Kansas storm quilt of 1999

Was it really only nine years ago this weekend that my sons and I drove the Buick to Nebraska to spend July 4th with my parents? That was the summer of the owl family living in the maple tree, now taken over by the baby squirrels.

The boys played ping-pong in the basement wearing flamboyant Hawaiian shirts. They touched the wrong buttons on the cable t.v. box, and sometimes failed to follow the prescribed procedure regarding the exhaust fan in the one-bathroom house, making my dad crabby. My youngest was finally starting to eat hamburgers and steak at age twelve, causing a great multi generation sigh of relief. My oldest was gaining competence as a driver, although his brothers still huddled in the backseat praying for their lives. We shot off fireworks from the sidewalk.

I didn't know then to remember the visit as the last time we would all be together in Lincoln. What I remember most vividly is our drive through Kansas watching the development of a huge storm cloud above the astonishingly green fields and windbreaks.

When we returned to Texas, I went on a crazed attempt to capture that drive. My materials were inexpensive RIT dyes, salt, glue, bleach, old bedsheets and blouses, dotted swiss and drapery remnants, cords and threads. This would be my third road trip quilt effort. I dyed, pieced, and hand-quilted a fabric commemoration of a solo trip to Palo Duro canyon in '97, and pieced a quilt top inspired by New Mexico vacations in '98.

I pieced, then cut, pieced again and recut the fabric. Eventually I cut it into fourteen blocks using my Buick's backseat window as the pattern. Then real life demands took over. I never knew how to solve the quilt-top, or had the time.

My recent stormy visit to Nebraska provoked me to unearth this unfinished project from a box in the closet. The "car windows" are photographed from the loft bedroom overlooking the condo living room. I'm hoping Winnowings and her readers will suggest designs to finish the quilt top. Maybe I should just cut the blocks into rectangles and make sofa pillows. Maybe I should use the blocks as starting points for embroidery projects....

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder


Christine Thresh said...

You really have a wonderful art quilt started here. Don't make pillows! Those car windows are such an unusual viewing point. I'll see if I can round up suggestions.

Collagemama said...

What I had intended was to make a heavy bias-covered cording to edge each "window". I didn't know whether to applique the windows onto a solid background that only vaguely resembled a Buick's interior, or to piece something around the windows. I figured I'd use the best twelve windows.

Vicky aka stichr said...

These window shapes are fabulous! And your bias-covered cording idea is very creative! I would go with this like a high speed chase...I can picture them done in 3 long strips, like a 'triptic' with great names like "storm windows", "buick views", "storm chaser". Print up your reasons for making these and slap it on the back of the quilt for a label!

Diane said...

The edging around each window could also be a flat bias.
Have you thought about it as an installation? One window after the other in a single horizontal plane? It could be too long to enter for most shows or for displaying on your condo walls. Perhaps plan it modular. Two units of seven windows in a row. Quilt it to show air movement like you see in wind tunnel studies of car designs.

Collagemama said...

I don't know about wind tunnels, but I do remember having cold fog coming out of the a/c vents on that road trip!

I like the flat bias idea, and the installation panels. Fits with the sequence idea of distance on the road. I like thinking outside the bedcover for this one.

Genevieve said...

For what it's worth, the wind tunnel remarks remind me of the "speed lines" in art deco & art moderne architecture -- representing motion and energy. It seems appropriate.

Feather on a Wire said...

I'm deliberately not reading anyone else's suggestions.
I like them as they are. How about one more and then have them sort of like the current layout (or better spinning round in a circle) on a purplish grey background.
I love that light you get when the sky is so very dark and the sunlight in the foreground so bright and golden. A purplish/black/grey background would emphasise that look,
Just my 2c worth

Feather on a Wire said...

Forgot to say, my choice of background would be some sort of handye or marble. Not solid.

Christine Thresh said...

Del sent this comment to me to forward to you:

Christine - Shall I send an answer directly to her or send it to you to forward?

Off the top of my head, here are some ideas.

I agree - she definitely should put them together in a quilt. I would like to see them arranged three vertical and four horizontal, I think a "landscape" configuration would make a better impact. She should leave a little more space vertically between the windows.

I think the background should not be solid. Perhaps a mottled fabric (batik?) that is not directional would tie all the windows together. The carpet color isn't a bad background! But I think something with more yellow or more green might do. A border might be distracting, she could try just a one inch binding or no binding at all. Facing would probably work well.

I would like to see it pieced, rather than appliqued, with the seams pressed toward the background. That way the windows would be slightly inset.

I hope she will take the time to audition different configurations and different backgrounds. This could be a fabulous wall quilt.

I will continue to look at it and see if I can come up with some more ideas.

Collagemama said...

Wow! I'm so excited about all these ideas, and grateful for the input. Definitely four across, three down. I'll have to do some studying on how to piece the curves. That's probably what made me put it away in a box years ago. Thanks so much.

Collagemama said...

For Buick purists, the pattern is really the front window, not the back of the Skylark.


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