Personal Symbols in Art Quilts

Personal Symbols in Art Quilts

Posted by Deborah Boschert on Sep 9th 2016

Hi! It’s me, Deborah Boschert, again. I’m the author of  Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint & Stitch. It’s just been released, and I am so excited that it’s finally out in the world.

Back in July, I shared a sneak peak of the Eight Design Guides from the "Design and Composition" chapter. Today I want to share with you a bit from the "Personal Symbols" chapter.

Including a personal symbol in an art quilt—or any kind of art—gives the artist and the viewer new ways to connect with the art. The book includes ideas, suggestions, and exercises for developing, defining, and designing your own personal symbols.

Looking over the art quilts I’ve made in the past several years, several symbols turn up quite regularly. I return to houses, rocks, ladders, trees, chairs, and bowls over and over. I especially love chairs.

Blue Chair Mantra

Chairs suggest that even though I am sitting still, I am not idle. I’m thinking, planning, and remembering. At least that’s what they symbolize to me. They may mean something different to someone else. Or maybe chairs just look cool. Art Quilt Collage includes suggestions for many different ways to consider shapes and personal symbolism.

There are also ideas for creating symbols with fabric, paint, and stitching. I especially love using dense hand-embroidery stitches to create a negative outline.

Embroidered chair example

Here’s a stamp created with sticky-backed fun foam and the chair printed from the stamp.

As the title of the book suggests, my art quilts always include layers of fabric, paint, and stitching. In Just Sitting, I used a stencil to paint a vine along the bottom of the art quilt collage. Then I continued the vine overlapping the chair with carefully cut fabric pieces.

Just Sitting

The book includes several short exercises I call “See What Happens.” This is the mantra I bring into the studio with me. It suggests that every part of the creative process has the potential for discovery. In the "Personal Symbols" chapter, the "See What Happens" exercise offers a framework and challenge for finding meaning and design potential with an interesting shape. (I am so excited to teach these “See What Happens” exercises in upcoming workshops!)

I’m not tired of exploring the chair symbol. I think there are more chair quilts in my future.

She Sits to Create #12

As you’d guess from the title, Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint & Stitch includes tips, techniques, instruction, and inspiration on lots of topics involved in creating an art quilt collage. The "Personal Symbols" chapter is a bit of an unexpected bonus and new way to think about the creative process. I’m eager to see what shapes you’ll include in your work and what they’ll symbolize to you!

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