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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 12 x 12 Venus_The Evening Star

For April I chose to do a hexagon star pattern on the theme of The Evening Star. I had found a star block done in very old pink fabric in the box with the Basket blocks from the Vansyoc family. No one knows who made these blocks, but it must have been one of the old grandmothers because of the fabrics and hand stitching. My MIL Elsie did lots of crocheting and a little quilting but her quilts were machine sewn. Since I was fascinated with the block I wanted to make one and then I noticed how bright Venus was in the evening sky so decided this would be my April piece.

The hardest part of doing this quilt was photographing it for posting. Because of all silver metallic fabrics and threads, the light glared on it and made it look terrible. First I tried my usual method of lighting it from above plus the flash; one big shiny blur. Then I tried with no flash and only the overhead light; this was better but still quite unattractive. I was so disappointed and didn't want to post it, but this morning it finally came to me to try photographing it with only the natural daylight from the window; voila!... a presentable picture. I agree with Dee that quilters need to learn how to photograph their pieces. I never realized how much becoming a quiltmaker would drag me into photography.

For the background of the star I cut up an old nightgown that has been too small for years, but, I kept it because the fabric was so pretty. I felt it had the delicate blues and pinks of a Spring evening sky. For the star points I used a metallic silver tissue fabric from the stash of silkies sent to me by Debra S. I surfed the internet for a photo of Venus for the center hexagon, and
was delighted to find a nearly infrared space photo taken by the NASA Galileo project. I liked the color and it meant something personal to me because when working at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, my aerospace engineer son worked on this project and Joe and I were able to see it in the lab's clean room before it was sent into space. I downloaded the photo and printed it onto a June Taylor cotton fabric sheet and onto a silk organza to overlay the cotton for depth and more brilliant color, as well as the silky sheen.

I backed the slippery background fabric with muslin, so I could work with it, and fused the star pieces on with Steam a Seam 2; then zigzagged the edges with metallic silver thread.

I printed a photo of a painting by St. Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), called "Evening Star", and the first lines of a poem by Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1841) called "To the Evening Star", onto silk satin and fused and zigzagged them to the same nightgown fabric for the back. (Please click on photos to see details and read poem) I sandwiched the front and back with a piece of cotton batting, sewed them envelope style, and machine quilted it with more metallic silver thread. (Thanks to Debra S. and Sande I am going to learn the technique of doing better envelope edges for my next piece.) I specifically chose not to do any binding or other type of framing for these "Nature Through the Seasons" monthly pieces, because I want them to represent squares cut directly out of nature.

This was my first experience of working with slippery fabrics; it's a whole different ballgame from sewing quilting cotton. I had never done a sheer overlay of a photo over a cotton printed photo before and was pleased with the result. The cotton just didn't have the color or sheen necessary to go with the shiny metallic looks of the other fabrics, which I felt added to the theme.

What I've learned from this project, so far this year, is that I need to continue to work on learning new skills as well as improving my basic sewing and quilting skills, so that I can display my works without embarrassment, and be taken seriously by judges in quilt shows. I need to look, carefully, at more quilts, in person, and take advantage of LQS classes in the area. I also need to get out of the house and watch how other quilters work, probably in some of the groups sponsored by the Royal Gorge Quilt Guild.

You can see all the April 12 x 12 pieces posted at Quilt Studio.


Brigitte (SE. Louisiana) said...

Fran....what a lovely piece. I adore the background fabric. I would have hung on to that nightgown too!

I am not at all familiar with the envelope style edges but the edges on your piece look very neatly finished. I will have to try to find out more info on this style.

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Beautiful. Love that you used the metallic fabric. It really makes the star shine.

Allison Ann Aller said...

I think your skill set is increasing dramatically fast! You go, girl!

Deb Geyer said...

So cool, Fran!! I like it.

Lynn S. said...

Fran, the Venus Star is fantastic and pieced soooo well. I especially enjoyed the story behind your block. For me, this is one of the best aspects of quilting.