I recently finished what is to date, my favorite quilt. I really, really like it, and I really like the recipients, my childhood friend, Karen, and her husband, Mike.
Their wedding took place on the island of Vieques, a small island off the east coast of Puerto Rico, in December 2011. I’ve been making quilts as wedding gifts for years, so I took mental notes on the scenery and photos of the inspiring quilt-like iron work we saw all over the island, to influence my design of their wedding quilt. I knew it would be an art quilt, to be hung on a wall. Naturally, I was inspired by the ocean, and also the sea glass we saw here and there on the beaches. I still have a collection of ocean and sea glass themed quilts saved on Pinterest, and I toyed, unsuccessfully, I felt, with the collection of aqua-blue fabrics I’d collected. But I ended up going in a different direction.
I’ve long admired improv and landscape-inspired quilter Jean Wells, and last October I took a workshop with her in La Connor, Washington called “Simply the Land”. Nearly the first thing out of her mouth at the workshop was to encourage us to think of improv landscape quilting as “response, not representation”.
I loved this, and it changed how I thought about Karen and Mike’s wedding quilt.
I started with colors to represent the Caribbean Sea, the island and the vegetation of Puerto Rico. Mostly solids, but a few prints, batiks and hand-dyed fabrics.
I’d wanted to try a quilt triptych for a long time, and the two outer panels came together pretty quickly, once I got the hang of where I wanted to go.
When I first started quilting, I read that the log cabin block traditionally had a red center square, to represent the hearth at the center of the home. I always thought this was an appropriate start for a wedding quilt — the beginning of a home — so I have worked the log cabin motif into nearly all of the wedding quilts I’ve made, including this one….
I loved working on the quilting itself — keeping the lines organic but also contemporary and even some representational detail of leaves and waves.
And I just love the final piece. I really couldn’t be happier with it, which made it extra hard to send away, though I think Karen and Mike will like it, too.