Saturday, November 1, 2014

Four-In-Art: Urban Light Reveal

Southern California Satellite View

As I shared in a recent post, I've been working on an Urban Lights quilt for the Four-In-Art group. A satellite photo of Southern California was my inspiration for the project.

Here's my Urban Lights project called 
Phosphorescent Freeways

From the satellite images I found I was fascinated with the glowing lines going back and forth that created all the streets and the clusters of lights created by cities, arenas, freeways and airports. There were also lots of dark areas from beaches, bays, mountains and undeveloped land. It seemed totally fitting to finally use that glow-in-the-dark thread I've been patiently waiting to use. Here's a photo of Phosphorescent Freeways glowing in the dark. I actually had to buy an app for my ipad that allowed me to take a photo with a long exposure to pick up the light from the glowing thread. 

Phosphorescent Freeways with glowing thread and long exposure.
It's amazing how the longer exposure time still doesn't capture 
all the glowing lines, boo hoo.

I just have to say that I TOTALLY LOVED doing this project. It was so fun to piece together the blue and orange (two colors I usually avoid due to their painful visual contrast, but for this project blue was a fitting representation of the dark night and orange worked for the nighttime lights). I knew that there would be an overwhelming number of straight lines going back and forth so I inserted some orange waves of fabric to off-set the rigidity of the street lines. I used 5 different colors of thread in the project to show different hues of orange that I saw in the satellite images.  I created circular pockets of glowing thread, squares of orange thread, and zigzags of yet more orange thread to represent intersecting freeways. I also used a couching technique to secure clear plastic fishing line and orange yarn to the quilt. One of my original ideas was to use the couching method to secure lots of fuzzy orange yarn to create a glowing look for the streets, but as the quilt progressed the fuzzy-soft look I envisioned didn't seem to work well with the technical look of all the streets/thread criss-crossing around. 
Clear fishing line on the left and lots of orange streets.

Superior Thread's Mono Poly Invisible Monofilament was used for quilting all the dark blue areas. I didn't want to distract from the orange lines that were quilted, so it seemed like a good way to create more visual interest without taking away from the punch of the orange thread on the blue fabric. I quilted the word Darkness into the quilt because without darkness you can't see the city lights in the satellite images. I also quilted lots of circles into the quilt with the mono filament because lights are often round shapes such as: stoplights, headlights, spotlights, and recessed ceiling lights.

I also used orange burlap to create visual interest to help move the eye around the composition of the quilt. The burlap is also in round shapes to reiterate the circular lights we see all around us. 
Darkness quilted with mono filament and burlap in circle shape.

 Randomly sized stoplight circles stitched in Mono 
Filament in a tall a skewed stack. 
It was most memorizing and almost addicting 
to stitch the circles.

Attaching the faced binding.

One of my favorite parts, seeing the quilt during the 
inverting process of turning the binding to the back side!

Back side of the quilt. I wanted the backside to look like a picture 
frame for the red-orange & black batik. 

Until the next blog post.
That's goodbye in Portuguese.

Check out these other Four In Art quilts.

Amanda Kattner blogs at

Betty Ayers has a  Flickr site at 

Elizabeth Eastmond blogs at

Nancy Myers blogs at

Rachel  blogs at


  1. Simone, you have to be so proud of this - it is so, so artful and cool! I just love your use of burlap and yarn(?) along with the varying threads. The back is almost as neat as the front and your background props were perfect choices! I think the beauty of our group is enjoying the variety of interpretations and yours is great!

  2. WOW !This is amazing Simone! I love your unique use of materials and their creative placement! You are very talented! You have set the bar high for the next challenge...

  3. Okay I am totally blown away! You have a great future in art quilts ahead of you, with your vision and ability to manipulate the materials to make it happen.

    I love the story of your quilt and the orange/white/blue combination really captures what you were after. And that back frame? Genius. We are thrilled to have you join us in Four-in-Art!


  4. Wow. I love the texture of this mini. That burlap was genius! What a great way to capture city lights in an unexpected way.

  5. This is such a great quilt. I love all the colors and the illusion of light.

  6. Fabulous Simone! You're off to a great start with the Four-in-Art group and will make a wonderful addition. I love all the thought and detail you put into your mini. As you might know (or not), I'm bowing out after this challenge but look forward to what you and the rest do in the next year. I think you'll have a lot of fun.

  7. This is really amazing. So creative and I love the different textures.

  8. I, too, say amazing. I would not have thought to look from outerspace for urban lights. Your piece is so scientifically creative. I think you did a splendid rendition of the challenge.
    Welcome to the group. And now, you must tell me how you did that binding!!!

  9. Hi Nancy, thanks for your comment. For the binding I followed the faced binding instructions from Elizabeth's OPQuilt blog, but I made the binding extra wide. I also attached 2 contrasting fabrics to the binding before I sewed the binding to the quilt.