May 1, 2014

Four-in-Art: Landmarks

Time for another reveal in the Four-in-Art mini group. I don't know how these quarters go by so quickly.

This quarter's theme was Landmarks. Amanda suggested a range of possibilities from biggies like the Eiffel Tower or Stonehenge to local landmarks or even something from childhood that marks a distinct memory of home.

Unfortunately I got off on the wrong track when I managed to get the theme Monuments stuck in my head instead of Landmarks. Must have had The Monument Men movie on my mind or something. Anyway, most of my "thinking" time was spent coming up with ideas that didn't quite fit the landmarks theme. Good thing I revisited the Four-in-Art Flickr page before starting.

I chose to go local with my Landmark. I live in Colorado just outside of Boulder. The city lies at the base of the foothills or in other words the "baby" hills leading up into the Rocky Mountains. There is a very distinct group of rocky outcrops called the Flatirons that make it easy to locate Boulder from a distance and have become a very iconic image of the city. Here's a photo my daughter took awhile back. Not the angle from which the Flatirons are usually known but you get the idea. Giant slabs of rock thrust out of the ground at a rather sharp angle. A popular hiking and climbing area right within the city limits. How cool is that?

The Flatirons was also the inspiration for the logo I designed for the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild.

I have long thought I'd like to make a quilt using the basic blocks of the logo, so the Landmarks theme seemed like a good place to start. Plus two of the Colorado modern guilds are doing a challenge on the theme "Colorful Colorado" and my concept has to do with this same basic idea. What better way to tackle two challenges than to experiment with one and hopefully carry over what I learn to the second quilt which needs to be bigger.

One reason I joined this little group was to push myself to learn and try new things. I envisioned exploring different arty techniques like collage, improv and even photo transfers. This time round I tried a couple of new-to-me techniques and learned from them so I feel satisfied, however the end result is more like a modern mini than an art quilt in my opinion. One thing I learned is that it's harder than I thought for a structured person like me to let go . . . to be free and spontaneous in my making. Maybe the more arty freestyle will come in future quilts or maybe not. That's ok.

I used an improv approach to making the blocks and improv is not really a part of my comfort zone. But what could go wrong with these little blocks? Well, after the fact I realized my angles weren't as acute as they could have been to represent the real Flatirons. A minor detail but something learned.

I also wanted to try matchstick quilting like Leanne does so beautifully. Once again my structured self took over though and I ended up doing closely packed channel quilting. Easy in the sense that it's a small quilt and didn't take too long. Not easy in that it's hard to keep evenly spaced straight lines even on a small quilt.

One problem I encountered was the angle I chose ended up being nearly identical to 5 out of the 9 angles in the blocks which resulted in a either fudging the line or letting it go wonky. Only one turned out a bit off but next time I'll try a different angle to avoid the problem. Also all the tightly packed quilting accentuated the bulk of the border seams. Next time I'll try pressing the seams open.

In this example the stitching fell nicely in line with the piecing but you can see the shadowing and bulk of the seams just a bit. Nothing terrible, just another lesson learned.

Not so good example. The stitching line where the green hits the blue ended up a bit wonky. I ripped out at least two stitching lines before settling on this one. When the stitching is nearly, but not quite, at the same angle it pushes the stitching out of alignment and can be quite noticeable.

One last thing I learned is just how bloody hard it is to photograph white to look like white. I did all kinds of light balancing things but it's just not working today. And it's far too windy to go outside so this will have to do for now.

By now I hope you're curious to see the final quilt. I'm happy with my little experiment and think it makes for a nice modern mini. I love the effect of the closely stitched channel quilting lines. I love the simplicity and cleanness of the design. I feel confident about proceeding with the bigger challenge quilt due next month. Now to make time to get it done . . .  : )

I so enjoy this little group and seeing the creative things that others come up with. I'm always surprised by the diversity and level of thought and concept that is put into these small quilts. Hop over to see what Landmarks the others created.

