The Raid

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I actually finished the work on this piece last November/December, although I didn’t sign it, or make the hanging rod, until last month.  And, I didn’t get a decent picture of it until a day or two ago.

Sunsight - Wallhanging 25.25" x 26" - 2012

Sunsight – Wallhanging 25.25″ x 26″ – 2012

This came about after a raid on my favorite quilt shop ( in Richmond, Virginia.  I say raid because I left there with the bulk of their scrap bin contents and more that they hadn’t put out yet.  (They have a bin of shop scraps that they sell by the bag – fill your own.)  My sister took me there whilst I was visiting my mother last summer.  She knitted in a corner of the store while I rummaged through that bin.  I was trying to hurry so she wouldn’t have to wait any longer than I could help.  When I had about 5 bags worth, I went looking for a larger bag and found one of their sales people pulling more scraps from under the counter to refill the bin since I had decimated its contents.  She kindly let me paw through all of those scraps, too.  I left with approximately two shopping bags full of scraps.  🙂  NOTE:  Few shops that I have had access to sell their shop scraps that way, assuming they sell them at all.  If they do, the bags are usually pre-packaged.

Anyway, I snagged all sorts of stuff – batik bits, novelty fabrics, solids, wools, flannels, bright colors, pastels, tonal prints and some really cool square pieces that had bird shapes cut out of them (presumably to be appliqued on something?).  I’m still contemplating what to do with those, but, since I can’t remember where I put them at the moment, that idea can simmer for a while longer.

A few weeks later, after I returned home to NY, I sorted through my haul in my usual fashion (i.e. collections of like-sized scraps, bits big enough for a 2.5″ cut square, pieces large enough for bigger squares, strips narrower than 2.5″, solids, bits that needed to go immediately to current projects, etc.).  I was pleased to find a nice collection of narrow batik strips and some solid black pieces and strips.  I laid those out after I put the rest away and arranged them in various ways while I thought about what I could do with them.  I liked the sort of spectrum look and the black really set the colors off.  Some of the black pieces were in strips so I thought about attaching black to the ends of the batik strips to make them all the same length.  I laid that out and looked at it for a while and then stuffed the whole lot into a ziplock bag to keep them together while things simmered.

By this time, it was early Fall and I was savoring the last few sunrises as best I could before it got too cold to enjoy them.  While standing out on the back deck early one morning, I admired the sunrise and the way the trees and the horizon of ridges and mountains and trees looked sillouetted against the intense color of the rising sun and I thought again of that bag of batik and black strips.  It occurred to me that I could replicate some of what I was seeing by using the batik strips as background and the black to create shape and pattern.  All thoughts of those scraps previously had been the other way around – using the bright colors to create a pattern and design against the black.  It was one of those Eureka! moments.

Sunsight (1)

Some of the strips were cut at an angle and some were cut bluntly and I left them that way.  I paired colored strips with black, piecing some of the colors together to get long enough strips. I laid them out and pulled them this way and that until I was happy with them.  I added a wider very dark grey tonal print to the bottom with narrow black bits on either end to represent the tree trunks and bordered the whole with more black.

After sewing the top together, I went looking in my stash for backing and binding.  I first went to my hoard of larger batik pieces because I thought I remembered something that might do.  Sure enough, I found it and it worked wonderfully – blues from light to navy with a design of pine trees, looking very like the view from my deck across a series of ridges to the Adirondacks.

Sunsight - Back

Sunsight – Back

While looking for the batiks, I found a smallish piece of fabric that had tiny stars in white and blue on a black background – perfect for the binding.  On one of my quarterly or so trips to town, I hit JoAnn’s for some lovely Sulky variegated rayon thread in yellows, peaches and orangy-reds.  I quilted it first in black 3-4 times along the vertical seam lines following the line of the trees, not the line of the seam, rounding corners slightly and being careful to cross and parallel the lines instead of sewing over and over on the same line,  as I went to soften and feather the edges a bit.  I had ironed the seams toward the black to bring it more into the foreground and some of those lines of black quilting were actually on the colored batik to recess it more along the edges.

After that was done, I quilted lines radiating outward using the variegated thread, and then did one line of quilting just outside the border seams using a King Tut variegated cotton thread in shades of blue, green and purple.

All while I was actually constructing this project, I knew I wanted it to represent a sunrise and I played with names for it along those lines but nothing I came up with seemed quite right.  Language, its use for communication, etymology, etc., has always fascinated me and I enjoy finding just the right words to communicate precisely and concisely what I want to convey.  Then, I chanced to read an article about Buckminster Fuller while looking into his theory of “ephemeralization” (doing more with less) and other sustainability theories, and there it was, the perfect word:  Sunsight.  Fuller reputedly thought the words “sunrise” and “sunset” were old-fashioned, geocentric and inaccurate because the sun does not move, rather it is the Earth that moves.  He preferred to use the words “sunsight” and “sunclipse” to describe the sun’s appearance and disappearance.  Ooohh, right on!  Just my kind of thinking… So, Sunsight it had to be.  🙂

From start to finish, I worked on this piece for about 4 months, in between other stuff, and then let it sit until now for pictures, signing and hanging rod.  Most of my projects are like that, and I really don’t worry about having too many WIPs around at any given time.  They are all in different stages of progress, ready to be picked up and worked as each idea develops and I know exactly what I want to do with it next.  Maybe that’s why I don’t really get tired of working on most projects before they are finished?  Once in a while, I zoom through one project with no real delays, but those are rare.  If anything, this project went together quicker than most once the idea gelled fully.

In other news, I”m busily trying to come up with ideas to display quilts at the upcoming Antique and Artisan Show.  I haven’t had any luck finding wooden ladders, but did turn up the remains of an old wooden crib.  I’ve started cleaning up an old wooden rocking chair and I need to hunt up the remains of a broken wooden drying rack that I saved hoping to find a use for it at some point.  We’ll see if it has any life in it yet.  It is possible to think about such things now that I can navigate the path to the basement without wading through snow or mud.  At least, such activity gives me a reason to be outside in the sunshine even if I can’t begin the garden just yet.