This is a guest post by my friend Sylvia Davis, a very creative quilt artist. She graciously agreed to undertake making something to hang on a wall in my living room. I love the resulting piece.
A group of friends was at my house for dinner, and as often happens, we all gravitated to my workroom to discuss my current quilting projects. Silent amongst them stood Joycelyn, who was looking thoughtfully at each of the wall hangings in the room. These were predominantly modern abstract stained glass-like patterns in bright colors using bias tape and sometimes beading. They had been created over many years sans any formal training other than an occasional quilting class and around working full time and raising teenagers; they were just for fun. Later she asked if I could make one like these for her, as she had a space in her living room that called out for something interesting. And with that, our collaborative adventure began.
Soon I put together many of my design books for stained glass (mostly Dover) and a notebook of my own projects and went over to Joycelyn’s place. We looked around at her living room, noting the design elements and colors that already existed (heavily Southwest), looked at the space above some bookcases where the wall hanging would be hung, and determined a size of 46 x 18 inches. We went through all the idea books, putting Post-Its on all the pages that showed something she liked. Then we went back to each Post-It page one by one and discussed which details she liked, pulling graceful lines from one, circles from another, and placement from yet another as well as the idea of having one design element go outside the basic rectangle. We made a rough drawing of what we had in mind…
…and set off for the quilting shops for fabric. Two stores later, voila! We found a Southwest abstract in several color schemes. There we sat on the floor of a fortunately empty store, bolts all around us and two store cats wending their way in between us, and we made our decisions.
As I drove home after our purchase, I was utterly amazed that in one short afternoon we had both designed the wall hanging and bought the fabric! I had expected a much more laborious process. Our success lay in Joycelyn’s innate design sense, which meant that, even without the element of color, she knew immediately what she liked and didn’t like. Combined with my experience in which details would likely work and which presented too many problems or conflicted with the overall design, we had made short work of the whole designing process.
Then began several weeks of communication with each other whenever there were decisions to be made about colors and other details, sometimes in person and sometimes via photographs and e-mails. We were both startled at the number of times we had been independently thinking of the same change. We progressed through the paper true-to-size layout…
…transfer of the layout to the background light teal fabric, grid quilting of the background…
…placement and sewing of the curving lines, and assembly and attachment of the circles without a hitch.
I couldn’t find the right color of cording for some of the circles, but found crocheting thread and braided it into two sizes, and we both liked the texture the braiding added and the tie-off of the threads that created some draped detail.
When the wall hanging was nearly complete, we met in a gemstone shop to choose the final embellishments. Then, only two months later, her new wall hanging was proudly in place, a bold statement that pulls many elements of her living room together satisfyingly.
What a delightful adventure!
NOTE: I couldn’t agree more. Collaborating with Sylvia was great fun, and after just over six months, I can’t imagine not having this piece hanging on the wall of my living room. It just seems to belong there. Thank you, Sylvia! Looking forward to our next project together.