Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter, a Four-in-Art Quilt, August 2014


Lorinc Pap Ter_front

Ted and Maurice at Lorinc Pap Ter

No. 4 in the Urban Series

small plaza

It all started here, in a small square in Budapest right outside our hotel, on a recent overseas trip.  We walked through it several times a day, enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Matryoshka Bistro in the background, sat and ate ice cream on a bench the night before we left.  “Why don’t we have small squares like this?” I wondered outloud to my husband.  “A place where you can get an ice cream and enjoy the evening, and see your neighbors?” for several people had greeted each other as they walked through.  Another group gathered at the pub (just out of sight) for an end-of-the-day gab session.

Baker Ballfield Backstop

Then the next week, trying to recover from an extended case of jet lag, I went walking at our local park — part walking path, part baseball fields, part tennis courts, with lots of benches.

Ted and Maurice

I chatted with Ted and Maurice, two regulars that we see walking in the morning.

Other Regulars at the Park

And these three men who walk together, who do have names, but who I refer to as The Retired Guys.

Ball players

And on Saturday mornings I see the Little Leaguers warming up to play their early morning games.  It was after talking to Ted and Maurice one morning (both retired) that I realized that while my “square” is a contrast to that sweet little Lorinc Pap Ter in Budapest (“ter” means “square” in Hungarian), it is also fundamentally the same.  Of course, I want to go back to Budapest yesterday, but I’m content to notice the contrasts and take what I have.

Some of the obvious contrasts are the commercial enterprises: we work really hard to separate them in the United States, but interestingly more and more shopping centers are trying to recreate that “square” feel, setting out benches, have shaded trees to sit by, and playgrounds for tired children and their shopping parents.  Another obvious contrast is the size, and the purpose.  I think that Lorinc Pap Ter was meant to pay homage to Count Zichy (who is atop the statue, being honored by The Common Man, and The Neighborhood Priest, for the church is right behind me in the photo) and while the park where I walk in the morning is named for a local land donor, there isn’t a bit of statuary in sight.

small plaza+multicolor

I first thought of contrasting the differences felt in times of day, how many people were there, and certainly the colors do provide some visual interest, but I felt it was really a cliche, and didn’t point up the contrast like I wanted to.  So I got the idea to merge the two parks and some of the people, overlaying the backstop and adding Ted and Maurice. It’s a jolt to see a Little League backstop in a Budapest city square, and certainly most ballparks don’t have statues holding laurel wreaths.  By mashing them together it pointed out the contrasts in a quick sort of shorthand.

Walkers at Park

I felt like I’d lucked out to get a photo with the tricolor bunting on the backstop (it’s gone now).  I now was much happier with the outcome, and didn’t let the colorful square of squares go to waste: I shrunk them down and used them for the border.

Ted and Maurice and Quilt

And to end it off, here’s Ted and Maurice, holding my quilt.  They were thrilled to be honored that way, and told me about more regulars (they get there earlier than I do).  Ted took photos of my creation having never seen something like this, and we all laughed and joked around, especially as The Retired Guys came loping around to join us.  All we needed was some ice cream.

Tiny Nine-Patch

Please take time to visit the other Four-in-Arters, who have also put up their Challenge Quilts today:

Amanda  at whatthebobbin.com
Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com
Elizabeth at opquilt.com (you are here)
Leanne at shecanquilt.ca
Tiny Nine-Patch
And come back for the next post, with instructions on how you can make your own little art quilt, including the use of Bubble Jet Set!
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Changes Art Quilt, Deconstructed

Change Art Quilt_front(2)


Thursday, May 1st, was the reveal for our second series of Art Quilts.  This year’s theme is Urban, and this quarter’s challenge was Landmark.  And as is my usual, I do a post on how I put it together.

marylin-monroe-in-pop-art-editedMarilyn Monroe, by Andy Warhol was the second step after making list of potential landmarks; I had chosen the hillside letters from a list of six ideas, but how to interpret the idea is always the next challenge. I liked the idea of Warhol’s repetition, and as a commenter on Reddit noted “Warhol does not give us one Marilyn; he gives us twenty-five. Perhaps he wants us to consider our obsession with celebrities, or to suggest that more is always better, especially in the case of a celebrity with an already ubiquitous image.”  Okey-dokey.  I think I just liked the different colorways, and the duplication. Here’s another famous one of his:

Andy-Warhol Soup

Layout Decisions Art Quilt

I thought about two different layouts: one like the Warhol’s Marilyn in a grid of three-over-three, or one where I’d displace some of the repetition with a larger image.

