Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Project! Crest Trail

My patiently-waiting-long-suffering large Eucharistic Prayer C quilt is once again on the back burner while I work on something for an upcoming show deadline.  Growing up we did tons of hiking in "our" mountains, more commonly known as the Lincoln National Forest/White Mountain Wilderness.  We hiked with our parents, we hiked with all our friends (hi Tristan! and Chloe! and Lori!), we hiked with the girl scouts, we hiked with the ski team, we hiked with the dogs.  Later on, we hiked with our boyfriends, and our parents' friends, and our cousins.

Though there were lots of trails, my favorite has always been the six mile trek between Monjeau lookout and the ski area- Crest Trail #25.  It was beautiful, and fairly flat, and had fabulous rocks for climbing, and picnicking.  Up above the trailhead at Monjeau was the fire lookout tower to climb up, and the ladybug bush.  I have more pictures from hikes on this trail than any other, including almost a whole roll of "picturesque" shots of the trail 25 sign I took with my very first camera when I was about 8 years old.  Anyway, before I write a book of hiking stories (remember that one time when....), I should get back to the point, which is the new quilt.

Back last fall, when I was working on my small topography quilt, it was really designed to be a technical exercise to work out how to make larger pieces based on an actual topo map.  After having figured out some things that absolutely did not work (stiff interfacing between the layers) and some things that did (using painted remay worked great), I decided to start a bigger piece, and what better subject than Crest trail.

I began by working from 1:24,000 USGS topo maps of the area.  I struggled with how to do it for a while- my original plan was to just get out my old White Mountain Wilderness map and trace the topo lines, but this turned into a huge disaster.  Come to find out, you can actually download USGS PDF maps that can be opened in illustrator and have editable layers.  Once you get them open in illustrator, the files are huge and have thousands (no exaggeration) of layers, so getting to a usable file was fraught.  Added to that was the fact that my area of interest crossed over two of the maps, and I had a fairly challenging data management problem to solve.  Anyway, I finally got my map pared down in Illustrator to the region surrounding Monjeau and the base of the ski area, and established 160 foot topo lines.  Each topo line would outline a layer to be cut out and built up to create a 3D quilt.  For precision cutting of the layers, I use my silhouette, but it's limited to 12 x 24, so I split the map into three panels.  The topo lines go from about 7,800 feet to almost 11,000, and the tallest points (Buck mountain) have 18 layers in them.

After finalizing my map, the next step was quilting the base.  I used remay on the front (since I wanted to paint it later to match the layers) and regular cotton on the back.  I decided the quilt the topo lines into the base to help line things up later, so I printed out a full size version of my map on newsprint and taped it down.   After quilting, I tore off the newsprint, and what a mess that was.

The next step was cutting the layers, and there were three separate silhouette cuts for each layer (elevation).  That is, there was the 8000 feet layer for the left panel, the right panel, and the middle panel.  It resulted in millions of little pieces, and to keep them all straight I printed out a page for each elevation so I'd know what pieces were supposed to be there.  I had to pull in every table around to have space to spread everything out, and for several days everyone was banned from the studio lest small weird pieces float away.  I painted all the pieces with latex and acrylic paint then let them all dry. The video clips below just show my studio filled with all the little pieces for each layer spread out on every available surface before and after painting (the sound is Star Trek, I'm rewatching TOS and it's a blast). 

Next week I'll share more about how I'm assembling the layers, but because these pictures have been pretty boring, here's a peek (peak? hahah bad puns for the win) of what all the layers look like just piled up (i.e. without spacers and not stitched down to anything).

I'm linking up with Nina-Marie as always, I hope you're having a productive and creative week!


  1. Wow! You don't take the easy route do you? Or shall I say you take the road less traveled? I love watching your process. This is going to be great!

  2. I love to see process posts like this, thanks for posting. I know Betty Busby uses reemay, too, do you buy online? And thank you for using "peek" and "peak" correctly, so many bloggers and Facebook users don't and it drives me crazy!

  3. Wow! This is really impressive. I admire your dedication to the project! It will be a masterpiece!

  4. Wow, I'm impressed! That is quite a project, I love too maps so I can't wait to see it finished. Thanks for sharing the process.

  5. OMG this is amazing. I do topo maps too, but don't hold a candle to you! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I can't imagine tackling something so ambitious. Knowing your work, I'm sure it will be a winner.

  7. Oh!! This is gonna be so awesome! I can't wait to see how your topography quilt comes out. Looks like you had a blast painting!