Margaret Blank – Motion – “Dervish!”

When we received the title of this challenge, and it’s subsequent elaboration to include the idea of ‘movement’, I was glad I’d had some experience with translating the topic into textiles before — in Elizabeth Barton‘s Master Class in 2015.  At that time I did it all straight from sketch to stitch and wasn’t entirely happy with the results…as in the sample below:


An attempt at “motion” – EB Master Class, February 2015

A year later (or so) the 15 x 15 theme, “Mono-print” came along — and that learning experience was key to my creation for this “Motion” piece.

As for inspiration behind the subject, that came more easily!  I have several favourite music videos that I watch repeatedly on YouTube, and two of them had images of people in motion that simply captivated me: the “whirling” Dervish.  A Dervish (or Darvesh) is a member of the Muslim sect, the Sufi, and the “whirling” is part of a ceremony called the Sama, and the type of whirling known in the West is that practiced by the Mavlevi order of Dervish from Turkey.


Though I heard about “whirling Dervishes” as a child, who they were and how or why they ‘whirled’ was unknown to me.  When I saw them in Tim McGraw’s video, “Humble and Kind” and Carrie Newcomer’s “There’s Room at the Table”, I recognized them and was enthralled.  Moreover, I knew just what image I wanted to recreate for my “Motion” piece.

Now, I don’t do figurative work for a reason: I don’t enjoy it, and don’t “see” well enough to do it justice.  That said, I do enjoy line drawings, and found a few on the internet to inspire me, such as this one:


and this one


really liked that one, but wanted to fill the space with a trio, so I set to work to draw out the image in my own hand.  I also wanted to keep the piece simple — like a line drawing — and that’s where the mono-printing came in.  After a few samples, I made a large template on paper, and printed it onto plain white fabric.  I used a black acrylic paint — Golden brand “Open Acrylic” in “Bone Black” — that has a built-in ‘extender’ and was thrilled that it stayed wet enough for me to complete not only this drawing but a couple of ‘stick bushes’ pieces for miniaturesabout which I’ve posted on my blog.  It was still sticky — so I could have done more if I’d had the time.  I’m going to have to plan to make a larger batch in my next session!

Once printed, dry and pressed, I sandwiched my drawing and free-motion quilted it with plain black thread.  Then I went back in with scraps of bright red hand-dyed fabric and added a dash of colour for the hats — fused down, but not stitched.

The piece called for a black ‘frame’, so I finished it with a narrow black bias binding — et voila! 


Dervish! (C) 2016


Dervish! – Detail 1


Dervish! – Detail 2

Materials: poly-cotton fabric (recycled sheet), hand-dyed cotton, commercial bias binding, fusible web, cotton blend batting, cotton and polyester thread.

Techniques: mono-printing, free-motion machine quilting.

I’ll leave you with one of the songs that inspired this piece — Carrie Newcomer’s There’s Room at the Table”.  CLICK HERE …and look for the Dervishes!

  1. Margaret, you must be pleased that you have used your knowledge from the Master class to design and produce this quilt with so much motion in it.

  2. Thanks, Kaylene…yes; both EB’s teaching and the “mono-print” challenge last winter served me well here! 🙂

  3. Great idea and the mono-print is excellent. I just wish you had done some background quilting to show off how good it is.

  4. Great idea ! I was lucky enough to see them and made a quilt from one of my pictures some years ago ! The use of Monoprinting is perfect here, I would have quilted the backgroung a bit.

  5. Love the printing and the figures and, although I know that you didn’t want to detract from them, I would have liked to see some quilting of the background.

  6. I love the movement in your work. Simple colors and vivid lines make this work stunning!

  7. You can see the figures moving. A great monoprint! I love the line stitching in black and the red hats. But I agree with the others about the quilting. Maybe some cross stitches by hand if you don’t like a lot of quilting.

  8. Just like the others I love the movement in this piece. Beautiful stitching and great idea. I think a little bit of quilting, maybe some echo quilting, would have made it even a little stronger. But that is just how I should do it and we luckily all have a different style.

  9. I love the way your ‘line drawing’ has given this piece motion, by suggesting that the figures are there, then are not. The mono-printing is just the technique to depict this, and works really well. To me, the red hats add color and act as the focal point around which the dancers are spinning. I love the simplicity

  10. Margaret I love the simplicity of your design. The line drawings portray exactly the whirling dervishes with their red hats. Our guide in Turkey had a video that explained the history of the dervishes.

  11. Love it, Margaret! The whirling is evident. It’s the simplicity and your use of color that do it.

  12. English quilter

    I was lucky enough to see some dervishes performing a few years ago, and your piece has captured their exuberance. I would never have guessed that it was created with monoprinting until I read your statement. The lines look so precise. This piece is very effective in its simplicity and is a good example of “less is more.” Well done!

  13. Margaret, what a nice lines to create motion! The white background, red hats, completed with the black lines of monoprint and stitching, creates perfectly the balance and swirling movements of the Dervish dancers. I understand that you did not quilt the rest of the piece, it would disturb what you had to say with this piece.

  14. A very simple design but with lots of movement.

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