I don’t know what the scariest stage of a quilt commission is: getting the work, doing the work, or delivering the work. I think perhaps the delivery is the toughest part.
Longer ago than I’d like to admit, some former neighbors decided they wanted me to make them a quilt. Steve and Lynne are avid art collectors and possess an unerring sense of style. I was particularly inspired by one of Steve’s photographs and the commission took shape from there.
As an artist, I sometimes need a shot of confidence. The idea of creating an art quilt to hang in this wonderful house on the beach was, well, intimidating. I had the concept, but I didn’t know if I could take the quilt from concept to reality at the level I felt they deserved. Finally, I made them promise to tell me if they didn’t like it so that we could work together toward something they did love. That promise helped unstick my quilter’s block and I was able to complete the quilt.
On the appointed day, my husband (GQH, see previous post) and I packed our tools, the quilt, and the dog and headed to the beach. The quilt was designed to be hung above a set of stairs, which created its own logistical challenges. Two ladders, a strong board, and a bunch of bungee cords later, we had a makeshift scaffolding that was more than up for the task.
Eric marked the placement with tiny bits of masking tape until we all agreed that we had found the perfect place for the quilt. He fine-tuned the arrangement with a level and a tape measure and then we (he) drove two anchors into the wall to support the surprising weight of the quilt.
Once he finished securing the quilt, I picked my way along the scaffolding and dressed the quilt, removing any lint or dog hair or stray threads and straightening the quilt on the hanging rod. (Did I mention that five dogs supervised this process?!)
The quilt itself is quite heavy. The “swoosh” down the length of the piece is comprised of stones and glass and shells and beads and silk scraps. The embellishments are piled and layered for a lush effect but the added weight posed structural problems. For added stability, I incorporated a layer of buckram behind the quilt top. Then, to encourage the quilt to hang true and straight, I added a second rod pocket, this one along the bottom, for a flat metal slat. This plan worked and the quilt hangs better than I could have hoped.
The result is a quilt that pays homage to Steve’s photo and incorporates the colors and textures they have used to decorate their home.
Okay, if you’re a quilter, you may want some detail:
- The border fabric is Dupioni silk, channel quilted to mimic a gallery frame
- The background fabric is a hand-painted cotton piece I commissioned from Mickey Lawler of Skydyes.
- The “swoosh” is made up of glass, Swarovski crystals, pearls of all shapes and sizes, amethyst, Peruvian opal, and a variety of other beads. There is one shell that came from their beach and one black pearl to honor Lynne’s love of pearls.
- The soft texture that is especially evident along the left of the swoosh is silk “Frazzles” purchased from Judy Gula’s Artistic Artifacts.
The clients are happy. My GQH is happy. I am…thrilled. The stress of creating art for friends was almost my undoing. I probably won’t do that again, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to make this quilt for this couple.