Layout for quilt

Guess which one I chose?  I got out my Steam-A-Seam fusible webbing (it doesn’t gum up the needle too much in machine appliqué), a stack of fabrics from my stash (some are quite ancient), and cut  and cut, and by the time I went to bed that night I had assembled this:

Layered Fabrics Changes Art Quilt

Satin Stitching Changes Art Quilt

The next day, I went back and forth between using a straight stitch to secure the edge or a satin stitch.  I’ve been using satin-stitch appliqué for about half my life, so that won.  It’s my go-to technique when I want that distinct line around my raw-edge pieces and the fusible product holds them in place as I stitch. I dial that stitch length down as far as I can.  I used to stitch using 0.3, but I can only get to 0.5 on this machine.  So I have to “hold it back” a little with pressure from my fingers as I try to get that smooth lay-down of thread. I’ll explain.

Back of Satin Stitching

I have always (ALWAYS) used two pieces of paper underneath my stitching and I *lower the upper tension* on my sewing machine.  I want the bobbin stitches pulled to the underside.  Because I use paper, that’s what I kind of hold onto as I “hold it back.” And by using paper, I also don’t have any buckling of the fabric.  After I finished all my mountains, I stitched my hillside letters.

Back of quilt block

It’s really easy to rip that paper off after you are finished. This is what it looks like after the paper is removed. Look Ma! no buckling of the fabric! (I’m not kidding–use two sheets of paper–it works like a charm.)

Appliqued Blocks

After all the blocks are all satin-stitched (and paper removed), I trim them down.  I had decided I didn’t want to seam them, but instead butt them together, as I didn’t want that heavy ridge line that a seam would bring (all those layers!).

Trimming Blocks

After I trimmed, I cut small strips of interfacing 1″ wide and laid the blocks side by side, fusing them onto the strip.  (I did have a photo, but it was too blurry.)  I assembled the quilt in units:  (first) the three minis below the larger block, then (second) the two minis to the side of the larger block.  Then (third) I attached the two side minis to the large mountain image, and fused those together.  Then (last) I added on the lower three minis.  Hope you are following all this.

Assembling Changes Art Quilt

I then satin-stitched the raw edges, using a slightly larger width (about a 3.5) to cover the seams.  I layered it up with a backing and some batting, and then went to town quilting it.

Outlined Satin Stitching

I decided to quilt it by emphasizing the satin-stitching; I straight stitched on either side of that.  Sometimes I’d use matching thread, sometimes I wouldn’t.  I also lowered the upper tension for this step, but not as much as I did when I was doing the satin-stitching.  I was happier when I had some King Tut thread to outline my satin-stitching (it’s a bit weightier thread and shows up better).

Outlined letter H

I also stitched around the H, as it just disappears into that autumn-colored mountain.

Quilted and Trimmed Art Quilt

Here it is, quilted and trimmed.  I used my preferred binding, of a strip 2″ wide, folded in half (this *post* tells how), as I like that look.

Change Art Quilt_back

I made the usual triangle pockets in the corners for hanging, then attached the label.

Change Art Quilt_front

Thanks for enjoying our little art show yesterday, of all the Four-in-Art Quilters.  As per my usual (and I hear others in our group do the same thing!), I procrastinate too long, letting other chores, correspondence, phone calls and the usual detritus of life take up the space I need for creativity.  The deadline gets me focused again, and I’m pretty happy to have this little quilt at the end of it all.


