28 August 2018

What I learned on my holidays (1 month of maps)

One month into this map project and no sewing yet but I've been away so that's my excuse.  There was a tiny bit of holiday stitching (more on the blog) but since this is our regular AHIQ date I thought I'd share a couple of map-related moments that got me quite excited while I was away.

We went to Denmark.  I had visited Copenhagen before, but nowhere else and this year we booked a place to stay in East Jutland, on the Baltic Sea.  I'm not going to bore you with an account of the whole holiday (though I liked Denmark a lot) since a lot of it was pretty standard holiday stuff, but we did make the trip to Billund to visit the Lego attractions.  Not so much a theme park person, me, but there is a relatively new thing called the Lego House, which is all about building/making rather than rides and that was genuinely pretty cool.

More to the point, look what I found there.

 Fine line piecing anyone?

Or this.
The idea here was that you found a base block, made your building/tree/structure, dropped it into an empty gap and the board lit up, joining your tiny square to all the others.  This has me thinking about starting a quilt in a similar way: making the individual elements and finding a way of joining them in a grid.  I think this might be a fun way to work with children too or on a group project.  

Next up (and I got properly over-excited at this one) was Jelling, site of a rune stone considered to mark the birth of the nation of Denmark, under Harald Bluetooth, and of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have Norwegian antecedents,which have always formed a part of my family's sense of who we are, though in somewhat convoluted ways, I think.  This place felt like a tangible connection for me between my history, my family and this notion of mapping.  Anyhow...

There used to be a huge wooden stockade around this Viking site, now marked out with these white concrete pillars.
Every dark dot marks the location of a wooden upright. (If you would like to see what the wooden original would have looked like, check this out).

Within this stockade, granite slabs (now replaced with white concrete) marked out the shape of a 350 metre long ship.  
Best of all was the way they had marked out the position and details of the three longhouses on the side.  A huge area of white concrete sits where each one stood,with the findings of the house marked out on it; dark lines mark the walls, dark circles the places where wooden pillars stood.

This is just begging to be the starting point of a quilt.  

I think I am going to stick, for now, with my original plan and let this simmer, but I think you can expect to find this topic coming up again.

Next thing is to get some actual sewing started.

Map Quilts at One Month

I've been thinking about map quilts this month. Actually I've thought about maps for years. As a geologist I created maps and cross sections, working to illuminate topography, reservoir limits and potential hazards. My dad loved them, too. We'd collect USGS quadrangle maps for every vacation to locate hiking trails and points of interest. {Our vacations were always in to wilderness.} Then we'd visit AAA for road maps. He had us navigate along the route. These are the kinds of maps that most interest me.

The map quilt project on the wall nags at me to work on it. It blends street and topography maps with photos I took of the area. I hit a snag last year and have let it languish too long. Although I plan to restart this project,  it isn't what I want to explore for the invitation.

Map quilt in progress

Years ago I made a quilt celebrating visits to my sister's house. The background is a pixelation of the final mile to her house. The orange sashing squares represent the flowers on her porch and balcony while the braids are the tire tracks of our journeys. The border is the letter, love, and kisses we send between times. It's the most abstract quilt I've ever made and also encompasses my love for my family. It will always be a favorite but I want to try another style this time.

The Road to My Sister's House

So many people shared their ideas for mapping -  clever, inventive, original. I'm awed by the wonderful versions they are planning but I want to piece geography, concentrate on small geographic areas, explore how much curvature I can sew into a road.

Streets intersected by an angled parkway

I started with this test. More later as I get more energy.


18 August 2018

Year One - Mapping My Quilting Journey

Instead of making a new quilt for the current challenge,
I have challenged myself to travel back 
to the beginning of my personal quilting journey 
and document  a few key quilts from each year 
along with my rationale for choosing each of them.

I'm curious to see how my process has evolved.

Even after writing a post for this first year,
I can see that it will be an interesting approach
if for no other reason than to see how
my photography has changed through the years.

Elsie's Aprons - 2004 - quilted by Bonnie Hunter

This was the first of what would be several
what I have come to call Rescue Quilts.

The original dresden plate quilt was made
by my maternal grandmother, Elsie.

Through the years, her muslin foundation 
and backing had become thin and stained 
so I carefully unstitched the dresden circles
in order to hand appliqué them 
onto new background fabrics.

You can read more of the quilt's story HERE.

This project was the first time I had worked 
with clearly defined limitations.
(the number of plates and the fact that 
 the quilt shop in question was too far away
to visit for alternate background colors)

As time progressed, I would learn
that limitations like these
make me work more creatively.

First Star to the Right - 2004 - quilted by Chris Ballard

First Star was created during a class
at one of our local quilt shops.

The spiral lone star from Jan Krentz's book
was intimidating to say the least.

You can read the quilt's full story HERE.

I later made one more lone star 
and came to terms with the fact that
these are not my favorite kind of quilts to make.

Pompeii - 2004 - quilted by Chris Ballard

Pompeii was made for our younger son
as a Christmas gift.

You can read the story of this quilt HERE.

It was gratifying to see how much
this particular quilt meant to my son -
an early lesson in the power of quilts.

Decadent Dreaming - 2004 - quilted by Bonnie Hunter

Decadent Dreaming was made for 
our older son and his soon-to-be-fiancee
as their Christmas gift.

You can see more 2004 photos of the full quilt
and read its story HERE.

I used my notes from
but managed to turn things around
creating an entirely new block design.

