Tuesday, March 1, 2011
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.