Thursday, July 6, 2017


Copyright 2017 by Susan Brubaker Knapp

This is “Nikau.” It is 28-1/2" x 26". Commercial and hand-dyed cotton fabrics, cotton batting, cotton backing fabric; machine pieced and machine stitched. 

I started this piece in 2010 in a class taught by Cynthia Corbin at the Charlotte North Carolina Quilt Symposium. Cynthia Corbin is a wonderful teacher, and I adore her work, but honestly, I don’t know why I took this class. It was a real struggle for me to work in such an abstract way. (Maybe that’s why I took it, thinking back. I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone sometimes.) 

It was a design/composition class, and we started with a photo as inspiration. I started with a photo of the trunk of a Nikau palm (it’s the blue and purple vertical element in this piece). The Nikau palm is the only palm native to New Zealand, and it has a beautiful striped trunk. 

As I remember, my composition looked nothing like this when I finished class. The background pieces were big and blocky, and only yellow – all shades of yellow. I was unhappy with it, and set it aside. For a long time. This winter, I got it out and started completely over, working with tiny pieces, adding more color, and working improvisationally. I’m much happier with it now. I love how the background sparkles, and I love how I was able to use many special fabrics that I had hand dyed. The black and white bits in the trunk are a hand-stitched Shibori fabric I made about 12 years ago.