The Four season of Harvey
The Four Seasons of Harvey was a quilt that started my quilt journey back in 2008.
The local Art society and the local craft groups in Harvey, a small town in the Southwest of Western Australia, decided to hold a joint exhibition in the Harvey Districts Creative Arts Centre , so we picked a theme, “The Four Seasons.”
I decided to make a quilt as I was just beginning to learn how to do free motion machine sewing, and thread painting.
I decided to do a large quilt, 1.3M wide by 2.4M long, to fit in my hallway in a house I was renovating. It took a full year to make and is the largest free motion piece I have ever done.
The quilt was constructed in 5 panels, the top one for the sky and distant hills, which would be finalised with gum leaves, blossoms and gum nuts.
The second depicted both the orange orchards that Harvey was known for, and its Dairy produce. The Orange trees are laden with fruit in the middle of the piece, then back to bare trees.
The paddocks show the seasonal changes as they go from grass to hay, (I used upholstery ruching for this,) which is then harvested and baled, and finally covered in grazing cattle.
The third panel was probably my first big challenge. The cows in Harvey represent the beef and dairy industry, and in town there is a historic old abattoir, which is now slowly, sadly, falling to pieces, but at the time had a water tank and windmill still intact.
The main cow was from a photo taken by a friend of mine, Bryan Waller, who allowed me to use his image, a cow licking its nose leaning over a fence. This was the main subject piece for this panel.
By now I had some practice with my free motion and piecing of images, so the cow was the first thread painted piece that I felt really proud of. The other cows consisted of appliqued pieces cut from printed fabric, and two images taken from paintings of mine, and fabric pieced and sewn.
I was also quite proud of my building too, it looked textural and 3D .
From drawing to pieced image, to sewn. Note the collie next to the cow. I had jsut recently lost my collie cross dog Max, so decided to put him into the quilt.
Vineyards in the Harvey region are represented by grape vines. I tried to depict the changing season by first showing empty vines, then vines with green and black grapes with a full ripe bunch in the centre. The late harvest is shown in rust and orange tones, and then the vine goes back to to being an empty vine.
This was very ambitious for me. I was using different fabrics and sewing with metallic thread, something I found really difficult over several layers of fabric. Very frustrating when the thread kept snapping.
I used beads to create 3D texture to the finished piece, and the main bunch was a mix of velvets and hand dyed cotton.
Max made his second appearance in this panel too.
The next panel depicts the spring wild flowers, Spider Orchid, Blue enamel orchid, Donkey Orchids, Banksia, Poppy. I also added some Blackberries, not native to WA but I had found some in Tasmania and they reminded me of home, plus, I wanted to make some as I had found perfect black beads!
There was a lot of beading on this piece. I searched for ages to get beads that I could use in this quilt.
The magpie with his ever watchful beady eye was fun to make, I like him, I think he adds character.
In WA we have magnificent coloured Splendid Fairy Wrens, the males are the most spectacular blue during mating season.
Around Harvey are rivers and waterways plus irrigation ditches for the paddocks, in them there is an abundance of wildlife, kingfishers, ducks, dragon flies and frogs.
Now I was getting really adventurous! I made my own fabric using silk tops and PVA glue, this meant I could cut it to shape and sew it! I used it on the breast of the central front facing duck, which I was really proud of, and my Bobtail Lizard, made entirely of silk paper. A little bit of thread painting and free motion sewing and they were the best pieces so far! The bottom branch was also made entirely of silk paper and thread painted.
By now though I had been sewing for almost a year, so my technique improved and my confidence had grown, setting myself more challenges.
Finishing the Quilt
Finishing touches were placed around the quilt to bring the quilt together, Bees, extra birds, Oranges and gum flowers. construction was challenged using my tiny Janome sewing machine, and was completed using two tree trucks as a frame. I was so pleased with the finished quilt. It was a journey of discovery and firsts, along with learning a technique that grew as the quilt grew, I grew in confidence. My next quilt was even better! That’s for the next blog….
The Four Seasons exhibition was a great success with a great mix of art and craft.
My quilt was entered into the 2009 WAQA quilt exhibition where I entered it under the Theme for that year “Natures Beauty.”
It also won Peoples Choice, Members Choice and went on to the BEST OF THE BEST Exhibition in Melbourne the following year. Not bad for an absolute beginner.
It hangs in my home, I have moved form the original house it was designed for, but it still hangs proudly in my entrance hall.