Friday, January 15, 2010


Today is "Reveal Day" over at Fiberactions -- we're doing show & tell of our Initiative Challenge quilts, which we've all been working on since early November. Sometime later today we'll get our next challenge word. I can't wait!

My piece, called Carpe Diem, was born from mindmapping the word "initiative" and coming up with volition, emergence, energy, fire, force, verve and thrust. From the start, I wanted to somehow represent the plant kingdom, something like a germinating seed pushing up through the soil. I pulled out my plant books and stopped as soon as I got to one I have on cactus plants (creatures), which I love.

Cactus plants are amazing beings. They can live for hundreds of years, and thrive against all odds. They can live in the most extreme conditions -- hot AND cold. They can store up energy and resources for years, if they have to, before it rains and conditions are ripe for them to bloom. They are otherworldly, humorous, graceful, stalwarts against predators, havens for desert critters. Everything these plants are capable of doing, and how they do it, speaks volumes to me of "initiative."

All the fabrics I used -- except for the flowers and buds -- were direct printed or deconstructed screen printed. If you've been reading recently, I mentioned once or twice that the original background fabric had been moderately rusted fabric that I found impossible to sew. So I cut off all the cactus parts that had been appliqued onto the rusted fabric -- cut them off in one piece -- removed as much of the rusty fabric as I could from behind, and put the whole thing on the new backing fabric. Which turned out to be a much better background.

The flowers and buds are digital images of photos from the cactus book, printed on muslin, touched up with metallic Paintstix, appliqued onto the cactus background, then quilted. The spines are textile paint. I had originally tried quilting the spines, on an early version, but they were way too difficult to see, and added far more stitching to the piece than I wanted.

This little cactus is an 8x10" study I did about a month before executing the final challenge quilt. I really love this little piece, everything works -- the fabrics I chose, the way it's quilted, the way I represented buds and spines. But compositionally, the bigger piece needed more.

Definitely go to Fiberactions and check out what the other 12 group members came up with. Everyone's take on Initiative is entirely different!


frazzledsugarplummum said...

Carpe Diem is wonderful. I could almost feel the prickles of the spines and the flowers are just like real life. I love cacti. I have been waiting and waiting to see the Initiative Challenge pieces.

tiedyejudy said...

Wow! I love it! I'm also very fond of cacti, particularly the barrel cactus. You are really getting into using the different techniques to resolve issues... fabulous!

Approachable Art said...

Connie, this is fantastic! And I love that you described your process and your thinking about the piece, it helps to bring it to life for the rest of us. :D

Judy Alexander said...

Connie, You study piece is also great. My first idea was to do something like this but I know I could not have pulled it off like this!