Friday, April 22, 2016

Three Naked Ladies Blooming In the Moonlight

Three Naked Ladies

In my early years as a gardener, I was a plant hound. If I knew a house was to be torn down, I would ask to go in first, and dig out all the useful plants I could haul. Sometime in my scavenging I brought home some tag-a-longs. Several belladonna lily bulbs were planted along with daffodils, and it wasn't until nearly a year later when most of summer blooms were over that they magically popped up at the edge of the woods. Beautiful, pale pink flowers on leafless stems, hence the name, Naked Ladies!

"I believe that every thing we encounter, every skill we 
learn, and each person we meet changes our path."

I've spent several weeks working on these improv blocks. I'd never done this kind of piecing before, but felt compelled to try. They are time intensive, but there is something soothing about slowing down, and developing a rhythm while making them. You cannot rush it, and it becomes meditative. Four days ago, I had an idea that took on a life of its own.

Sunday Night

First I sketched. Could I use this kind of free form piecing to create moonlight? Could it radiate outward in a curving pattern? Joen Wolfrom's books keep delighting me with her concept of creating luminosity. Could I? I could try.


First I created some project limitations. They were: use only my hand dyed fabrics created in the studio. only use a rotary cutter or scissors. No rulers. include some applique. I'd never done it.
...for it to be a smaller project to hang.
...a project to add hand stitching to.

Second, I auditioned a lot of fabric combinations, but had a hard time deciding. My first attempt at the halo of the moon failed miserably. I pushed on. The easy path was to start with the background so I strip cut many shades of blue. I laid them out on the design wall, and added some black. It wasn't until I added some low volume dyed blues that I saw the moonlight appear, and I was one very excited person!


Here you will notice that my projected design and my actual design changed dramatically. The amount of texture in my blue background demanded a simpler object in the foreground. The work started to feel magical in nature, and I thought an imaginary flower would feel at home there.

Freezer paper to the rescue, I drew out my fantastic flower. The hash marks are for registration, or making the parts line back up.

I cut into my beautiful amethyst shibori for the petals, and batiks for strata layers of the soil. It was interesting how the light areas in the fabric drew the eye in. I realized I would need a darker background for the lower section, and started editing the upper strips, too. 

*You can see the outline of a pinned string in the above picture. This helped me visualize the intended size, but was also easy to move when I decided to make it a few inches smaller. 

I was already throwing things up on the design like floating moon drops, and fiber from my stash. Looking closely at the moon drops, you can see they are not white, but tints of pale yellow.

The background begged for some color, and a little fuchsia made it pop for me. The strata needed a separating layer, and I added a color called "Dances with Raisins" from Dharma. (Someone there has a sense of humor!)


By the end of the third day, each background was together. I still had a gap, but I needed to walk away. I was exhausted, but happy.

Thursday: Fresh Day. Fresh Eyes.

I made more moon drops. I made leaves to make the flowers look more poppy-like. Neither added to the design. Taking things away is somehow hard, but necessary.

By Thursday afternoon, the whole piece was machine stitched including the perimeter. The applique pieces were fused, and I trimmed the background away from beneath the moon to keep it luminous. My workspace was in shambles! Cleaning was a welcome therapy.

Other projects are pulling at me as I walk by them, but I'll get my materials gathered up so I have a Go Bag for this project. I'm really looking forward to adding some embroidery before the quilting. That will be another first for me.

What are you doing to move out of your own comfort zone? Just about another week to finish up your personal #BraveQuilter challenge if you signed up for April. The May challenge sign ups are May 4-10. One lucky person will be randomly selected to receive a package of my hand dyed fabrics, and that could be you. See more details here.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Today we load a Hands2Help quilt on Axel the Avante.
Let's go sew.


Yanicka said...

What a wonderful process. Thank you for sharing

Sharon - IN said...

What a lovely improv piece and great description of how you got to the finished quiltie. I hope you post pictures of your quilting process as well! And wondering - are Naked Ladies the same as Surprise Lillies?

Kaja said...

Great piece, Julie, and your description of the process was really interesting. I love that you can do all this using fabric you have dyed yourself too.

Teagan said...

This is really beautiful. I look forward to seeing the finished product, I'm guessing it will be amazing! It's so nice to see the process in the meanwhile.

Angie in SoCal said...

You're evolving with every post. Thank you for the look into the process. It is fascinating and I see a lovely piece emerging.

Jayne said...

Loved seeing your step by step process Julie! This turned out fantastic!

quiltmania said...

Fabulous work!

Mary Marcotte said...

I love improv work! Your piece is beautiful. Thanks for linking in to TGIFF. It's wonderful to have so many interesting blogs to visit!

Anonymous said...

I love it! It is already so beautiful, I can't wait to see the finished product!

Sew Surprising said...

Your on a roll along with a moon beam :) cant wait to see it finished :)

Kate said...

Wow! Beautifully done!

Kate @ Smiles From Kate said...

It is so interesting reading about the process. You have put so much thought and work into the project The result is so worth it, a unique and magical piece of art. I love it.

Stitchin At Home said...

Wow! It is really coming together Julie.

Leanne Parsons said...

It's really beautiful! Thanks for sharing the progress pictures too, it was fun seeing how it all came together.

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Your title to this post caught my eye today, 'naked ladies' are dear to my heart.. my dad loved them! A lovely rendition Julie! And I enjoyed reading all about your process with this.

helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

I love your naked ladies. Improv is fun, and I really enjoyed reading about your travels in applique this week

Sharon said...

Very cool! I loved following your process!