Portfolio of older work

Monday, August 30, 2010

Disaster on the Bridge: Expect delays

Remember this picture?  It is the July/August picture for Interpret This! 

I was really excited about the picture.  I could see it done in a lino print, a silkscreen, or a batik or faux batik. I spent some time thinking about it and decided to try the faux batik technique of pool dyeing.  So, first I drew a picture, simplifying the architectural elements, and took it to Staples to make it bigger.  The finished pattern is 28" x 35".  I think going big was my first mistake.

I traced the picture onto duponti silk.  I then stretched the silk on my PVC quilt frame.  Once on the frame I traced the lines again but this time with a glue gel to act as a resist.  I left it to dry for a day and then started dyeing the different sections with dyes I had thickened.  It was the first time I had tried this technique and I was a bit concerned to see if it would work.  I colored a few sections and then washed the silk to see if the resist worked and the dye dyed.  It worked!!  I drew the resist lines again and finished dyeing the piece.  At this point, I thought the quilt was going to be a success.

The next step I took was to flour paste resist it.  Again I stretched the silk on the PVC frame and covered it with the flour paste.  A couple of days later when it was completely dry, I took the silk off the frame and cracked the flour paste.  Once cracked I restretched the silk (are you counting how many times I put that silk on and off the frame?) and painted the entire top with a dye paste.  Again, I waited a day for the dye paste to dry.  Then I removed as much of the flour and dye paste as possible, soaked the silk in some water to loosen the rest, then washed it in the washer with synthropol.

Hmmm....  good news and bad.  It had some lovely cracks.  It also had some really ugly spots.  Sometimes they were right beside each other.  See what I mean?   A lovely crack and then a smudgey thing

My heart was sick but I thought I would go ahead with the quilting and see what it looked like.  Okay, time to choose a batting.  Here I really made a huge mistake!  Silk is very soft and shapeless--especially if it has been washed repeatedly like this one had.  Did I choose a nice sturdy batting that would give it shape and form and let me  push it through the sewing machine?  NO.  I chose a cotton-bamboo batting that is wonderful for baby quilts.  What was I thinking???  Next mistake was choosing silk for the back fabric also.  Once basted together I tried quilting it.  No way could I push that limp pile of fabric through my machine!

Okay, now the story gets ugly.  Did I immediately give up, take out the stitching, take out the basteing, change the batting, and try again.  NO.  I kept trying to make it work.  (some of us are slow) Finally  I gave up.  Okay, now my choices were: 1) take out all that stitching without ruining the silk (yeah right), 2) add a layer by putting a firmer batting on the back and a new material for the new back (and lose that silk from the back?),  or 3) maybe putting some water soluable stabilizer on the back so I could continue quilting and then just wash the stabilizer off.  Yeah. that was the ticket (said lazy, cheap me).

Okay, maybe one problem solved but up jumps a worse problem.  The stitching is skipping, snarling, doing ugly things on the back.  So much for saving the back of the quilt!  I changed needles, changed thread, cleaned the machine, changed needles, changed thread, cleaned the machine again. Stitching got better but never totally got better.

The Bridge is officially a UFO.  Neatly folded and hidden away until I forget the nightmares it has given and decide to try again.

Detail of the windows.


  1. Wow. Wow. Wow. What a lot of work you did.
    Now, remember that old saying about looking at a finished quilt as if you were on a trotting horse. OK, that's not quite it but you get the idea. I see what you are pointing out and I know if looks bad to you but.........I'm not so sure.
    What if you did some actual painting with fabric paints? The silk backing looks good in some places and not so good in others, right? What about adding appliqued silk patches to the backing. Who says it has to be one piece. What about creating an appliqued design on the backing? I'm offering up these suggestions because I really like what you did. I know it was a LOT of work, A LOT. And, I know you are sad that it didn't turn out exactly like you would have liked but it's still really cool. Honest, would this face lie? :)Bea

  2. I'd say you learned some good lessons of what not to do in future pieces! And thanks for sharing the disaster as well as the successes.

  3. Maybe you should just sew a very sturdy backing piece to what you already have, then requilt around what you've already done and keep going. You could quilt some brick shapes into the bridge and/or building, I think all it needs is more quilting and it would look absolutely wonderful. It's not as bad as you think it is!!

  4. I feel for you! I have been there and I think we all have.

    There is a chance that this could still be saved and I love the colors and the perspective of looking up at the buildings from the water. However, after all this, if you are like me, you may want to put it away for a while now and come back to it in the future when you feel creative about it again.

    Thamks for sharing, we all need to know that we are not alone in our disasters. :)

  5. I actually really really like this. Your color choices are great. Knowing that this has been such a pain for you to work on I understand the need to push it off for a bit. I do hope you will come back to it, for I see much beauty in this one! Have you thought about doing some hand stitching? Using embroidery thread would make it move quickly and could be an interesting effect. No matter what you end up doing with it I think it is a beauty. I also love the crackles and even the smudges. Gives it a wonderful aged look that contrasts nicely with the contempory colors.

  6. I seriously do not think it is an Oops at all. I like the smudges and cracks like they are--they give the piece character like the buildings would have. How about adding a bit more quilting or hand embroidery and stretching it on a frame? I think it deserves to be finished.

  7. Disaster? I think not!

    I trust that you'll find workable solutions that end up in a fabulous piece.

  8. It's a lovely start... I do hope you find a way back to it!

  9. I'd say this piece taught you a lot, and hopefully will re-appear one of these days and find new life!

  10. I loved reading about the journey of making this piece! From the hopeful stages through the discouraging phases...all great learning!


Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts on my work or a link to see your great stuff!