Friday Flashback ~ Montana Treasure

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, My Life's Stories, Photography 14 Comments

My first ‘art’ quilt.

  A time to challenge myself. 

To do something ‘entirely my own.’  Scary thought! I was fearful. Knew I needed to ‘get beyond’ … of wondering whether I could do anything beyond just following a pattern.  Don’t get me wrong… I love patterns!  I love books — love the artsy styles and hard work of all the wonderful, talented people who do inspire us so we can make them our own, in whatever way appeals to us.

But I wanted to start from ‘scratch’  — to look at a piece of fabric as a blank canvas upon which I would embellish, quilt, and let it evolve… and see where the journey led.

I began by playing with a few leftover pieces of patchwork; some strips that were cut into triangles, that intrigued me when I started playing, and placing them on this piece of commercial batik fabric.  When I did, something surprising happened; they prompted me to think about mountains and more.  Unplanned inspiration.  And  “Montana” was born. 

So after that… it seemed I knew the inspiration, but what do next?  I wanted to do foiling.  But had not a clue as to how to achieve it on fabric.  This was before I discovered Jones Tones glue/foiling products.  The silver metal foil is real silver leaf (seen below).  Not meant for fabric!  But I didn’t know that.  So I applied the glue.  It soaked in to the fabric, and the leafing wouldn’t stick!  But I kept at it.  I re-applied the glue.  Eventually, it began to get tackier, and although the leaf material didn’t stick as I had planned and intended, the unpredictable result was so much BETTER than I had anticipated!!  It cracked and pulled apart… an exciting result and revelation in my eyes.

Let me say at this point, I remember working on this piece every evening, for most of the summer months.  A couple hours every evening… which involved alot of thinking, more than the actual quilting-couching-sewing in many ways.

I knew I wanted to do some bobbin play.  And I decided I just needed to start ‘blind.’  By that I mean I began stitching from the backside of this piece, with thick thread wound in my loosened bobbin, and did ‘random placement’ stitching, not allowing myself to have expectations, or to plan exact placement.  

And… much to my surprise, when I turned the quilt around, even though I found I was stressed out and intimidated by doing it that way, I found a big beautiful surprise of happiness in the unplanned threadplay. I liked it.  I liked it ~ ALOT! And that gave me the confidence, to keep going… to pursue and allow ~ to enjoy and be free.

Further!  And further… wondering each time I did something different… metallic threads, painstiks… if I had pushed it beyond ‘exciting’ and into the mentality of “I’ve ruined it now.”  Not a fun thought – but real.  I think that’s true for many of us. We’re so afraid of ‘ruining a good thing.’  And too often, that’s a trap.

And I found when I kept going, turning it back and forth from front to back, playing with the empty spaces… that those were great surprises which revealed further inspiration!  And one thing led to another… like leftover bits of a silk flower ribbon (above picture, lower left in a green and purple/red flower ribbon).   Slowly, my inspiration became ‘all things I love about Montana’ as I thought about the landscapes of wheat fields, prairies, mountains, rivers, and treasure.  Gold and silver which is what helped give this state it’s nickname “The Treasure State.” This visualization helped me in my stitching and application of other embellishment factors.

The last thing I did was to top it off with beading; always the very last thing I do on a quilt.  It is all done by machine, (without a foot and just a bare needle) with the exception of the large turquoise one in the center, right of the photo below.  And a big red teardrop shaped button (in the very first photo above).  Then I knew I was done.  The space was filled.  I had a happy, satisfied, thump in my heart. Mission accomplished.

And before I knew it, I had a piece that was unexpectedly Big Sky.  Treasure State.  And inspired by all that I love about this state ~ and more.

Wide-open plains.  
Majestic Mountains.  
Roaring rivers. 

Go Beyond. 
Be free.
Forget expectations.  
Just Be. 

God is waaaaaaay bigger~than the Montana Sky!

Joining Studio JRU! 
and The Rusted Chain 

Comments 14

  1. This quilt is the reason I fell in love with your blog a few years ago! It is truly one of your finest pieces! There have been numerous times when I have admired this quilt and now I can see it even closer. Don't be surprised when one day, I show up on your steps to see it even closer!! It is one of my favorite or really my most favorite art quilt I have ever seen!

  2. That is your first piece?! Oh my goodness… amazing. Just amazing and so beautiful. I would never guess this would be a 'first piece'. I love how it came together as unexpectedly Big Sky! It's gorgeous and hearing you describe it makes it even more beautiful!

  3. Wow!! That is really beautiful, I'm glad you kept going and didn't worry if you were doing it "just right" bc it turned out just right! Making something yourself from scratch is so much more gratifying.

  4. An amazing place. The process as you describe lets us see so much more than at first glance. certainly a piece of art.

  5. It's always so fun to look inside your head Leslie! There are so many fascinating things going on in there =^..^= It's hard to believe "Montana" is your first art quilt. The level of sophistication and depth of creativity in every line say "experienced." I believe you were just born good girlfriend!!!

  6. What a fantastic piece!!! So cool!! A part of this looks so organic to me a lot like the look of Laura Cater-Woods. This was your first art quilt??? OMG!!

  7. Oh, Leslie, what a wonderful piece! You're descriptions are also special! I can't even find the words to describe this piece. I would just love to examine it up close! It's fun to read your process though.

  8. You are a brave wagon train scout and I'm still hiding under a quilt in the back of the wagon. Lead on! It really is a wonderful treasure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *