All it took was one cloudless day to set the wheels in motion to design a quilt of the land formations that I saw as I flew cross-country from CA to NJ. I began sketching designs of the mountainous regions of the west, then the plains of the midwest, and finally the more congested areas of the east coast. In one year (1986-1987) I made three 45" x 90" panels--Aerial View Part I: Hands Across the West, Aerial View Part II: Hands Across the Midwest, and Aerial View Part III: Hands Across the East. The "hands" part of each title was influenced by the Hands Across America
event that took place nationally in 1986.
What I thought was going to be one quilt became three large panels which I designed on graph paper. Fabric samples are pinned along the lower edge.
Aerial View Part I: Hands Across the West. Each panel is made of wool and corduroy with a poly-fil batt and muslin backing. From my scribbly notes I initially thought of using ultra suede and
chamois cloth for the softer hues and padding the mountain with old
panty hose for a 3-D effect. What was I thinking?? Ultra suede was too
expensive so I ended up purchasing lots of wool samples at a nearby fabric outlet and I didn't pad the mountain :) In 1986 this panel was included in the New Jersey Arts Annual: Fiber, Metal & Wood exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton.
I asked co-workers, friends, and my son, daughter, and husband, to do paper tracings of their hands which I then used as quilting patterns to carry out the Hands Across America
theme. My dad's hand is in the upper right :)
Aerial View Part II: Hands Across the Midwest. The simple outer border was made from leftover wool scraps.
Flying over Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, then Nebraska and Iowa, the colors of the landscape changed from browns and grays to rusts and greens and the lay of the land was less square and more curved. That's a major highway leading in on the lower left.
The quilting pattern I used in the second panel was a chain of figures in diagonal rows. Single figures were quilted in the border blocks and all the quilting was done by hand.
Aerial View Part III: Hands Across the East. My notes say " Ohio/PA, help! cloudy!"
The landscape was looking a little more dense as we approached the east
coast. The city streets of Chicago are represented by the small grids on
the left and
there's Lake Michigan. Flying over OH, PA, and NJ, the fall foliage was
beautiful. There were small lakes, farmlands, and neighborhoods with baseball fields. Then came the NJ Turnpike with freight yards, storage tanks, and industrial areas.
And before I knew it we had landed. That was probably the fastest
cross-country flight I had ever taken. I kept myself occupied the entire
trip sketching and thinking of how I was going to make a quilt--and couldn't wait to get started!