Tag Archives: metallic thread

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Avoidance of difficult projects spurs me to finish older tops. I can’t figure out how to quilt Torii so I got Phosphenes quilted. The process went much faster than I had anticipated, which was a pleasant surprise. I think once I made peace with the decision to use a walking foot rather than free motion quilting my anxiety level plummeted.

PhosphenesAs I wrote earlier, I had an oddball notion to make a quilt of what you see when you rub your eyes hard. Those shooting bits of color and sparks are called phosphenes, so why should I avoid the obvious title.

I pieced scraps for the diagonal color strips and book-ended a navy ombre fabric for the fade out effect. The random hand stitches were done with Valdani 12 weight perle cotton. I don’t care that it’s expensive; it’s great stuff. After I fused fleece in strips on the back of the navy fabric for extra puffiness I did the hand stitching, then I layered the batting and backing.

I used Superior smoke colored invisible thread for much of the machine quilting, and Sulky metallic thread for zing. First I tried some Wonderfil metallic thread I had, but it continued to give me grief – breakages, catching in the tension discs – despite various adjustments. Unfortunately, I bought a four pack of the miserable stuff. I’ve found Madeira and Sulky metallic thread to be much easier to work with.

Phosphenes detail 1I decided to use a facing for the edge finish.  Now I’m toying with some beading to add pops of sparkle in the hand stitched areas.  I’ll try beads from my limited supply and see if any will add enough to this quilt to be worth the hassle of sewing them on.

Phosphenes back



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Cutting The Cord

Recently a commenter asked me how I knew a piece was done. I responded that for me it was intuitive, but on further reflection I’ve decided it’s like the advice Coco Chanel supposedly gave for accessorizing an outfit. Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”

Mlle. Chanel devoted far more thought to dressing than I ever have, but I think the principle’s the same: go a bit over the edge and then back off a touch. I try to add to a quilt until it’s just too much of a muchness (from Chanel to Alice in Wonderland in the same paragraph!) Then I stop and remove something. Usually that does the trick for me.

I also concur with painter Jamie Wyeth who said in his August 14, 2014, interview on Here and Now: “All the inadequacies jump out at me. … I don’t really finish a picture but it gets to the point of diminishing returns, and I just say, enough.”

I hope I’ve set the stage to debut The Big Bang, which I wrote about as my problem project.

The_Big_Bang_Joanna_MackI felt it needed more – more subtlety, more mystery, more depth. However, I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I painted more silk organza and cheesecloth, but found layering them on top gave a monochromatic effect.

After I removed those layers I hit on using them selectively, in particular the cheesecloth. I recalled photos of galaxies where clouds of matter swirled about. That was the effect I sought.


Many hand stitches with metallic and silk threads later, I declare this piece finished.

detail 1detail 2detail 3Of course there are aspects I’d like to change. My bottom layer of fabric worked for the initial concept, but now doesn’t quite fit. I toyed with starting afresh with a dark fabric, but realized the transparency effect wouldn’t show as well. I wish the metallic thread sparkled more. It does in certain lights, but mostly when you hold the piece at an angle. I’d love to find a way to display it with a light behind it, but the mechanics are beyond my ability and that would constrain where I could display it.

However, I think it’s time I stop fussing with this one and declare it born.


Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects