Jean Biddick a talented quilter and teacher from the Tucson area has just had her second book published by AQS. Entitled Masterful Machine Pieced Quilts it publishes for the first time some of her award winning quilt patterns based on European inlaid stone mosaic floors and describes her drafting and freezer paper piecing techniques for these amazingly complex and luscious quilts. Last year she put out a call to her students asking those of us who had completed a quilt from her classes to submit photos of our quilts. I sent off photos of my "Roman Holiday" am so thrilled to see it finally published in her book. I ran into Jean at the Empty Spools Seminar at Asilomar last week and was thrilled that she had brought and advance copy.
This quilt was inspired by a trip with my husband and 15 year old son to England in 2005 where we spent a lot of time visiting the Roman ruins and excavations in the south and west of England. We spent a wonderful day in Bath at the Roman Baths and the nearby museum. The central motif in this quilt was adapted from the sculptured pediment of the excavated temple on the site and depicts Aqua Sulis the God of the sacred warm spring which fed the baths.
The surrounding motifs incorporated printed images of Roman mosaics as the centers of the paper pieced compass stars and appliqued images of Roman artifacts unearthed in southern England which were adapted from my original photos.
The quilt is actually the result of two workshops taken at Quilting in the Desert in January 2006, one from Jean who inspired the pieced mosaic circular frames for the images and the other from the wonderful Sharon Schamber who inspired me to attempt a combination of paint and Pieclique' technique to bring the image of the God of the Spring to life.
By the end of the week my River God was completed and the larger ring was 3/4 finished. The surrounding motifs were painted and/or appliqued, ringed with more piecing and applied to a quartered background which represented the river reeds of the prehistoric spring. The fabrics were all collected with an eye to emulating hard stone tesserae and were mostly hand dyed or marbled. The background was embellished with over 500 crystals to give the effect of sparkling water. The outer mosaic border was paper pieced.
One real disaster on this quilt occurred while I was quilting it on my domestic machine. My halogen elbow work lamp slowly lowered itself too close to one of the borders. Soon I was smelling burning fiber and realized that a portion of the border was actually smoldering. I dumped water on it to put out the fire, but was left with a gaping scorched hole through all three layers. Some surgical replacement of batting and applique saved me and today I can't find the area at all.
A long story, but this quilt was a long, wearying project with a lot of personal meaning to me. I'm so happy to see it published in Jean's book.