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The King

This the largest quilt I’ve done so far.  Nine feet by nine feet. Eight-one square feet of hand-dyed Indonesian batiks and colorful Hawaiian prints (162 square feet if you count the back).  I pieced together strips to create the beach landscape, moving from sunset sky colors down to ocean colors and finally the sand.  I love the way the long horizontal strips create a feeling of vastness and make you feel like you’re just catching a glimpse of one small part of a much broader picture. The border is mixture of more of the batiks and Hawaiian prints and gives it a finished look without harshly cutting off the beach scene.

After stretching the background out onto the frame, I free-formed the designs on top of the beach scene, cutting each piece out of paper first to make sure proportions were correct.  Once I had everything laid out correctly, I cut the pieces out of fabric.  Each appliqué has the edges turned under and ironed down, making it a very useable, washable art piece.  It is a king-sized quilt, however that isn’t completely why I called it
“The King”.  One of the Hawaiian prints shows a King Kamehameha style character surfing in an old helmet. There are old structures and lush foliage that hint at ancient Hawaii. He’s not a prominent part of the quilt, but he seems to be there watching over it.  It’s one of the many little subtle details you will find as you explore all the images in the batiks and prints.

After I lay out all the fabrics and get the design just right, then it’s time to take the entire piece off the frame and add the finishing detail work with lots of freehand quilting.  I always compare it to drawing, except I am moving the paper instead of the pen.  All the thread work is my own design and is created as I go along.  No computerized stitches, no pre-programmed patterns and I don’t draw patterns out ahead of time onto the fabric.  It’s just me moving the quilt around under the needle, drawing with the thread.  Not only does it add beautiful lines and textures, but it is another layer of subtle details to be explored.

The backs of my quilts are always a favorite part.  The front has all the variety of colors, but the back is just the thread work on one large batik.  That allows for a graphic line drawing version of what’s on the front.  It makes it visually beautiful from both sides, which is important for a quilt that will be used and scene from both sides. In this case, it is a dark blue batik with a multi-colored tropical foliage. I used a variegated thread for the back that is the same tones as the batik design.

My quilting business started with a surfboard quilt very similar to this one.  It was a twin-size quilt that I made for my son eight years ago.  But, despite the fact that I’ve been making these surfboard quilts ever since, no two are ever exactly alike. Or even too close.  I don’t reuse patterns, and although the theme of the surfboards in the sand recurs quite frequently, the sizes, shapes, colors and fabrics are never the same.  Each piece I create is always a complete original. This quilt represents about 70 hours of work from conceptualization to construction and all the finishing touches.  Stop by and visit Studio 19 to see it in person.  It’s too big to hang on the wall for display, but that means it will be on my table and you can touch it and inspect it close up.

“The King” is for sale for $2900.

This little crab might be my favorite thing on this quilt.
Although I do love this sandcastle as well.
The photo doesn’t capture the sparkle of the stitching. I used a satin yellow thread and a gold metallic thread to add some shine.
I stitched wispy cloud-like lines and swirls into the sky to give it a different texture than the ocean.
I really love the batiks on this sailboat. That seagull batik is one of my all-time favorites, and the leaf one has the exact same color palette but compliments it with the larger scale print.
What ocean sky is complete without seagulls?
I absolutely love the surfboard prints in this quilt. And they were a second choice when I couldn’t find the one that I thought I wanted. Love those happy accidents.
I stitched the border in a lavender thread. I wanted to add some fun details like more tropical foliage and ocean waves, but I wanted the center of the quilt to be the star. There is a lot of detail in the border, but the color is subtle.
The back! I absolutely love quilt backs when done right.
The border.
I just love how the designs look pared down to just the stitching.

The sandcastle.
Laid out for photographing.

 

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How it All Began.

I often get asked how I got started as an working artist or how long I’ve been making quilts. There’s a story behind that, as there often is.  Artists always having a story.

We adopted our first son almost nine years ago.  When we got him, I really wanted him to have a surf-inspired room. Our house is in Pacific Beach and his name actually means “son of the sea”.  But, when I looked around at bedding and/or decor, everything was either super traditional quilting, all pastel or very cartoony. None of which was really up my alley.  I wanted something bold and colorful, but classy and cool.  I really wanted surfboards on his quilt but not just surfboard quilt blocks.  After searching around, I decided I knew what I wanted and I could make it myself.  I’ve been sewing since I was ten and though I hadn’t quilted before, I knew I had enough sewing and reupholstering skills to pull it off. Maybe not like a seasoned quilter, but we were the only ones who were going to see it, so it really didn’t matter, right??  So, I bought a bunch of cool Hawaiian prints and some beautiful Indonesian batiks and designed and created the quilt above.  It took a while…I wasn’t used to any of the proper techniques and I made things up as I went along.  But, I truly loved the way it turned out! It was different from anything else that I had seen out there.  In the process, I learned to do what would become a signature technique for me–free-motion quilting.  That coupled with my wild color combinations and fun designs, I began to solidify my style and brand. And that led to an idea.

