Slot canyon quilt

Lavender Swirl by Kenneth Parker
Lower Antelope Canyon
Navajo Reservation, Arizona
Seen from the surface, a slot canyon appears as a slash; a dark, rock-solid grin. From within things are different. You do not find darkness, but a palette of colors, transmitted by light filtering down from above, bouncing wall to wall. Below the rim, the light creates a warm glow. Farther down the walls it becomes red, then purple, and finally a deep gray. Waves, curls, arches and whorls - the sort of features only wind and water could conceive, are all fashioned from stone, yet as fluid as the forces that shape them. It's a dream world where lines bend, upside is down, and inside is out. -Don Dowell
Lavender Swirl was among the photographs that I took with me a few weeks ago to a Barbara Olson workshop called "Responding to the Surface - Nature’s Language". In the workshop Barbara encouraged us to combine whatever images we saw in a piece of hand dyed fabric with the lines and colours that we love most from nature to create a whole cloth quilt. My inspiration from nature was the beautiful erosion lines of the slot canyons of the southwestern U.S.A., and the magical effects that result when sunlight filters down one hundred feet or more to the the canyon floor. My fabric had been hand-dyed in shades of gold, brown, maroon and yellow and on it I carved out the major lines I wanted to see using a satin stitch. To mimic the feel of a hand-drawn line, I varied the width of the satin stitch along these major lines as I sewed across the fabric. I pin-basted the finished "sketch" to a batting and a backing fabric. Here is about one half of the front of the work. Hand-dye by Elaine Quehl.

Now I'm ready to free-motion quilt more lines inspired by the eroded interior walls of the slot canyons. Here are some more examples of the kind of lines that I am after. The photo on the left was shot by Mike Knot. The photo on the right, shot by Anna Kalinichev, gives you an idea of the scale of these beautiful canyons.

At the moment I have three quilt tops of various sizes basted and ready to be free-motion machine quilted. This type of quilting is still new to me and though I do well enough when I am working on a sample piece, I am honestly afraid of quilting into something that I really care about. I need to push myself to do that part of the work now. No more new quilt tops until at least two of the three are quilted!

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