When I have an image in my head which keeps reappearing over and over I know it’s time to make it into a quilt. I have Pinterest Boards, many are public but some are private, where I collect images which speak to me. This tool is invaluable in forming collections which then morph into my own cohesive designs. The current image which keeps appearing is that of a tree growing on the side of a rock with many roots exposed.
Last week I went into overdrive to finally create the image in my head. I decided I wanted the tree to be back lit by the setting sun. I wanted the viewer to see the tree tenaciously growing in spite of an inhospitable environment. I wanted it to be simple but powerful.
Here is my tree drawing and darkened with sharpie pen. I eventually elongated it in Photoshop so it would fit the contours of my cliff.
I chose a calm striped grey batik for the water and a vibrant orange/taupe hand dye for the sky. I had some gorgeous black marbled fabrics which had a little metallic grey paint in them which I used for the rock. You can see them pinned on top of my base black fabric which is a black triangle print. This quilt is 74″ high and 41″ wide so you can see I needed my step stool handy to reach the top.
For a trial run, I cut out my tree design with freezer paper. I did some resizing and elongating to get it to form to the contours of the rock. My setting sun is a dupioni silk crossweave of orange and hot pink. I turned it so that it looks mostly orange when viewed from below. Funny how those colors change as you turn the fabric. I also found a beautiful orange to brick gradation from Vicki Welsh for the reflection.
I painted some Evolon Paper a dark black/grey and cut out my tree in sections. It was the only way I could get the tree large enough. My Cricut machine only cuts 12″ wide and 24″ long. This photo is a bit overexposed but you can see all the tweaking I had to do to get all the sections to match up. The tree eventually leaned a little more to the left to get that top root to connect with the rock.
Now the striped effect of the marbled fabrics on the rocks nearly drove me crazy so I got out my pearlized pewter paint, mixed it with black and managed to create some nice contours on the background rock fabric so it would blend together better with the marbled rock fabric.
I decided to quilt the whole thing before adding the tree. Wise decision! I loved quilting this rock! The inhospitable monster! It has it’s own majestic beauty.
After quilting the sky and water with a peaceful horizontal water design I tackled the quilting on the tree. I chose metallic threads in deep red to reflect the sun and graphite to for the more shaded side. This helped to make the tree roots more visible since I was dealing with black on black.
I chose metallic gold and a deep olive for the pine needles. I kept this foliage very spare since I the environment did little to nourish this tree.
Here is the final result. Simple but powerful. Her age and weathered beauty bear witness to struggle and persistence.