I was recently asked to create an art quilt as a gift for Phyllis. I have never visited her home and don’t know her style. I struggled with the design until I realized that I know one thing Phyllis really likes; art by Mark Allen Ballard.
Mark is my drawing instructor and friend. He graciously granted me permission to use one of his creations in an art quilt for Phyllis.
I printed the image of the coneflower on silk fabric, layered it on wool batting, and added dense free motion quilting with a fine silk thread. Dense stitching around the image packs that portion of the design down, forcing the unstitched areas to puff up as if they are stuffed. Stuffed work, or trapunto, has been done for centuries, especially on wholecloth quilts, to add dimension and interest to quilts.
Once the silk portion was quilted, I added an inner border using a gradated blue fabric, leaving a larger border on the bottom. I wanted to add interest to that space, so I continued Mark’s design by adding stems and leaves stitched with a heavier green thread.
A second border was added using a delicious damask tablecloth hand dyed by Wendy Richardson. Over the years, I have collected quite a bit of Wendy’s stunning work, now I’m daring to cut into it more and more often. This piece was originally a blah white-on-white damask tablecloth. In Wendy’s studio, she had added many colors of dye which enriched the visual texture and just happened to incorporate some of the same colors as Mark’s drawing.
That layer was attached to a vintage cross-stitched quilt. I used Jude HIll’s invisible baste stitch to attach the layers within the blue border, then added blue beads while attaching the outer border. A raw-edged sleeve and label made from a vintage doily were attached to the back with the same invisible baste stitch. The quilt finished at 16” x 20”.
I have recently enjoyed incorporating pieces of art from unknown stitchers of the past, using vintage quilts and linens. This piece did that and more. I collaborated with Wendy by using her fabric, Jude by using her technique, and Mark by using his drawing. It was especially fun to share the stitching experience with Mark. He was excited about the prospect from the beginning, interested in the progress of the piece, and in reports of Phyllis’ reaction. His agreeing to add his signature to the label makes the gift a special treasure for her.