Pretty Rocks: Kunzite

28 01 2016

Stephanie Bateman-Graham, my friend and an ex-work colleague, takes microscopic photos of slivers of rocks and minerals. All her images are just amazing and many emulate pictures of the universe taken from space. She sells these images in various formats (cards, calendars, phone cases, etc.) via her website, and through Spoonflower, the on-demand fabric printing company:

I’ve purchased several fat quarters of Steph’s photos via Spoonflower, all in Kona cotton. And for the first time, I’ve now stitched one. The others are all ‘in process’! I’d held off stitching them as the fabrics are so pretty and I deemed them ‘too good’ to touch and possibly ruin. But I can’t keep fabric forever…

The first photo-printed fabric I stitched is of Kunzite, a variety of Spodumene. Here’s the finished art quilt (yes, it is ‘square’ — the photo distorts the edges), which is now available or sale from my Etsy store:


The process

I knew I had to stabilise this quilt really well because dense stitching warps and distorts the layers and edges. And I knew it needed ‘puff’ to emphasise various areas. Beneath the top printed fabric are two layers of batting (Pellon and a wool batting) as well as a stabilising layer of buckram. I added backing fabric at the end when I finished off this quilt, but not while I was thread painting it.


Next came choosing the thread colours. First, I auditioned all the likely colours against the fabric, then stacked them in colour variations off to the side, ready for use (first two photos below). The third photo shows the actual threads I used.




I started by stitching all around the edge of the photo-printed fabric, using invisible thread. This was both to stabilise the layers and hopefully  prevent too much distortion of the finished quilt. Then I outline stitched all the major elements in the photo in invisible thread, starting from the diagonal central elements and working back to the edges. Again, this was to stabilise the quilt in preparation for the dense stitching to come.






The back (buckram side), showing the outline stitching:


Once I’d outline stitched the main elements, I started the dense stitching. I began with the dark colours first, then added layers and layers of progressively lighter colours on top and as the photo dictated. I left some areas unstitched so they’d ‘puff’ (or ‘pop’).








After finishing all the stitching, there was a little bit of warp/distortion in the piece, so I steam pressed it and then squashed it under some heavy weights for a day or so, then steam pressed it again and pinned it securely to my design wall for a couple of weeks (I couldn’t do much more at that stage as I had shoulder surgery a few days later, then it was Christmas, etc.).

Finally, I got back to it this long weekend just past, adding some backing fabric, trimming it square, and binding it with some fabric from my stash that picked up many of the colours in this quilt. Then I added a hanging sleeve on the back and a label. It’s next destination is a local art competition in mid-February.


I really enjoyed giving a different life to Steph’s great photo!

Finished dimensions:

  • Width: 17.5 inches (44.5 cm)
  • Height: 20.5 inches (52 cm)




3 responses

28 01 2016
Mary Ed Williams

Love this! Spoonflower is located in my corner of the world and they are truly amazing. And your stitching makes the photo and colors sing.

28 01 2016
Tamera in ND

What great photos of your process!

29 01 2016
Linda E in AZ

That is wonderful and I hope rather soothing after all the fire-related activities in your life.
Cheers from Arizona

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