The design for my first boy’s crib quilts
The back of the boy’s crib quilts
The front of the girl’s crib quilt
The back of the girl’s crib quilts.

I decided I could make and sell crib quilt versions of this surfboard quilt, and even crib skirts and bumper
pads.  I couldn’t find anything like it out there, so I made a boy’s crib quilt and a girl’s version.  I love my girl designs to be just as bold and strong as the boy’s designs, so I made them essentially the same but with more fuchsia.  They were a hit and I started to get orders. I started getting orders faster than I could really handle
them, and at the time just wasn’t charging enough. And then, we got our second little miracle. We were given the surprise chance to adopt another baby boy. I put the quilting on hold for several years while I took care of my two sweet boys.

About two years ago, I started looking at the possibility of starting my business back up and getting studio
space in The Spanish Village Arts Center in Balboa Park.  I submitted my work for the jury process and was accepted for my quilts and textiles! From there, I created more surf-inspired quilts and pillows and began to branch out to ocean-themed pieces, wall art and lots of other subject matter. Though I have branched out to other designs and motifs, I still often create surf quilts and textiles using batiks and Hawaiian prints.  My boys are still young and time is still a limited resource, but I’m making it work.

A few more of my favorite surf-inspired designs:

One of my absolute favorites. Simple and clean, graphic and bold. Such a strong female image.
I combined the Hawaiian prints with the batiks to make a little more abstracted version of my ocean quilts. A simple sun, turtle and a little kelp polish off this design.
My simple surfboard island design.
My surfer girl pillow. Another strong female figure, bold prints and a little bit of abstract design.
This is a 6″ mini quilt with a little glass beadwork on the sun. Free motion quilting adds the hint of a surfer on the wave and the foaming water.

 

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An Object in Motion

One of my goals when designing and building a piece of textile art is to capture the feel of objects in motion, whether animals, or plants blowing in the wind, or both being carried by the ocean currents. When you feel motion, you feel life. I love to look at a static piece of art and be able to feel that movement that comes with something being alive.  It’s amazing when an artist can capture that, and it’s something I aspire to.  This new design is another example of that. I’ve had this sketch for quite sometime.  It will require some difficult piecing, so I’ve been avoiding it, but I came across it again tonight and felt inspired that this would be the next big project on the table.  I’m going to make it a twin quilt size, 70″x96″.  Unlike most of my quilts and textile art, I don’t think it will have any appliqué. I think part of the beauty of this piece will be the skill it will take to piece in all those curves and have it look seamless. I want to add some sparkle into the sun colors, and will either do that with metallic threads or Swarovski crystals, or perhaps both.  I’m not sure yet. My quilts usually tell me what they want when the time comes.  Like my kids, only without the temper tantrums.  Stay tuned to see this one come to life!

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The Bus at the Beach.

I started with a strip quilt for the sky, ocean, sunset reflection, sand and parking lot.

Very few things scream Southern California beach culture like an old VW bus.  Especially with a surfboard strapped to the top. I know they came from Germany and originated with no thought of the hippie life, but here, they are nostalgic and look their best with a peace sign wheel cover on the front up against an ocean backdrop. We used to have a white one and though we got tired of repairing it on a regular basis, I do miss roadtripping in it.  This quilt was inspired by all the times I’ve seen one, often with the baby blue accents, parked at a beach while a surfer gets ready to head out to catch some waves.  I designed it so you would only see half of the classic front end, with it’s signature circle headlights, the old 1960’s split window and of course, a surfboard leaning up against it.  You can see the parking lot and posts and in the background, the beautiful California sunset coming to an end.  This surfer is heading out for a famous sunset surfing session to relax after a day of work.

I have an awesome homemade frame I use to stretch my quilts out so I can create the appliqué design while being able to step back and look at it vertically. Next, I added the sun and the bus.

The background is a strip quilt and I gradated the colors to capture the darkening sky at dusk and the sunset reflecting off the water. I pieced together the strips and the parking lot colors.  The sun, posts and bus are all appliqué. I love the contrasting colors, the larger, rounder shapes of the sun and the bus against the angular lines of the sunset. My backgrounds are often a little impressionistic while the appliqué details clarify what you need to know about the scene. This quilt didn’t last long, and I truly think it is because it’s such a classic, nostalgic image.  If you’ve been here in San Diego for any length of time, you’ve seen this play out in person. It still makes me smile.

Next, I added the fun details on the VW bus. The bumper, headlight, peace sign, and the surf board.
The back is a fun stylized sun batik. always love to see the stitching on the backs of my quilts.
A little close-up so you can see the stitching from the back a little better.
My quilts have a thin layer of all cotton batting so they are nice and warm, but light enough to fold up and carry with you.

 

 

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