Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Monument Valley - A New Landscape Quilt

Monument Valley - my quilt top

I've been working on a new quilt for the last couple of weeks. It felt sooo good to be back using fabrics and paints to make a landscape. Here's a little bit about how I've been feeling, what I've been doing and why I wanted to make this particular scene.

 It's been a rough few months for all of us as the corona virus has swept around the world. In our country it's for all intents and purposes out of control and instead of flattening any sort of curve and coming out of this thing by opening up safely, we are stuck with 150 thousand dead and no end in sight. 

My last blog was all about mask making. Since then I've made 750 masks and 95 surgical scrub caps. (Which is a drop in the bucket - some mighty seamstresses I know have made over 2000 masks!)  I've sent the ones I made all over from New York City and to local retirement homes, but most of mine have been shipped to the Navajo Nation. The disease hit them very very hard since many of their homes don't have running water and they must travel to common areas to get it, thus exposing themselves to the virus. 

I've been to Monument Valley Tribal Park twice. One of the neatest hikes I've ever been on was around the big mitten on the left on the Wildcat Trail. There is a gorgeous lodge there if you don't want to camp, just sayin'.  

Monument Valley
 And here is another shot I found inspirational - a glorious sunrise!

 As I was sewing masks for the Navajo Nation I would cry for the people, pray for them and by the time I was through I was desperate to capture the beauty of their land in a quilt. I suppose I was thinking that this quilt would be sort of a memorial; a quilt to commemorate the beauty and courage of the Navajo people and a reminder to me of how I was able to help them by sewing masks for a couple of months.

You know I run a store, right? Well two fabrics from Northcott Silk's The View From Here collection came out and when I got the bolts I thought WOW! Monument Valley in two fabrics! 
The View From Here, two fabrics and my toes! 
 I began by creating a pattern for the monuments. I printed out the big mittens in various sizes and settled on this size. 
The Mitten
 I traced the monument on freezer paper and cut out the first monument. (After it was cut out I pressed a paper back fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric.)
Where I placed the freezer paper pattern

First mitten
 The next thing I did was to cut out the foreground bluff the mitten is stacked on. I just freehand cut it out in a gentle slope.

The base of the large mitten monument
 I did the same thing with the small mitten in the distance.
Two mittens and toes
 At this point as I was designing my landscape I really liked it. I just didn't like two mittens though. I'll come back to that. The mitten cutouts needed a little fixing so I cut pillar like portions out of that brilliant dark sunset print and used my handy Elmer's glue sticks to glue those shapes over the mitten cut out. 

The small mitten finished
 Here is what I added to the large mitten - 

Big mittens finished
 Remember how I didn't like just two monuments? Well I decided I'd use a bigger piece for my sunset/sunrise background fabric and add this monument from the 1st photograph above. 
Pillar cut outs and the shape of the monument on the right

And my finished monument

 Once I made all three monuments, I arranged them like the 1st photograph of the valley.
I didn't like it. Neither did most of my friends on Facebook. I get a lot of feedback from my FB friends and I really appreciate it! Sometimes having extra eyes on your work is so helpful because they see what you might miss. 

First layout
 First layout - BORING. Yes, three monuments are more interesting than two but all in a row like this is pretty bad.
New layout
 I liked this much better. The view isn't quite the same as the photograph but God can get away with a lot that Cathy Geier can't! 
These are the shapes I cut out of the sunset print to create the foreground and the bases of the monuments
 At this point I wanted to add some umph and pizzazz to the background fabric. I took everything off the background and made little marks where the top of the monuments had been.
See the little pencil mark?
 I got out my Inktense Color Blocks and went to work. I added brilliant yellow to the left side of the sky. When working with these blocks, you have to remember that when they dry the fabric isn't as bright as when it's wet. It dries more mellow. (Mellow yellow. Now you might get an earworm as you think about this song, lol!) 
This is wet fabric so it's pretty intense
 I have single color blocks and I also have a set. These are permanent watercolor paints. 
Basic supplies
 To use them, I like grinding the end of the color block into a bit of water in a paint pan. Then I spray down my fabric to get it pretty wet and simply paint it. I followed the print and made the yellow in the print more yellow. 
Yellow and toes
 This is dry now - see how subtle the yellow paint is? It's only on the left side of the print. Next I decided to add more blues and purples to the sky. 
Background sky 
 You can see how the blue colors are lower in the sky on the right. This was so easy to do! I think it makes a big difference. 
New and Improved quilt top

 I glued down all the stuff I cut out, fused on the monuments but felt it still needed something.
A golden eagle! 

All Done!
Well not all done, I have to quilt it.

 I made the eagle the same way as everything else. I made a pattern on freezer paper, found a workable brown batik and fused the eagle onto the quilt top. I should probably show you some close ups of the eagle. I used a dark brown fabric dye marker to color portions of the wings and I used my trusty white highlight marker to add details to the underside of the wings and tail.

My golden eagle is flying high above the earth and I was hoping it would symbolize the strength, dignity and courage of the Navajo people.

I'll try to remember to get some closeup shots of the eagle next time I blog.

Stay safe my friends! Lord willing I'll blog again soon.


  1. I’m new to your website. And WOW! I’m so impressed! Your art is beautiful! I hope to learn how to do what you do. I’d like to follow you on Facebook but can’t figure out which Cathy Geier you are. Is there a profile picture I could look for?

    1. Glad you found me on FB! :) Thank you for the lovely compliments on my quilts!

  2. Absolutely stunning! What a beautiful tribute to Navajo Nation and Monument Valley.

  3. This is beautiful and reminds me of our trip to the Utah National Parks: Arches and Bryce in particular. Your work is beautiful! And I'm glad to see your process. I have your book and some day....

    1. Thank you! I've also hiked at Arches and Bryce, Utah has some out of this world gorgeous parks and I can't wait to go back. I've been telling my friends that I'm dying to take a road trip, just get in the car and drive all over the place. Sooo many places to explore out there!

  4. Thank you so much for this Cathy. I always learn so much from your posts and how you add detail to your work, plus it's fascinating to read about your though processes as well. This one is stunning and such a fitting tribute to the Navajo people. Really wish I could see it in person (both your tribute AND the real thing!)

    1. Thanks Magpie! I'm glad you like it so much. I started quilting it yesterday and as usual I'm not happy with my quilting... but whatever, lol.
      I hope you are in a safe situation up there, take care of yourself!

  5. I wanted to say thank you for inspiring me to make my first quilt : )
    My favorite aspects are how you are able to bring out sunrises and sunsets. For fun, I have documented my journey here: Making My First Quilt

    I hope you don't mind that I mimicked your style.
    Again, thank you for the inspiration.

    1. You are very sweet and I loved watching your vid. Actually, it cracked me up! When you said - was it like Day 8? - I don't care "I just want to be done with it!" I about died. It's like every quilt I think the same way about 1/2 through. AND THEN you didn't do anything for a month! and I was like, yep. Walk away from it and get perspective. The quilt was bigger than I thought it was seeing it laid out on your floor and you did a great job. I'm glad you got rid of the fugly sun and the reds/pinks in your sunset really make blues pop. Also, by designing them so they came down from the left to the right you created movement in your sky. Good Job!!
      OH, one last laugh, when you complained how much it cost to make it! HA! Like every quilter grumbles about the cost of fabrics but we keep buying them anyway.
      Welcome to the Quilting World!