence. Then the idea of the brass key came to me for the horizontal bands, and for that I used paint and a key stamp.

Once the piece was quilted, however, there was still too much blank space in the upper vertical bands. I brazenly stamped dragonflies and spent a couple of panic stricken days wondering how to un-do it. I finally decided that part of the tradition of quilt-making is making do with what you have, so I used Micron pens to color the body of the dragonflies green and brown — and then found a wonderful metallic tulle in my stash that brought that magic I needed to the wings. The outer bands have more delicate red ladybugs that are also stamped on & colored with a Micron pen.

Art Quilts XIV: Significant Stitching, Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler, AZ November/December 2009

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