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  • Suzanne Munroe

Creating My Quilt for Explorations Exhibit

I was chosen to create a piece of art (30" x 50") to be exhibited along with materials explaining my techniques and creative process. The concept is to bring the viewer into the quilt artist’s studio to give them a feel for the creative process as expressed in art quilts. The exhibit will debut at the New England Quilt Museum, 18 Shattuck St in Lowell, MA and will take place in two parts, the first show opens at NEQM from October 3, 2018 - December 28 2018. The Artists Reception is Saturday, October 13, 2018 at 1pm. A second group showing is from April 2, 2019 - June 23, 2019. The Artist Reception will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 1pm. You can order a catalog of all 24 artists process at

This is my reference photo for my quilt. My dear Aunt Edith and Aunt Eleanor taken at Conway Lake in Conway, New Hampshire in 1927. We still vacation at the same farm house they were raised, and swim in the same lake! When up NH this summer I plan to try and find the same rock, and take a photo of what it looks like now.

I began the quilt by drawing directly onto muslin fabric. I used Derwent inktense blocks to paint the faces, arms and legs. Inktense blocks and pencils have ink in the lead and are permanent when dry. Water may be used to activate the pigments, but when working on fabric care must be taken as the color tends to bleed. Fabric medium works well to help the color stay where I put it, but I like to use aloe vera gel. It’s pretty controllable, and I can usually get a nice blended tone as long as the fabric is saturated with the gel. The Inktense color cannot be rewet in order to mix color later on, so I try to complete a portrait in one sitting. I add acrylic paint if I can’t get the look I want with the Inktense blocks. I start with light applications and build up the intensity of color.

Next, I started to create and sew the background. I decided not to go with a realistic background, but to use color to suggest a forest of trees with the light coming thru them. I pulled out all my green/blue fabric,trying to decide which to use. I drew a template and started cutting out samples from several fabrics, and just went from there. I strategically placed each piece where I wanted it on the quilt. I added the swimsuit material so I could make sure the colors would all compliment each other. When the pieces were all sewn together, I ironed fusible web on the back of the background, to help keep it in place before sewing. Thrilled that I used only fabric from my stash and did go out and buy more! (So far the hardest part of making the quilt so far!!! lol)

"Dressing" the girls was my favorite part! I think it reminded me of fond memories playing with paper dolls! I used freezer paper to draw out the bathing suits, and used that as a pattern to cut out the fabric. I backed the fabric with fusible web, so I could iron in place. I created their bathing caps the same way.

Cutting the background out around the girls face and body. I kept thinking I should of created the background first, and then placed the girls on top of the background as an added layer - (cutting around the face was tedious, as I had to be so careful not to cut too much!)

Once I had the background in place, and the girls swimsuits ironed on, I painted some shadows and folds onto their suits. It really made them come alive.

Working on the rock and water, I took along time to think about how much detail I wanted to add to the shore line and water. I decided I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I thought I would add birch trees to the background, but decided it was too distracting. Because the quilt is 30 x 50 - I did not have a space I could hang it so I could step back and view it for any changes i might want to make. I pinned it to my curtain rod, where it hung for a couple of days, so I could glance at it before I made any decisions.

I did very simple quilting - I thought I would do really elaborate stitching, but decided again, to just let the focus be the girls, so very minimal quilting was done. I stitched around the eyes, and mouth to secure the face down. I started to get some skipping in my stitches, and cleaned out my bobbin - lots of dust/lint which fixed the problem. Measuring the quilt cutting to size is always a scary process. I must of measured and remeasured a hundred times!

Quilt now had binding on. Still a little more to do - I added buttons and embellishments.

Finished Quilt: The Twins 30" x 50"

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