Sunday, May 14, 2017

Joyce Wieland and Art with Fabric

Reason & Passion - based on
Joyce Wieland's Reason Over Passion (1968)
Welcome to Art with Fabric - Spring 2017! I'm thrilled to be participating in this blog hop again - thanks Alida for organizing it! It's so much fun finding an artist's work to use as inspiration. I had to find one that I liked since I spent about 4 months thinking and working on this piece.

The piece I've chosen to interpret is Joyce Wieland's Reason over Passion, created in 1968. Joyce Wieland (1930 - 1998) was an amazing woman. I was introduced to her art by my daughter who studied her works in a Canadian Art History course.

Joyce pushed many boundaries as an artist, film maker, feminist, and political activist.
Reason over Passion by Joyce Wieland, 1968

Reason over Passion was one of several textile art pieces in Joyce's True Patriot Love exhibit (1971). That show was also the first solo exhibit by a female artist at the National Gallery of Canada. You can imagine the  comments from the art establishment about fabric in an art exhibit in 1971. Joyce Wieland was a pioneer, incorporating many traditional textile techniques in her work as a way of elevating "women's work".

Reason over Passion was based on Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau's claim that he used reason over passion to guide his decision-making.

Here's a great story about this work of art. Joyce created both a French and an English version of this piece, probably to reflect official bilingualism in Canada. La raison avant la passion was given to Prime Minister Trudeau and hung in the official residence. One day, his wife Margaret Trudeau pulled the letters off the quilt and threw them at her husband. I can imagine how difficult it could have been to live with a man who lived by the motto: Reason over Passion!

You can read more about Joyce Wieland in my last post and in the Related Links section below.

Reason & Passion
Reason & Passion - Art with Fabric, Spring 2017
Reason & Passion - Art with Fabric, Spring 2017
Reason & Passion
Having thought about and worked on this piece for so long, I suspect that Joyce Wieland was being ironic when she created it. Notice that the colours she used are all in the warm palette and the hearts she placed all over it. Joyce loved hearts and these are not symbols or colours linked to reason, but rather passion.

I wanted to create something different from Joyce's work - something that would reflect my thoughts and beliefs as well as the evolution of textile art. I decided to create Reason & Passion because I believe we need to balance both of these elements in our lives. Even scientists like Albert Einstein complemented their rational, reasoning side with creativity and passion in their work.

To acknowledge the evolution of textile art, I created a wholecloth quilt filled with free motion quilting (FMQ). No one will be able to throw my letters at me!


The quilt is divided in three horizontal sections.
  • The letters and FMQ are in cool colours - blue and green with some neutrals.
  • The FMQ motifs are geometric or linear.  
"Reason" in cool colours and geometric motifs
  • The "&" is in a bright multicoloured thread with the FMQ starting to be in warm colours such as red, pink, orange and yellow.
  • The FMQ motifs are more organic - mostly those found in nature such as flowers, leaves, stars and snowflakes.
"&" in bright multicoloured thread and organic FMQ
  • Passion is written in bright warm (or hot) colours which are echoed in the FMQ.
  • The FMQ motifs are still organic (and a little wilder) and become more abstract with the addition of paisleys and quilted feathers. There are also a few symbols that Joyce Wieland used in her works, such as lips and hearts. 
  • I also added "Yin yang" symbols throughout the piece to illustrate the wholeness that we create when we accept what are seen as opposite qualities within us, as complimentary.
"Passion" in hot colours with organic and abstract FMQ
What I learned
  • My passionate side is the strongest in me. I loved creating those patterns with the wild colours.
  • My reasoning or rational side came out in the planning of this piece. It was, however, more difficult to quilt geometric patterns in cool colours.
  • I have to thank Leah Day for her inspiring book: 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs. I could never have come up with all of the FMQ motifs on my own! 
    Working on the FMQ
  • Those who know me won't be surprised that I used a wholecloth for this project so that I could minimize the piecing and maximize my FMQ practice. A win-win combination! I learned many new FMQ motifs that I will incorporate in my quilting.
  • For the letters I used size 40 threads; Madeira Polyneon, Rainbows by Superior Threads as well a Signature variegated thread. I didn't have enough colours so ended up picking up some Gütermann machine embroidery thread. It was fine and all had a nice sheen. 
  • All of the FMQ was done with Kimono Silk thread from Superior Threads (size 100), except for one flame made with Signature variegated thread.
  • I used Superior Threads' Bottom Line in the bobbin and two 70/10 Microtex needles (that's a lot of quilting!). Since I've started using these needles with Bottom Line and Kimono Silk thread, I've had no problems with the tension. Yeah!
Details of some of the FMQ:
  • A flaming arrow,
  • Snow flakes
  • A lotus flower
  • Circle of hearts 
  • Quilted feathers
  • Yin Yang symbol with snow flakes and flames
  • Many leaves and flowers

