Thursday, 1 February 2018

Ice Dyed Mandala Flowers Quilt: Divinity


The first theme presented by The Endeavourers  is Nature. For two long months, I let the word roll around my brain. Such a broad topic needed narrowing, and so I asked the question, "What mental image do I see for the word nature?" Weather? Mountains? Animals? No, when I close my eyes I see flowers both wild, cultivated, and magical. Newly opened, allowing these eyes the first glimpse of  seductive blooms--never ceasing to amaze me with spectacular color and detail beyond the imagination of the greatest artist. And no matter how I pose the question, "Who could dream so vividly?," I am brought back to a divine creator. Therefore, I've titled this piece, "Divinity."

The Creation Process

These 4 separate pieces were created nearly 2 years ago in my studio through a process known as ice dyeing. You can read the details at Mandalas Created with Ice Dyeing at Pink Doxies, my home blog. I knew at the time they were interesting, but had not been able to see their possibilities until this project came about.

Stitch & Chalk

I started by sewing the four individual mandalas together. Then using chalk, I drew the details out. The flowers were fantastical! Not only did they remind me of exotic species, but of butterfly wings. I could see fairies in some of them. They were translucent and felt as though the sun shone through them. How they had changed! 

Using my long arm to freehand the details felt natural. I used a pale grey 50# So Fine thread so there would be only the slightest outline. I was not sure I wanted to change the overall feeling of the mandalas. There were so many subtle color changes, and I was only echoing one.

I was careful to not overwork the quilting process, but in the middle of one flower I realized it was flowing into the next. 

These pieces share similar properties of radial symmetry, but the colors are very individual.

These 'scales' appeared from the screen the fabric laid on during the dyeing process. I had to outline them.

Buttons & Beads

I had 4 vintage buttons in blue glass. I placed one in each center, and started to bead. At first I was hesitant to add too much, but each of these flowers needed visual weight to make them stand out from a distance.

The first flower center I finished taught me the biggest lesson. I placed it where I saw the center, but isolated from the rest of the piece. This button appeared 1/4" or so off center when seen from a distance. I naively thought it would add to the individuality of the flower so left it in place, and added the beads.

No matter how I turned it or who I asked, they made a face. It was 'off'. We expect most flowers to have symmetry, and this one did not. I was also disappointed in how the bead colors blended into the background. A few hours to stitch, but only minutes to rip out. I was learning.

Brighter colored beads, more symmetry...

...and a button at dead center looked much better.

I played with a slightly asymmetrical center here. 

This flower was the largest of all. 

To highlight the center, I added seed beads to the points of the inner petals or are they stamens perhaps?

A thick ring of seed beads create stamens in this flower.

Many beads were stacked, and a few sequins added more reflection.

I had just added the binding of a hand dyed orchid colored fabric, and the sun was shining so brilliantly. That's unusual for an Ohio winter so I had to snap a shot of the backing to let the quilting stand out. A few minutes to take in some light, then home to hand stitch the binding.


Such an interesting and varied theme this quarter, and I'm looking forward--as I'm sure you are, to seeing how the rest of The Endeavourers interpreted Nature. Share this game today, and tell us in the comments, "What do you see when you think of Nature?"

Come on, Doxie girls. 

Let's go sew.


  1. I love the way your quilting brought everything to life with just enough detail - knowing when to stop is a great skill :-) - and the beaded centres have added another dimension. Wow - just stunning.

  2. So many things to love about this quilt, the beading just adds another dimension to a beautiful piece.

  3. For me, Nature is being outside. Some prefer the woods. I prefer the sun and surf, or any body of water. The sky filled with sun or clouds and a bird in a tree watching me watch him. The food chain...a reminder that every creature has his place on this earth. There could not have been a better subject to draw me into this group. No matter what the next prompt is, Nature peaked my interest.

    Your piece is so beautiful on the front and the back. You adapted this dyed fabric perfectly to fit this theme. And beads. If you know me, you know I love those beads.
    xx, Carol

  4. This is exquisite! I literally can't find words to describe how much I love everything about this quilt. The dyed fabrics were stunning to begin with but with every step of quilting and the buttons and beads it grew more and more stunning. Thank you for sharing this beautiful quilt and describing your thoughts and process :)

  5. This is a beautiful intricate piece! I love how you described your process in a way we can all learn from and expand our own thinking.
    I especially love how the centers of the flowers are all unique.

  6. The quilting, the buttons and the beads turned the already lovely fabrics into exotic flowers. Really beautiful!!


  7. Wow, Julie! Love these colours! Amazing technique! Probably not something I would try, although it was very helpful to see how the process works .... I think I like to know where my colours are going to be.
    Your flowers are wonderful! Love the quilting and the beading, and just the right colour binding too!
    Apologies for the late comment.
    Barbara x

  8. Absolutely beautiful Julie! I loved reading your thought process and the possibilities you found to draw attention to the lovely patterns you created in the dyeing process.