Cactus Jelly

Dean Deerfield © 2010

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One of the events at our yearly quilt show in Dimmitt, Texas, is a challenge quilt. The woman who chooses the fabric each year is a good friend of mine, but her taste in fabric is totally different from mine. Each year we buy a kit of fabric for the next year's quilt. I come home and hang the fabric where I can see it and begin thinking what I can do with it. My art quilts usually have a southwestern or desert theme. My greatest challenge each year is to transform the fabric into something I can use. This yearís quilt fabric was black with an orange, yellow, blue and green print. All the print was musical notes in those colors. Then there was an ugly stripe, unbelievable flowers and geometric shapes in two different colors and patterns. The following picture is what I came up with.

I covered the pear pads and fruit with shiny organza. You can still see enough of the print to recognize the fabric. I cut long slivers of grass from the strip and then colored over it to change the color as much as I could and still be able to recognize the fabric. I cut each flower out and placed them at random using as few as possible. I added rocks, beads, silk ribbon leaves, etc. to create ground. The blue border on each side is one of the geometric patterns and the lighter border is the other one. The black border just brought the width to the size it needed to be. I covered the blue, and the borders, with the shiny organza and I couched blue metallic thread over the sky. The back and the binding is the blue geometric fabric.

I got the quilt finished and was doing my last minute pressing. I might add at this point I was feeling horrible and my vision has not improved much since I had my eye surgery. Those are excuses for what I am about to tell you. Have you ever touched acrylic organza with a hot iron? I really thought I was being careful, but the iron didnít go where I told it to. I melted a hole in the organza about the size of a plum. I kept my cool, sort of!!! I fixed the hole by adding some of those ugly flowers. It worked OK, and didnít look too bad. I covered the fabric with a pressing cloth, and ironed the flower which had fusible on the back. Feeling good about the whole process, I removed the pressing cloth and you guessed it, there were three more holes about the size of a quarter. You can press it with a cloth, but leaving it there fifteen seconds is a ďno-noĒ. You donít even want to know all that happened after that.

This is what the Cactus Jelly looks like now. The only thing I had to to use to fix it were the flowers. I still had an envelope full of cut flowers I didnít plan to use, but here they are, piled in one corner of my quilt. After the picture was taken I used a few leaves, and a bit of Angelina fiber to cover up some ugly. I sure donít plan on any ribbons on this one next week, but I actually think I like it better with the flowers.

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