Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Guardian Angel

(Above:  Guardian Angel. 38" x 30". Image transfers on fabric, vintage coverlet scrap, antique glass buttons and newer buttons, beads and sequins, trim, and a single artificial flower collected from a cemetery dumpster; self-guided, free-motion machine embroidery and dense hand stitching.)

I think I saw Jane Dunnewold's call-for-entry on an Internet fiber group but I'm not really sure now.  It doesn't much matter.  Instantly I liked the title:  Digital Alchemy.   I'm sure these two words prompted me to click a link to Jane's on-line submission information where I read:

Digital fabrics, printed on-demand by companies like, offer opportunities for self-expression quilters have not accessed before. This exhibition, sponsored by, seeks to showcase the myriad and exciting ways quilters use digitally printed fabrics.

Well, I've used Spoonflower to print a few of my digital photographs on fabric. There's a "learning curve", of course.  Yet, I figured out how NOT to waste a single square inch of ordered fabric by filling the available pixels with images of texture.  Once, I ordered yardage with the three images pictured below.

 (Above:  The image I submitted to Spoonflower.)

I used the image on the left to create an art quilt called The Girl With the Upturned Shell ... because that's what this angel sculptural is actually called. (February 2014)  I blogged about the work HERE ... including this paragraph:

I love Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery.  It isn't the oldest in the area but it is undoubtedly the most hauntingly beautiful.  The vast expanse is filled with Spanish moss covered ancient oaks, blooming azalea, and an aura of pure Southern Gothic.  The place is best known for its "Bird Girl", a sculptural grave marker that graced the cover of John Berendt's best-seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  That statue has since been removed to the Telfair Art Museum ... but it wasn't my favorite anyway.  The Baldwin family's plot has "The Girl With the Upturned Shell".  There are always fresh flowers in her vessel.  She is simply gorgeous and I had plenty of nice photos.

(Above:  A portion of a recently ordered image from Spoonflower ... as seen on the Spoonflower website when uploading and working with their on-line software.  I'll be blogging about the piece made from this order either later this week or next week ... as the work is part of an exhibition at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios called "The Gossip Game".   More later!)

Please notice that I added portions of other images to fill the yardage being printed by Spoonflower.  So ... to make the new work, I used the other image of The Girl with the Upturned Shell and then created a unique halo for her.  The halo was constructed using clipped pieces of fabric that were printed along the edge ... to fill the available yardage on my order.  (If you have to order a full yard or even two ... why not use every inch of it?)  The image of a rusty tin wall came from Castle Dome Ghost Town in Arizona.  The edge of the other order featured a detail shot of the naturally rusted and dyed fabric used in my Night of Terror Installation.  Together ... these rusty and slightly slate blue tinged textures became the halo.

(Above:  Guardian Angel, detail.)

I had to work fast ... really, really quickly!  Why?  Well, I saw the call-for-entry and envisioned this piece only about six weeks before the deadline.  I knew I wanted the entire background stitched with dense running stitches, every quarter of an inch or closer together.  I knew that i wanted to fill the area around the angel's head with clear seed beads.  I knew I had the most beautiful antique glass buttons for the edge of the halo.  In addition to the free-motion machine embroidery (which took less than a day), I had LOTS and LOTS of handwork to do.  This piece was stitched mostly while traveling ... in the rental cargo van going to and from the American Craft Council Shows in both Baltimore and Atlanta and everywhere else.  It was my evening handwork for weeks.

(Above:  Guardian Angel, detail.)

I'm happy to report that the piece was accepted into Digital Alchemy, a show that premiers at the Festival of Quilts in Houston, Texas, October 23 - November 1, 2015.  In the meantime, it has also been accepted into the 36th Annual Juried South Carolina Artist Competition at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History, April 25 - June 11, 2015.

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber artwork.


KAM said...

Susan - This piece is wonderful! What grand hand stitching, beads and buttons. It is a treasure. And, I had no idea about having something digital printed as a one off by, that is a gem of a resource. Congratulations on you show acceptance!

Mosaic Magpie said...

I had seen where Spoonflower would print fabric....but what I had seen was a repeat of a small print. What a great use of your photos and the filler print.

Jeannette said...

Thank you for the wonderful explanation on another one of your creative and extraordinary pieces. Congratulations on it being accepted into the show and competition too.

Maggi said...

Congratulations on getting selected. I like the way that you make the most of your Spoonflower fabric.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic and well done on getting selected!

Kaja said...

This is just beautiful. The tips on how to make the most of Spoonflower are very welcome - thanks. I kind of like how the pieces look even before you cut them up and use them.

Wanda said...

The angel hit me like a ton of bricks. It looks like you. When we were little. Wow....breathtaking