Monday, August 27, 2012

Seeds from Norway III

During all the time that took me to finish the nine big hexagons (let´s remember that there are 549 small hexagons and 1,080 triangles), I kept thinking of how to put them together. I decided they should have an off white background. However, I found a technical problem very difficult to solve for somebody as bad as myself with geometry. Yes, I know, it is insane to make these things if you are not good at geometry, but if there were no insane people, there would not be a way to distinguish the sane.

After going around it for a while, I could not help but giving up: instead of piecing the white fabric between the hexagons, I would hand applique them on a big piece of fabric, which I did with much thread and patience. I also appliqued big diamonds made with one hexagon and two triangles, to fill the blanks between the big hexagons. I liked the idea of working with two different scales to give dynamism to the whole.

Once the general picture was finished, I had to frame it, that is, make a decision on the borders. I wanted something simple, something that would not bother, but at the same time would enhance the principal motif, the picture itself. With the leftovers of all the fabrics I had used, I made two stripes of different width. These stripes are machine sewn, as I did not see any point in hand sewing them, moreover taking into account that I had all the hand quilting work ahead of me.

I did not feel like basting the three layers, as it is a very hard work that, lacking the room to do it differently, makes me spend long periods of time in difficult positions that hurt. So I purchased a frame with three rollers. It is big and putting it together is also a lot of work. Anyway, I put the quilt in the frame and started quilting. I decided a simple but dense quilting work, straight lines a quarter of an inch apart in the white areas and the diamonds. The small hexagons are outline quilted.

The end result has many technical flaws, but I inscribe myself within the Japanese aesthetic tradition of wabi-sabi based on the acceptance of impermanence, imperfection and incompleteness. I discovered this tradition not so long ago and find it tailored to my needs. In other words, it is very convenient.

In any case, despite those many imperfections, I am satisfied. I like the quilt, it is cheerful, it transmits energy to me, and it gives me a feeling of achievement. I have been able to dedicate four years of my life to it, without giving up, putting it aside for awhile to make other things, but getting back to it over and over again. Slowly, with patience, enjoying it, meditating, enduring.

Here is the fruit borne by the Seeds from Norway.


Seeds from Norway II

Here are the pictures of the two big hexagons I was talking about yesterday.

Like I said, by the time I had finished these two, I had come to the conclusion that this was going to be a big quilt, so I figured I would need nine big hexagons. At that time, I was already back in Rapid City. I looked for the fabrics needed to continue. Some, I had in my little closet, either because they were left from some other projects or because they had not found their place yet. Others, I purchased them for this specific purpose, always following the vegetable criterion I had set. I kept drawing and cutting little hexagons and triangles, one by one, and hand sewing them.

Here are the rest of the big hexagons with their detail.

To be continued...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seeds from Norway

In the Fall of 2008, when I went to my home country, Spain, to visit my family and friends, I received two half yards of fabric from my youngest son and his wife. They had gone to Norway that summer and found a quilt shop in Bergen. What better could they bring me as a souvenir? Here are two pictures where the little hexagons are made of those two fabrics: the first has little acorns with oak leaves and the second has brown leaves on a lighter background.

I had no sewing notions with me at all, so I thought I would wait to get back to start the quilt. Of course, I could not, so I purchased needles, thimble, scissors, thread, a set of templates and a couple of fat quarters to combine. I wanted to do something simple to showcase those beautiful fabrics. I did not know what the project was going to be. I had no plans at all, I just felt the need to start sewing and make something with those fabrics. I could not see them laying around while my hands were idle.

I decided to make these hexagons and triangles. The sides of them measure 1 1/4 inch, so they are pretty tiny.

With the templates, I drew the hexagons on  the acorns fabric and cut them with my new scissors, one at a time. Then, I drew the triangles on the yellow fabric (which, by the way is a Christmas fabric, but you cannot tell. I liked it because it has a bit of shine that casts some light to the rather dark value of the acorns fabric) and cut them. I hand pieced all the shapes together to form a big hexagon that has 61 small hexagons and 120 triangles.

Making that first big hexagon I had enough time to think about the different possibilities of this project. When I finished the second big hexagon, I knew the project was going to be a big quilt and I had decided that all the fabrics for the small hexagons would have leaves.

Although at the moment I always referred to this project as "the hexagons", the Seeds from Norway had already been sown.

To be continued...