#2: Solar Eclipse"
© 1989, Caryl Bryer Fallert. 76" x 94"
Collection of the Museum of the American Quilter's Society
"It's a quilt about the solar eclipse, how I think it would feel to see the solar eclipse. I can remember when I was in 5th or 6th grade, seeing movies in school about the solar eclipse and these vast storms that happen on the surface of the sun sending rays of light hundreds of miles out into the dark sky and I was just so fascinated with that image that it stuck in my mind for years and years until I got the opportunity to interpret it in fabric.
"I worked on that particular quilt in a way that was more focused than any other quilt I've ever done. It came at a time when everything came together. I had my first 30 day leave of absence from what was then my day job and it was the middle of winter in Chicago so you didn't want to go out anyway and I worked on that quilt non-stop for over a month. That was all I did for 16 hours a day.
"It started from a series of very small sketches and then once I decided what the design would be, I taped together large sheets of paper so that I had a drawing that was 76 inches wide by 96 inches high. And I put it on the floor of my studio and it took about 3 or 4 days of crawling around on the floor to complete the drawing, so I had a full size drawing, or a full size cartoon and then I actually cut out the original drawing into separate templates and then I sewed strips of fabric in graduated colors into each individual template and then pieced the entire thing back together like a giant jigsaw puzzle
"When I began quilting, I wasn't really connected to the history of quilting. It's something that I've certainly come to appreciate and learn more about during the course of my career in this business.
"I came from a background as a painter and so the biggest influence I would say in that quilt that came from previous quilts is the technique that I used to construct it which is a very old conservation technique called string piecing which was done by our great-grandmothers back in the 1800s when they saved every little snippet when they cut out a garment along the selvage edge, they would save these things, long strips of fabric called strings, and put them together until they had something large enough to cut a template. And I'm using that very traditional technique in kind of a new way in order to interpret the image that's in my mind.
"I started as a painter and dabbled in a lot of other media and
then discovered the whole world of art in quilts and really found out
that this medium for me is much more expressive than paint. It goes way
beyond paint as far as the kind of images that I'm interested in producing."