Thursday, August 27, 2015

Everglades Ghosts

I have been traveling extensively for work and my last three trips took me over south Florida. On each flight I’d lean my head against the window and beg for inspiration for Betty’s challenge. Certainly there was abundant fodder for the water element of my quilt, but how could I represent it with unconventional fabric?

With each trip I grew increasingly anxious. Such beautiful Atlantic and Caribbean views and still no viable ideas. On my last trip home – literally a week ago – I was panicked. Still no ideas and even less time.

As I gazed out the window on that occasion, I saw the Everglades, a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve on the southern tip of Florida. For those who aren’t familiar with the Everglades, it’s a national park made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species and over a 1000 species of plants. Many of the animals that live there are endangered.

From high in the air it looks marshy and barren. That is, until you fly over and the sun is just right and the muddy water shimmers blue and silver. Now, that’s the stuff inspiration is made of!

Once home I gathered leather and upholstery fabrics from a discarded sample book a friend had given me years ago. I vowed not to use any cotton – why make it easy on myself? Betty did say she rubbed her hands together evilly :)

I cut organic shapes in the leather and let the shape of the hide guide me for the edges. For the “water” I hand cut snippets of the upholstery fabric, loosely arranged them and reverse appliqued them to the leather using a polyester fabric and felt as stabilizer. I then wrinkled other fabrics and stitched them down as I quilted. At the end, I glued turquoise sequins in a few places to represent the shimmer of the sun on the water.

Not fully satisfied, I cut more shapes out of the finished quilt. Whatever is behind the piece will now show through. It was my husband’s idea to add the bamboo (salvaged from prior weeks’ yard work). Originally I intended to use it to hang the piece but ultimately preferred its addition to the front.

When I hung the piece to photograph it, I was struck by how much it resembled an animal head or perhaps something tribal. Any symmetry between the shapes was purely accidental but it gave me the name for the piece: “Everglades Ghosts”.

I made a few other ghosts in the process: some sewing machines! AUGH! I never knew leather could be so slippery and so stretchy and so finicky about which thread could hold it to another fabric. And don’t even think about fabric glue; I tried that and it doesn’t work. 

Given more time, I might make a few adjustments to the quilt but overall I am pleased. I learned a TON albeit it through gritted teeth. Thank you Betty and all the Viewpoints 9 members, it is such a wonderful experience to be challenged and grow.


  1. Well done for using such a challenging material Lisa Marie. I love the look of the story skin!

  2. I like your use of materials, Lisa-Marie. It’s an innovative work. I love your creative idea. It’s fascinating!