Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strata - Nellie

 I have loved this photo that I took of a crumbling bank while rafting the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2006.  The exposed strata of rocks, soil and roots above the clear running water intrigued me.  And of course, I knew just how I wanted to interpret it.  But wait ... what I had in mind is what a lot of people would expect me to do.  I like a challenge, plus participation in this group is pushing me to stretch beyond my comfort zone.

Strata - 13"x 17"

It began with a quick sketch of proportions for the elements in the photo so I could scale them up to a larger size.

Years ago I had set aside this set of decorator fabric samples for some project in the future.  All those smooth round stones in the photo made me think of the circular patterns in that fabric.
I wondered what the whole picture would be like if it was made only from circles.  It is the only fabric I used and was fussy cut to get the coloration needed for the different elements.  Now I have a bunch of scraps that look like Swiss cheese.  The process of getting it together is the same as I had done for last month's doll piece.  The raw edged pieces are arranged on the batting, then a layer of tulle netting is laid on top.  Quilting holds the layers together.

Scraps.  I really am hooked on working with scraps.  All the while I was composing this, I really, really, really wanted to interpret that picture with my "ortwork" collage technique ... in the way most everyone expected.  Sooooooo....I flipped the piece over and collaged the backside from this bag of scraps.

Viola!  A two sided quilt..... 
Because I had not intended to do this, there were complications caused by the lack of planning.  My first thought was to quilt the more realistic terrain lines with a dark thread in the bobbin so they would show up on the circle fabric side.  However, I had not reversed the image for the back side, so that idea was out.  I ended up moving the front side composition with the circle fabrics to another piece of batting.  Then I quilted each piece separately ... the natural lines of the terrain and elements on the "ortwork" back side and around the circles on the "front" side.

The two were connected together in the process of couching the yarns that finish the outside edge.  I left about an inch unstitched on each side so there is an opening for a stick to pass between the front and back pictures.  The ends of the stick extend beyond the sides of the quilt for hanging on two nails.  There are a few lines of quilting through both layers that meander through the center of the quilt to keep them together, as well.

I like both versions and am glad I explored a different path for interpreting what I see in this photo.  However, I'm partial to the "ortwork" one.  I feel awe at the transformation of those bits and pieces that would normally be discarded. Beverly had mailed a baggie of raveled threads that she trimmed from her dyed fabrics.  The shrubs are the pulled apart tangles of the greens.  Masses of roots are represented by pulled and twisted gold cheese cloth she included.  Thank you, Beverly.  Pieces cut away from the photo transferred fabric for last month's challenge play in there, too.  Also, each side is finished with different colors of tulle ... light blue on the circle side and yellow/orange on the "ortwork" side.
Strata II - 13"x 17"
I've always liked making interesting backings for my quilts.  Creating a focal piece for a back is a first for me.  Now, which way should I hang it for viewing?


  1. It is really amazing to see how you made BOTH sides from unexpected materials. I can't imagine how you would choose one side over the other. Maybe you need to sacrifice a doorway for quilt display. Or I guess you could just flip it each month.

  2. I love your "double the pleasure" piece(s). I enjoy you working outside of your comfort zone but had to laugh that you had to go back to what is you! I feel both pieces are successful and just carry a different mood. A very interesting solution which allowed you to quilt each seperately and still sandwich them together!

    Love the texture & color on the ortwork and the interest the circles created over the surface on the opposite piece. Wonderful job Nellie on both.

  3. Both pieces as Barbara said are very successful; a different level of interpretation for both. I can certainly see why you would want to do both. Loving a subject could mean that you are always able to go back to it and see it in a fresh way. Good for you and great results on both pieces.

  4. I agree with Barbara: it's so funny that you just HAD to do the ort work! The circle one is wonderful too. Terrific job.

  5. You certainly didn't disappoint us with either of your interpretations this month! I really love the circle, pebbly look of the first Strata. Great work on an interesting picture, Nellie.

  6. Rafting the Snake River? There is more to you Nellie then beautiful artwork. I love the 2 sided idea. Do each one then join them together. How simple but something we don't think of. This way if you tire of one side then turn it over for awhile. That dot fabric is gorgeous.



  7. Stunning photograph and wonderful interpretation!

  8. I like them both, but am partial to the second one, I think because of the colors.

  9. So glad to see you did one with the orts too! AND on the back of your work even. Very impressed here!Love them both and I have to admit that I too am partial to the ORts!

  10. Nellie, I LOVE how that circular fabric looks in the first piece! The texture you quilted in is a visual feast for the eyes, and if my hands could reach through the computer to touch it, they would. The ortwork is a bonus- you really captured the picture, and I love seeing my threadies put to good use.

  11. I do love the divisionist/pointillist style of the first Strata but I've also become a huge fan of your ortworkist style!

    Well done and well done!

  12. I am thrilled with the "dot" side of Strata. It "reads" as a Nellie piece but is, like you said, a stretch in a bit of a different direction. Just gorgeous.

  13. Awesome! I especially like the dot side. Who knew one could do so much "different" with fabric that is so "similar." Lovely!


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