Friday, August 22, 2014

Derived Inspiration, No.1 "Twenty Questions"

Derived Inspiration

The process of being deeply inspired by something/someone.  It happens to us all the time. We photograph, we pin, we post, we admire, we dream,  then we create.

I'm making a conscious effort to document the process of inspiration. From inception to the aftermath. Going from the source of "the idea" and seeing where it takes me. I think I've done this unintentionally many times. This time,  I'm taking an intentional route.

Derived Inspiration: Study No. 1, "Twenty Questions", a friend quilt swap with Whitney (the peacock tree) (scrappy_lam on IG). We settled on asking each other some questions to learn more about quilting preferences, or just more about each other. Some questions helped shape my workable palette (fabric: solids in turquoise with buttercup/chartreuse/eggplant); others were just plain fun ( Crayons vs colored pencils- definitely colored pencils). Still others, getting at the overall design taking shape in my head (Q:"organic or linear",  A: "symmetrically organic"). 

Taking the "Twenty Questions" in their entirety I learned much about my friend; we both are morning people and prefer salty vs sweet things. And to paraphrase my friends unexpected sense of humor; (Q: "Do you still consider Pluto a planet" A: "Pluto, is a big goofy dog")

Lucky for me, I was at The Denver Botanic Gardens Chihuly exhibit right when we were talking about making each other a quilt. The glass sculptures were breathtaking and exhilarating  but one photograph, of a leaf just screamed "symmetrically organic". The palette was not the one I would use for the finished quilt, but the leaf was inspirational.
The source of Inspiration. I think this captured the "symmetrically organic" vibe perfectly
What I used from the inspiration: For one, the layout. This close-up photo is of a tropical plant leaf, organically divided into thirds. That appeals to me on many levels. The dominant  "background" green color, would be changed in my composition, but the amount of space that color occupied would not. The quilt design would fill the entire workable space, without borders. I would add complimentary colors to the background color to give depth and dimension. And the focal point, the sharply offset, slightly slanted, vein of red would play a difficult and pivotal role. 
The goal: Not to copy the leaf, it is already perfect. But to derive inspiration from it and take that inspiration on a ride. To be thoughtful of Whitney's 'requests" but not to lose one bit of myself in the process. 

The details
"Twenty Questions" Derived Inspiration: No.1- 2014

Quilt front
Quilt back, keeping with the symmetrically organic vibe?

50" x 55"
Improv linear piecing with an offset, slightly slanted improv pieced vein. Inspired original design.

Materials: Fabric Top- 100% Kona Cottons in Turquoise, Caribbean, Oasis, Cyan, Aqua, Robin Egg, Peacock, Lagoon (the blues); Grass Green, Lime, Peapod, Chartreuse, Sprout, Cactus, Honey Dew (the greens); Eggplant, Dark Violet, Mulberry, Magenta (the purples); Buttercup, Corn, Papaya (the yellows). Fabric Back- same as above scraps from top, plus white with turquoise dots from my stash.

Threads: This quilt was an opportunity use use all kinds of almost done thread and bobbins from my collection. For those that I had information the following was used for piecing the top and the back: Gutermann poly cotton: 618, 650, 206, 607, 2776, 581, 6170, 577. YLI 100% cotton in seamiest 18V. Coats and Clark, 100% cotton 3690, 7360. Aurifil 100% Mako cotton in 50 wt was used to quilt. The top #2810 (turquoise) and the bobbin #2021 (off white). 

I got myself into a bit of a Y seam debacle part way through piecing the top, luckily, I'm getting better at those pesky seams. 
despite planning this still happened

the flimsy before modification of the purple/yellow vein

Batting: 100% cotton warm and natural.

Quilting done with a Bernina walking foot: Purple area: matchstick ; yellow area: Bernina modified #4 stitch; background turquoise areas: Bernina mirror image # 719 stitch.

Quilting, top, mid-detail
close-up of quilting details
Binding: cut 2" straight-of-grain with pieced insets.

Things I did that I don't normally do: I used Mary Ellen's Best Press starch alternative. I wish I tried this before, makes ironing a breeze. I also ripped out the inset purple/yellow "vein" twice. The proportions were never quite right. Third time was a charm.
I ripped this out twice. 
 I used all the scraps on the back, again, and generated a few unusable scraps- mostly from squaring up my fabrics and trimming down that troublesome vein.
not much you can do with these skinny pieces, except admire the colors,
 take a few pictures and post them on Instagram.
using up the usable scraps on the quilt back along with  a lovely white with turquoise polka dot print,
 my only" not solid" fabric
Stash fabric was used to finish the back. And I documented the solid fabric colors and threads used. May as well start practicing with the documentation in case Whitney wants to know. I didn't sketch since I had a good idea of what I was trying to achieve, but I made reference notes on a printed photo of the leaf, noting proportion and what I felt would be appropriate sizes for the large blocks of color and the prominent vein. I adjusted the vein size in the final quilt, as previously noted.

Dear friend, I hope (fingers crossed) that you like what I have done with your "Twenty Questions".


  1. It's amazing and beautiful, and even more spectacular in person. I'm truly grateful- especially for your friendship. The quilt will be cherished always. And you, my dear Stephanie, are an inspiration to us all.

  2. An absolute achievement! How I love to read about your inspiration for this and others. I see it! Of course, I love the colors you used, the organic design, and the suggestion of a stem. Really lovely!

  3. Thanks for sharing your inspiration. It's both fun and helpful to hear others talk about the development of ideas. Love the colors and the "vein."

  4. This makes me gasp! I love hearing about the inspiration and the making process. That yellow/purple stripe-masterful design work my friend. You are an artist



If you don't speak up, I won't know what's in your mind…….