It always starts with inspiration and design. For this project, I borrowed inspiration from Quilting Arts magazine and the Readers' Challenge "Illumination." The idea was to select a letter, symbol or idea and create a 5 by 5 inch quilt. Which letter to choose? What theme to convey? What story to tell? For me, it was easy! "S" naturally suggested a snake to me and my design grew around the intersection of an Illuminated Bible, the letter "S" and a Bible story. Here's my thumbnail sketch of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden under the Tree of Knowledge. It's a balanced design with the fluffy "God" cloud opposite the leafy tree. Although the design changes a bit, most of the elements remain the same.
Now to begin! After a class with Laura Wasilowski, I construct my small pieces in the same way: around a base of Timtex. The Timtex stabilizes the stitches for me. I wanted to choose a background fabric from my travels so I spread out some choices from Liberty Lawn. These pieces have some vegetation-like imagery and I thought that one of them would help me convey a jungle. I chose the piece on the right--some vegetation but not too busy.
Next another favorite technique: Paintstiks used with stamps for surface embellishment. Laura Murray (www.lauramurraydesigns.com) can give you more detailed information, but the stamp goes beneath the fabric and the paintstiks rub color on the elevated portions.
Here's a bit of serendipity: I found the perfect tree block at the Artistic Artifacts booth at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show! The size of the block did change my overall design, but the leaf detail furthered my story in a way that I'm not sure I would have been able to without the stamp. For a clear impression, hold the fabric as you gently stroke the Paintstik across the image. I don't usually tape it down, but I've had some experience in the technique.
Next up, the STAR of the show! I used my Intense pencils to draw the serpent--an italicized "S"--from the bottom left, over the tree, to the top right. Just a touch of water really brings an intensity to the color.
I now have the basics in place; it's time for the stitching. Thread emphasizes the design and my choices were on the sparkly side. Gold for the heavenly body, blue for the snakeskin, and a red forked-tongue carry out the theme. The last to appear? Shadowy figures representing Adam and Eve, inspired by an engraving by Albrecht Durer. Don't forget the apple! That lone French knot is essential to the story and tells us that this is not just any tree and not just any snake.
And here we have the finished piece! Excess fabric is folded to the back, covered by an additional piece of fabric. I add the label at the end.