Saturday, March 15, 2014

Nothing Negative About It -- film strip wall hanging

The story of this wall hanging goes back to August 2013, when I showed my finally finished Diary Quilt top to my grandparents, and my grandma cried over it. :gulp:  I knew then I wanted to make her something really amazing, to give her a piece of the quilt in some way. Of course I couldn't dismantle my quilt top, but I could, and did, make duplicate blocks that held particular significance to her, and turn them into a wall hanging.

I've been asked why my grandma cried when she saw my Diary Quilt quilt top in person; the answer to that is because she's been reading all my blogs since I started, and on my personal blog I journaled every story, about every block, as I made it. All the "why" and "who" and "what" that each and every block represents, and my grandma shows up in lots of the blocks. I honestly didn't realize, until making the quilt, just how huge of an influence she's been in my life, but she has been. Almost 20% of the blocks (4 out of the 25 blocks) are direct representations of some aspect of her influence in my life. She'd read all those stories, and the letters I sent to her about each one, and the stories about all the other blocks, and so it touched her, deeply, to see it in person. She knew that she was seeing a tribute to her, to all the people in my life, and that she was a very big part of that.

When I realized, seeing her cry over it, just how much it meant to her that I'd done this, I had to come up with a way to give her a piece of it. So I recreated "her" blocks, in a style more fitting of her love of all things contemporary, set it as a 35mm negative/film strip as a tribute to my grandpa, the family photographer, and I finished it just in time for Christmas. Barely.

I did elaborate custom quilting on the blocks, or at least, what for me passes as elaborate custom quilting. From the very first free motion hearts I quilted into the argyle baby quilt, I've come a long way!

"Nothing Negative About It"
filmstrip wall hanging, completed December 2013

On the Christmas Star block, I quilted a Christmas tree; since I'd swapped all the colors for black & white, it needed something to identify it as a Christmas star.

"Christmas Star"
outlined the star, quilted a Christmas tree in the center of the star
On the airplane block, better done this time than the one in my actual quilt, I quilted inside the outline of the plane and then quilted "wind" or "airflow" lines to show movement, and quilted echoes around the propeller for the same reason.
"Airplane Block"
outlined the plane, wind/air flow behind the wings, and echoes around the propeller

 For the center block, I made a new block, which I called "Ojos de Dios" as a representation of the traditional Christmas decoration comprised of sticks & yarn, or toothpicks & embroidery floss. My grandma used to sometimes decorate her tree with these, and taught me how to make them. My original idea on the diary quilt involved a pinned-on Ojos but I haven't found a way to incorporate that after all. I did want to include it in my grandma's wall hanging, though.

new block, "Ojos de Dios"
spiral/reverse echo quilted to resemble the traditional "ojos" Christmas tree ornaments

The Thrifty block was one of the more emotional, as it was a tribute not just to my grandma but also to my late uncle, her son. On the original block, I hand embroidered the words "love" "laugh" and "live" but I felt this needed something simple, so I just followed the pattern of the block.

a simple echo/outline quilting to highlight the pattern
 The final block is Jewel Box, a nod to my grandma's art gallery (which carries a fabulous array of Native American jewelry); beginning in high school, I have worked at the gallery, starting every day after school + Saturdays, down to just on an "as needed" basis; for this block I chose to enhance the "jewels" in the box by quilting diamond shapes into them, and then enhance the "box" by straight line quilting it to show distinction between the jewels and the box. Then I just outlined the corner triangles to give definition.

"Jewel Box"
I did diamonds (jewels) in the squares, and straight lines in the "box" part of the pattern,
then outlined the triangles on the corner

 I know that the quilting is nothing outstanding, but remember that I'm only quilting on a Janome Magnolia 7318, have only owned that machine since August 2012, and this is only the 4th thing I've even done partial custom quilting on. These were all done with the walking foot, not free motion foot, but still. I'm really proud of my work on this one!

I added a hanging sleeve and supplied the way to hang it, and gave it to my grandparents in late December; they both really loved it, so it was definitely a success!

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