Under the Sea Challenge

I've been having lots of fun with my first "art quilt" challenge through CQFA (Contemporary Quilt and Fiber Artists).  At our last meeting--we each brought in fused squares of fabric that evoked a feeling of under the sea:  fish, seaweed, water, shells, etc.  We then swapped and shared fabrics and were challenged to create an art quilt with the theme "Under the Sea." 
Swapped under the sea fabrics
Sketch of fish playing poker
As soon as I got home, I sketched up some ideas featuring a spin off of the "dogs playing poker" paintings...don't ask where I even got this inspiration!?! 

Staged Fish Scene


But then I got stuck on how to fashion the background...so I waited, waited, and waited for an idea which arrived many thanks to Anna Faustino's "Simply Stunning Woven Quilts."  Her book outlined a process of weaving fused fabrics that resulted in a fun and psychadelic appearance that coincidentally looked like the bottom of my sketch above!!!  Here is my journey using her techniques:
Start with 2 identical log cabin blocks in 2 colorways
Iron on fusible web to the entire back of both blocks and mark vertical and horizontal center lines on both blocks with chalk or some removable marking tool.  Place some masking tape at the top of one block (blue block) to mark where to end your vertically oriented curvy cuts (using a rotary cutter).  This will help keep everything organized when you get to the weaving phase.  Then cut horizontal lines all the way thorugh your second block (see purple).  Place the blue block on top of a slightly larger piece of batting.

Now its time to start weaving your horizontal strips (purple) into your blue strips starting with the center most strip, matching up those chalk lines and seam lines!
Strip 1 added-using chalk lines as guides

Keep adding strips center down

half way woven

Once you get to the bottom, remove the masking tape and snip through the fabric...and return to the center and weave remaining strips.  I used lots of pins to hold the strips in place and to help match up seam lines.  Once all strips are woven in...iron  the entire piece to your batting...and then zig zag stitch along woven lines. 

Close up of zig zag stitching

Back of batting

Now that my background was complete...let the fun begin by adding some card sharks, shells, seaweed and a few decks of playing cards...

This was a very liberating experience where I just had fun.  I especially like the flowing red ribbon tentacles for the jelly fish poker table, textured seaweed and its not just fish hiding out among the seaweed--is that a spare Ace of Spades?

Thorughout the embellishment process, I had 2 songs running through my mind:
-  The Little Mermaid's Under the Sea
-  The Beatles' Octopus's garden 

Last but not least...I had a few fun titles in mind...
-  Fish and Chips (poker chips)
-  Card Sharks

But in the end...I went with...
GO FISH!!  :-)  Go figure!