Tag Archives: landscape quilts

I Make A Village

In between work on the 100 day project and my Textural Styles class I wrapped up my fantasy village quilt. I had been quilting it in little bits for a few months, and decided it was quilted enough or maybe I was simply tired of working on it.

My Fantasy Village, 20″ high by 23.5″ wide

I used a pillowcase finish and spent lots of time steam pressing the thick edges. As the front is silk, I had to be careful about the iron’s temperature. It’s always an adventure to find the spot where the steam works and the iron isn’t too hot.

My inspiration for the village began with the work of Zoe Zenghelis, which I saw last year at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. Her paintings were often for architecture projects so they tied into my interest in designing a village. I was also inspired by this photo of a Mexican town.

Guanajuata, Mexico

I chose to simplify and flatten the buildings for a primitive effect. It may not look like there’s much quilting, but the back tells another story. Most of the thread I used is black in two weights, as my experiments with white and red threads produced anemic results. The silk itself was sewn down raw edge with a zigzag stitch. A few of the tiny windows were glued down and then quilted over.

Of course my original vision called for a much larger village with more whimsical details, but reality intervened to narrow my focus to the possible. I still have more than enough silk to make three or four similar quilts. I’ll just have to see if that idea takes root.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Summer Is Done

I realize the title makes me sound as if I’ve been seriously out of touch with reality, but I’m talking about my Nova Scotia tidal marsh landscape series. The fourth one, summer, is close to completion, some five years after I began the series with autumn.

There was no logic to the order I worked in – autumn, spring, winter, summer. It was up to what fabrics appealed to me at the time. All except winter are relatively small, about 15 inches high and 32 inches wide. Winter is roughly double the size of its companions because I goofed when enlarging my drawing. You can read about the earlier landscapes here, here, and here.

Summer presents the same scene – a tidal marsh in Annapolis Royal – from a slightly different perspective. I used the applique construction method I learned from Vikki Pignatelli, with fused applique for the small details like the grasses.

Starting from the bottom, my enlarged drawing with piecing numbers and color notations; my colored pencil drawing; and my piece before fusing applique on. The strips on the left are my freezer paper pattern pieces, made from the bottom drawing.

I had fun making the grasses from slivers of fused fabrics.

Now the fused bits are in place and I plan to add paint/Inktense pencil highlights in a few areas before I quilt it.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

My Finishes Are Like Buses

From years of riding public transit I know that buses are happiest when traveling in packs. Often three on the same route arrive nose to tail after a long wait.  It seems my quilt finishes are the same way.

After months of not quite getting there, I have three finishes, plus one quilt that just needs a facing.

First,  A Grand Day Out (24 x 36 inches) got its hot air balloons sorted out, and minor repairs made.

The girls waited patiently for me to give them something to look at.

Winter Fields (26.5  x 47 inches), the third in a series of a Nova Scotia salt marsh, got painterly finishing touches with a paintstick and watercolor pencils. I still need to make the summer version, though so far all I have towards it is a lot of green fabrics.

The quilt for each season features a gate, which marks the entrance to the salt marsh from the Annapolis Royal gardens. If you’re ever up that way I heartily recommend them.

An array of  fabrics found their way into this one. The reddish/purple fabric is a silk scarf I painted, and the light area on the left is part of a damask tablecloth.

Lots of the hand dyed fabrics were made by Vicki Welsh.

I needed a break from landscapes, so Rick Rack (36 by 46 inches) got yanked from the back of the closet and wrestled into a quilting design inspired by Jacquie Gering’s walking foot quilting book. It began as practice for sewing half circles. Then, I joined the halves with ribbon, and added another round of fabric every so often. The colorful fabrics were done by Marcia Derse and Valori Wells.

I thought my to be quilted list would have dwindled, but I’m back at five as of last week. I don’t even want to think about the number of hanging sleeves I need to make.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

The Girls Hit The Road

While I was creating their seaside environment the girls got bored and went on a road trip. They were shopping for a forever home and wanted to see what was on offer on my walls.

Since they were in the neighborhood, their first stop was a piece in progress on my second design wall. At first they thought they had stumbled into MOMA and wondered how that happened. When no one made them buy an expensive ticket they realized that they weren’t at MOMA but inside a creation from my scrap bins.


After getting lost in black and yellow corridors that led nowhere the girls escaped and decided to try another floor. When they saw fish they thought maybe their seaside dream had become real, but swimming with the fishes wasn’t what they had in mind, so they surfaced and headed back upstairs.


Some time had passed since they last saw their design wall. The girls were thrilled to notice a new landscape with sky, a beach, and an ocean. There were even fluffy clouds in the sky. Since their feet were hot and tired from all those steps they waded into the water and wiggled their toes in the sand.

girls-at-seaI thought the girls were finally happy, but now they keep asking me what they’re supposed to be looking at. And could there be more waves. Sigh.




Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, In Process

In The Clouds

I finally finished a small quilt that’s been awaiting a technique breakthrough in cloud making. When I wrote about this stumbling block before, I was trying to paint silk organza to resemble clouds. Then, I ran into technical difficulty when I tried to figure out how to attach the painted clouds to the piece in a way that didn’t look hokey.

My breakthrough came from a wonderful landscape quilt I saw at Quilt Canada this past summer. Tracey Lawko, the artist, used white netting to trap some sort of white fluffy stuff to create clouds in her Windswept Snow 1.

Windswept-Snow-1-by-textile-artist-Tracey-LawkoThat epiphany set me off on a different method to simulate clouds. I tried cotton wool and even cat hair under white netting.

