My inspiration came from a series of silk-screened prints I had done of an art nouveau rhododendron. I used a copyright free design that I had further simplified. I had printed the design on both off-white silks and hand-dyed fabrics. I decided upon one of the hand-dyed pieces, because the colors complemented both in color and theme other fabrics I had created through surface design techniques. My goal was to combine the fabrics into a single piece. However, no matter how many ideas I tried, I couldn’t find a successful composition.
Instead, I reverse-appliquéd the print onto a commercial batik. To finish the zigzag appliqué edge, I couched a metallic Kreinik braid over it.
In researching art nouveau designs, I saw insects were particularly prevalent throughout this era. This was a great way to extend my nature theme. I drew my own moth, butterfly, and cicadas. My intention was to appliqué them in the corners, framing the screen-print. But again, I couldn’t find a visually balanced composition no matter the size of shape of the drawings. I’ve saved them for another piece.
Onto another idea: I designed a simple, nouveau-style motif to frame the print. The motifs have a grass or stalk-like feel. And I was still working with the idea of adding insects to the piece.
After auditioning colors, I chose an ombré fabric which provides some visual interest through the light-to-dark value gradation.
I appliquéd blossoms among the framing motifs. My choices were to add insects to one or all four motifs have just one crawling across the quilt to the flowers in the center print. But first, I had to sample some fabrics and designs to make an insect.
To construct the insect, I fused three layers of batting then two layers of sheer fabric for the body. The wings and head are faux leather. I attached seed beads for eyes and the wings’ spots. Bugle beads and seed beads were slipped over wire to create legs and stitched to the insects’ undersides. To attach the insects to the quilt top I couched them down in between the bugle beads.
I stippled around the screen-printed rhododendron to give the motif a raised effect. Then I echo-quilted around the circle four times and around the nouveau motifs. The background is stippled in larger size than the center screen print.