Sketch of Mountain

If you want to make yourself a little mountain quilt, with your own set of letters, here’s a jpeg of the mountain, which should measure 4″ when printed.  Enlarge it 200% for the bigger mountain so it’s double that, or 8″.  This idea and technique can be used for any simple sketch: a baby’s hand, a simplified portrait, a household object (like Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans?).  Let your creativity lead you where it will, and if you do make a similar art quilt, drop me a note and let me know!


Our next Four-In-Art reveal is August 1st.





Change, a Four-in-Art Quilt

Change Art Quilt_front(2)

#3 in the Urban Series, Landmark Quarterly Challenge
Quilt #131

Y Mountain Provo(Y Mountain.  Photo courtesy of Judy Cannon)

This is the landmark I grew up with, a letter on a mountain in Provo, Utah.  Known as the “Y,” there are annual hikes, and a lighting of the letter on Homecoming.   I thought everyone had a mountain with a letter on it, but as I grew up and moved around, I found out that most of the world, and certainly the East Coast of the US, doesn’t.  Since I chose this idea for my landmark, I found there’s a whole Wikipedia page about these hillside letters.  Also known as “mountain monograms,” as one professor wrote in an article about the origins and the spread of these letters, I discovered that University of California-Berkeley was the first. And here’s a map of these letter landmarks, mostly in the mountain west.  (Maybe because we have mountains?)


RS Mountain with Town

The movie Cars even used hillside letters on the mountain above Radiator Springs, the fictional small town in the movie.  The RS is just to the right of the stoplight.  (Sorry for the weird image, but I had to take a photo of my computer to get this shot.)  The mountain from another view:

RS Mountain

Columbia University in New York does have a “C” painted just above their boathouse on the Hudson River:


Yet most people think of this when I say hillside letters. . .


. . . but to me, neither of those counts.  A letter needs to be embedded on a hillside or a mountain to count as a landmark.  So that was the genesis of the quilt.


Our landmark hillside letter is a C, an imitation of that first University of California-Berkeley letter, which was set onto a hillside about 1905, the granddaddy of all the other mountain monograms.  This is a blurry image from Wikipedia of our local mountain (our letter isn’t really yellow).  I tried to photograph it, but couldn’t get a good vantage point, so this will have to do.

Change Art Quilt_Big C block

Here’s my little art quilt with its C on its mountain.  (Note: although I like to photograph outside, today we are having raging Santa Ana winds, so inside it is.)

Change Art Quilt_E block

What is the significance of these other letters, spelling out the word C-H-A-N-G-E?

Change Art Quilt_label detail

As Longfellow observed, “all things must change.”  And I keep my mother’s advice that “A change is as good as a rest” close to my heart, for that’s a truth as well.  But the C-for-Change  linkage came to me one weary night, when I had to go and do one more pick-up and one more errand when teenaged children were still at home.  It must have been during our University’s Homecoming Week, for when I rounded the street corner at the base of the Box Springs mountain, I could see the “C” all lit up. I pulled over and gazed at the glowing letter with that tired-behind-the-back-of-the-eyes fatigue, wishing that that I could go home and be home, like I could when the children were little and weren’t off at some activity that required me to be out and about picking them up.  I thought back to the “easy days” of tucking them in after a story and prayers and a drink, and about how wonderful those times were.  Why did things always have to change?

But I realized that change is the law of the universe, and instead of being at war with that constant mutability towards “something new, something strange” I should just accept it.  Change and I are now uneasy companions.  I know it won’t always be like that, for experience has taught me that change can come in steep cliffside drop-offs and hair-raising turns on a winding road.  But for now, I’ll be content gazing at my quilt where it hangs in the corner of my kitchen.

Change Art Quilt_on wall

4-in-art_3button Please visit the rest of our Four-in-Art group, and see how they’ve interpreted the Landmark Challenge:

Amanda  at whatthebobbin.com
Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/toot2
Elizabeth at opquilt.com (you are here)
Leanne at shecanquilt.ca
Tiny Nine-Patch
And come back for the next post, with instructions on how you can make your own little art quilt.
Change Art Quilt_back
200 Quilts · Four-in-Art · Quilts

Structure: Four-in-Art Art Quilt, February 2014


On Line Art Quilt_front1

On Line
No. 2 in the Urban Series: Structure


Leanne asked us to consider the theme of Structure for this challenge.  While other ideas teased, the vision of these immense structures of steel and wire kept haunting me.


