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Superior Spotlight: Betty Jo Tatum

Posted: 7 June 2016 at 6 a.m.

We are excited to show off Betty Jo Tatum’s moving quilt, Drawing Nigh.  This is the second quilt in her series based on the historic role of women who maintain the home while their husbands were at war or away from for long periods of time.

Drawing Nigh

Betty Jo explains her creative process: 

 “I made the woman and her daughter appliqué first, drawing the "pattern" in my drawing software and then placing it in the overall pattern and that was fun.  I had a really difficult time getting the sky and the sea to match my vision.  At first the pieced part of the sea and the pictorial water part of the sea did not merge colorwise together well.  So I overdyed it after piecing it together.  I hand painted the sky with fabric ink, and was so unhappy with it I did it four times.  I finally stopped because I couldn't seem to get enough color in the sky.  After about a month, I took out the sky piece I liked best and added more paint for color. 

Finally I managed to get the top ready, after changing the clipper ship a couple of times and adding trapunto in layers for the clipper ship, the woman and girl, and even the cliffs behind them. When I started quilting it I realized the sky needed to be sculpted with different colors based on the painting to give it an appearance of a stormy, but clearing sky at sunset.  I used well over 30 different colors of thread in the quilting, all but three of which were Superior threads.  I had so much fun quilting this quilt that had given me such a difficult time making the top come out somewhat closer to the vision I had in my head. 

I learned three things. 

1) Sometimes you need to step away from a quilt for a little while to get it to work in the end. 

2) Using a variety of thread colors while quilting can really assist in getting landscapes to come to life. 

3) Using multiple layers of trapunto can make sails billow, the characters come forward, and cliffs look like rocky cliffs.”

 Drawing Nigh

We appreciate Betty Jo allowing us to share her quilt.  She’s been a full-time fabric artist for three years and is currently writing a book about applique for art quilters.  You can see more of her beautiful quilts on her blog.

Images courtesy of Betty Jo Tatum.

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  • 2. Ellen Hart (14 June 2016 at 8:05 p.m.)

    What a wonderful work of art! I'm heading over to your blog.
  • 1. Betty Jo Tatum (07 June 2016 at 1:12 p.m.)

    Thank you! I appreciate your highlighting my work in this way. Cheers.

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