It all started with this print.
I’ve been interested in color blindness tests for a while and am currently working on a series of screen prints. This reductive screen print has seven colors.
After interacting with the extremely talented quilting artist Luke Haynes as a MITCH Collective visiting artist, I decided to challenge myself and translate the print into a very large-scale quilt. I set out to make something for my bed, but got carried away and just kept making it bigger and bigger…
I sketched out a modified chevron pattern for the back ground and used my geometry skills (yay Math!) to create a pattern.
I collected a variety of clothes from thrift stores and used a laser cutter at TechShop Pittsburgh to cut them out into a variety of circle sizes. If you haven’t heard of TechShop, check them out! It was recently featured on NPR in a story about the rise of community access maker spaces.
After I laid out all the circles into the background, I safety pinned all of them and then meticulously turned all the raw edges under and hand stitched them into place. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the process. I estimated there are 400-500 circles, but I couldn’t bring myself to count them.
The whole reason I was working so large was because I knew I would have access to a long arm quilter at the TechShop San Jose location. After a crash course on how to use the machine, I fired it up to practice my free motion quilting on a test piece. This was my first time doing free motion quilting. Using it on such a precious project was like throwing a baby bird out of the nest and just hoping it would fly.
I love drawing with thread! After a short test-run, I loaded up the quilt onto the rollers and set to work. TechShop San Jose was my cozy new home for the four quilt-filled days I spent there.
I used King Tut Canaan and King Tut Temple thread from Superior Threads for the grey and white areas and a clear monofilament thread to stitch around all the circles. Thank goodness for invisible thread! Machine stitching around circles perfectly is almost as hard (and impossible) as hand stitching them.
The finished piece measures 100″x100″ and I’m super thrilled about it. This lovely portrait was taken by the all-around fantastic San Francisco photographer Alex Huff days after I finished the machine stitching. Calavera will be on view in Pittsburgh, PA at Revision Space gallery in a group show entitled The Enduring Skull opening on October 31, 2014.