The Tale of a Quilt Commission and Two Thermostats

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I spent most of 2014 holed up in my studio developing, composing, and piecing a new body of work that currently consists of ten quilt tops – five that are enormous.  This arduous, creative journey was humbling, but during the process, I felt my artistic confidence growing.  When my sister, Karla, and her significant other, Tim, requested that I create a quilt for their new living room feature wall, confidence prevailed in my decision, and I accepted the commission.

Because we live in opposite corners of Ohio, distance would be a factor during the planning stages. Phone conversations, photographs, and emails would be our primary methods of communication.  Karla and Tim were also in the process of renovating many areas of their home.  Color schemes and furnishings were being changed and updated.

Karla’s and Tim’s vision for the quilt was that it reflect and support the calm, serene, and tranquil mood of the furnishings; that it be realistic in viewpoint (rather than abstract); and that it feature trees and/or leaves as the theme.

Karla emailed this photo of the 144” wide feature wall and followed up with a phone call.  (Note how the large expanse of wall space swallowed up the disproportionately small-scale metallic artwork.)

Serenita 01 Feature Wall_full

The phone conversation that followed went something like this:

“The space is huge!  Am I seeing two thermostats in the middle of your feature wall?”

“Yes.”

“Where and when will the thermostats be re-located?”

“We have no plans to re-locate them.”

“Really?” (While muttering under my breath that she couldn’t be serious.)  “Will I need to factor the thermostats into the overall design?”

“Yes.”

“Okay!”  (No longer feeling fearless.)

With measurements, paper, and pencil in hand, I went to work.  My solution to the thermostat dilemma was to create a multi-media wall composition that included a quilt triptych (3-panel composition) and a floating shelf supporting 3 vases of various sizes and shapes, each containing natural filler to camouflage the thermostats.

Serenita 02 Scale Drawing_fullKarla and Tim approved the design concept and drawing.  All parties signed the contract, and my work began.

Quilt fabrics that coordinated with samples of the wall colors and furnishings in the installation space and surrounding areas were assembled.  I also conducted a few experiments piecing leaves with fabric. My new mantra?   “Calm | Serene | Tranquil”

Serenita 03 Palette_full

Achieving a graceful flow required careful planning and precise piecing.

Serenita 04 Progress1_full

Leaf by leaf, section by section, the triptych began to take shape.

Serenita 05 Progress 2_full

Tree branches were inserted last, and the piecing was complete.

Serenita 06 Pieced_full

Each panel of the triptych was layered with quilt batting and backing fabric, pin basted, and quilted. Edges were faced and hanging sleeves and labels were attached. The final step was signing my name in thread.  I titled the triptych, “Serenita”, the Italian translation for the word serenity.

“Serenita”

103” wide x 46” high

machine pieced | machine quilted with silk and cotton threads

(full view and detail images below by Roger Rowitz)

Serenita 07 Prophotog_full

Detail image #1.

Serenita 09 Detail2_full

Detail image #2.

Serenita 10 Detail3_full

Detail image #3.

Serenita 08 Detail1_full

Detail image #4.

Serenita 11 Detail4_full

 

Installation day.  Black tape marked the placement of the floating shelf.

Serenita 12 Installation_full

 

Fully installed!

Serenita 13 Complete_full

In retrospect, those two pesky thermostats were the springboard for designing a unique multi-media wall composition that enhances the living space and supports the serene sensibility that Karla and Tim are creating with their color scheme, furnishings, and ongoing improvements.

Serenita 15 Fullview_full

Challenging!  Fun!  Done!