I remember connecting with this Lady after thinking these were
portraits not quilts....
Sew I asked her to provide me with some photos
of her captivating quilts sew you could AWE
Here are her stories....
Madamm Samm kindly invited me to be a guest blogger on Stash Manicure today. Thanks so much! I’m Maria Elkins, and I like to make original art quilts.
I made my first quilt in 1985 when I was expecting our first daughter, but I started sewing long before that. In fact, I was sewing most of my own clothes by junior high and high school. I was always interested in drawing, too, especially portraits. In the early 1990’s I began seeing quilts that featured people and I finally realized I could combine my love of art with my love of quilts. Since then, I’ve focused on experimenting with ways I could depict people on quilts.
My first original quilt, “In Answer to Prayer,” features a large, male angel. My sweet husband graciously acted as my model. I consider this my sampler quilt because I tried many different techniques. The angel is hand appliqued using Charlotte Warr Andersen’s technique. The border is a watercolor wash – it was going to be the entire background, but it didn’t turn out to be a favorite technique. The wings are trapunto by machine, and the irregular edges are left free so they stand out from the quilt surface. I tried my hand at freehand machine calligraphy. It is hand quilted with sliver metallic thread.
This quilt was a milestone for me. Because I was grappling with my huge fear of failure, it took me several years to complete. But, finishing it also stirred up a desire to create more original quilts.
I joined a quilt guild so I could be around other quilters and learn new techniques. I jumped in and participated in the guild’s yearly quilt challenges. It provided a reason to try new things, and it gave me a deadline, which pushed me forward.
In 2000, I started my second original art quilt that features people. (I did make some other quilts between these two, though.) “Wedding Dreams” was made for a quilt guild challenge with the theme of “Visions of Tomorrow.” As I drove home from the guild meeting, I thought of the image of a little girl dreaming of what she would look like on her wedding day. When I got home, I quickly sketched it out. That was the point when I was convinced that this quilt needed to be made life-size.
This quilt is entirely curved, machine piecing, except the faces and flowers, which are hand appliqued. I wanted to create a sense of transparency, so the veil is created through the choice of fabrics, not by using tulle. I also quilted garlands of roses over all of the rings, but I didn’t choose my thread well and unfortunately that intricate quilting doesn’t show up very well.
While I was making “Wedding Dreams” I was also working full time. I spent pretty much every waking hour for ten months trying to complete it before the deadline, but I couldn’t get it done in time. After that exhausting experienced, I realized that I would need to work much smaller for a while so I could get more done.
My next quilt, “Stolen Lives,” came about rather suddenly. Within days of September 11 when the twin towers were destroyed, I thought of the image of two people as the two towers and knew I would need to make a commemorative quilt. About the same time, Karey Bresenhan, Director of the International Quilt Festival, announced that they would have a special exhibit of 9-11 quilts, but they needed the quilts the first week of October. That deadline put me in high gear. I drew the images directly on fabric using Pigma pens. I used my inkjet printer to print the faint American flag on the background. It is done in four panels and it is pieced where the stripes meet. Then I sponge painted the smoke and fire over the background. The buildings are fused applique, and the date at the bottom is hand lettered. I finished it off with free-motion machine quilting.
In 2002, I used Tsukineko inks for the first time. I really enjoyed hand painting commercially printed, tone-on-tone fabrics with these inks because they are transparent and the fabric’s pattern still shows through. For several years, I experimented with using the inks to hand paint portraits. “Evening Star” was the first quilt I hand painted. I loved the immediate results, so I used the same technique on “Flight of Fancy” and “Ohio Dreaming.” I’ve always been drawn to geometric quilts, so I used this opportunity to incorporate traditional blocks in a non-traditional way. These three quilts are all fused applique and free-motion, machine quilted.
In 2003, my daughters were in high school and searching for where they would like to go to college. I decided that, even though I was working full-time, I needed to finish my Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. That put quiltmaking on hold for a few years while I took art classes, but that didn’t stop my exploration of textile art. When I did my printmaking assignments on paper, I also printed them on fabric. During my last semester before graduation, I took a stack of my lithographs, cut them up, rearranged them, and made “Redeeming Fragments.” I was thrilled when it was juried into my university’s senior show, but I was even more excited when it won a ribbon at the 2006 International Quilt Festival in
. Houston, Texas
In 2009, Pokey Bolton of Quilting Arts Magazine asked me to film a DVD workshop. I was dumbfounded, and couldn’t, for the life of me, think of anything that I could teach. She gently suggested that maybe I could teach about quilted portraits. Duh! So in February 2009 I filmed my “Making Faces” DVD workshop. The beginner’s lesson teaches how to make fused portraits using a digitally altered photograph. “Blue Dave” and “Violinist” are two samples from that workshop.
“Broken Dishes” is an extension of the technique taught in the “Making Faces” DVD. I had this image in my mind for at least ten years before I finally had the opportunity to make this quilt. It was inspired by the name of the traditional quilt block, which is used in the background and on the floor.
In the fall of 2009, I decided that I wanted to finish a quilt top that I started in 2003. “Captivated” is the result. It was inspired by a short story that my daughter was writing about a prince and his friend who escape from the castle and go on an adventure. The portrait is of my daughter who becomes completely engrossed when she is reading. This quilt is completely fused appliqued and machine quilted.
When I showed “Captivated” to a critique group where I’m a member, it wasn’t exactly favorably reviewed. I could agree with many of the comments that were made, and I was motivated to make something new and fresh. The day I got home from my critique group, I gathered up some black and white fabrics, some fabric crayons, and some PaintStiks and we left to go camping in our RV for a couple of days. While we were relaxing, I started “Sheer Whim.” It began with a simple, hand-drawn portrait. Once we got home, I fused a grid of sheer fabrics over the top. I finished it off by machine quilting some fantasy feathers over the top. I completed the 17” square quilt in one week, just in time to meet the deadline for the 2010 International Quilt Festival in
. I was honored when it was accepted and subsequently won a ribbon. Houston
Where will I go next? I’m not exactly sure. I have ideas swirling around in my mind, but I’ve been procrastinating. Once my current deadlines are met, I think it will be time to experiment with some more portraits.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my stories.