Journal Entry: January 25, 2013.
I’ve been hearing more about “upcycling”, relating it to clothing, the latest catchword for recycling used clothing or repurposing into another form. I’m guessing that some of the hype is related to the trend toward wearing vintage clothes, added to an emphasis on reusing items we typically throw away. With this purpose in mind I decided to try making an art quilt that is predominately made of recycled materials.
One of my daughter-in-laws posted an idea for a wall hanger on her Facebook page that she found on Pinterest. When I saw it I immediately thought it would be a great idea for hanging miniature quilts. I remember one of my college professors saying that you can rarely discover anything that has not been done before; thereby, freewheeling is an O.K. principle when it comes to instructional design. It goes to show: great ideas can be recycled too!
The foundation for Growing Green is a piece of wood I found along with some other discarded pieces of a remodeling project. My son cut it down for me and added the antique glass doorknobs I found at a local recycle shop. I painted the board and three small artist canvases I purchased at Hobby Lobby with black paint, leftover from another home project. My son then screwed in cup hooks at the top of the canvases to thread ribbons for hanging the quilts to the wood bar.
The miniature quilts were the fun part! I picked up several blouses from the Tri Lakes Cares Hangers’ Thrift Shop. Two of the blouses were cotton and one was made of linen, which had a tone-on-tone flower pattern. The other had eyelet edging, and silver thread running through the fabric. I cut up the blouses to create flat pieces of fabric, which I dyed varying shades of green. I cut the dyed pieces into strips and sewed the strips together to create the backing for each mini quilt. I placed the dyed, pieced quilt top on batting, then stabilizer, and finally a backing to create the quilt sandwich, which I quilted together to create the backing for the miniature quilts.
I used some previously hand-dyed fabric for the flower petals, some scraps I kept from other projects. I stitched the beads in the circular pattern you see at the center of the yellow flower.
I spread glue over the center of the orange flower and dropped a solid layer of micro beads on top of the glue.
The red flower is my favorite. I took a piece of tyvek paper from a FedEx envelope. I heated it slightly with a heat gun or hair dryer to shrink it up. I cut a circle out of the heated tyvek and painted it red with Setacolor paint I purchased through Dharma Trading Post.
Growing Green was a really fun project to develop, from the initial concept of discovering the inspiration for displaying the quilt flowers, and finding materials to be upcycled for the quilted layers. I challenge you to look around your house to find throwaways you can put into an art quilt. Take a trip to your local recycle or thrift shops. They are a wonderland of quilting possibilities.