Art quilts-and what’s with all the freaking butterflies?

Not outside, in my house! I’m a creative sort, and I recently have come across something I hadn’t heard of before, called art quilting. I’ve considered quilting before, I go into the fabric store and float around wondering what in the world could I do with all of those beautiful fabrics? The colors, the textures, the fun prints. I have not been a successful sewer in the past. Following patterns, and the patience it requires to follow instructions and do things the right way, just not my style. I like things big and bold, do it yourself. I have to be really inspired to put in the time required to get good at something new. Every time I looked at the beautiful quilts my friend Kim’s Mom makes, I thought, yeah that’s nice, but look at all of those tiny squares! The precision! I could never. 

But now I wanted to make art quilts. When am I ever going to have time to learn how to sew when I start working again? This is it, I’m jumping in. So I signed up for a beginners quilting class in order to learn the basics so I could move right on to making these beautiful quilts. You can see some beautiful art quilts here – and here is the artist who wrote the article that inspired me to try this out .

Here’s what I made in the class- it’s a table runner. It was a 6 week class, and honestly by the end of it I couldn’t believe that I had made it! Sure, there’s some obvious mistakes to a professional, but this thing is good enough to put out! Of course it’s probably the most expensive table runner in history- but you have to start somewhere, and supplies cost $$$.

So getting to the butterflies- the project in the magazine was for freeform fabric collage, and the sample was a fish- I love fish, I’m a Pisces, I’ve made nice hand painted wood fish, fish paintings, and I enjoy alot of water related stuff, but for some reason I was not inspired to do a fish. What I really wanted to do was a landscape picture of some square foot gardening, with cabbage, carrots, flowers, etc, which is something I’ve always wanted to paint as well. Nah, too complicated. I think Farmville is starting to impact my daily life. Needs to be something more simple, a single subject. Like a fish but not the fish.

So I’m looking around, and I think, hey what about a butterfly? I like butterflies. Then I take another look around- apparantly I really like butterflies. They’re on the walls, I have a framed photograph, stickers on my vision board, magnets, there’s one on the dishwasher, I have a big butterfly platter, my papertowels, pillows on the couch, in the bathroom upstairs, they’re everywhere! I even made myself into a butterfly on a vision board (another post entirely), and after I took pictures of them all I started making dinner- you guessed it, Farfalle pasta and meatballs. I’m scaring myself.

Ok, butterflies it is. So I started with a drawing, not so great. My motto is you really have to ruin alot of stuff if you ever want to get good at making art. Martha Beck (one of my favorite people- she’s the lifecoach from Oprah magazine) says that if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. My excuse for poor draftsmanship here is that butterflies are meant to be in color, and you can’t really expect to make a good one in pencil, now can you? HAHAHA.

So here’s my freeform fabric collage butterfly so far. And I like it, so cross your fingers that I don’t screw it up when I put the backing and filling on and try to artfully sew it all together. It’s the first time I’ll be sewing anything but a straight line, we’ll see how it goes! I already have dreams of this being my new profession, and having one of my art quilts hang in the White House.

Wikianswers says about butterflies:

“We are all small and appear to be the same (like the caterpillar), but as we grow older our true beauty shows (like the butterfly). Like a butterfly, we are all different, and beautiful in our own way. In the Christian religion, the metamorphosis a butterfly undergoes is symbolic of the spiritual evolution all Christains go through. In ancient mythology, the butterfly stands for wisdom and everlasting knowledge. ”

Butterflies to me signify change, metamorphisis. So living it up today means looking around and noticing what’s been there along, and trying something new- being willing to make a mess of it- if not now, when?


About debratap

Mom, artist, analyst- taking some time to figure it all out!
This entry was posted in Art, Art Quilts, Free time, Good Things, Quilting, Taking chances, Vision Board and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Art quilts-and what’s with all the freaking butterflies?

  1. linda says:

    I’m so impressed with your venturing into quilting and your diligence with blogging. How the heck do u do it all plus taking care of Charlie, swishing, etc.?I always heard that butterflies are a sign of life and they’re good luck if they land on u (unless they shit on your head!) Btw, I could blog off of your writing (like dueling banjoes) and talk about caterpillars which are currently eating up my beautiful and expensive flowers.There will be no metamorphosis on my teerace; they’re destructuve pests. Keep up the good work, Deb.

  2. linda says:

    What’s with all the freakin’ càterpillars? Where do they all come from…

  3. MOM says:

    I amsure you will master the art of quilting and it would make a wonderful gift someday for your mother.

  4. rebecca says:

    Another awesome blog. And the butterflies and the quilting, it is all so impressive to me. I have had a few vision boards but they were all so stilted and when I saw Laura’s and now yours …wow!
    Keep up the good work! Did LS arrive safely?

    • debratap says:

      She did, I spoke with her briefly tonight. Next time I do a vision board I’ll call you to come over, they’re fun- probably more so with someone else there!.



  6. Laurita says:

    I am just going to have to call you the master of all that is creative. Sincerely, with all that passion, creativity, and amazing productivity I see contracts for pieces coming your way my friend. So very proud, in awe and happy for you. Hugs, L

  7. Noreen Dengler says:

    OK, butterflies were never my favorite, but I think you changed my mind!

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