Ellie the Elephant

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Ellie was sent to me by Pam Fritsche (Dawson Creek, BC) for custom quilting.  She was made from a foundation paper piecing pattern called “Elephant Abstractions” by Violet Craft, and from the back story I heard about the assembly process there were definitely ups and downs! After several challenges and a variety of choice words throughout, Pam told me she finally gave her a name and that seemed to help them bond more closely while she finished this amazing project.

We all know that I’m not a fan of piecing, and looking at foundation paper pieced projects has always made me think there is no way I would ever take one on.  When I viewed other versions of this quilt online to get an idea of what was coming in the mail, I was intrigued by the design albeit not overly excited about many of the colour variations I was seeing.

But then Ellie arrived, and I unboxed her and hung her up on my design wall so that I could spend some time looking at her to help me decide how to do the quilting.  I couldn’t stop looking at her.  There was something about her that drew me in from the first moment – she was almost real.  She commanded my attention.  She brought tears to my eyes.

There is something about elephants.  They are incredible animals and somehow despite their enormity they seem to draw from us a basic emotional response.  The elephant is not “king of the jungle”, and yet …

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So taken was I with this quilt top that I even imagined making my own.  I knew I had to have one.  I can’t remember ever feeling that kind of insistence within about any other craft project!  But sometimes a particular experience gives us the motivation to step into territory we have up until then avoided, because we just want something badly enough to try.  So it is for me with this quilt.

I knew from the start how I wanted to quilt the grasses, the trunk and the tusks.  But beyond that, choosing how to section off the rest of her was challenging.  Because of how the quilt will be used, it couldn’t be quilted too densely, but I still wanted it to have the right texture and to be careful not to overwhelm the already very detailed piecing.

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I love serpentine lines because they create a flowing design and while I usually quilt them in smaller sections with much closer spacing, I was happy to see that they worked well on a larger scale with wider spacing too. I think they helped the legs look wrinkled, which gave them a natural “elephant” texture.

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The pattern designer’s attention to detail even in the positioning of the feet made it clear that this elephant was walking forward and not just standing, so I wanted the grass to appear to be parting as she moved through it.

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Here she is in all her glory!

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I read something in my meditation book this week that seemed fitting with my mind on this elephant, and it went like this:

How often have I had a dream that I longed to pursue, but quit before I started because it seemed too enormous a task to attempt? … Instead of approaching the task as a whole, I can simplify it by taking only one step at a time.  I can gather information … then, when I’m ready, I can take the project further …  I can take my time and move step by step at my own pace. By focussing on one thing at a time, the impossible can become likely if I “Keep it simple.”

I’ve started with a small foundation paper piecing project that I actually enjoyed (yay!) and am now looking for something a bit bigger so that I can gradually get more experience doing this technique.

I don’t know how or when I will make it, but I ordered my very own Elephant Abstractions quilt pattern today 🙂

 

 

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