Map Play

Last week I took a Zoom Virtual Schoolhouse Map Play class from Valerie Goodwin. She is known for quilts that map real and imaginary places, and taught architecture for many years. The class I took was a speeded up, 6 hour version of a one to two day class of the same name.

I began the class with crinoline, MistyFuse, a bunch of fabric scraps, organza, and paint. I ended the class with two finished small maps and the start of two others. In between Valerie showed us her base construction techniques, reviewed design principles and elements, and guided us in constructing our own maps. She also critiqued our finished efforts with an eye to our possible next steps. That’s a lot in 6 hours.

All our maps were developed from a base of fabric scraps sewn to a 7 inch by 24 inch piece of crinoline (JoAnn’s sells it.) Then, we used paint (either fabric or acrylic) to blend the joins between the scraps and did a bit of hand stitching to hold down raw edges.

My scraps sewn to base. We were encouraged to not create a checkerboard, but to overlap scraps and have raw edges.

My base after painting. My paint was watery so I added white acrylic to it.

Then, we added organza shapes for more blending, and selected areas to cut into 5 by 7 inch pieces for our imaginary maps.

Before we began construction of our maps, Valerie reviewed elements and principles of design. I liked that she illustrated the principles with photos of architectural examples. It was fun to figure out which principles each used – certainly more thought provoking than the simplified graphics often used (i.e., a seesaw with different weights at each end.)

We ended up with about 45 minutes to finish a few of our maps. I got one done and began another, and then Valerie critiqued our work with an eye to further development.

Valerie suggested I extend the line of trees. I was trying to illustrate the design principles of asymmetrical balance and movement.

I hope to turn this into a representation of the southwest. Valerie liked the lines and colors, but there was little else to critique.

I did do one more last weekend.

I chose a focal point as my design principle. Let me know what you think it represents.

Overall, my class experience was positive. My only suggestions for improvement would be to have students prep their organza for fusing and to watch the base construction video before class. That took a bit of time that I certainly needed for map making. However, I’m sure teachers learn from experience that sometimes students don’t do the prep work and the class has to spend time on it anyway.

If this approach appeals to you, Valerie offers a virtual class through C & T’s Creative Spark that covers much of what I learned in her class. I think she’s also working up a class in using laser cutting machines to create intricate, lacy maps. I know she uses a cutter brand called Glow Forge, and has done extensive testing of cutting fabric with it. The results look enticing, but I know I won’t be investing in a laser cutter so will resist the temptation.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Techniques

8 responses to “Map Play

  1. Pingback: Recalibrating in 2022 | The Snarky Quilter

  2. Oh, I so want to try laser cutting fabric! I think your maps are really interesting. Seems like a fun class!

    • Thanks. The laser cutting seems like the answer to the prayers of quilters like myself who can’t do intricate hand cutting. I think Betty Busby also uses such a machine.

  3. This sounds like an interesting class and you always (usually) seem to get a lot from the classes you take. I love the layering and paint. I especially like the last piece. Would I need to know your neck of the woods to know what your focal point represents? I don’t. My guess is it’s your “destination point,” like the tear drop markers on a online navigation map. Though it makes me think of a gazebo at a park. Do tell!

    • How our perception has been influenced by Google maps! It’s based on the Cape Hatteras lighthouse off the North Carolina coast, which has been under threat of being washed away by erosion.

      • Oh, no! Fun fact – the original (Point Loma) lighthouse (now a museum) here was replaced by one build nearer the ocean, because of fog.

  4. Penny

    I agree that the prep work should be done ahead via an instructional video. Too little time is often left for work and inspiration. But the course looks very interesting, and who doesn’t like a map, real or imaginary? Your third version reflects your time to assess and apply what was being taught. That focal point made me think of a domed building catching the sun’s rays in a sunny European coastal village, maybe. Or, an isolated shower in the midst of the brightness with an umbrella going up. I think it’s absolutely lovely, and it’s giving me some starting points even for paint and collage with various papers and bits of fabric!

    • It was a live Zoom class so the teacher had the ability to change up the amount of time we spent on each activity. But, I still would have liked more time to compose rather than fuse. The last map is actually based on the Cape Hatteras lighthouse as seen from the air,with the ocean to one side. Can’t wait to see what it’s inspired you to make.

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