My husband and I got off the freeway to follow a few, photographing their massive, yet airy, construction reaching high into the sky, grabbing a line and passing it to their fellow tower.


It made me think about structure in terms of how electricity — and their cousin, the telephone line — have created their own structure in our lives.  We used to depend on mail, human contact, driving somewhere, but now we email, Instagram, Facebook, Skype, and need scads and scads of voltage to do it all.  The structure of our lives has changed.

Baby Envelope Quilt

I had hoped to make a quilt of tiny envelopes, distress them somehow, then superimpose the grand power scaffolding on top of that, representing the change in communication.  It was not meant to be.

On Line in construction2

I printed out the upwards view of the tower, intrigued by its criss-crossing lines, then proceeded to sew together a billion little angular pieces.  I kept thinking how proud of me Leanne would be, as she is the queen of improv quilting.

On Line quilt in construction2a

As I completed a section, I’d lay it out.

On Line Quilt in Construction3

Done, but it was a bit small, so I added a border.

On Line Quilt in construction_4back

I’m showing it from the back, as I’m mighty proud of those billions of seams.

On Line Art Quilt_detail1

I chose a variegated thread and quilted where I wanted to.  Maybe those scribbled lines in the border are conversations?  Or interrupted code from a blog post?  Or the news from a family member, broken into bits and pieces as it is transmitted?  The fabric is scraps from my most recent quilt, Amish With a Twist Two, perhaps because I wanted to work with line and not pattern (and certainly with all the weeny subdivisions, there is plenty of pattern) but also because the sack of scraps had not been put away yet.

On Line Art Quilt_front2

I like this photo because the leaves and berries of the bush behind this tree call out the color in the quilt.

On Line Art Quilt by PwrBox

Posing with its soul mates: the telephone box and the power meter.

On Line Art Quilt _back

I had planned to piece all the little envelopes together and put them on the back, but I decided that with all the seaming, the quilt would be one gigantic lumpy square.  Plain backing then, from the Collage line of fabric, and then added the label.  That morning nothing would go right, so it’s on and done; not perfect, but sometimes that’s just how it has to be.

On Line art quilt with picture

I owe my associations in this Four-in-Art group to these very structures, long looping lines bringing me quilting and friendship.

Take a look at how our group interpreted this theme:



printed out power tower
Since I wrote about how I made it, I won’t be doing a “deconstructed” post for this quilt.  And when I hear what the new theme is for May, I’ll let you know.  As usual, there was some amount of frustration over this quilt–deadline crept up on me, a “why am I doing this to myself?” moan (or two), and then the getting down to it.
Teresa Amabile said “Creativity depends on a number of things: experience, including knowledge and technical skills; talent; an ability to think in new ways; and the capacity to push through uncreative dry spells.”  At the end, I’m always glad I pushed through any dry spell to arrive at the finished Four-in-Art art quilt.
200 Quilts

Childhood’s Wide Avenues, deconstructed

Childhoods Wide Avenues Art Quilt_front

Thank you all for your lovely comments yesterday and for visiting the rest of the Four-In-Art quilts.  The reveal day is one of my favorite days of all the blog writing I do, as it’s such a shared experience.  Today I’ll talk about the technique and the how of the quilt, but first, a little clothing and textiles lesson about four sheer fabrics:


Organza is a thin, plain weave, sheer fabric traditionally made from silk. Many modern organzas are woven with synthetic filament fibers such as polyester or nylon.  The Casa Collection of sheers at JoAnn Fabrics is an light-reflecting organza, and it is light and soft with lots of drapability.


You usually encounter this fabric as jewelry, or wedding favor bags.


