The Endeavourers’ Reveal Day 12 – The Sea

I am part of an online art quilt group that does quarterly challenges, The Endeavourers.  For our twelfth project, the theme was “The Sea.”

I had a lot of ideas, but then I got distracted by a huge donation of fabric, and as time was running out, I chose the least ambitious of them, a simple underwater scene.

I am not a diver myself, preferring to view underwater features from the safety of an aquarium or a soothing streaming video, so I can fully take in the wonders without also having to concentrate on my breathing. 🙂 I have been to at least five aquariums around the US, but my best photos were from the Düsseldorf Aquazoo, where I took pictures in 2018, planning to use them in a different Endeavourers’ challenge, “Texture.”

My inspiration photo and my interpretation.

Just as I started work, I read the book Appliqué Art Quilts: Inspired by Stained Glass, by Deborah Wirsu.  Rather than using bias tape to provide the “lead” in stained glass window quilts, her technique involves leaving small spaces between appliqué shapes, and letting the background show through.  I decided to try that for the fish —

The basic fish shapes, fused to my hand-dyed background.

and then I referred to the book Coloring with Thread by Ann Fahl, for tips on thread sketching on top of the appliqué.

Thread painting for dimension and detail.

I used two layers of Warm and White batting in the quilt, and I really liked the way the stitches sunk in.  To make the coral shapes, I did some free motion embroidery with 40-weight and 12-weight thread, and then I very lightly quilted some watery lines in the background.

Two practice samples — 40-wt. and 12-wt. on the left; just 40-wt. on the right. I did add 12-wt. on my final piece.

We went out of town for a weekend, and I brought the project with me to do the hand-beading, but forgot to take my reference photo with me, so I had to guess where the white dots should go around the fish.

Beaded and painted fish.

I added touches of Lumiere textile paint, and hand-stitched some ribbon and trim at the bottom to evoke the waving coral fronds.

Fish with ribbon “coral”.

Today, in looking back through my photos, I found one that shows better details of the fish —

The Banggai cardinalfish is from Indonesia.

They are only 3 inches long!

I am really fascinated by biofluorescent fish and I wish I had thought of a way to portray them.

As with all of our challenges, there are things I would improve if I were to replicate this piece for a show, but I really enjoyed the process of making it, and of trying new techniques. I could happily add more detail to it with more hand stitching, beading, and embellishing.

All of our pieces will be posted on November 1, here at The Endeavourers blog.