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Five Horses Quilt

Like Pear Drops, the inspiration for Five Horses came to me before I had the fabrics to work with. And like Pear Drops, I actually drew this idea before beginning the quilt. Unlike Pear Drops, I had no singular ‘vision’ of the subject. I just somehow became fixated on doing a quilt involving horses. And I knew I wanted dynamic, dramatic horses. I wanted horses in action, not simply horses in profile or horses grazing. In our weekend travels through the region, we enjoy passing by many beautiful horse ranches, and this is the only explanation I have for the inspiration for this quilt. In order to do it, I began studying ‘action photos’ of horses online. After studying scads of these, I created a sketch for myself in which I experimented with size and arrangement of horses as well as the possible positioning of their legs, trying different things to get a sense of motion. I couldn’t settle on a ‘final’ choice for the leg motions and opted instead to cut out the entire sketch and transfer it onto a piece of fabric to be cut as a single piece, including all of the various leg positions. This is why this piece has far more legs than four per horse! I wanted to be able to see them running. The horses were cut in a single piece from a remnant of grey microsuede, and appliquéd with embroidery thread onto a larger piece of tan microsuede. I wanted the suede to give the feel of the horses and their total environment—running out West in a cloud of dust. I also wanted wild stitching to add to the sense of motion, and thus the appliqué is done with large, angular, overlapping stitches. I cut and shagged more grey microsuede to use as three dimensional manes and tails, and added brown pleather for their hooves. The quilting stitches are done in a tan embroidery thread to blend into the background, and their structure is that of ‘echoes’ or ‘ghosts’ of the five grey horses combined with swirling clots and clouds of the dirt and dust through which they gallop. The quilt is suspended via twine from a hand cut and sanded, lap jointed, curly maple frame finished in Danish oil. The frame for the accompanying sketch is likewise curly maple finished in Danish oil. The sketch measures 20” x 26”, and the quilt measures 27” x 43”.

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