Organdy is a balanced plain weave. Because of its stiffness and fiber content, it is very prone to wrinkling. Organza is the filament yarn counterpart to organdy, meaning it has very thin fibers in the weave, and is used often for interfacing in lightweight clothing construction, or as petticoats or slips for formal wear or wedding dresses. (All images pulled from web.)

organdy apron

You’ve probably seen it in your grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s aprons–a crisp, sheer construction.


Chiffon is a lightweight, balanced plain-woven sheer fabric woven of crepe (high-twist) yarns. The twist in the crepe yarns puckers the fabric slightly in both directions after weaving, giving it some stretch and a slightly rough feel. Chiffon is made from cotton, silk or synthetic fiber, and under a magnifying glass it resembles a fine net or mesh which gives chiffon some see-through properties, but it is more filmy in its appearance than organza.

Tulle is a lightweight, very fine netting, made of various fibers, including silk, nylon, and rayon. Tulle is most commonly used for veils, gowns (particularly wedding gowns), and ballet tutus.

Lesson over, and this is why I brought those up first: I was a bit stumped on this quilt, feeling like I had no idea where to go.  I keep an art quilt journal just for these projects, and began writing down my impressions (see yesterday’s post) and drawing a few possible ideas.  Once I knew the general direction of where this quilt would go, I wanted to think about a new technique to try, and I wrote down “use tulle,” as I had seen very successful use of this as an overlay to keep teensy pieces in place during appliqué, used to great success by Karen Eckmeier.  But in this smaller piece I thought the texture of the tulle might be a distraction, so decided to explore some alternatives.  I purchased chiffon and organza in both white and ivory/off-white.

Now I had the materials I needed, I began.

Art Quilt Maps book

Quite a few of us had seen Valerie Goodwin’s book on art quilt maps; I enjoyed it, but the bigger takeaway for me was to build up the background with texture, in terms of the visual space and use of fabric.

CWA_1Choosing Fabrics

So I pulled all my neutral fabrics (the current vogue term is “low-volume”) and laid them out.  Because this was the background, I rejected any that were to figured or obvious in the print.  I randomly cut out oblongs, squares and rectangles and laid them out over my base muslin.  In my art quilt journal, I had sketched out a few possibilities of layout, and I knew I wanted a clearer left-hand margin of the background for photos.

I auditioned my two colors of chiffon, and my two colors of organza, and decided on an off-white organza as the sheer overlay.

CWA_2 drawing grid

Slipping a piece of paper under the organza so the pen marks wouldn’t transfer to the fabrics, I sketched in my wide avenues, free-handing it (look ma, no rulers!).

CWA_3 adding houses

I cut itsy-bitsy little houses, but trying for a variety of shapes.  I carefully laid them under the organza, along the avenues.  I was temped to draw in streets and lanes, but decided that, for this particular theme, it would only be distracting.  The houses kept moving every time I added a few, so I got out my glue stick and stuck them to the background fabrics, which also had a few dabs of glue to keep them in place.  You can see I used masking tape to anchor the organza to the composition.

CWA_4 adding family

I printed out some family photos, using the usual method (freezer paper-backed fabric, taped to a piece of paper and fed through my trusty Epson inkjet printer), and started to add them.  This was the first try.  I kept moving them around until I got what I wanted, trimming some edges to make it fit, visually.


I used straight pins everywhere to secure the organza, and then took it to the machine.  Because they are such a small size, it’s easy to manipulate them under the machine.

CWA_7 detail front

First I used a dark gray and “drew” in the avenues, using the reverse button on my machine to simulate how it might look if hand-drawn.  I went over those several times.  Then I outlined all the houses, using matching thread.

CWA_5 quilted

I quilted in wavy lines that to me represented the flow and movement of the landscape–it could be slight hills, or the movement of grasses, or whatever, but I didn’t want straight lines.  Once quilted, the organza overlay began to act and feel like that thick coating that some topographical maps have, and this change in texture was an interesting surprise.

CWA_6 trimmed

Trimmed up.  I auditioned several bindings–and no binding–but decided to go with a stripe, to further echo the idea of roads.

Childhoods Wide Avenues Quilt_back wo label

For the backing I chose a taupe-cream fabric which depicts the streets of Paris. . .

