Art Quilt: Keystones

 A friend had recommended a book of embroidery stitches by Natalie Chanin, but I had forgotten the title and ended up checking out the newest book, Embroidery Threads and Stories from Alabama Chanin and the School of Making (Amazon associates link). It's a beautiful book, published by Abrams, and I was over-the-top inspired by the technique of merging stencil and reverse appliqué, both of which I have done before, but not together. 

The photos are luscious, the story exciting for anyone working in textiles, I think. I like the raw-edge style and the simple, almost scrappy, way the clothes are sewn together, making them beautiful and lively works of art in themselves. I looked at the Alabama Chanin website and saw a fitted dress they sell, all handmade, for $1238. I can see why. The "Swatch of the Month" gives you a good idea of the style/technique.

I had to try this out. Several months ago, while working on the otter, kelp, and seaweed quilts, The Hidden Otter, Kelp Kelp Garibaldi, Kelp Kelp Otter, and Kelp: Sea Gold, I had created and stenciled some kelp over an otter print I had designed and hand dyed, but couldn't find a use for it. Here is where it could work.

In the otter patter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium narrated feeding (check it out at 10:30, 1:30 and/or 3:30pm Pacific Time) the naturalists always mention that the Southern Sea Otter is a "keystone species," protecting the kelp by eating the purple urchins that can decimate it. The kelp is home to numerous small creatures and it functions as a forest by using carbon dioxide and creating oxygen and sugar. The two together, in my mind, are "keystones."

8"w x 24"h (20.5 cm x 61 cm)
Hand stenciled on original otter design and hand-dyed cotton; found cotton; velvet; Japanese yarn-dyed cotton; reverse appliqué; embroidery thread; hand quilted

The book my friend recommended was actually The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and The School of Making (Amazon associates link). There are more books from her with patterns and techniques. I will have to look up the rest as well.