Terri's Handmade Rotunda Quilt

The Rotunda Quilt Movie (every quilt should have one)!

The Rotunda Quilt

There are many reasons I have grown to love Charlottesville. The community is rich with history, supportive of the arts and artisan alike, and The University of Virginia brings a wealth of diverse and bright young minds to walk the streets with me every single day.

I live and work within a few minutes walk of The Rotunda. I often walk the grounds and think ...

Did Thomas Jefferson ever sit on this spot and gaze at the blue sky above to ponder some great truth?

I like to sit under one particular tree each Spring, when the magnolia trees are in full bloom. And winter on The Lawn can be just as spectacular as a summer night with the sky ablaze with stars.

Original Rotunda Image

As you can see from the video tour of the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville shown above, there are many beautiful perspectives worthy of a quilt.

I wanted something straight-forward, but I also wanted to include the statue of Thomas Jefferson in the foreground. I didn't particularly want a perpective that placed the statue in the center of the quilt. This image seemed to be the best choice. The next step was to create a life-size template of the finished quilt.

The finished size of this art quilt is approximately 6 feet wide X 4 feet tall. Little did I know that before I would finish this quilt, I would have logged nearly 1,000 hours in its construction. I quit counting after nine-hundred and thirty something! I began by making a template on freezer paper.

Painting the Sky

This quilt is made entirely of recycled or repurposed materials with the exception of the thread (many threads decay with age), the fabric for the top half of the statue (desk-top printed fabric), and the larger square agate beads used for the detail of the over-hang.

I used a torn white bed-sheet as the foundation for building the quilt. A little playing with my fabric-dyes gave me the look I wanted for the sky.

There were months of basic construction - each element of the building a hand-crafted individual element of the landscape forming on the foundation.

The trees were little scraps, too small to be anything else but threads of color. Sometimes I would snip these smaller still. I used these threads of color like an painter might use dabs of oil-paint ... mixing and shading when needed.

All of the windows and doors, along with their accompaning arched molding above, needed to be crafted individually since the perspective of the image changed from left to right.

I felt that no handmade quilt of the Rotunda would be complete without some representation of the statue of Thomas Jefferson featured on the plaza in front of the main steps of the building.

How I was going to actually execute the statue took lots of thought. I finally decided to print the top half of the statue on fabric sheets you can print on your home computer.

This insured the detailed elements of the statue would be preserved.

The base of the statue blended different scraps of patterned fabrics which helped bring the printed image of the statue into balance with the rest of the quilt.

Beads .... Beads .... More Beads!

I knew from first conception of this quilt that I would do some kind of bead-work for the architectural details.

When I happened to find the square agate beads in a great local bead store, I made an exception and bought something new for this handmade quilt.

The columns proved a bit difficult. I finally painstakingly removed them from the quilt-top and started completely over to get them to look more to my liking.

The beading took many, many hours. Hundreds of hours. The clock element was a difficult design decision, too.

So often, it is these small decisions along the way of the creative process that take so much time. Sometimes it is just better to make a choice and go with it ... as long as you are willing to do it over and begin again if needed.

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