UPDATED 5/10/22: Someone took over and locked me out of my @quiltinginthefog Instagram account from Saturday, 4/30 at 5:00pm PST through Tuesday, 5/10 5pm. If you got an IG message from me during this time asking about a “new clothing line” (not something I’m doing!) DO NOT CLICK ON IT. Also, make sure you do not click on any text message sent to your phone – that’s how they got into my account and changed all my settings, password, login, etc. DON’T CLICK.
It’s resolved now – so sorry if you clicked and got roped into this fraud. Grrrrrr.
I’m thrilled that two of my quilts were selected as part of the Studio Art Quilts (SAQA) Art Quilts #2 Exhibition as part of the reopening of the California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica, California from June 24 through September 19, 2021.
I haven’t been posting much here as I share my quilt and sewing work regularly and often on Instagram (@quiltinginthefog). Here are some of my latest art quilts:
This piece (18” x 18””) was juried into the ArtSpan 2021 Juried Benefit Auction held on April 24th. It was a miniature version of my “Mosaic Improv” (54” x 54”) quilt that was part of the de Young Museum Open juried exhibition last fall.
Swirl is a quilt I started years ago from leftover pieces of quilts gifted to others. The variegated pieces and wonky cuts made the resulting piece warped and uneven. I tried to “quilt it it flat” but did it badly and, well, it just looked awful and was not at all what I’d imagined in my head. I put it away for years and every once in a while would pull it out to lament what I’d hoped would be a treasure. I loved the colors and the shape, and decided it was time to try again and to go for it. I spent hours (days?) picking out all the dense quilting stitches to free the top. I thought there might be a way to salvage it if I added more pieces to surround the original and then stretch it on my new-to-me old longarm machine to densely quilt it flat. It worked! I can’t stop looking at it. I learned that a seam ripper can be your friend if you have some Netflix to stream. I was also reminded how much fun I have with make-it-up-as-you-go improvisational quilting.
Which led me to…
In working towards creating a cohesive body of thematic work, I made this piece to hang as part of a triptych. Each is 36” square.
This quilt was made as the fires raged from September 3 through the first rains of the season on November 8, 2020. Each 4 inch square was created from screen shots captured on PurpleAir.com of the outdoor Air Quality Index of San Francisco.
For weeks, millions of Californians were smothered by smoke from a record explosion of wildfires burning through grass, shrubs, conifer forests, homes and businesses. Eyes watered. Lungs burned. Skies glowed orange. People suffered sore throats, headaches and chest pains. Many cloistered themselves indoors as pollution spiked to “hazardous” levels, or worse. Smoke transported health dangers to nearly every corner of the state. State air quality officials are aware of no precedent for so many people breathing such high levels of wildfire smoke for so long. Even as air quality begins to improve, many remain worried about long-term health impacts. Wildfire smoke is poisoning California kids, and some pay a higher price than others.
In many ways, the blazes were unprecedented. But experts say these kinds of wildfires will also become very normal and routine if we do not take significant action to adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
On September 9, 2020 we awoke to an apocalyptic dark orange sky with smoke blowing at high altitudes across the California coastline from wildfires throughout the northern part of the state. At midday the sky was still so dark headlights were required to drive and with no daylight penetrating homes, interior lights were required to function indoors as if it were night. While hard to believe, the smoke only got worse in later days as it moved from high altitude to ground level, making it even more hazardous to breathe outdoors.
The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. Air quality ranged from purple/red (hazardous/unhealthy), to orange/yellow (unhealthy for sensitive groups/moderate) to green (good/satisfactory.) San Francisco’s microclimates and hilly terrain causes a great deal of variety in the small 7 by 7 mile city, as indicated by the varied confetti and bar colors at any one point in time. Here are examples of blocks created from the associated PurpleAir.com screen shots.
To keep the blocks in chronological order (marked on masking tape on the back of each block) I sewed the entire quilt by chain piecing it. The completed quilt measures 60″ x 60″.
So often in these past 4-5 years something has happened in our country or in the world that makes me want to create things as a response to feelings of outrage. I’ve scrapped so many ideas that focused on negative quotes and statements in the news – the thought of intensely stewing in bile for the 20-40 hours it takes to make a quilt is simply toxic.
With this in mind, I focused on imagining what I wanted to happen. Inspired by a giant “blue wave” sign made from thousands of blue Post-It notes at the March for Women, I set out to create my own blue wave.
The background is various blue/violet Kona cotton fabrics and was pieced using a variation of the “Disappearing Nine-Patch” design. I cut it up further and pieced it back together to create a more jumbled background. It finished as a wall hanging at 36″ x 36″.
I knew I wanted to make the waves by quilting, but was worried the busy-ness of the background would make the quilting get lost. My first attempt at this was to create and sew three bias tape waves that I’d fill in with big-stitch hand-quilting using various white and blue colors of pearl cotton. Once I did this, however, I thought it looked cartoony and silly.
I was disappointed as it really didn’t have the feel I was going for. So – there’s always the seam ripper! I sewed around the bias tape, pulled it out and added a lot more quilting and, while still subtle, am very happy with the end result.
This quilt invites you to take a closer look. From farther away, you see the patch of blue, and a few shadows swirling across it. Closer up, the eye wanders around and through the stitching like a labyrinth.
I take such joy in repurposing fabric from clothing. I’ve used my downtime during the pandemic to clean out closets, “get real” about what I really like to wear and will be wearing in the future, and donating clothing to Goodwill for better purposes. I set aside a set of linen dresses that I’d worn out, or just didn’t fit or look right on me, and cut them into various long strips and pieces and began to put back together as a quilt. The result is the Five Dresses quilt (56″x79″). Once pieced, it was quite saggy and droopy. Before quilting, I heavily spray basted it (in my backyard – why haven’t I been doing this back there all these years and instead cramming myself in my enclosed garage?) and then densely quilted it. I love the process of just sewing strips and pieces together without much though except for trying to get light/dark variation, and using up as much of the fabric as possible. Using what I had on hand, the colors just turned out to work together. It definitely has the feelings of Gees Bend and Rose Lee Tompkins. I’m looking around our closets to see what else I might repurpose – nothing is safe!
It’s been more than six months since my last post here, having largely moved to Instagram. What an unimaginable world of change: pandemic lockdown and spread with hundreds of thousands dead and many more sick, an economic freefall, political unrest and election activism, protests for social justice and change, fires across my state and oppressively smoky air. And of course the resulting changes and effects on our family, knowing that for an overwhelming number in our community and country the multitude of tragedies has caused complete devastation. We are still in the midst of it all, and yet have so far to go.
During this distressing time, a light in my life (and, I admit, my lifetime) has been juried acceptance of my Improve Mosaic quilt into the de Young Museum Open Exhibition. It is thrilling to have been selected as one of the 877 works of art from over 11,000 entries across the Bay Area for the reopening of the museum!
Additional icing on the cake is appearing on the inside cover of the Fall 2020 edition of Fine Arts Magazine!
It was a joy to return to the de Young Museum on Tuesday, recently opened since closing in March. The show opens to the public today and will run through January 3rd. It is truly an honor to be among such talented, beauty and inspiration! My heart is full.