Monday, September 12, 2016

Ballena Muerta mini quilt

Ballena Muerta (Spanish for Dead Whale), measures about 14" x 10"

This quilt started as one of those ideas that grips you and doesn't let go until you've turned it into reality.  It started while I was working on the Fractal Friendship Star quilt.  That quilt has the most basic of quilting--only in the ditch, so basically unnoticeable.  It worked really well for that quilt, but my swap with Yvonne was for straight line quilting, which is definitely a different aesthetic than stitch in the ditch!  So I thought, okay I'll make her a second quilt and go crazy with straight line quilting!  Then I broke more rules by doing the straight lines around intricate free motion quilting, haha.  I'm a quilting rebel!

Ballena Muerta: I made a composite bowhead whale skeleton from 3 different pictures I found online. I probably spent an hour in front of a sunny window trying to get all the details traced onto that Kona Pepper.  Cue the bright light induced headache.

I originally planned to make her a mermaid (I'm dying to make a mermaid!) but realized instead I should make her a creature she would like (and I'm not sure how she feels about mermaids, though I doubt it is negatively).  Then I remembered her saying how much she loved whales!  But I wanted it to be a part of my Quilted Mythological Creature Series, so set out to find some good whale myths to inspire the quilt.  Somehow I came across the Japanese myth of the Bake-kujira (meaning whale ghost/creature) and it struck a chord, partly because we came across a whale bone sculpture while in Oregon together last month and I liked that tie-in.

Ballena Muerta: outline and skeleton quilted.  And yes, that small floating bone is the whale's pelvis!  I was debating about including the baleen at this point since it's made out of keratin and not bone.

I picked Kona Pepper so the whale would be a really dark blue (and let it be known that Kona Pepper IS a dark blue, not a dark grey!), with the intention of filling the background with ocean-y colored threads:

Ballena Muerta: adding organic straight lines using with my FMQ foot and Aurifil variegated 4662.

I ended up going back and adding even more straight lines, but with medium and bright blue Aurifil threads:

Ballena Muerta: straight line quilting detail

I knew I wanted to decorate the rest of the whale with tiny flow quilting designs (including some quilted paisleys!), which ended up giving the whale a very Dia de los Muertos feel, especially on the back of the quilt:

Ballena Muerta: quilt back.  And how fitting is that dandelion in this photo??  I love it.

On the front of the quilt I used Aurifil Dark Navy so it would almost blend with the Kona Pepper--I wanted the quilting to add texture and a slight blue shine to the designs, but not really distract from the bones:

Ballena Muerta: quilting detail.  Check out those tiny hand/flipper bones!
Ballena Muerta: quilting detail.

I had fun going through my Aurifil thread collection and picking threads for this quilt!  I wanted most of the quilt to read as watery and the whale to be at least reminiscent of an actual bowhead whale in coloring.

Ballena Muerta: Aurifil threads used!  Top left were used for the whale and bottom left for the background and whale outlines.  I used the really dark grey in areas that I wanted the quilting to disappear, and black was used in the bobbin.

I was delighted to be able to gift it to Yvonne in person during a recent visit (how lucky am I that she comes to Albuquerque several times a year?!) and she's already hung it in her sewing room!

Ballena Muerta: back quilting detail.

Ballena Muerta: back tail quilting detail.

22 comments:

  1. Umm, that's Kona Pepper? I assumed it was Navy or something. It is definitely in the blue family. Crazy! And the Dia de los Muertos feel is super awesome. I love both quilts and am so honored that you made this for me. I did love the connection to the whale bones we saw in Oregon and that you remembered how much I like whales. Seriously, I just want to swim with them. Until maybe I get a chance and then I might freak out (could they eat me? They are so huge they might not notice me! Eek!).

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  2. Ack! This is amazing! And so much more you than the Fractal Friendship Star (which was still beautiful, but not so much YOU). I love the detail in the whale skeleton, and all the fmq that fills him in, but almost blends in so the bones are so much more noticeable. Gorgeous and a true work of art!

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    1. Oh, and is there a snail in there somewhere? It feels like there should be :)

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  3. All I can say is WOW! That is the coolest quilt! I am so impressed with your artistic prowess, and the really unique projects that you come up with. This one is great both front and back!

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  4. Amazing! The attention to detail...wow....you are so artistic.

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  5. Gobsmacked! You continue to amaze.

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  6. Almost speechless on this one. It's breathtaking! Lucky Yvonne!

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  7. Absolutely stunning. Great overall design, with perfect colors and texture. Total #CreativeGoodness

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quiltshopgal.com

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  8. Absolutely amazing! There is so much attention to detail and so much...awesomeness! This really is an amazing quilty work of art.

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  9. Great and beautiful. I love your idea and amazing quilting.
    Greetings from Poland
    Kamila

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  10. Oh my goodness, this is amazing. Seriously, I think it may be my most favorite mini quilt ever. Such cool inspiration and execution! Yvonne is very lucky :)

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  11. Sooooo GORGEOUS! All I can say is...WOW! I'm jelly...ok, now you should make a Jellyfish :) and send it to me!

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  12. I am in awe of your quilting talents, Renee. This quilt is so detailed and the quilting is so meticulous and compliments the whale perfectly. Thank you for letting us see it.

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  13. Wow this is truly great !
    Love from Belgium.

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  14. Who would not love a paisley ghost whale?
    Yes, you are a quilting rebel, but we admire you for it.

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  15. This amazes me! The whale inside and out...is so spectacular! You are such a master with these pieces, you so inspire me! Just gorgeous!

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  16. Everything about this project inspires me! Thank you for playing along in the Linky Party

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  17. This is fabulous! Stunning and all!

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