Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Architecture and Light - Creating Dimension

Detail from "A Floral Vista" by Cathy Geier

I'm in between quilts and I'm bored! Sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is decide what to make next.  Am I ready for a BIG project I can sink my teeth into - one which will take me a couple of months?  Or do I want something fast and simple.  I just don't know.  In the meantime, I'll show you an older quilt and explain a bit about lighting and shading.  This is a detail photo from "A Floral Vista", I made it in 2006 or so.

The quilt is made of 1 inch finished squares. No, I'm not a crazy person! Using a tear away foundation to piece means that sewing tiny squares together is just as easy as sewing larger ones.  I had just finished my first book and wanted a challenge so I designed and created this piece based on a painting by Jerome.  (I never did find out ANYTHING about Jerome. I can't even tell you when he painted or what country he lives/lived in. The first lesson of the day is that you should include your last name on your artwork!)

A Floral Vista

There are many ways to create depth in your landscape quilts.  The first is by using value.  Darker richer fabrics should be placed in the foreground. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part, follow this rule and half your job is done.  The farther away elements in your landscape are, the lighter and the grayer they become.  When I'm making a landscape quilt, I usually have this color/value tool in my pocket. (It is made by Cottage Mills and I bought mine on amazon.)  It comes in red and green so you can use it for all kinds of colors.

The second way to create depth is through a careful use of shading. This can be done during the piecing/design process or after the quilt top is pieced using fabric dye markers.  I used both to create this scene.

In this detail photo of the column, you can see how I used a slightly darker shade of gray on the left side of the column.

This creates an illusion that the column is 3 dimensional.  It also adds to the illusion that light is shining in under the archway.

By the way, I used crayons to color the reed plant -white and dark green crayons!  Just color them on and press them with a hot iron and an absorbent press cloth to make them permanent.

Darker prints were used to create the shadows along the rock wall

I used fabric dye markers to create the shaded vase after the quilt top was pieced.  Here is a detail photograph so you can see it better.  Sometimes when I'm shading a vase I stipple quilt it first and then use the gray dye markers to shade those stippled shapes.  The vase here is made using one fabric, but you'd never be able to guess that would you? I love dye markers!

Well, time to get back to my sewing room and figure out what to do next.  Or maybe I'll just grab my kindle and go to the gym and do the treadmill thing... I've got to come up with a plan!  As always, comments and questions are welcomed!

Have fun with your quilting adventures!


  1. Like i said on FB ... wont you plz have classes? I know u cant teach "Talent" ... but the mechanics?

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you. I made this one after my first book came out. In the book, the publisher didn't want me making projects with too many fabrics or too difficult. So once the quilts for the book were done, I launched into this quilt to challenge myself in a big way. It took a long time to finish the quilt, lol.