Art Quilt: Kelp: Sea Gold

Continuing my exploration of kelp and otters, the fourth quilt in the series is a detailed look at the kelp itself. Kelp in the ocean is equivalent to the tree on land, in groups both are referred to as forests as they convert carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen. Tides pull pieces of the kelp up onto the beach where we (okay, I, anyway) can marvel at the patterns and textures of the fronds. This quilt then, the kelp framed in hand-dyed green velvet, is an homage to the beauty found there, our gold under the sea.

Kelp: Sea Gold
19"w x 23.75"h (48 cm x 60.5 cm)
Hand-dyed velvet; letterpress printed cotton from wood type; Japanese yarn-dyed cotton; watercolor ground; graphite; embroidery thread; metallic thread; variegated green cotton sashiko thread; machine pieced; free-motion quilted

I painted linen with watercolor ground, then drew the pattern and embroidered it, starting with variegated green cotton sashiko thread. I realized I wanted more depth, so I started changing up the colors, fading to gray at the edges, and including silver and gold metallic thread. 

(So, those little green lumps up there, not part of the quilt but that seem to match it, are weights I made from a Spoonflower pattern I designed called Moss Meander and had printed in "Celosia Velvet." Spoonflower is having a sale today, for Black Friday, if you are interested. Many more patterns available at my shop, Everbird.) 

When I got to the bulb (called, unflatteringly, a bladder), I was momentarily stumped. I began stitching around one edge, but then changed course and shaped a scrap of the letterpress printed cotton I had used in Kelp Kelp Garibaldi and Kelp Kelp Otter to fit. I embroidered over parts of the printed cotton, leaving some unstitched for contrast and texture.

This was a project I had in mind for a month or so, but was inspired to begin after seeing an exhibit of work by Edith Sauer Polonik at our local Sticks Picture Framing and Fine Art shop. My fingers got very itchy seeing her highly textured abstract works with marks and scratches, all inspired by nature.