I have just started work on a new series of small wall hangings inspired by the fan palms in the Borneo rain forest. It’s been a while since I started a completely new project but this is one I have been thinking about doing for a while now and I finally got started after a recent trip to the forest.
Unfortunately our walk was cut short by a big thunderstorm but not before I had taken plenty of fan palm photos, I then took one of these and made a number of crops so I can experiment with different views of the same design. I drew out my patterns in EQ7 because I want to later scale up any of the designs I particularly like.
I started off with making some freezer paper stencils and getting my old Painstiks out to make the background palm fronds.
I then traced the design of the palm frond onto fusible web and applied that to some hand dyed fabric. Have chosen to use raw edge appliqué for these small quilts because there are a lot of very narrow inside curves, so I layered up the top with batting and backing then stitched round all the edges of the palm fronds using a matching thread. I then used a darker thread to stitch all the ridges in the leaves.
Before doing this the design had looked very flat, but stitching in all the lines brings the design to life and gives it texture.
Finally I used a dark variegated thread to make lines of dense echo quilting in the background which again helps to make the palm frond stand out.
I recently signed up for a Craftsy class with Gloria Loughman called “Linear Landscape Quilts”. It’s a really good class and the first sections on choosing colour schemes and fabric painting are almost a class on their own. To make her “linear landscapes” she uses two layers of fabric and a clever raw edge applique technique which reveals slithers of the underneath fabric to create the effect of contours. The landscape she created is very appealing but as I watched the video I realized that this technique could be adapted for things other than landscapes so I decided to try it out on one of my own designs.
My inspiration was this jungle plant which grows in the Sarawak rain forest and has beautiful curved and ribbed leaves.
My first piece is a close up study of these leaves using some of my hand dyed fabrics.
I was happy with the way that this first piece turned out so I decided to try it on a larger design using the complete leaves.
I used a bright green for the base, with a darker green for the main part of the leaf, and made three pieces like this. It’s time consuming but very effective.