Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Flight Path



When Deborah first announced this color palette of brown, sage, and blue, the coolness of the colors reminded me of the soft, pale colors of a map.  I have a thing about maps, and have been slowly working on sketches for a series of map-related quilts.  And no matter how I tried to think about the sage green aspect of the palette (you knew I wasn't going to head for brown), I kept coming back to the blueness of a map.

That led me to sketching and looking at maps, and I ended up choosing a section of a place -- the area I grew up in as a child, in San Mateo, California -- to feature in this piece.  I wanted to present the lines and colors and shapes created by a map for their abstract beauty.  You'll notice that I didn't go with the overall blue after all.  At some point I had a vision of map lines snaking out onto a white background, and I decided to go there instead.

I considered different ways of getting the map onto fabric, but eventually decided to try something I'd seen on a Quilting Arts TV episode from the 600 Series.  On the show, an artist put water soluble paper through her inkjet printer, then used it to transfer an image onto fabric.  I didn't have water soluble paper per se, but I did have water soluble stabilizer and I printed an actual map onto it via inket, then pinned it to my white fabric and stitched over the lines I wanted with black thread.  When my stitching was done, I dunked it in water and wiped it gently until the paper dissolved.  It worked pretty well, although a few ink smudges transferred onto the white fabric.  Luckily, I was able to paint over them.  Once the stitching was one, I added the color with Tsukineko inks. 

And as I worked on this, I thought about my childhood home and the neighborhood and how one of the strong memories of that house was how much time I spent watching airplanes fly by as they started to head toward San Francisco Airport.  I'd sit at the big picture window in our living room, with my dad's binoculars, and identify the airline logos on the airplane tails.

So when I hit a point where I felt that this map just needed something more, I was inspired by Deborah's shadowy applique with tulle and I overlayed the shadow of an airplane with blue tulle.  

Quilting this was a lot of fun.  In the white field, I quilted more street-like lines. Here's a detail shot:




This isn't a palette I'd have reached for on my own, probably, but it was enjoyable working with these soft colors.  And working on this made me want to make something like this a lot bigger, so maybe this will be the piece that launches me into some larger map quilts.

12 comments:

Gerrie said...

Ah! A bird's eye view. I have always loved the mappish piece that you did of your area of Sonoma County. I loved hearing about your exploration to find a way to interpret this - very creative to use the water soluble solvy. Your landscape has a very midcentury modern feel to it. Would look great in my living room!!

Terri Stegmiller said...

OMG!!! I did the same thing when I lived in San Mateo. I am fascinated with airplanes and I loved watching them in the sky. Every time we would drive to San Francisco, my eyes were glued to the direction of the airport and all those planes landing and taking off. Love your results Diane! Brings back memories.

Kristin L said...

I too lived under a flight path (though mine was in Los Angeles). I like this graphic interpretation. I look forward to more "mappy" work from you. :-)

Karen said...

This is great Diane, and I love your description of the concept. I hope to see more of these.

Linda Robertus said...

Love this one - simple but striking.

kirsty said...

I have quite a fetish for maps, so Diane you win my "Wish I'd Thought of That" prize this time!
The tulle plane shadow was a magical decision :)

Nikki said...

A map never occured to me for this challenge, but you are so right. I love the lines snaking everywhere. The sheer airplane is the perfect addition.

Brenda Gael Smith said...

I considered doing an aerial view of the patchwork Canterbury Plains in New Zealand but the earthquake made that a bit raw. A map is a splendid twist on this idea and nails the palette perfectly.

I love maps too. The Brits have a particular attachment to their Ordinance Survey maps. You should check them out when you are in the UK although I'm not certain they have one for the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.

Terry said...

When I saw your piece I smacked myself on the forehead - doink! - of course these are map colors! I love the diagonal orientation of your design. It really lends to the idea of flight and moving over the ground below. The last time I flew it was a sunny clear day and I could see the shadow of the plane gliding across the landscape far below us. Mesmerizing. That was the perfect final touch.

CarolynPhi said...

I'm a bit of a "map nut," and am in awe of this quilt!!! So original!!

Carolyn in SoCal

Vicki said...

I love this interpretation, but I also love the way you made a vignette of it.

O'Quilts said...

I think that this is brilliant. At first I thought it was NYC and 9/11. I kept looking and going back to it and now see that it is not what I had thought, but something else. Like good works of art it brings different interpretations and is powerful. Great job.