"Chantilly Nights"

"Chantilly Nights", 16" x 42", 2019

"Chantilly Nights",16" x 42", mixed media, 2019

"Chantilly Nights"

March 30, 2020

I had been wanting to do something with Queen Anne's Lace as the subject matter for several years. Since I am striving to make my art different from everyone else's, finding a unique presentation of this subject remained elusive.

Until this piece of fabric wandered into my life.

Each of us has something we really enjoy doing. Luckily, I know someone who loves dying fabric and seeing her fabrics used.

"Chantilly Nights" started with a piece of hand-dyed fabric that caught my eye. It hung in my studio for quite a while. I'd turn it a different direction every few days waiting for the muse.

Eventually, four Queen Anne's Lace flower heads "appeared" in the four main white areas. Add a dragonfly to the empty space for balance. Stitch a few straight lines for the background. Perfect! Easy, peasy.

Such a simple and straightforward plan, I chose a busy pattern fabric for the back since there wouldn't be much stitching. I had just completed "Zoicenian" where the back is almost more interesting than the front because of the stitching and this wouldn't be like that.

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A fascinating thing happened when I started sewing. The piece developed a mind of its own. Right away the flowers that appeared did not resemble Queen Anne's Lace. At all. The easy background stitching? Ha! Things kept appearing in the fabric - assorted insects, leaves, an old man's face, strange organic shapes. So many things that no one will ever see.

Thought I had a picture of it before doing anything, but apparently I don't.

This photo shows it after stitching but before enhancing the colors.

Untitled photo

While working on enhancing the colors with water soluble crayons and acrylic paints, I contemplated the name. My plan had been to have "Queen Anne's Lace" in the title somehow, but that was before those other flowers appeared. I also figured there must be some kind of lacewing dragonfly in nature (there is, I just looked it up). Then it occurred to me that these fabric colors indicate night and I was pretty sure dragonflies were daytime creatures.

Ah, the best of plans. Really, why do we bother making them?!

I didn't give up completely on the lace idea. "Chantilly lace and a pretty face" song lyric provided the "Chantilly" and inferred "lace". The fabric colors supplied "Nights". A fellow nature artist allowed that perhaps the dragonfly could be out at dusk. "Chantilly Nights". I still like the name.

Sparkle makes everything better, so you'll find some in the dragonfly and scattered throughout the piece in the form of dots, some with beads sewn on, hinting at fireflies or fairy sprites.

"Chantilly Nights" was exhibited in November 2019. The lighting helps you see some of the texture. Yes, there is an extra layer of batting under some of the white areas.

You can also get an idea of how much machine quilting was done.

Untitled photo

There are three more pieces of hand dyed fabric awaiting me in the studio. It'll be interesting to see what happens once the stitching starts.

One thing is certain, they will each have plain backs!

Guess I'm still searching for how to use Queen Anne's Lace as the subject matter.

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