Friday, February 1, 2019

Route 78 - A Finished Quilt

I've lived on the northwestern border of New Jersey for the past 20 years (since elementary school). It has its positives and negatives, but one giant negative is that generally, it takes an hour or more to get almost anywhere I need to go, in every direction. I'm sure it could be worse, but for someone who doesn't enjoy driving or cars or anything related, it can be quite the burden - especially when Interstate Route 78 here is a treacherous and busy road with many accidents (I watch a Facebook group specifically dedicated to NJ/PA 78 updates nearly every day; the sheer number of commuters and trucks is unbelievable).

However, I have found something positive about my constant commutes over the years. Driving home on Route 78 West towards my town takes me over a (somewhat scary) mountain, but the views are astounding. And if I hit that spot right around sunset, it's always worthwhile. Several mountains are surrounded by the most astonishing color spectacle.

I'm always the one driving when this happens and thus have never been able to take a photo, but I did catch the infamous sunset over mountains when I pulled up to Shoprite one night. It's a bit more drastic and mountain-y from the highway, but hopefully you get the idea! I see sunsets like this all year round. Who would have thought - New Jersey, amiright? (Please note: I am a Jersey girl. I love NJ). :)

This quilt (72" x 78") was made over several months of 2018, using lots of special scraps and brick by brick improvisation, which I used to teach. It was all about creating a seamless transition between each color. When you look at the sky, do you ever wonder how those color change? I do, constantly!

So, each block has pieces of the colors surrounding it, which makes it have a pixelated look. What I LOVE about planned improvisation is that there's always a plan, but I never know exactly what the quilt will look like when it's done. I also quilted each color differently (and into the next color) to further emphasize the transition. It was fun coming up with the various motifs and pairing up Aurifil threads: 1320, 4020, 1133, 2600, 1243, 1135, and 2605.

The gray mountains were appliqued on after I pieced the sky. I wanted them to switch from light to dark gray, as if the sun was still lighting up part of the mountaintops. That's not really what I typically see from the highway, but this creates more interest. :) The binding also transitions between colors.

This quilt is really special. Whenever I brought it to lectures last year and mentioned the name, people in this surrounding area seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. Fun fact: there's only one diagonal seam in the whole quilt (besides the mountains), and it's in the above picture!

I'm trying to decide on another landscape quilt to start this year - to use up my scraps and make something once again that completely enthralls me in the process. Isn't that what it's all about? What natural scene would you/have you recreate(d) in fabric?

Linking up to From Bolt To Beauty

Monday, January 21, 2019

"For the Child" - A Finished Quilt

A couple months ago, right before the crazy holiday tide started washing over everything, I received notification that I'd been chosen to participate in the 2nd annual Windows of Understanding, a public art project organized by Rutgers University in New Brunswick and Highland Park, NJ. I've become increasingly interested in creating more meaningful quilts that go beyond my little sewing room, so I'd jumped at the chance to apply to a program whose slogan reads, "We See Through Hate." Each artist would be paired up with a local nonprofit to convey, through art, their needs. Definitely my cup of tea.

I arrived for the introductions and public art training at Mason Gross School of the Arts, not knowing what to expect. It was an inspiring yet strange night, being surrounded by passionate artists who were mostly Rutgers graduate students and a few other adult artists (I just kept thinking, I feel old, being back in a place like this :) ).

Since I'm a teacher, I was assigned to work with CASA of Middlesex County (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children who are abused or neglected - by the way, this organization exists nationally). That's a worthy cause that truly left me wondering if I could do it justice. If anything, the public art training gave me a lot to chew on; it was a whole new world. Diving into the public piano project last summer without any training (literally just me and a bunch of paint cans) made me reflect on that experience even more.

 It's double-sided! More volunteers with children.

Then, I had the opportunity to meet with the Program Director of CASA of Middlesex, Stephanie. We talked about the main goals of the organization and the one that stood out most was volunteer recruitment. It's clear that CASA could not do what it does without caring adults who go through an intensive training and come out ready to support foster children who need them (85,000+ volunteers nationally).

Here are the results (read my artist statement below)! Luckily, I had time over winter break to delve into this project and give it the time it needed. As of today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the art tour is officially open and runs for the next month. I'm extremely honored and proud to be a part of this effort.

"Adult volunteers make drastic, positive differences in the lives of New Jersey's foster children through CASA. This quilt was stitched together by hand and machine to illustrate hope. Fragmented, but bright colors in the background come together to join volunteer and child. The quilting on top showcases the ripple effect of this trusting bond. Just one volunteer can make all the difference by giving time and attention. What could be more important than people coming together to help children?"

The hashtag so far showcases some of the artworks exhibited, and they are absolutely incredible! If you're local, make sure to pick a day that it's not -20 wind chill (no joke) and take a walk around New Brunswick (special art tour map right here)! My quilt is hanging in the window at Destination Dogs, which is a great spot (and um, if you like hot dogs, I can very much recommend going inside, plus you can see the other side of my quilt)! Maybe you'll learn about a new nonprofit that didn't cross your attention before. Plus, there are tons of events surrounding the art exhibition, though for now, some have been postponed due to the frigid temperatures. But don't miss this!

(Thank goodness, the quilt was bright enough to conquer the mean glare on that window - at least from a distance. Phew! Double batting for the win).


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