This is the story behind my latest quilt for Cloth Common, the small art quilt group I belong to. Water was the prompt for the most recent two month period.
According to Wikipedia, “A jökulhlaup (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈjœːkʏl̥øip]) (literally “glacial run”) is a type of glacial outburst flood.It is an Icelandic term that has been adopted in glaciological terminology in many languages. It originally referred to the well-known subglacial outburst floods from Vatnajökull, Iceland, which are triggered by geothermal heating and occasionally by a volcanic subglacial eruption, but it is now used to describe any large and abrupt release of water from a subglacial or proglacial lake/reservoir”.
In McCarthy, Alaska, a favorite annual event centers around Hidden Creek Lake releasing its waters. Which means we have our own Jökulhlaup celebration every year.
It usually happens sometime shortly after July 4th. When the waters from Hidden Creek Lake reach the Kennecott River, the river rises, and the news starts spreading through town. People begin to make daily trips down to the footbridge to check the water levels. Eventually word spreads that it is happening—Hidden Creek Lake Glacier is dumping into Kennicott River. Locals gather on the footbridge to watch bergie bits float by. Sometimes there is music and even wild river antics—by people and river.
I have visited the site of Hidden Creek Lake Glacier after it has released its waters. Yes, we did a backcountry trip with one year old and survived ice, rain, and toddler.
I decided I wanted my water quilt to be about our local jökulhlaup. I worked with the left over ski palette from MXY Road as the starting point for the quilt. You can read the complete story behind that quilt here. The lighting is so much better in the summer!
These were the bits I started with.
I began adding more pieced work, building random curved shapes that become my building blocks.
I often create a curve that I use as my cutting line or “ruler”. Below, the fabric with the large section of white is my ruler.
I then place that curve on top of the piece that I want to attach it to. I then cut the line and stitch them together. If you try this, remember that your fabric pieces should always be cut with the right sides FACING UP. If you end up with a bra shape, you have forgotten to do this.
I finally begin to lock in on some of the composition. I know that I will keep the far left side and continue to build the rest of the composition to support that work.
I pin and mark while the composition is flat on the design wall. Then I take the piece to my cutting station and cut the along the lines I have created. Here I am getting ready to cut the long dark turquoise line.
It can be quite chaotic while in process. I have to hold in my head the parts that are working, while trying to fix the parts that are not. I take lots of photosgraphs to help me.
Here I have locked in on the center section and sewn it up. I have locked in on the left, but it is not sewn together, and I am still sorting out the right side of the composition.
I am getting closer.
This is the top layer
This is the work that is layered underneather and will be cut away. Don’t worry. I will recycle.
I really like this composition. I hope you will take a minute to look at the wonderful work made by the other artists involved in Cloth in Common. And if you like the work we are making, please sign up to receive our blog. It is super fun to follow the ideas of this talented group.
If you want to find out how to hike to Hidden Creek Lake, here are the details.
And if you want to see real video of the footbridge party complete with a bergie attack, you can here. Video curtesy of Paul Hannis.
I love seeing the quilt evolve. It is an amazing piece,
Looks great..I like eyeing the thinking behind the image❤️
That’s amazing how you take the local geography along with the bridge event and tie it into your quilt design. This is just part of what makes your quilting style so striking, original compelling!!
Maria, I love the balance of the bits of circles with the more linear “ladder” sections. It is beautifully balanced. Love it!
I feel quite breathless after reading this. I know you explained clearly, but I don’t know how you do it!
It’s always a delight to read about the process of creating a quilt. Congratulations on another exciting original work.
Love love your art! Any chance you can share your technique for sewing your top pieces together? Thank you so much!
Elizabeth- It is a lot of different techniques all together. I teach a workshop called Circle & Curve Sampler that covers a lot of my methods. I am hoping some day to write a book about the way I create improv circle and curves. Right now, I am making the quilts, so you might find some tutorials here in the future. Thank you!