Photo: JohnPolakPhotography.com

Trap Ease: The Making of an Art Quilt

In May I was approached by a local trapeze professional with a query for a surprise commission as a birthday gift for his fiancée, the head of the local flying trapeze program.  Smitten with circus as I already am, I was tickled to take on the challenge of representing the geometric rigging and the muscular figure in the awkward and familiar medium of fabric.  I’d love to share with you some captures of the process so you can see how it was done.

I started with a photograph she had posted on Facebook.  I enlarged it, zoomed in, played with the colors and tried to narrow the focus for the piece, find the best crop for the image and maintain the sentimental and meaningful aspects of the image for the client.

 

Four schemes for the image inspiration
Four schemes for the image inspiration

 

 

Once I narrowed the image selection, I had it printed on the final size format I desired and made a tracing for my rough outline.

 

trap ease rough layout

 

Next, I cut out pattern pieces for the large net areas, the figure and the rigging.  The fabrics were selected and laid out and the construction of the background could begin.

 

trap ease paper dolls
trap ease paper dolls

 

trap ease net construction
trap ease net construction

 

trap ease rough fabric layout
trap ease rough fabric layout

 

 

 

Trap ease arm sourcing
Trap ease arm and leg sourcing

I delighted in the variety of fabrics I could use to create textures and micro fields of color and was humored by the sources that formed my palette.  Here are some samples of the places I found skin, hair, clothing, netting, webbing and background.

 

 

 

Trap Ease face sourcing
Trap Ease face sourcing
Trap Ease shade palette
Trap Ease shade palette

 

 

Trap Ease color palette
Trap Ease color palette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was messy work, involving templates, glue, stitching , broken needles and a lot of tiny scraps everywhere.

trap ease dirty hands
trap ease dirty hands

 

needle damage
needle damage

 

trap ease naked bar
trap ease naked bar

Once the fabrics were placed, I could add details with my thread work and add dimension with the quilting stitches.

 

Trap Ease rigging detail
Trap Ease rigging detail

 

Trap Ease: the net
Trap Ease: the net

 

Trap Ease figure detail
Trap Ease figure detail

I hung the work repeatedly to gauge the perception of dimension and compare to the source photo.

 

trap ease work in progress
trap ease work in progress

Once satisfied with the quilting, detail work and texture, I added a flange border, echoing the deep purple of the pants leg to bring the eye back into the frame after following the rigging lines outward.  I built a frame to mount the work upon and I hung it on the wall.

Trap Ease signature
Trap Ease signature
trap ease frame building
trap ease frame building

 

Trap ease corner
Trap ease corner

 

 

Trap Ease title
Trap Ease title
trap ease on the wall with photo
trap ease on the wall with photo

I was equally happy with the back of the quilt!

Trap Ease back view
Trap Ease back view

Before delivering the quilt to the client, I had a professional photographer capture an image to really do the piece justice and help me remember the parts I loved most.

Photo: JohnPolakPhotography.com
Photo: JohnPolakPhotography.com

I hope you enjoyed this little peek-a-boo into the circus tents of my little studio and this making of an art quilt description.  If you have an image you’d like to preserve in a special way- be in touch!  I love to collaborate.

9 comments

  1. Shelby says:

    This is an amazing process to learn about…such a beautiful and whimsical piece you created!

  2. Vanessa says:

    I’d like a post about your framing process, woodwork is not something I normally do but I have been thinking about doing it for quilts. Do you approach it differently, depending on the size?

  3. Martha W says:

    this is such a beautiful and special work of art! my son coaches flying trapeze, so I am a huge circus fan too. seeing the process was terrific ~ thanks for sharing.

    • Ringmaster says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! I love working collaboratively to express ideas- keep me in mind if you ever have an image you want to convey in fabric- I’d love to explore it with you.

  4. Randy Hyvonen says:

    “Ease” doesn’t imply “easy” — you did many complex, interesting steps on this one!! And it turned out great!

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