A Painting for a Quilt

I met Nomi when we both worked as Collections Assistants at the University of Alberta Museums, her in the art collection and me in the ornithology collection, and we quickly became friends. Nomi Stricker is a wonderful artist and we devised an idea in which I would make her a quilt in exchange for one of her paintings. Check her out at www.nomistricker.com!

While she was off for a year travelling Europe I got to work. Inspired by her paintings my vision started at Earthly Goods where I rampaged through the store pulling any and all fabrics that reminded me of her. I chose fabric colours that I had seen her wear or that reminded me of her work and patterns that exemplified her personality or reminded me of what I thought she might be experiencing on her trip. Then the real challenge began. I had an idea in my head but really wanted the quilt to come together organically without any real plan. Inspired by her art I wanted the colours to move the eye but also work together to create a type of organic chaos that as a whole formed a complete and dynamic piece. While I do like things to come together with a bit of chance and I don’t usually strive for symmetry in terms of fabric placement, this was quite an undertaking for me! I found it difficult without any sort of concrete design to let the quilt develop on it’s own while trying to stay true to my original idea.

Nomi uses a lot of colour in her work so she also plays with quiet, neutral areas to harmonize her compositions and I tried to do the same for her quilt leaving a lot of whites and creams around the edge to balance the abundance of colour in the middle. I also gave a lot of thought to how the quilt would lay on the bed with the white borders hanging over the edge, something I don’t usually need to worry about as much on a smaller piece like a baby or lap quilt.

I was pretty uncertain about the whole thing, already coming up with a speech about how if she didn’t like it I could make something else, until I decided on a quilt stitch pattern. Once this was determined I felt like that whole thing came together into something I thought suited her and that she would love. And she does! I presented the quilt to her at her studio about a month ago and to my delight her reaction was everything I had hoped.

NomiQuilt6

Nomi’s Quilt.

All that was left was for me to pick out a piece for the trade to be complete and that turned out to be the most difficult part of the whole process. I just couldn’t decide! I finally picked my top three and she was gracious enough to bring all three to my apartment this week to try the paintings out in the space. It was pretty clear from the outset which was “the one” and I love it. There are many hours of getting to know “Spout” in my future and I can’t wait to see how this painting grows and changes for me.

And so ends the tale of one quilt, one painting, and two happy customers.

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Beginnings

My first real encounter with a quilt was about 10 years ago when I was working as a medical photographer and happened to stop to admire a small exhibit of quilts on the walls leading to the hospital’s auditorium. I couldn’t figure out how the quilters were able to put on the edge (which I later discovered was called the binding) without any visible stitching! I decided that the easiest way to figure out a quilt was to make one and so headed down to a quilt shop that was relatively close to my apartment at the time. My plan was to go in at every step of the way, buying the new element of the quilt each time and asking questions as I went. It was a pretty good plan except that the store went out of business (or maybe moved) after my first trip and I was stuck with the little I had, which consisted of some piecing that I had painted with fabric paint. Five years and three moves later I still had the makings of a quilt in a plastic bag at the bottom of my closet and decided something had to be done about it. I asked around but no one was interested in finishing this project for me so I decided, finally, to take a beginner’s quilt class at  Earthly Goods (www.earthlygoodsquilting.com) and made my first official quilt (in which I also learned how to put on a binding).

My first quilt front

My first completed quilt! Easy as ABC “Hole in the Wall” beginner quilt class at Earthly Goods.

This was a machine pieced and quilted lap quilt and I tried my hand at a few quilts after, a wedding and a baby quilt, which is where my foray into quilting would have ended if I hadn’t decided to take another class on hand stitching. It changed my life and started me down the road of fabric hoarding and “just one more square before work” that I know most quilters would nod their heads in approval at. I still machine piece the top of every quilt I make, unless I’m english paper piecing of course, but no longer am I forever fighting with my machine as it sputters through three layers of quilt. Hand quilting, while I admit takes forever, is my favourite part of the process. Each stitch made while listening to music, a podcast, or a movie has let me enjoy the process of slowing down, being quiet and calm, and making something that I can really be proud of. And I’m hooked.

P.S. I did finally finish that first quilt last year and I decided to try something a little different and tie it with yarn instead of stitching it all together.

Tree Quilt 4

Hand painted and tied.