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The Recipes

a series

appliqué, quilted

Art quilts, scrolls,

small works

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Jeanne Benson Studio

Botanical imagery in fiber


After more than 25 years with the studio arts program of The Smithsonian Associates in Washington, DC, making quilts and presenting classes in technique and design for quiltmakers, I set up my new studio in Colorado with paper and pencils and time to draw. Researching a subject for botanical illustration is similar to that for working in fiber art; there’s a lot of hunting and gathering. My quilt studio had containers of nature’s produce - leaves, twigs, seed pods - and I have that in my new studio. In making my quilts, I did some loose sketching and planning on paper, drew out full-size patterns for my appliqués, and constructed templates. Then I worked on my design wall with fabric and pins laying out the composition. After that came the easier part - most of the time - the actual sewing and labor-intensive finishing. Now, I sometimes begin my drawings on the “good” paper. Other times I start on drawing paper as I consider the composition and then transfer the contour lines to good paper to begin the layers of colored pencil.