Sunday, July 01, 2012


15" x 36"

I have finished my commission and wanted to share it with you.  I was contacted by a third party for this commission.  They had a client, a hospital, who wanted a piece for their new children's reception area.  I was very excited to work on this project!  After agreeing upon terms, I set out to design something to fit the size they wanted.  I immediately knew what I wanted to do, they had a theme of "Home" in mind, and I made a quick sketch.  This sketch was later drawn full scale, which was a real help when it came time to construct it.

After the client approved the design, they wanted to see it with colors.  The contract said that they wanted it done in pink and blue, I think because that was the paint colors of their walls.  This became a real difficulty for me because I don't work in pastels, or even just two colors.  However, I pulled out a fabric palette of lovely pinks and blues.  I then scanned them in and set them as a "design" in Photoshop.  Then I selected the shape and filled with the fabric choices.  In this way I was able to get a pretty good idea of what the fabrics would look like cut to their specific shapes and collaged to make the quilt surface.  I was not excited about the piece anymore.  Color is just so important to me, that I really struggled with this.  Many of the fabrics I initially chose were replaced with others as I continued to audition the fabrics.  Very time consuming and ultimately not my mind.

However, I sent the photos with several choices and waited to hear back so that I could continue.  Weeks passed.  ACK!! What is happening? Did they change their minds?  No, they didn't.  They rejected my color scheme of pink and blue, and said they really wanted something in my more typical color palette.  Add some more colors.  And use brights!  REALLY? Okay!!!  I dashed to the studio, and pulled out an entirely new set of fabrics.  Within an hour, I had the whole thing colored in with colors I craved!    Sent the new photo and it was accepted really quickly.

What I learned from this commission is that people are drawn to my work for many reasons.  If I am going to make something for someone else, it has to stay true to my sense of design and color, at least to a certain extent, otherwise, it won't look or feel like my work.  Interesting!

Here is the complete quilt:

And there are always a few minor changes when moving from the drawing to the fabric stage.  For example, the birds' shapes have changed slightly, and I used multiple fabrics for the background which doesn't show in the drawing.  Here's a few closeups of the birds and the decks.  That baby bird is just so darn cute!  I love the little tufts of embroidery floss on top of his head!

And because kids LOVE rainbows, I knew I wanted some element of the quilt to have rainbows, so I used some of my hand dyes to make the greys in the pole, and for the multi-colored ribbon going up the pole:
And for the weathercock, I had to add a fish, because I just love the ocean and fish, I needed a small representative of myself in the quilt.

And last, you may remember this little quilt, The Blue Birds and their Orange House.  This was a quilt that I donated to the Alliance for American Quilts.  It is very similar to this quilt.  I made it first and it really helped me as a prototype to learn to construct this house for the commission.  Seems like I am drawn to birds again, which I have worked on before (see the Art Quilt:  Bird Series on my sidebar, in the Labels section.)

I really have had so much fun making both these little quilts that it would not surprise me in the least to dream up another bird quilt!


Gerrie said...

A wonderful piece. I am sure it will bring much enjoyment to the children. Congrats.

Vickie Hallmark said...

Nice to read about your process. I certainly think of a rainbow color palette when I think of your work. I couldn't imagine that this quilt would read as you in pastels. Kudos to your commissioners that they recognized the problem.

Jamie Fingal said...

This is truly a wonderful piece that would delight both children and adults in any setting. I enjoyed reading about your process and working with the client. As always, such beautiful and whimsical work, Kathy. It is a work of art and a labor of love, and that comes through in everything that you create.

Kathy York said...

Thanks everyone! Hospitals can be such sterile and anxiety filled environments. Hoping this piece cheers the place up a bit!