Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today is Reveal Day for our Material Mavens Group!

Alice's South Quilt--Vincent's Chair
I hope all readers of this post will hurry on over to The Material Mavens blog to see the gorgeous quilts that are going up there all day today, January 15.  I am blown away by them.  I thought the first two groups of quilts were wonderful, but it seems to me that our Mavens are really pulling out all the stops on this theme, South, and the results are varied and beautiful.  I can't wait to see them all!

In this post here, though, I thought I'd write a bit more than I did in my narrative on the Mavens blog about constructing my quilt.  I won't repeat what I had to say there, but will amplify it a bit.  I DID think immediately of doing a Vincent Van Gogh quilt, based on one of his works that he did in Arles, where we visited in 2009.  Choosing which one was difficult, though, as I had so many from which to choose!  My final decision was based on the simplicity of the composition of "Vincent's Chair" and the fact that it moved and touched me emotionally.

I loved thinking about Vincent painting this picture of the rush-bottomed, yellow chair in his room, and including the crumpled up tobacco pouch and his pipe.  I had some sprouting onions myself in my kitchen, and that he included a box of sprouting onions in his painting was another homey touch that I loved.

Believe it or not, the simplest part of the quilt was the part I had the hardest time with--the background!  I made three different versions of it before I was satisfied!  The first, the one most faithful to the colors that I could see in the print that I own of this painting, just looked to dull and washed-out to me.  Van Gogh used bright, vibrant colors, and these were too grayed down.  My second version was better, and I actually hand-embroidered the grout in the tile floor and loved that part of it, but that one was rectangular and "framed" with bright yellow fabric, to represent a wooden frame.  But putting that onto a square piece of batting and seeing how odd it looked to have two wide strips at the side and two narrow ones at top and bottom made me discard #2.

Didn't like the background color of the
door but it was nice to
have another chair on which
to practice with my pastels for fabric!

I didn't care for the frame, but I
did love the way I handled
the grout with

So I decided to change the proportions of Van Gogh's original work.  I sketched off the painting on graph paper, placing my freezer paper template for the chair to aid me in placing the grout lines on the tile floor:

the sketch on graph paper

I cut out the pieces for the wall, door, and floor using my freezer paper templates:

templates for background and chair's seat

I free-hand cut the onions and their green sprouts from batik fabrics.  After sandwiching the quilt I did the floor stitching, the machine quilting on the wall, several green lines of stitching on the door.  Then I fused and appliqued the box and the chair in my usual way.  Finally, I did what was the "new technique" that I try to employ on each MM quilt--this time, shading and shadowing with fabric pastels.  THIS step was the most fun and gave me the biggest sense of satisfaction in this little 12"x12" quilt.


  1. I love the portrait chairs Van Gogh painted and I like that you took them on. Even better that the wildest technique, using your pastels, was the most fun for you. I don't think I could ever do that. Nice that you try out so much.

  2. Alice I'm so glad you elaborated more fully about this piece here on your blog. Most of all I appreciate your documentation of the drafting, preliminary experiments and final production of the Vincent's chair. Being involved with the Maven's has already proven to be exciting, educational and inspiring. I'm so thankful to be considered one of the group. Also, much thanks for the wonderful job you are doing as Material Maven's blog host.

  3. Wonderful documentation of your whole process...thank you so much for this additional information. You SO made the right call for your background. Also agree with a comment made on the MM blog, I think by Nedra, regarding your border...perfect to extend your design through the border.

  4. I brought my Van Gogh print to the computer so I could compare what you did with the original print. Yes, your colors are more vibrant than the original. Different mediums need different interpretations. I was interested in which aspects of your work gave you the most pleasure. Very good, Alice!

  5. Gorgeous, Alice. I love your mental connections for SOUTH and the way you translated the Van Gogh painting into your quilt, changing what you needed to change, such as the colors. We went to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and have seen many of his paintings in other museums too. What a great inspiration for your SOUTH MM project! ss

  6. Enjoyed looking at your blog ... I think it is good to have a group project, it pushes your boundaries.
    A friend and I are working on setting up a new group. It would be international and therefor communication would be by internet. Any suggestions/cautions/ideas?
    Do you have 'guidelines' for quilts other than the 12" square?

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog! I'd love to answer your question in detail, but I'd prefer to do it via email. Go to my profile and find my email address and then email me, sending me yours. Then I can reply to you more thoroughly. Also, visit our group blog at

      I think you'll like it! We'd love you to become a Follower, too!