Tree Quilt, a.k.a. Chinese Democracy

A long, long time ago, there was a me who could take fantastic weeklong art classes virtually free. That me took classes on Hawaiian Quilting and then on some something involving Guatemalan fabric and something else, who remembers.

That Guatemalan instructor sold us many strips of woven Guatemalan fabric and said "do this and this and this and then cut it like this." We students went off and did all that stuff, and the next time I looked up, all the other students had quilt tops that looked like the instructor's, and I had one that looked like this:

"Hrm," the instructor said. "Aren't trees supposed to be brown?"

"Hrmph," I said. "I am very creative." And also I don't have any brown fabric in my stash, apparently.

This quilt was conceived during a time when I was very interested in art quilting, which involves embellishment that also serves the function of quilting all three (or however many) layers together, as well as not caring what the back of the quilt looks like. (This was also very appealing.)

Once I tore myself away from the wonder of having a seven-foot work table all to myself, the quilt was packed up and worked on sporadically over the next five or so years.

I did lots of embroidery, most of which didn't make the final cut. I beaded the edges of the tree in carefully color-coordinated beads, and then learned the incredibly important lesson that any beading should be done last. Possibly even after binding. I hand-quilted the entire top, using three strands of embroidery thread and a gigantic needle, after seeing and liking an article about "big stitching" in a quilting magazine. This quilt was a staple at the Art Days I participated in over the last two years, which involved a bunch of artists in various media packing into my friend's awesome dining room and working for several hours at a clip every couple of weekends.

One of my favorite features of this quilt is that the tip of the rightmost tree branch is woven fabric rescued from a hippie-type wallet that I used until it fell apart.

This quilt has what appears to be an extra corner, does not lie "flat" in any sense of the word, the back is a horror show, and the pink stripes in the border on the bottom right bled onto the blue background fabric, but I love it. It's cheery, colorful, and weird, and other than the dog's nose, it's the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. I'm so glad it's done and hanging up.

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