moon grass
[ Art Process ]

Moon Grass – The Process

moon grass

This art quilt is named Moon Grass.  It’s another one of those images that has been hanging out in my head for awhile.

I finished and listed this quilt yesterday and posted photos of it on social media last night.  It sold this morning and I also got an inquiry from a magazine about publishing photos of this quilt.  I must confess I don’t always get what makes a quilt speak to people.  I guess I pay attention to and collect images that speak to me and I just try to create my own version of those many  images.

Blue has been my color of choice since childhood.  Deep blue says, ” calm, serene, devoid of conflict, and restful”,  to me.  For Kandinsky, blue is the colour of spirituality: the darker the blue, the more it awakens human desire for the eternal. (see his 1911 book On the Spiritual in Art).

I was asked by someone how long it took to make this quilt.  I thought I’d write about some of the details that go into making a quilt like this.  It’s less about the quilting than you might think.  So here we go.

I hand sketched a grouping of swamp grass early last week.  I used my Sharpie Pen to make a dark drawing and made this image to scan into Photoshop.

I had planned to use this image to cut out Evolon (a non woven paper-like product) with my Cricut cutting machine.  I soon realized that this image was too wide to scale up to the size I would need for my quilt.  I did a little Photoshop magic (painstaking work is more like it) and came up with individual images like this.

Moon Grass  Moon Grass

Moon Grass

These were much easier to elongate, flip and widen to create a real impact. I set these images aside for later use.

I painted a couple of sheets of Evolon with black textile paint and added a little pearlescent paint to the mix.  Since the swamp grass would be back lit by the moon I knew it had to be very dark.  While I let that dry overnight I worked on the landscape background.

I chose Vicki Welsh’s (ColorwaysbyVicki) hand dyed gradient “Bay of Campeche” for the sky.  I used only the dark and medium portion of that gradient since I wanted a very deep blue.  I found a hand dyed yellow/taupe cotton in my stash which I thought would work for the moon reflection in the water.   I also found a yellow dupioni silk for the moon that looked good with the yellow of the reflection hand dye without overpowering it.  For the  water I chose a commercial striped batik in shades of deep blue, teal and grey.

I fused the moon and the reflection onto the background with Mistyfuse, stitched the moon on with a blanket stitch and then loaded the quilt on the longarm machine and quilted it before adding the swamp grass.  Quilting this way was so much easier than maneuvering around obstructions.

Moon Grass

I pinned the quilt back up on my design wall and started measuring for the size of swamp grass I would need to cut.   I fused Mistyfuse to the back of my sheets of Evolon and then ran them through the cutting machine.  I had to enlarge and splice pieces of grass to get them long enough to reach the moon.  When I achieved an arrangement of grass with which I was satisfied I fused them to the surface with an iron.

I loaded the quilt back onto my longarm machine and proceeded to stitch all the grass with a dark silver metallic thread.

moon grass

You can see a little of the metallic sparkle of the thread in these images.

moon grass

I am finding more and more that I like images which are uncluttered.  When I find the right fabrics, as in the sky and the moon reflection for this piece, I find they do so much of the work for me.  Of course, the swamp grass in the foreground has a lot of detail but it is very graceful.

This quilt was created in less than a week and actual sewing and quilting time was quite a bit less than that.  Much of the time I spent in creating this work was in gathering images of reflections on water and swamp grass, sketching, manipulating in Photoshop, painting, scanning, cutting and fusing.

It’s a new way of creating which I find very energizing.  I no longer have to spend hours on turned edge or satin stitch applique as I would have if the swamp grass had been created with fabric.  This has taken the drudgery out of the process so that I can spend more time on the creative aspects of the work.  It also helps bring the price point down to a more customer friendly level.  We’re all for that, right?

Thanks for reading about my process.




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  1. Rachel

    Thanks for your generosity in sharing your process. It is a gift to those of us who have vision, but have not get built up enough techniques, and get stuck because we are daunted.

    I am not surprising that piece sold in 18 hours. I would have bought it in a New York minute.

    Congratulations. And thank you. Kathryn Cawley

    1. Oh, Kathryn, thanks!!! You will get there, I have no doubt. Keep making and don’t stop.

  2. What an inspiring and lovely work of stitching art. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your process.

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