Tag Archive for art quilt maps

“A Sky Map Somewhere Over the Midwest”

A contemporary beaded art quilt, "A Sky Map of Somewhere Over the Midwest"Nancy Smeltzer, MFA

I was recently taking a red-eye flight back from the West Coast, and was struck by the beauty of the landscape 30,000 feet (12.5 km) below me. We were somewhere over the Midwest, where the towns are all laid out in grids, as they were all built at once and there were no pre-existing structures to build around like back East. Here the Great American Prairie had been parceled up into lots of rectangles and squares. I’m sure that down on the ground, there are distinguishing features from town to town, but from up in the air, all that separated one town from the next were areas of darkness where no lights were turned on and the open country side stretched for miles.

A detail of a contemporary beaded art quilt, "A Sky Map of Somewhere Over the Midwest"Occasionally, I would see a stadium that was lit-up, or a large shopping mall, but for the most part, what I saw looked pretty much like what I’ve portrayed here. The grid patterns were defined by mostly gold, mercury vapor lights lining the streets. Once in a while, there would be silvery lights, which I’m assuming were those more energy efficient compact fluorescents of some type. I used small gold colored spacer beads, sewn on their sides to indicate larger buildings that could be seen from above. Buttons, which I love to add to my art quilts, were just too big to be included. I did try and add some variation in the black ground by rows of steel-black beads couched in rows. It was hard to find the right color of black, as the ones that were too much like the actual color of the base fabric became lost in the background, and why do all that beading if it’s not going to show up?

Quilting Arts” magazine, one of the premier quilting publications here in the States, has a “Reader’s Challenge” each issue, which is a call for entries to be considered for publication in a future issue. The theme for Jan, 2013, was called “Map it Out”, so I sent off these pics yesterday for the editors to look at. The theme was pretty broad; the image just had to be about a map. There were many more stipulations with regard to the size (10″ x 12″ or 25.5 cm x 30.5 cm) and weighing less then 3 pounds (1.4kg). I hope that the editors will consider an aerial map of an unknown place OK for an entry. I know that I liked the more immediate gratification in completing the work (1 week as compared to several months for my larger pieces.) There was also, given the size restriction, that every element on the surface had to work as I didn’t have the luxury of layering on materials until I liked the look. Given that it’s such a small piece, I decided to just blanket stitch the three quilt layers together with two colors of embroidery floss rather than cover the edges with a more traditional binding technique. I did add beads and rondelles along the edges of the piece, to suggest the “burnt” edges of an old pirate’s map. What would one of my pieces be without lots of beads????

How does your impressions of a scene change when you change your viewing point? 30,000 miles in the air might not be an option for you, but I’m learning from a photography sharing group here in the Washington, DC area to change my point of view when shooting photos and try lots of angles. I invite you to get down on your hand and knees at least and look at something different.

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