Sheer Whim

posted in: Sheer Whim | 1
Sheer Whim by Maria Elkins
Sheer Whim
Finished! The final touch was brainstorming with my family to come up with a title. I have a great family! It’s always fun to toss out ideas and talk about the various possibilities. Our final choice is “Sheer Whim.”

This quilt came about on a whim. My husband and I were going camping in our motorhome for a couple days. About an hour before we were ready to leave I decided to bring some art supplies with me. I took some pictures, printed out one, grabbed some fabric and fusible webbing, my iron, some crayons and inks, and away we went. By the time we came home, I had a finished quilt top and some foggy ideas of where to go next. You can read more about the process in my quilt gallery,

  1. Elizabeth

    Again, just beautiful. I love how you’ve combined ‘traditional’ art techniques with fabric art to make this beautiful portrait quilt. Thanks for sharing.

    xo -El

Sheer Whim

posted in: | 31

May 2010, 17" wide by 17" high, Private Collection, © 2010, Maria Elkins, All Rights Reserved.

Sheer Whim by Maria Elkins
Sheer Whim
In theory, I love the idea of experimenting. In reality, experimenting is a scary proposition. I have to choose to not worry about failing. More often than not I fall back on what is easy and safe. Doing a simple, realistic, straight-forward portrait is the easy thing, but it also can become a rut.

On a whim, I decided to make this quilt. For once, I didn’t have a clear idea in mind regarding the finished image. Instead, I just made decisions as I went. I started with four black and white, commercially printed fabrics and blocked in the basic shadows. Then I drew the portrait on top of the fabric with a black fabric crayon. Add to that some textures with Paintstiks and some color with Tsukineko all-purpose inks.

Sheer Whim, detail, by Maria Elkins
Sheer Whim, detail
After a couple days, I went to the fabric store and bought ten or fifteen different sheer fabrics and nettings. I’m always drawn to grid patterns, so I decided to fuse a grid of sheer squares over my portrait. With the grid in place, I started to plan ways to break up the grid with the quilting. I love feather motifs, and I’ve been really interested in the ones by Patsy Thompson, so I decided to start there.

Maybe I was a little too excited, but I woke up at 4 AM the next day, and started working on my quilt. Out came thread colors I don’t ever use and away I went. I’m a little rusty on controlled curves, and I rarely stitch a pre-planned design, so this was quite a stretch for me! This convinced me I need a lot more practice! Guess I’ll have to make another one now…

31 Responses

  1. Joy Stott

    Wow!!! It is absolutely stunning and breathtaking!! I noticed threads in different colors other than blue!!! Way to go!!! 🙂 I love it!! I admire your gift!! It’s very beautiful!!

  2. ann

    LOVE IT! Congratulations on breaking a little bit away. I tend to do too realistic. I’m trying to break away a bit, but as you say, it is hard. LOVE the quilting because it is so very different from realism.
    Wishing you JOY on your journey,

  3. Jacquie

    The quilting looks like very elegant tattooing — love the effect!

  4. Sandy

    This is absolutely brilliant! I can imagine the depth of the layers is even more fascinating in person.

    It seems to me that you are following related ideas to those you have been exploring and now do so well. Previous quilts have had a strong connection with the patchworking side of the P+Q tradition, and this has a stong connection to the quilting aspect.

    I am really looking forward to seeing this idea develop!
    Sandy in the UK

  5. Susan

    Maria, I just love your creativity and willingness to work outside the box! Its wonderful!

  6. Stacy West

    Spectacular work! I love your vision and thought that Captivated was the best, but now this has captured the title!

  7. Vivien Zepf

    This is amazing! I love this new direction and I hope you’ll do more “experimenting” like this!

  8. Madeline Hawley

    Very impressive, what great work, and how creative.

  9. Wen

    Terrific conception. I LOVE it when you get a new idea and run with it. The energy carries you though faster than any other work!

  10. Ed Chamness

    Oh, wow…it is great…good to read some of the transitions…I was wondering about the grid for a minute…can wait to see the real thing…Janice passed by the computer when I had the full photo up…usually she says “WHAT is that?” This time it was “WOW, what is that?” Hard to type in an appreciative tone…

  11. Patsy Thompson

    WOW, WOW, WOW!!! This is absolutely fabulous! I would love to see this quilt in person-it has such depth and is one of those quilts that you could just study for hours. My favorite part is her eyes; she just seems so “real” because of those soulful eyes, but I love the whole thing. Thanks so much for posting and sharing about your journey with this piece!

  12. Jeanne McBrayer

    This would have been a great portrait if it was only the face, but with the textural interest of the sheers and the incredible quilting, it is exquisite. Thanks for sharing.

  13. sherry Peterson

    Let me go find my socks now, you blew them right off my feet. I loved this piece. sherry

  14. Robin Koehler

    The sheers really make the eyes pop and the quilting designs remind me of curling locks in the wind.

  15. Lera Cavanaugh

    I love this quilt. It is so alive. I think you did the eyes perfectly–they really are the focal points. Also, the use of the sheers is very cool–I really like the effect. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Kim

    WOW!! WOW!! WOW!!! all your quilts are beautiful!!