Finally, I tried shredded wool batting and found that worked best of any material I had experimented with.


You can see detail of some of the clouds below.

IMG_5023In_The_Clouds_detail1I did some quilting before attaching the clouds as I was concerned about too many lines running through them. My experiments at free motion quilting clouds were failures. So, I did more quilting after sewing on the clouds. I wish I had sewn on the clouds before doing any quilting so the edges weren’t so puffy, but that’s a lesson learned.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Left Brain, Right Brain

I know some quilters who focus on one major project at a time. They may mull over ideas for other new pieces, but the actual cutting, piecing, sewing, and quilting  are confined to just the one piece.

Then there’s yours truly. Without consciously deciding to work this way, I always seem to have at least two big projects actively going. They are often quite different kinds of pieces. It’s as if my brain needs to have both hemispheres stimulated.

Right now I’m finishing up the top for a paper pieced project that features four color gradients. I just need to buy more of the narrow rickrack as I want to place it differently than shown. The hand dyed border strips aren’t sewn in place yet, so that’s why they may seem off kilter, and the end of the day photo doesn’t help.

leaves_topMy inspiration was a Craftsy course on color taught by Joen Wolfrom. I’m only about halfway through the videos but I just had to do a color gradient or two. The leaf pattern was developed by Deb Karasik.

My other work in progress is also related to an online course. I mentioned earlier that I’m taking a landscape quilt class and am using photos of a salt marsh in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, for my inspiration.

Mack_marsh_pinnedThis piece needs a lot more work than the leaf one. Right now it’s tenuously pinned to a board. None of the edges are turned under. Because the pieces are cut oversize to make sure there’s enough fabric for complete coverage, they are larger than they will finish up. There’s been lots of trial and error and some creative adjustments based on the fabrics I had available. I’ll be fiddling with fabric choices for another day or so, and possibly longer.

Each of these pieces has called on a different skill set. For the leaf one, choosing the gradient fabrics was the most creative (and fun) part.

leaf fabrics

I paper pieced little bits of fabric together the same way 32 times. The biggest challenges were to make sure I covered all the edges with fabric and to remove the paper. I also did a lot of ironing and starching to get the blessed things to lie flat. I did fiddle with block arrangement. Once I sew on rickrack and the borders I think quilting will be straightforward work with my walking foot.

The landscape has required much more auditioning of fabric, and stepping back and squinting at the effect. I had to be ready to change the pattern shapes to accommodate the amount of fabric I had and the coloring of the fabric.

After I make final fabric choices I’ll have to iron under exposed edges for invisible applique or prepare the fabric for fusing. Some of the water pieces are so skinny that I think fusing will be the only way to go, and the grasses in the foreground will be fused. The quilting will be improvisational and free motion.

Both pieces satisfy different parts of my quilter’s brain. With the leaves I enjoy predictability; with the landscape I flirt with ambiguity. Now I need to keep focused on these pieces and not hare off to begin yet something else.



Filed under In Process

Spirit of Place

Recently I began an online course in making landscape quilts. While I think I could have figured out the process on my own, I wanted to get expert guidance to avoid dead ends.

Ever since I visited the Annapolis Royal Gardens in Nova Scotia I’ve wanted to make a quilt of the salt marshes in back of the gardens. Photos I took of a gate that led to the marshes became my inspiration. I loved the wildness just beyond the gate. It’s such a contrast to the beautiful constructs of the gardens.

Series marsh cropped

I combined elements of this photo with shots of the same scene taken from other angles, and developed two colored pencil sketches.



Academy of Quilting teacher Susan Brittingham has you develop a full scale pattern for your quilt based on a photo or drawing. First I made outline drawings of my photos, editing the scene as desired, and then I had the drawings enlarged to 3 and 4 times their original 9 by 12 inch size. I hadn’t realized how inexpensive this process was until I spent some time at my local FedEx Office store. For about $3 I got two black and white enlargements. It’s much more expensive to get color enlargements.

Next I’m supposed to do tracing paper copies of my enlargements to use as a guide for fabric placement. Then, I’m to trace the drawing outline onto a piece of muslin backing.

Lots of prep work before I put even one piece of fabric in place. Knowing me, I’ll most likely change my scenes as I work on them. I have a feeling I’m going to need more fabric before I’m done.


Filed under In Process

Occasional Wednesday Salon

While much social media leaves me scratching my head, I’m a devotee of Pinterest.  It’s introduced me to fabric art I would never have found otherwise.  I discovered Merle Axelrad through this photo of detail from Yuba River 2.

Merle Axelrad 1

She describes her work as fabric collage and says her goal is to capture light and movement. Each piece contains thousands of fabric pieces that depict impressionistic landscapes. They are very place specific. I immediately recalled a trip to California I took over 20 years ago when I saw her Marin Headlands.

Marin Headlands Merle Axelrad

Marin Headlands detailIn the detail photo of Marin Headlands you can see the number of fabrics that go into her work.

You can get a glimpse of how she works in this video about her commissioned piece California Ricelands. This is based on many aerial photos.

California Ricelands Merle Axelrad

Tree 1 Merle AxelradI think I’ve hiked past this tree that’s hanging onto its rocky hillside.

One of Merle’s special talents is the ability to convey flowing water in fabric. Sierra Water shows still water, while in Sierra Stream 3 I can feel that icy water tumbling over the rocks.

Sierra Water Merle Axelrad

Sierra Stream 3 Merle Axelrad



Filed under Art quilts