Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sunrise Over the Urban Canyon

Today is another Reveal Day for our Material Mavens group.  The theme this time was Canyon.  I had thought, of course, about depicting a literal canyon.  I've traveled so much in the West, have been fortunate to have visited the Grand Canyon several times, but also other national parks in Utah with stunning and unique canyons.  I have some spectacular photos from these travels.  But somehow, none of them seemed to inspire me.

I WAS inspired by a Google image of a "slot canyon," but when I wrote to the photographer for permission to use his image, he never replied.

But then the words "urban canyon" hit me.  I immediately began sketching some ideas.  Once I had a rough sketch that I liked, I drew it off more carefully on graph paper.  Then I used tracing paper to trace templates.

My first version didn't work.  Husband Bob when he looked at it couldn't make head nor tail of it.  The problem was that I had use some fabrics from my stash and others that I had purchased just for this purpose that had window-like designs for the buildings.  Really great fabrics!  But they were too busy and colorful.  As I said on the MM blog, "he couldn't see the forest for the trees."

So I started over with plainer fabrics.  I decided to focus on black, brown, blue, and gray.  I had recently learned that objects at a distance in a landscape are appear paler and more gray than those in the foreground, so my grays were reserved for the distant buildings, as well as for the street, the sidewalk, and the center stripe.

I had fun with using various decorative stitches to secure the buildings to the background, a gorgeous batik that reminded me of a sunset or sunrise.  I had first fused the buildings down with Wonder Under to a wonderful batik fabric that reminded me of a sunrise, and used the decorative stitching for my "quilting."  Too, I wanted to emphasize how you can see both fronts and sides of some of the buildings, so I used couching to emphasize this line of demarcation.

I used a Sue Benner technique, learned in a class taken last fall, to finish the edges.  I chose six different colors of threads and zigzagged along the edges and left "tails" of the threads at every corner.  For the backing, I used a cityscape fabric that I have long treasured.  It was bought in the late 90s and depicts the skylines of D.C., NYC, and Seattle.  I chose the latter skyline for this backing.

As always, click to see enlargements of the photos.
the Seattle city-scape that forms the back

the quilt showing the tails of thread


  1. Alice, this quilt looks terrific on the pink background. Amazingly it takes away one's breath as the street swoops up into the sky. I find it a treat to see a new way of finishing the edges with trailing threads. Wonderful work.

  2. I have already commented on the MM Blog, but I just want to say how I love this quilt and agree with everything Linda has said above. Once again, I love the sunrise. It looks so peaceful!

  3. Alice, what a GREAT idea - "Urban Canyon." I see that canyon so easily and love the analogy of one canyon to another. The colors and the sunrise effects are terrific, as are the shapes of the buildings. Very interesting work that broadens the mind's eye... pretty, too. ss

  4. Hi, Alice. I think you expressed the idea perfectly. Lovely quilt.
    best, nadia