Related Links

Project Details

Reason & Passion
32" x 24"
Inspired by Reason over Passion (1968) by Joyce Weiland (1930 - 1998) 
Materials: Cotton, buttons
Techniques: Wholecloth quilt with free motion quilting (FMQ)

Art with Fabric Schedule - Check out the participants' art work!
Art with Fabric blog hop

Monday, May 15th, 2017
Art with Fabric - Day 1
LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color 

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 
Adele at Adele Mogavero

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 
Bea at Beaquilter
Janeen at Quilt Art Designs 

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 
Jennifer at Inquiring Quilter  
Carol at Quilted Fabric Art 

Friday, May 19th, 2017 
Art with Fabric - Day 5

Linking Parties: I have also linked my post to the following Link-ups. Check out what everyone is doing in Quilt Land :-) Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Linky Tuesday, Moving it Forward Monday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday, Free Motion Mavericks, Off the Wall Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?, Finished or Not Friday,

This project was also my OMG (One Monthly Goal). I've linked up to the May Finish Link-Up
I'm also linking up to Sarah Goer Quilts - Show Me Something with Solids


  1. I enjoy how your post alludes back to nature~ Great job!

    1. Thanks Anita. Looking forward to seeing yours!

  2. Wow! Wow! Leah Day would be proud. I love the reason behind this quilt and the passion you put into it :-)

    1. Thanks Carol. It's hard to make a quilt without the passion!

  3. There are so many designs quilted in and it looks great. I like that you used different thread colors, tying everything back to the main design elements of the quilt. Thanks for sharing on MCM!

    1. Thanks Beth. It took quite a while to find the right designs, especially the linear stuff - not my usual FMQ!

  4. Love this project, the flow of the quilting lines and just the passion to create it are truly inspirational. I enjoyed reading the story of the artist also.

    1. Thanks Marian, I had a great time making it and getting to know Joyce Wieland better.

  5. What a woman to choose as your inspiration! She was amazing and so is your piece. Love the yummy FMQ that brings the whole piece to life.

    1. Thanks Jennifer. It was really great getting to know her and her art!

  6. You choose a great piece as an inspiration and the way you adapted to reflect your own creative practice is fantastic! I had to laugh when I read that none will throw the letters at you! I am happy that the challenge offered you some time to reflect and practice a ton of FMQ designs!! Thanks for being part of the blog hop and for sharing so many details about the original piece and your process!!

    1. Thanks so much Alida for hosting this great event! Getting to know Joyce Wieland was a real pleasure. She was very cool! I was happy to be able to interpret her work in my own way (and stuffing little letters is really not my style!)

  7. I certainly wish more people would employ reason over passion - knee jerk reactions are exhausting. Thank you for sharing a bit about Joyce

    1. Hi Susan, it sounds like the people you are talking about are not passionate - just rude. Passion is never an excuse for inconsideration or lack of kindness. That's why I think that a balance of both is a good thing.

  8. Hello Andrée,

    The quilting is fantastic! I'm definitely a fan of the passionate end of the spectrum.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks - your quilt is this week's featured project!

    Love, Muv

  9. What a wonderful and unique piece. Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and congrats on your finish.


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