“Art quilt? No, I’m no good at art. I can’t draw.”

My art education has consisted of elementary/middle school art class and a slew of museum memberships. But I love to experiment with different tools and techniques in quilting, so when space opened up in the Art Quilt Club at my local quilt shop, I jumped at the chance to join up.

I made some friends who invited me to participate in a small informal group of art quilters, and although “I’m no good at art,” I figured I could learn a little and make some more friends, so I said, “Sure!”

At their next meeting, they were going to bring their most recent projects, which were supposed to be “fruit.” I figured I’d start on something, although I was unlikely to finish in time. I decided to challenge myself with a wholecloth mini-quilt of a pineapple.

I have a big tin full of Derwent Inktense pencils that I’d been wanting to play with, so I looked around online for ideas of how to use them. First I tried just drawing on fabric. Then I brushed it with a mix of water and fabric medium.

Derwent Inktense on Untreated Cotton
I drew and colored the pineapple with Derwent Inktense pencils on Kona White PFD (prepared for dying), then brushed it with a 50/50 mixture of Liquitex fabric medium and water.

I thought it looked kind of cool, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what I wanted to make, but it wasn’t this. Not right now, anyway.

Next, I took a piece of fabric and coated the entire thing with that same mix of water and fabric medium. After it dried, I drew a pineapple lightly with pencil (I used my trusty lightbox and traced part of it–I really can’t draw) and used a little 505 spray to put a piece of batting onto the back of the fabric. Then I traced over the lines with Aurifil 50 wt. I used a free-motion foot and went pretty slowly.

This time, I dipped the Inktense pencils in water to color the pineapple. I tried to color the lightest areas first and then gradually get darker. This is what I brought to show the art quilters the first time I met them:

Derwent Inktense on Fabric Prepared with Fabric Medium
With the fabric already prepared with fabric medium, I drew the pineapple in thread first, then colored it in with Inktense pencils dipped in water.

Okay, I was pretty pleased with this. But it was just a pineapple floating in space. It needed a surface. I remembered a quilt that I saw at Quilt Con and was inspired to make a tablecloth.

Detail of "Infused Plaid" by Cassandra Beaver
Detail of “Infused Plaid” by Cassandra Beaver

Using a ruler and pencil, I drew a horizon line and made small marks about 3/4″ apart along it. Then I made marks about 1″ apart along the bottom of the quilt. I drew lines between the marks, added horizontal lines, and voilà, perspective. (Kind of). Then I filled the whole thing in with more Aurifil.Very dense quilting

Next, I thought, “It needs a chair.” So I drew a chair, outlined it with thread, and filled it in with Inktense pencil the way I did the pineapple. Then I added some paneling the same way. Then, a window. I decided it would be night time, because the way I had shaded the pineapple it wouldn’t make sense to have sunlight streaming in from that direction. I put a little tulle on to simulate a screen and differentiate the window from the window sill. I made a little curtain.

Pineapple in progress
This is where I got stuck.

Then it stopped talking to me. The curtain didn’t feel right, and the wall needed something. So I got to thinking about pineapples.

Did you know that pineapples are a symbol of hospitality and warmth? I thought about this picture I was creating, about a well-lit and cheerful table contrasted against the dark outside, and I realized that the color I chose for the paneling reminded me of the cabinets in my grandparents’ kitchen.

I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ kitchen table. I grew up running in and out of their house, and it got pretty crowded around the table sometimes, but there always seemed to be room for another chair.

So I decided to try to evoke the warmth of that kitchen. I “painted” the wall a sunny yellow, and used Photoshop to shrink down and “frame” the decorations I chose to hang there. Here’s where I kind of broke with my original plan of a wholecloth quilt using only thread and Inktense pencils.

The Hurrier I Go The Behinder I Get
I found an image online of the exact trivet that my grandmother had hanging near the table. It says, “The Hurrier I Go The Behinder I Get.” The bottom photo is my grandmother. It’s the picture my grandfather kept on his desk.
mini pictures
My sister and brother and I have fond memories of going out into the woods on our farm with our dad and granddad to cut down our Christmas tree, so I had to include a picture of that. (I’m the little kid on the right.) The Eatmor Cranberries label is the Silver Medal brand that was associated with my family’s farm back in the days when we sold fresh cranberries.

Believe it or not, the last part was the hardest. The kitchen had a big sliding glass door that had some pretty memorable curtains made from a special fabric. They were faded, but otherwise in good shape. And they had been given to me.

Come In, Sit Down, Relax, Converse
“Come In, Sit Down, Relax, Converse” by Becca Fenstermaker

I’ve had them on a shelf for years. It was hard for me to cut into one of them, but I know I’d never use them as curtains, and what better way to show them off?

Mimi had another trivet hanging over the stove. It said, “Come In, Sit Down, Relax, Converse. Our House Doesn’t Always Look Like This, Sometimes It’s Even Worse.” I think the first part of that really sums up the atmosphere I was aiming for, and the symbolism of the pineapple that started the whole project.

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14 Replies to “Art Quilt: Come In, Sit Down, Relax, Converse

  1. I love reading this post, and learning the process of making your art quilt. I think you can consider yourself a quilt artist now. I just love this quilt, it’s full of good memories of what was back then and what you’re doing now.

  2. It looks like you enjoyed the process and learned something new. Fun reading through your thought process as you made the quilt. I think I need that trivet your grandmother had; it would fit around here!

  3. Loved finding you here! You are indeed an Art Quilter!!! Loved your descriptions and illustrations describing your inspirations and choices made! See you in a bit! Keep going…

  4. What a great quilt! I am intrigued by the Inktense pens and will take a looks for some. I think you did a fantastic job. I am beginning to take pictures of things that are meaning full as we leave our house of 22 years and think this could be a fun way to address some of it!

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