Grace and Poppy Quilt: Part 2

Now that I’ve finished the mood board for the Grace and Poppy quilt, I can move on to getting my concept tightened up and my colour palette in order. So far, I know I want the photograph to be the feature of the quilt, an iris running up the right side, and a poppy running up the left. I also want the background to be minimal in terms of design, and inspired by the colours of the wheat fields, sage brush, and various rivers and canyons that run through central and eastern Washington.

Choosing colours from the photos in my mood board, I put together the colour scheme for the flower elements and main background of the quilt.


Choosing colour schemes for a quilt I am working on is very different than when I choose colours for any other medium. Whenever I work in graphic design, or even knit or pain a room, I limit my colour palette and generally stay within 3-5 colours, generally throwing in multiple variations of hues. But quilting is a whole other ball game, and the final scheme can hold up to thirty colours. I do however, try and stick to using 3-4 colour families, and ensure all colours jive with each other and just generally make sense.

Now that I hammered out the colour scheme, I can move on to gathering fabric. This process with likely take me a few good months, as I scour my stash and favorite quilt shops (on-line and in-person), looking for the perfect combination of patterns and colours. Don’t worry, I’ll share them all as soon as I’ve completed my selection.

Before I go though, As I’m always curious about others processes, if you quilt or make art or do anything crafty, how do you come up with colour palettes for your projects?


Grace and Poppy Quilt: Part 1

I’ve been getting more and more into quilting lately, and made a slew of baby quilts of the last few months for the slew of friends having babies this spring. But I’ve been getting really bored just making the same old patterns and quilting the same way over and over again.

So, being inspired by Natasha Kerr and my plethora of family photographs, I have decided to start a quilt incorporating my favorite picture of my grandmother, Grace, and her husband, Hank (also referred to a Poppy by my mom and her sister). This will probably take me about a year or so to complete, and I’ll keep the quilt on the small side.

To start things off, I’ve made a mood board.

moodboardThe photograph of my grandparents will be the the central focus in the quilt, but I also wanted to incorporate their life farming in central Washington (Poppy grew wheat and Grace ran a small iris farm). I also added some fabric swatches to the board as well. It all seems like a good place to start, and next I’ll be working on my color palette. Stay tuned!

I Think Her Tractor’s Sexy…

My wife and I traveled across the great state of Washington last weekend to table at Spokane’s LGBT pride festival. We tabled last year and had such a blast (seriously… I think Spokane’s pride fest is awesome) and couldn’t wait to go back this year. The day of pride it was 40 degrees (cold!) and raining buckets (nonstop!) and was generally miserable. We had fun talking to everyone who braved the weather, but at the end of the day we were soaked, freezing and miserable. Thankfully, the day after was warm and sunny, so we got to take a nice leisurely drive back, and I took a lot of fun pictures (and my wife made a lot of u-turns on the highway so I could go take pictures of stuff I saw).

Washington is an interesting state. On the western third, we have rainforests and the Puget Sound. It’s gray and drizzly most of the year, and the landscape is lush and green. Gardens pepper backyards and community plots. There are ferry boats, farmers markets, independent coffee shops, a mild climate, and lots of hills. The other two-thirds of the state, on the eastern side of the cascades, is flat, dry, and windy. There are 4 distinct seasons (sunny warm summers! snowy cold winters!). And a lot of country western radio stations and large-scale commercial farms.

When I was little and I’d head over the mountains to visit my extended family (and I have a lot of family in Eastern Washington) I thought it was a miserable place. Hot and dry and smelling of cow poop. The only time I liked to go over the mountains when I was young was in the winter when we would go ski into the cabin my great-uncle built in the Wentachee Forest.

But that was then. And this is now. And it has taken years, but I have fallen in love with the eastern side of Washington. I love romping through sagebrush in the dry heat. I love the wind whipping my hair around. I love watching snow flurries come down with no promise of stopping their wild dance. My roots go deep in the eastern side of the state.

Now, when I cross the cascades, the minute the landscape turns flat, I turn on whatever country music I can find on the stereo (and if I can find Cash, Williams or Cline I get the biggest grin). And then I dream of my wife and I buying a few acres out in the dry flat land. we’ll plant some vegetables, and have a small orchard and a few rescued farm animals perusing the place. I will sit on the porch in a little sun-dress and cowboy boots, showing off my full sleeve tattoos (this always seems very important in my day-dream…) and drinking unsweetened ice tea. My wife is working the vegetable plots, and I am subverting one of the most annoying country songs ever by singing “I think her tractor’s sexy” at the top of my lungs, because no one can hear me in our little plot of land.

The Accidental Titles

I’ve been taking a class on photo books for the last three months, and while I have been working on a hand-bound hardcover accordion book (more on that later) I became inspired and made two small paperback photo books.

The first title, The Cartography of Farmers’ Wives: Photography from 1915-1976, is a short paper-back book with sampling of photography from my great-grandmother and my grandmother. Many of the photographs are landscapes from eastern Washington, although there are a few portraits as well in this contemplative story of one families relationship with the land. I look at this book as a small meditation on a much larger project that I think will probably take me the next 2-3 years to complete. Now that I know I can complete a small project with some of the information and items I have in this collection of family history that has been handed to me, I feel ready to embark on the larger journey.

The second book, A Traveling Song is a small paper-back of Hipstamiatic images I took on my phone on the road-trip my wife and I took when we moved across the country from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, Washington, in 2009. We pretty much drove straight through, and most of the images were taken from the car window while passing through middle America.

More Glances Into the Past

If you’ve read any of my posts, you’ll know that I’m in the middle of mucking about in a bunch of old family photos. The cool thing about my family photos is that I have thousands (yes, really, thousands) of prints and negatives going back 100 years. Both my great-grandmother, and my grandmother were both shutterbugs, and my grandmother kept all the negatives she could.

They both also took a lot of landscape photographs, and candid images of their families (as opposed to posed group shots), and that is primarily what I have been working with as of late.

One of the reasons I am starting to work with these images is because I am taking a photobook class. I signed up for the class mainly for the technical information (i.e. what makes a successful photobook? what is the history? what makes a successful series of images? when is a photobook the best format? etc.) that will aid with the new publishing venture in the upcoming year, and for some inspiration (as the class is being taught by one of my favorite contemporary northwest photographers).

The difference between me, and most of the other students in the class, is that they have a clear concept of one specific book they want to create. I, on the other hand, want all the information, and to be able to pick peoples brains, and see what is going on in the world of photobooks currently. But seeing as making a photobook is part of the class, I am using some of these old photographs and making what I hope will be a quiet contemplation of the land that my family farmed from 1912 through the late 1960’s. It’s a good exercise in editing, and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

My Grandmother on the Canadian prairie in about 1916. This was one of the first negatives of her mothers that my Grandmother gave me, and it remains one of my favorites. Perhaps it’s that Lewis Hine like sentiment that I find so attractive.