Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Art with Fabric Blog Hop - Gaïa, Mother Earth

It's that time again - the semi-annual Art with Fabric Blog Hop - Fall 2017!

I've been participating in Alida's blog hop for two years now. This will be my fourth entry. It's a great event - I get to make an art quilt from a piece of art that I love, and see all of the participants' creations. Thanks Alida for organising this again!
Gaïa, Mother Earth

This fall event's theme is Mother Nature, sometimes known as Gaïa, the goddess of the earth.

My entry is based on a reproduction statuette of a beautiful Pre-Columbian female figure from Colombia, South America. Technically, the figure probably did not represent Gaïa, but she is, to me, a symbol of Mother Earth.

Reproduction statuette from the Tamaco culture 
When I found her fifteen years ago, I was told that there were very few of these statuettes around since they were extremely difficult to ship to Canada. Since coming to our home, she has always been in my living room surrounded by books and plants.

The archaeological area
in Colombia and Ecuador
I've done some research on this lovely lady. This reproduction comes from Colombia, South America, near the Rio Mira (Mira River). The original statuette is from the Tumaco culture, dates from 1000 to 1600 AD and is held in a private collection.

I found two resources, that I have listed in the Related Links below, about the statuette. The first one is about the Tumaco culture while the other one, on the Tolita culture, is from the same region but possibly older. Check them out for a fascinating read.

The area in Colombia where she comes from is near the Ecuador border. Here is a map of the area from the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino.

The background
Since the theme is Mother Nature, I wanted to make the background of this art piece based on the area where this statuette comes from.

Tumaco is both a port city and municipality located on the southwestern corner of Colombia, near the border with Ecuador, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It has a hot, tropical climate.

It's far from a realistic representation but it includes some interesting animals and plants of the area, and of Colombia in general. The wax palm tree, Colombia's national tree, is found near this area, in the Cocora valley. I've included a poison arrow frog, an orchid, a bird (the Stripe billed aracari), and a morpho butterfly. The landscape includes a river, the valley with the wax palms as well as mountains in the distance.
Panoramic of Cocora valley with wax palms

The making of the art quilt
I started with the background of the valley and the mountains. These are all hand-dyed fabrics - my own and some from my stash. I also wanted to add a water feature. It took me a while to work in the river on the bottom left. You can see one of my earlier attempts in the image below.

My favourite part was making the wax palms. They are so tall and elegant!

After the thread painting and before the quilting
I made the aracari and butterfly on some interfacing and solid off-white fabric, while using some fun yellow fabric to make the frog. All were made separately with lots of thread sketching and then appliquéd to the piece.

I quilted the piece with Superior Kimono silk thread in both the bobbin and the top.

Quilted and almost finished
As I was working on the background, I started with just a cut-out of the statuette's image to make sure that she would belong. When the background was almost finished, I used a photo transfer medium to get the image of my statuette onto fabric. I'll be explaining this technique in a later post.

To outline the mountains, I couched some dark green yarn made of banana fibre.

I embellished the statuette, as if they were offerings made to Gaïa, with coral buttons representing baskets and an orchid.
Baskets and an orchid as offering to Gaïa
Wax Palms and stripe billed aracari

River with a Morpho butterfly and a poisonous arrow frog 
The art quilt is finished with a pieced binding that matches the quilt.
Gaïa, Mother Earth
What I learned
  • I hadn't researched the origins of the statue until I decided to make this art quilt. I am really happy to know a little more about her culture and her country of origin. Colombia has an amazingly rich and diverse ecology.
  • I had a really hard time incorporating the river into the piece. When I finally stopped trying to be realistic, it all fell into place.
  • It was fun making the various animals and plants that I appliquéd to the piece. 
  • I had no idea how I was going to finish the piece. This is really something that I should think about before making the quilt - it would make it so much easier at the end. I do like how the pieced binding worked out. I considered quilting over it and making it a more integral part of the quilt, but frankly I was tired and this would have required a lot of work. I just wasn't up to it.

Related Links

Project details

Gaïa, Mother Earth
19¾" x 17¾"
Materials: hand-dyed and commercial cotton fabric, coral buttons, banana fibre yarn
Techniques: appliqué, photo transfer medium, couching, thread painting, FMQ, 

Linking Parties: this post is a part of the Art with Fabric Blog Hop - Fall 2017. Take the time to visit the other participants. I'm sure that it will be worth while!  I will also be linking to some fine link-ups. Main Crush MondayDesign Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Free Motion Mavericks,  Off the Wall Friday, Needle & Thread Thursday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? 

Here is the schedule and links to the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, I will be adding direct links to the  posts as they are posted. I will also be hosting guess blogger Patty, on Friday. Be sure to come back and check out her work!

Monday, October 9th, 2017
Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 
Thursday, October 12th, 2017 

Friday, October 13th, 2017 


  1. Beautiful piece! And I enjoyed reading about your process and the history and origins of the statue!

  2. Wonderful to see how this piece evolved, from inspiration to reality - thank you for sharing!

  3. this is so cool! and I love learning all about her background. very interesting. It really came out great. and the pieced binding is impressive - I usually cop out and just do a facing but then you can't do that wonderful curvy border.

  4. I enjoyed reading about what you learned. Fun piece, what size is it?

    1. I also wanted to thank you for already having the perma links for each of the posts that have already gone live. I'm doing that now and know how much work it is. thanks.

  5. What a lot of thought you put into this! So many details to look at.

  6. great thinking about the meaning behind the work. I love that and the way you approached it. I have long enjoyed gaia
    and goddesses in general. You captured the essence of the nature of the area

  7. Beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. Really beautiful piece! So many details, so much thought went into how everything goes together... it's so interesting and well balanced! I am extremely happy and honored that you participated in the blog hop so many times and that you find it fun and inspiring!! Thanks for sharing your talent in this blog hop!!

  9. The attention to detail is phenomenal! I enjoyed reading about something so precious to you.

  10. I love how making this quilt has led you to find out so much more about your statuette and added to your love for her. And I'm with Tu-Na thanks for adding in the permalinks. :)

  11. Hello Andrée,

    Such an interesting project, and those palms are captivating!

    I have a secret hankering to go to Ecuador...

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv


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