Fire/Burnt Offering

I just finished #3 in my 4 Elements quilt series.

This tapestry is a lot more colorful and contrasty than the others. It uses that “trapplique” technique I posted about before – that piece was a study for this one.
What did I learn?

  1. Doing a large piece entirely by trapplique-ing quilted elements may be overkill. It certainly used a lot of fabric and batting – twice as much batting as the same size on one layer would use.
  2. Next time I may try to combine more flat piecing with trapplique, so the trapplique bits stand out more.
  3. A good thing about trapplique is it allows me to move around and edit design elements as I go along, which I prefer to committing to a final design before I even start sewing.
  4. “Quilter’s Dream” polyester batting is better for this than the “Warm & Natural” cotton batting I used (because it’s what I had on hand), which is much flatter.
  5. I’m still learning. I’m also still wondering why I’m doing this insane, time-consuming hobby. Maybe that’s just the PMS talking. I now have an apartment-ful of fabric and thread and batting and supplies, so I’m reluctant to just quit before they’re used up…but the more I use, the more I buy to replace. Oh, you are a cruel mistress, quilting hobby!

The back side of this one isn’t beautiful, but it could be worse. Sewing down the various floppy parts down before binding helped a lot. Also: this was possibly my best binding job yet. It still takes hours though.

I still intend to re-do “Water.” I’ll do that next, actually, before “Air.” I might not even do “Air,” depending on how long my patience holds out. This hobby is insanely time-consuming. Did I say that already?

These are the hands of a feminine (because of the mehendi) Agni receiving the fire – in this case the burnt remains of a human wafting upwards. There are eyes in the palms looking down toward the burnt skeleton at the bottom (this photo is “upside-down”). I couldn’t help thinking of my friend Manish Acharya, who died suddenly and was cremated last year. It’s weird that the idea of the piece came out all cartoony and cuddly.

Sorry for the low light – even though we’ve “Sprung forward” an hour, there’s still not much daylight at 6pm.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

16 thoughts on “Fire/Burnt Offering”

  1. Nina, I hope you don’t quit your “cruel hobby”. Your quilt designs are stunningly original & captivating, just as your designs & animations in SSTB. Thanks for sharing with such caring detail the process and the results. Or if you quit quilting, perhaps you can sell posters of the quilts…

  2. How apt that fire should be the one this week, I have been so obsessed and deeply affected by the ongoing tragedy (seems a trite word suddenly) in Japan, I am running off to country friends to decompress reboot and regain some balance. It is so huge, so terribly baaaaad! But back to the elements, and your art…the details are illuminating the design, and the iconography is very right. Graphically pleasing, well wrought work. i can’t wait to see air…breath. Lovely so far.

  3. Very cool, love the ‘trapplique’ technique, have you considered a basting gun for holding layers? Sometimes easier than running basting stitches, uses little plastic clips like the sale tags on clothes.

  4. Augh! If you don’t do Air, I’m coming to kidnap you and lock you in my basement until you do it. These are gorgeous… as striking as Fire is by itself, seeing all three together is even more amazing, and it will be more powerful yet when Air completes the quartet. (Ok, so I’m a fan of epic fantasy novels that focus on ‘natural magic’ and drawing power from the Elements and that influences my soul-deep emotional responses to such things. Sue me.) Forget patience; just hold on to the same inspirational creative fire in your gut that kept you working on Sita for 3 long years!

  5. These are really terrific. When you redo “water”, you can send the “inadequate” one here. I’ll take good care of it.

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