Amanda  at
Betty at a Flickr site:
Elizabeth at
Leanne at

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  1. Anne, it's all about interpretation and I really like yours (which is abstract vs. the literal which I seem to be glued to!) I like the blocks and various blues you used, too. And great quilting on this one (yep, small is so much easier for straightline, right?).

  2. I love this as a little modern mini. Great colors and I can see the relation to the guild logo. I would love to see this worked up into something larger, it would be very cool.

  3. What a great little quilt! I just love the simplicity of modern!! I did matchstick quilting on mine also, but just rolled my eyes at the mistakes rather than ripping like I should have. LOL! It's harder than it looks isn't it!

  4. LOVE!!!! First, I really liked that you keep springboarding off a previous idea to get to the next one, that working in a series gives you a new approach for the next quilt. I've always wanted to try that, so I'll have to use your example as inspiration. And then I loved that channel quilting. (And stop being so hard on yourself!) When I took the class with a Big Name Quilter she taught us that multiple lines of quilting camouflage the occasional wobble or oops, and that is true in your case too. Having said all that, it's a teaching moment that I appreciate, as I'm really hard on myself about my quilting, and I had to realize that I needed to step back and let the magic of the quilt carry the viewer to the best parts, not the mistakes that I saw.

    Lastly, I love this design! I love that you took that natural landmark and interpreted it in cloth and color and stitching. It perfectly captures the flavor of tilt and large and slab that you mentioned in your opening comments. Great job, Anne!!

  5. Oh man! This is so good and puts my colorado challenge quilt with the same theme to shame!!!! You are so good!!!!

  6. I really REALLY like this quilt, Anne! It's like looking through a set of windows at the mountains outside. Love the colors and all the quilting. This art group fascinates me. I don't think I could ever join because I am totally an "in the box" person who finds it very difficult to color outside the lines.

    We have some interesting mountains here as well. "Table" mountains--completely flat on top without any peak. I keep meaning to take a picture of them as I guess they don't really occur any place else.

  7. I love this quilt too Anne! The fresh clean colours in blue and green offset with the crisp sharp shapes of the mountains! Absolutely brilliant in structure and execution!

  8. I love your interpretation of the theme Anne! Your mini turned out beautifully and I can totally see how it will be great on a larger scale for the Colorado challenge. Nice MQG logo design too, by the way!;-))

  9. I love the colors and I think the quilting looks fabulous. I agree with previous commenters, it is very fresh and clean. Loving that dark blue binding too. What a pretty picture it makes :)

  10. The flatirons are so cool and your quilt captures them wonderfully. I love the quilting, but now I have to learn what channel quilting means. One of the reasons that I purposely add a wobble to all the close lines I do is to make sure the wobbles never stand out, now you have insight into why it is actually a cheat on my part. This is a wonderful mini and great take on the theme.

  11. I love this mini quilt, it's so YOU and even when you try new things you're sense of style and design comes through. I think other quilters in the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild are going to want to make this!

  12. This is fab! Love the idea and the piece! What size is the finished quilt?

  13. Even with your critique, I love the finish. So much thoughtfulness goes into these projects!

  14. This little quilt of yours is so nicely done. As a viewer, it caught my eye immediately with its color variations and the "rugged" simplicity. While your focus was a new quilting technique (channel quilting) I did not see the similarity of where the stitching lines went, but how they directed my eye up--as if to say, "Look at us pushing our way to the sky." I enjoyed seeing this.

  15. I love this Anne, the colours are beautiful and I love the clean lines.

  16. Love the quilt!! My favorite colors.

  17. I love this quilt! Gorgeous!

  18. Your work is amazing. I thought I'd pass on a couple of tips I use when photographing my quilts. Apologies if this is old news to you...
    1. Exposure compensation. Left at its default, a camera will try to make any white (or black) scene mid-gray. You can adjust the camera settings for this.
    2. Custom white balance. Take a photo of a white piece of paper in the same light as the quilt your trying to photograph and use this image to set the white balance in-camera.
    I hope that helps.


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