ChildhoodWideAvenues Art Quilt_label

. . . then added the label.  This is our fifth quilt as Four-In-Art quilters, but I chose to delineate our new series: Urban.

I’m pretty happy with this little quilt, and it joined the others in the Nature series, above my sewing room window in my own little art gallery.  I hope, if you haven’t already, will click back to yesterday’s post and go and view all the other quilters’ creations.  You’ll see some similarities in our quilts, even though we are geographically located all over North America. And perhaps the interesting differences in our vision of this theme come from the different places we live.

The Map As Art

I’m currently reading this book as an adjunct to our study of urban landscapes, and in the introduction the author, Katherine Harmon, notes that maps “can act as shorthand for ready metaphors: seeking location and experiencing dislocation, bringing order to chaos, exploring ratios of scale, charting new terrains.”

In this context of all of the above, I look forward to working with the new theme revealed by Leanne yesterday: Structures.

200 Quilts · Four-in-Art · Quilts

Childhood’s Wide Avenues


Childhoods Wide Avenues Art Quilt_front

Childhood’s Wide Avenues is a quilt about memory, of fixing in time a place and a feeling.  I grew up in the mountain west, in Provo, Utah, a town laid out in a grid of wide avenues, criss-crossed with streets that seemed to me to be wide as the sky, although I’m sure if I went back there now, they would be reduced in size and dimension.  But that feeling that I could ride my bike to the top of the street near our house and see all the way down to my elementary school, or across the valley, or to the other side of the world has remained in my memory.

The possibilities were infinite.

ChildhoodWideAvenues Art Quilt_label

A few weeks ago, as I was thinking about this quilt and how to express the theme of Urban/Maps, I found myself traveling down another very wide avenue through the middle of a town very unlike where I grew up: San Bernardino, California.  But the boulevard was so wide and so straight and I could see it head in a straight line for miles, up into the foothills, that I felt as if I had been transported in an instant back to an earlier place and time.  But it seemed impossible, until I learned that Mormon pioneers, a branch off the same tree that laid out Provo, had also laid out the wide avenues of this town two states away, in the early 1850s.  Asked to settle this place far from their original homes in the Utah valley, they laid out a grid of wide avenues, and gave them names like Salt Lake Street,  Kirtland Street, Nauvoo Street, and Utah Street.  These have all been renamed, but those early pioneers left their stamp on the valley not only by naming the cemetery Pioneer Cemetery, but by etching long, wide avenues into the landscape.

CWA_8 Me

I had heard about memory being triggered by sounds, and by smells, but never had experienced memory being triggered by a sense of space, of a geographical series of landmarks making headway into my childhood memories.  For days afterward, I thought of the family I grew up in, and found pictures to place on my quilt that evoked a sense of that time (that’s me, above).

CWA_7 detail front

Who populates these fictional houses on my quilt?  The large pink house is my parents’ and the block below contains houses for my husband and I, and our four children and their families, while the blocks surrounding that central block are where my sisters and brothers might live. And because all of their spouses will want their own families, I scattered the grid of avenues with more houses, so that the circle of family would have place and space.  A dream, of course, as none of our children, nor any of my family live near us.  But in my world, in my memory, we are all there: gathering Easter eggs on the front lawn, jumping in piles of leaves, finding tarantulas in the fissures in the hillside, cracking open walnuts, and smelling the lilacs at the end of the driveway — lovely, amber-colored scenes.

Tomorrow I’ll deconstruct the quilt, describing the technical side of how I put it together.  But for now, more quilts depicting this theme of Urban/Maps can be found at:


Leanne of She Can Quilt


Rachel of The Life of Riley


Betty from her Flickr site


Amanda of What the Bobbin?


Nancy of Patchwork Breeze


Anne of SpringLeaf Studios


Carla of Lollyquiltz


FinishALong Button

This is a finished goal on my Quarter Three of the 2013 Finish-A-Long, hosted by Leanne of She Can Quilt.

It is also Quilt # 124 on my 200 Quilts List.