The Art and Craft of Serena Blossom Appel

Deconstruction Zone

February 2010:
I signed up to put a piece in the Love Show Portland for this year. This will be the 2nd or 3rd time I have been in the show, so I wanted to make a really special piece: “Love 2010 (PDXLove)”.
My idea for this piece was based on a sketch illustrating an individual’s relationships over time as a sort of vertical line, or continuum, with branching elements to represent the points of interaction–or attempted interaction–with others. I drew on my experiences of relationship and love I have observed in my work as a mental health/art therapist, as well as my observations about romance since moving to Portland, OR. This resulted in a number of complex combinations:

The basics

I laid out the rough pieces, cut from felt, in this same orientation as in my sketchbook, making sure they were aligned properly. I cut them to resemble the gestural quality of my drawing:

The “branchy” part!

Then I added layers, composed of scrap fabric, primarily beneath the felt elements:

applique layering showing fusible interfacing

It seemed to me as I was creating the “lifelines” that each of them became more individualized and complex. I found myself representing this by adding layers of different fabric, color and texture that could express each vertical column’s personality or “aura”.
Then, it was time to put them all together:

A cloth over the applique keeps it from singeing.

I ironed the large pieces together with layers of fusible interfacing, then did some top-stitching to applique the felt pieces in place:

note embroidery foot used for machine stitching

Finally, I added more layers and more “depth” to my felt characters by putting translucent or lacy fabrics on top, and/or doing hand embroidery:

I experimented with a variety of threads & stitches

Once the surface design was complete, I quilted the piece using some very simple machine sewing on the dark gray felt background that echoed the vertical elements.  From there, I stretched the quilt on a display board, and eh voilá!
May 2009:
I have come a bit farther on the mini quilt sampler I started from scraps some time last year. Here is a close up detail:


It’s been evolving slowly, due both to my sheer experimentation with new media processes, and to the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of the construction while I was at work. I find sewing while I’m on the phone to be very grounding; for me it helps me focus on listening better too.

This piece started out as a pile of scraps; I took the old remnant of a skirt and cut out the paisley elements. I then arranged them on a fabric collaged background in a way that created contrast and movement of color and shape:


I used a combination of machine sewing, PVA and fabric glue stick to assemble the fabric pieces. Also, the sparkly green and purple bits were pre-starched scrapbooking fabric, which handled like paper. This allowed me to do some pretty interesting shapes I couldn’t have otherwise done.

Since assembly into the quilt, I have added a border made from ribbons sewn together using Victorian crazy-quilt style stitching:

scrap quilt with border

I am now in the process of adding further definition and texture by going back in to the center fabric areas and quilting around some of the paisely patterns. This also helps minimize some of the puckering that happened after I attached them:

scrap quilt detail

This is the last step before I add the finishing border… Not far to go now!

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