Rust is My Muse

My art quilt friend Jenny Lyons, in her blog yesterday, mentioned a technique of using a large print in the center of a piece, and building the composition around it.
Jenny Lyons
She said she’d gotten the inspiration from Linda Waddle years ago:
Jenny on Linda Waddle
I was pleased to know this is actually “a thing,” because I just finished a piece using this technique.  In my head I was calling it using a “Photo starter.”  Jenny called it “Print Starter.”  Same difference! My photo print on cloth was 8.5 x 11,” and of course I wanted my quilt to be larger than that.
About a year ago I had taken a photo of one of my neighbor’s bone pile of rusty cars that he uses to cannibalize for parts. I’d printed the image on cloth, meaning to get back to it.  Which, finally I did.
First I backed it with just one piece of cloth, put it in my embroidery hoop, and started stitching on it.  I used simple stitches: French knots, big wonky cross stitches, and running stitches.
Then I designed “the surround” and cut and put that together using raw edge applique. I used fabrics that complemented the central photo. I included photos printed on silk that I’d taken at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum while on a recent visit. You can see them peeking through here and there.
Now I had the entire composition, so I made my quilt sandwich and kept hand stitching.  Now each stitch served the function of both embroidering and quilting. The finished size is 23 x 17.5.”
I won’t lie.  This took at least 2 weeks.
The part I like best is where I painstakingly combined individual strands of embroidery floss to get just the right mixture of colors. Here is a detail of that area.
I’m calling the piece Rusty Musty Fusty, and submitting it to a show called Muse at Studio B in Boyertown, PA. Curator Jane Stahl encourages literary submissions as well, so I made up this poem.  Though I’m not so sure it gets many “literary” kudos!
Rusty Musty Fusty
By Martha Ressler
Yo!  I like ‘em rusty and musty
Old city factories all scruffy
And in the country so crusty
They were cars or trains, all them parts so fusty
Lying around — almost art — a little fuzzy
The sun makes you just
Lovely though scruffy
That’s OK I’m not fussy
I’ll take you thusly
Beauty all rusty.

4 thoughts on “Rust is My Muse”

  1. Judith Karabelnik

    Marty, can you please give advice on your unique hanging method. Thanks Judi
    Sent from my iPad

    1. Currently I am using the classic method of hanging my art quilts. That is, a 5″ sleeve sewn securely on the back, 1″ from the top of the piece, with a wooden slat that goes through the sleeve. I put a screw eye at either end of the slat, and even provide the headless nails that hold it in to the wall.
      I think you are referring to a method I used for awhile: attaching the quilt to linen covered stretchers. (Actually for awhile I tried to use a linen covered board, but sometimes the board warped, so I quit that.) It is OK for some things, but what I don’t like is that it’s hard to sew the quilt on securely enough so that it doesn’t sag somewhat. I don’t like that — where the stitching shows, attaching the quilt to the linen.
      There was a good article in “Art Quilt Collector”, issue #5 on various methods of displaying art quilts.
      I scanned it for you, I’ll see if I can attach it here. Otherwise I’ll email it to you. (and anyone else who wants it!)

  2. Love the poem and title. And the piece! The French knots were worth it-it’s that type of detail that brings the viewer in. I love it when I look closely at a piece and see that kind of attention to detail and beauty. Thank you for the shout out!

  3. This is the first time that I have read your blog. And what a delight. Love your poem it reads like a rap song, perhaps not the intent, but that’s how I heard it. Great companion piece, love the quilt too.

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