Feb 13, 2015

Celtic cross finished at last

What a fantastic week! After almost a year of starts and stops, I finished this white Celtic cross.
Teresa Duryea Wong. Dawson Hill, 2015. Machine pieced, hand applique, machine quilted.
 Cotton, cotton and silk thread, glass beads, vintage handkerchief, lace.  39 x 49 inches.
As I stand back and look at this cross, I am in awe of the finished product and proud that this is an original design... with a most unlikely inspiration.

In late 2013, the husband and I traveled to Nebraska, for quilt research actually. Nebraska is home to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. And as things happen in life, Nebraska is also where my parents grew up and where most of my family lives. (I'm a native Texan.)

During that trip to Nebraska, we visited the tiny St. Mary's cemetery where my father is buried. Many of the families that once lived, worked, farmed and worshiped in this part of America were Irish Catholics. The Celtic design is mostly credited to Scotland and Ireland, and sometime to St. Patrick. Nowadays, you see it most often as cemetery markers.

When I was standing in the middle of that cemetery, I was stuck by this large family marker (with a Celtic cross carved in it) bearing the name of my grandmother's family. For me, all these ideas, all this history, memories of my family and thoughts of my faith flooded my mind. As we drove home, I was determined to capture all this somehow.


So I began working with photos of this particular cross and pondering ideas. Previous 2014 blog posts about making this quilt are March, part two April, part three November and a week ago.

I built the foundation for the cross from hundreds of one-inch squares, which are machine pieced. Each one inch square is machine quilted with a tiny original design - inspired by the quilting of Hilary Florence.  The batting is an ultra-firm Peltex. I used this instead of traditional cotton or wool batting because I wanted the cross to be sturdy when hanging. 

The Celtic designs on the four arms of the cross are hand applique and hand stuffed trapunto. Here's a close up.

Teresa Duryea Wong. Dawson Hill, 2015. (DETAIL) Machine pieced, hand applique, machine quilted.
 Cotton, cotton and silk thread, glass beads, vintage handkerchief, lace.  39 x 49 inches.
The circle is completely cut out so that light comes through and around the cross.

I took the quilt to a professional fine art photographer to photograph it for competition. When he placed a light focused on the background behind the quilt - it almost brought tears to my eyes. It looked so beautiful with all this lovely white light shining right through the circle.


The center features four small circles which are appliqued (one for each gospel). Layered on top is a vintage handkerchief which I embellished with a beautiful lace which mimics the same Celtic design. Next I hand-sewed glass pearl-color beads over the lace. The handkerchief is tacked onto the quilt, so it floats off the surface.

Teresa Duryea Wong. Dawson Hill, 2015. (DETAIL) Machine pieced, hand applique, machine quilted.
 Cotton, cotton and silk thread, glass beads, vintage handkerchief, lace.  39 x 49 inches.
Detail photo of the tiny clear glass beads (with gold centers) hand sewn around the outside edges.
I titled my art quilt "Dawson Hill" and I've entered it into the Sacred Threads juried quilt competition. This exhibition is open to quilters in US and Canada and features art honoring themes of peace, healing, grief, spirituality and joy. The exhibition will be July 10-26 at a church gallery outside Washington D.C. 

If this quilt is selected, I'll be thrilled. If not, that is okay too. The journey of making this and the memories that resurfaced while making it are priceless. And I think there may be a beautiful permanent home for it out there somewhere.

I'd love to hear any comments, thoughts or stories of your own along these lines!

Linking up with
Off the Wall Fridays
Needle and Thread Thursday
Free Motion Mavericks - a new FMQ blog (new to me anyway).

Love sharing the quilting love!

21 comments:

  1. Teresa, the quilt is absolutely stunning. There is so much thought, so much detail gone in to it as well as so much personal and spiritual symbolism. It was well worth all the hard work, time and effort that you have dedicated to it. You have mastered so many different techniques in the making of it, but of course I am attracted to the FMQ. I love what you have done with the small squares and I think it gives a great texture from a distance. I do hope it gets into the exhibition and does well there. It certainly deserves to.

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    1. Hilary: Thanks for your comments and for your consultation during the constrcution process! Your quilting has inspired me on many occasions.

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  2. Omg! This is magnificent! Especially knowing the story behind it. Having the professional photographer was worth every penny as something like this really needs to be seen in person. So much detail - wow! Truly an heirloom and something you should be very proud of.

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments! First time I've used a professional photographer and yes, it was so worth it!

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  3. wow, Teresa. Just wow. I hope I get to see this one in person someday!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. It has been a long time in the making, but I'm happy with the outcome.

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  5. Hello Teresa,

    Your Celtic cross is totally wonderful. I couldn't quite believe it when I read about the 1 inch squares, but the additional texture they give is amazing. Also, the white on white effectreminds me of Irish linen - totally appropriate!

    Would you like to link up with Free Motion Mavericks on my blog this weekend? Your FMQ is fabulous.

    Love, Muv

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    1. Yes, those 1 inch squares took many hours, but they just called out to me and it was the right route to go I think. I've linked up to your blog! thanks for the invite.

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  6. This is truly beautiful and all the work and tiny details that went into it are amazing. I would be surprised if it didn't get into the show, but as you said, even if it doesn't you have something very special to be proud of.

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  7. Hi Teresa, thanks for visiting my blog! I'm drawn to the trapunto on your gorgeous celtic cross - it brings in the qualities of the original stone carving, without being "hard" ... come to think of it, this is the opposite of what I'm doing by turning fabric into ceramic ... so it works both ways!

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  8. congratulations on your finish! The details are amazing and the quilting is incredible!
    Good luck in the competition
    Interesting to see how professionals do the photography

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  9. This is so beautiful. Good luck with the entry.

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  10. It's stunning! You can really tell that this was a labor of love.

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  11. This is quite striking from a distance, but what I like the most is how amazingly detailed it is when you get up close. Very nice.

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  12. Wow! Big fan of Celtic crosses here. That's just crazy cool and gorgeous.

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  13. Breathtaking. Just wonderful work.

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  14. I'm so far behind on comments Teresa, but this is phenomenal. It turned out really really remarkable. And I think the photographer did a great job- so now you should have some good pictures for entries and stuff. All the depth in the varying whites and your stitches and applique really make this one I'm dying to see up close. Hopefully it will someday be where I am. Will you enter it in houston this year?

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  15. What a wonderful quilt! Have you heard yet? Sure to be accepted. And thank you for giving us the link for Sacred Threads. I've subscribed for their newsletter.

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