And thus I discovered that a mistake
was nothing but a design opportunity.

* * *

By the end of my first year,
I had made thirteen quilts,
six of which were gifted
 to family and friends.

I didn't know it then
but the making and gifting of quilts
would become an important part of my process.


09 August 2018

Preliminary steps for "Maps" challenge

I've decided I want to map my hometown neighborhood.  It is a small section of Logan, Utah that my great grandparents (and great great grandmother) lived in when they immigrated to America from Switzerland 50 years earlier.  It was nicknamed "Little Berlin" because of all the German speaking people even though the majority were of Swiss decent.

So I set out a grid on my wall using painter's tape and post-it notes to get an idea how just how many people lived in this area.  I used the 1910 Census.  And I figured out how many of them spoke German.

It was fun to read some of the family names that were listed there in 1910 because they were still in the neighborhood when I lived there in 1960.

The tape was marked for the streets and the post-it notes had the house numbers.  Some blocks were filled like the green and blue squares above and other blocks only had a couple of families.  The small line is a canal.

This wall model isn't necessarily how the quilt will look.  I just wanted to get a starting off point.  Now to interpret it in cloth somehow.

I saw this early map below of St. Augustine Florida on TV the other night.  I think it's fabulous the way the houses are identified as well as the orchards and gardens.  It's my inspiration piece.  And it's so interesting with just the black and white.

Time will tell what my quilt actually turns into.  My next step is to pull some fabric.

04 August 2018

The Beginning of My Journey

Perhaps it is because of our younger son's interest
Grace Episcopal Church - Bainbridge
in healing processes such as yoga and meditation,
but it strikes me there are elements within
our current challenge of maps and mapping
beyond the tangible.

I think these elements are what led me 
to choose to map my own journey as a quilt maker
using the quilts that I've made as markers on a timeline.

I'm sure I'll find my path has not been NOT linear
but more like that of a labyrinth -
curving and winding, 
tracing back on itself, and
often re-emerging near where I began.


The Longleat Hedge Maze in Wiltshire, England © Jason Hawkes/Getty Images

I may find that my journey more closely resembles a maze.

 (This article sheds light on the 
similarities and differences
between labyrinths and mazes. )

Either way, 
THIS is where I started.

My very first top was made 
in a LQS Beginning Machine Piecing 
class in late 2003/early 2004.

I learned how to use a rotary cutter and mat,
how to handle quilting rulers,
how to chain piece, and
how to believe in my desire/ability to make.

(I also learned I'm not fond of Y-seams)

Just as the first sampler quilt top was completed,
DH and I spent our first week at 
where he took a week-long woodturning class
(you can see where that took him HERE
and I took a week-long quilting class
with a supply list that included these words:

"Bring 80 light 9" squares and 80 dark 9" squares" 

Those words struck terror into my heart.

I had no stash.

How could I come up with that many different squares?

I don't remember just how many 
half-yards the LQS owner sold me,
but I took my motley assortment of squares to the class
and came home with the top for this still-a-favorite quilt.

A few of the fabrics in the quilt are mine 
but most are those of the others in the class
due to the creative way the instructor had us
swap fabrics to achieve a scrappy mix
beyond what any of us could have 
created on our own.

My greatest take-away from that week?

Scrappy quilt are my favorites.

The second greatest take-away?

Documenting our quilts involves more than
dates and dollars and design information.

It also involves the 'why' behind our choices.

I will be forever grateful to Patty and Catherine, 
my first two instructors,
for providing me with a solid foundation,
showing me there were endless possibilities,
and sharing their deep joy of process.

01 August 2018

AHIQ Improvisational Maps Challenge-Mind Maps

About 25 years ago, our family ran a retail shop. A young lady came into the shop asking if we'd support a local chamber of commerce map of special shops and sites in our town. I looked at her example and was struck with the beauty of that map. She was the artist who had made the example and her hand drawings were all over that lovely map. Little circles popped out of the green landscapes of rivers and lakes like faeries springing to life.

This was the root of my idea for my quilt as presented in the AHIQ Improvisational Challenge.

And as I progressed with ideas on paper, I began to remember all the times in the education system I had helped children learn how to organize themselves with Mind Maps. They can be simple or quite complex. When I took my training to become an adult instructor, we used mind maps quite a bit to help the students learn how to organize themselves to take their skills farther to sharing their experise with adult students.

I found this map below at a site called Mind Maps for Essay Writing.

Basic Mind Map Structure

From this example you can see how to start a concept map yourself.

Basically, using mind maps was developed in 1970's by a professor named Joseph D. Novak. Please read more on the topic here. These concept maps may lead you to all sorts of wonderful places as they do me whenever a large project has to happen, I lay it out like this with as many idea bubbles as is necessary.

So this is the place I am starting from, combined with lots of color and fresh ideas for my memory maps around how trees have held me close.

Large mind quilts comes to my mind here.

I constructed and machine quilted the Town of Smithers 1913-2013 Quilt that was donated to the Town of Smithers in our Centennial year. This quilt was made from a drawing of this type of layout using a mind mapping concept. The final placement would vary from where you start of course.

Risks are taken when a challenge comes your way. A path not well trodden can lead to a beautiful waterfall or cliff edge, so go slowly is my motto!

I will begin more ideas on my mind map in coming days. I'm exxcited to play with a challenge again. I have lot of ideas and techniques to use on this challenge.


Caroline from Good Earth Quilting