Sheer Whim

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…


Sheer Whim — 31 Comments

  1. 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. 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. Maria,
    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

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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…

  7. Maria,
    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!

  8. 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.

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

  10. Maria,
    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.