Last spring, we invited talented quilt artist, teacher, and author Sue Rasmussen to write a guest post for us here at See How We Sew. The result was a delightful, two-part posting: part 1 a tutorial on Sue’s inventive, curved-piecing technique; part 2 a show-and-tell sampling of her amazing work. These posts were immensely popular. In fact, her posts were among our top 10 for 2013. So, we decided it was time to invite Sue back for another look at her creative process. Once again, Sue, the floor is yours!
Sue: We have been fortunate to visit the Hawaiian Islands many times with our two boys, Bobby and Eric. On each trip, we’ve taken their picture leaning against a palm tree (whether they were getting along at the time or not!). Now, as young men, they get along wonderfully, and on our last trip a few years ago, I took a terrific photo of them on the Big Island. As they were both happy and smiling, I thought this would be the perfect time to capture them in a quilt.
Since there was such an expanse of green in the background, I broke it down into five main sections. I thought more than five green fabrics would be too distracting. The focal point of this quilt is, of course, the boys, and everything else is just filler.
Notice that I placed the darker green fabric in front, and that the four others fade in value as they progress into the distance. This helps create perspective and depth. Although the background trees were not in the original photo, I added them to enhance the illusion of distance and space; their varying sizes suggest perspective as well.
Years before, I had purchased 1/2 yard of a wonderful blotchy grey-brown-black fabric. (Wish I had bought more!) I used that fabric for the main palm tree, carefully piecing it so I could match the lines and coloration as closely as possible.
Initially I thought I would use one fabric for all four borders. I auditioned many traditional Hawaiian prints–hibiscus flowers, colorful fish, and images of surfers–and several Hawaiian-looking batiks too, but nothing seemed to work. I auditioned three more fabrics, all with basically the same orange, turquoise, pink, and yellow palette, all graphic designs, all similar in value. Unhappy with each of these fabrics, I tossed them on the floor.
At this point, discouraged, I took a few steps back to rethink my strategy, and my eye went that pile of three discarded fabrics. That was it! I would use all three! I cut a piece of Golden Threads Paper to the length and width that I wanted the border to be, and pieced chunks of the three fabrics directly onto the paper to create the scrappy, wonky border fabric. Since many of the fabric pieces had bias edges, I used Mary Ellen’s Best Press® to minimize the distortion as I manipulated and sewed the borders together.
“Get Your Kicks . . . on Route 66”
A few years back, I was asked to submit a quilt to the juried Route 66 Exhibition, which is currently traveling the US on a three-year tour. My husband and I took a drive to Pasadena and somehow ended up underneath the Colorado Street Bridge, part of the old Route 66. It’s a magnificent piece of architecture, but with a sad past, as it is also called ‘The Suicide Bridge” from the days of the Great Depression. As we stood under this impressive concrete structure, my husband took a picture of me with his iPad, using an app called Toon Camera.
The resulting quilt is a combination of curved piecing and paper-foundation piecing–no applique or fusing. Each piece is a cut with a template and sewn right-sides together as with other pieced quilts.
In this detail photo, you can see the hand-drawn railings (I used a Micron Pigma pen) and the multi-globed lamps that I painted on the upper deck of the bridge.
I was thrilled when my quilt was accepted to travel with the exhibit!
Thanks Sue, it’s great to have you visiting again.
Speaking of exhibits, Diana (McClun) and I will be the featured artists at the upcoming Road to California Show in Ontario, CA from January 23-26th. If you are planning to attend, please stop by to say hi. It’s one of the best shows on the West Coast, so if you are looking for some inspiration and a quilting getaway, this is a great choice.
As always, sending you my best for a month of happiness and creativity.