Story Wall

Story Wall, 16" by 20," art quilt by Susie Monday

Forgive the cross-posting, but since it looks like I need all the possible posts I can find to appear here -- due to my busy schedule and apparent inability to write on this blog lately -- you can see my new little quilt here, and then go to the challenge quilt site at textileabstractions.blogspot to see the other challenge quilts in the group -- we hope there will be 12 by the end of the day!

This wall-themed small quilt is quite obviously inspired by the paintings found in rock shelters in South Texas and other parts of the desert Southwest. The images were my own petroglyph experiments and adaptations of rock art photos I found in various books. None of them is a literal copy of an actual rock painting, since I wanted to avoid copyright and cultural appropriation issues -- though in this case, I think these artists are our common ancestors, even those of us with primarily European heritage.

I used fabrics that I first rusted and then screen printed, then used a photo transfer technique that I have recently experimented with for teaching purposes. First, you take an image, copy it using an ink jet printer onto wet media polyester film. While the ink is still wet on the film, turn the image face down on your fabric, which could be pre-moistened with a thin wash of fabric medium or gel medium, or even just dampened with water. Brayer or rub the image to transfer it onto the cloth. The image will also transfer on dry fabric, which then can be painted with medium or water --  each technique leads to a slightly different but quite painterly effect. This technique seemed quite suited for the theme, since the results are kind of rough and integrated into the surface texture of the fabrics.

I pieced and fused the little art quilt using other fabrics in the earthy palette, all small "samples" that I've made in different teaching situations. Then added a layer of batting and a backing.

I added a good deal of hand stitching with a variety of threads and thin yarns. Then, I added one more layer of printing with a thermofax screen, and finished if off with machine free-motion stitching that emphasized the different shapes.

The biggest challenge for me with this quilt was narrowing down how to interpret the theme, and making some global decisions about how I will "answer" each of the challenges for this project. While I welcome the idea of creating from different impulses, I still want the work to teach me something and to also still speak with my voice in a particular way, holding a sense of series through the media chosen, the techniques used and the approach to each different theme. I decided that each of my challenge quilts would make use of a photographic image in some way, would have a frame created by a border, and would use a transfer technique in an interesting fashion. I also want to keep a narrative perspective, rather than a completely abstract approach (dispite the name of this challenge group!).

Sneak Preview of Challenge Quilt

I am participating in my first Quilt Challenge group -- a little personal challenge in follow-through for me, since I tend to get lots of things started and then, whoops, quite a few of them drop by the wayside. The challenge is one in which 12 participants each make a smallish art quilt every two months, with each member choosing a theme single word in turn. The word/theme for the first quilt is "wall." And along the same set of goals, here is my mantra for the month:" MAKE ART EVERYDAY. No matter what else is going on, or where ever else I am other than the studio (this month has a good deal of travel for teaching in it). So far, so good!

For the quilt challenge, I decided to continue some work I 've been doing with prehistoric imagery for this first challenge -- since it seemed to be a perfectly good fit -- rock walls, rock art! And it's given me a great opportunity to continue experimenting with transfers using polyester film and textile medium -- an interesting way to get a kind of organic quality to the image that fits the theme.

I also wanted to try and use words in each of the challenge quilts, but this one may take the prehistoric images as a preword word! If I find a poem or excerpt from a poem about cave walls or shamens maybe I will try to work it in via the quilting. If this one doesn't work out, I have another piece of fabric in the works that might be better. It's been interesting for me to have a two month stretch to work since usually I don't spend this much time on a small art quilt.

This photo shows the kind of effects you have from the image transfer, though this is a sample from another project, not fabric I am using in this piece.


This work was inspired by the Petroglyphs and Prehistory workshop that I taught here at El Cielo this fall. You can see more of the design work that is adding up in this piece on my blog entry for that event here.