Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fish Quilts

I spent a lovely four day weekend at a quilting retreat in Cambria, CA organized by Rob Appell of The Cotton Ball fabric store in Morro Bay in the fall of 2004. It was a lot of fun to learn his fusible applique technique. This coral reef scene was a wedding present for Bob's postdoc, Jenn Caselle, who has spent many more hours underwater than anyone else I know. Sadly, the photo does not do it justice because it has a ton of detail.

Reefer Madness
48 x 40 inches

Here's the family hero, the Bluehead Wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum, which has been the subject of my husband's research for 30+ years. It's put dinner on the table all these years. The interesting feature of this fish's life history is that it changes sex from female (the black and yellow striped individual) into a bluehead male if it lives long enough. If you aren't going to get "any action" as a small male individual, then you might as well be female. But there are some males who "cheat" on the system and that's the little fellow on the right. He has huge testes and will come streaking in out of nowhere when the pair are mating and "flood" the spawn with his sperm. The fish in this quilt feature fluttery fins. It hangs in Bob's office.

24 x 36 inches

When they announced that the 2001 Guild Challenge had to use the traditional 
Mariner's Compass block, I confess that I immediately envisioned sea urchins. I guess that comes from spending literally hundreds of hours assisting my ichthyologist husband with his research. This entailed floating around on coral reefs watching fish. What the target fish were doing was not always fascinating so I watched other species out of the corner of my eye. A favorite distraction was always the triggerfish. This fellow is purely fanciful. I stuffed it trapunto-style and its dorsal and pectoral fins are of a filmy fabric which flutters in a luscious fashion. Years later I am still pleased with this piece and dream of doing a series of fish quilts after I retire.

Urchin Feast
30 x 40 inches

An early "Watercolor Wash" type quilt featuring a seascape. The gold line in 
the middle is supposed to suggest sunlight reflecting on the surface of the water; the photo does not do it justice but it is also not a remarkable effort. I also stuffed four or five fish using the trapunto technique for the first time. I was frightfully proud of my efforts at the time; now I readily recognize that this quilt is no great shakes.

Under the Sea
36 x 28 inches

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