Jazz Impressions: Orange You Glad I Got the Blues?

Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association is accepting fiber art entries for the upcoming "Jazz Impressions" exhibit.  This juried exhibit will be displayed at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles from July 8th through August 14th, coinciding with the San Jose Jazz Festival.  At the past few guild meetings, several members have shown their entries during show and tell...and they are all spectacular!  This special exhibit will truly highlight the talents of our membership!!

From elementary through high school, I actively participated in the music and arts programs.  I performed in both the chorus and band (flute/piccolo and a little oboe), and even got paid to perform with a local marching band.  Both the chorus and band performed music from all genres.  I recall being invited to participate in a county wide jazz ensemble.  Flutes are a bit of novelty when it comes to jazz, so the organizers didn't anticipate flutists to participate, and as such, there wasn't any sheet music available for our use.  Luckily, my band teacher helped us translate another instrument's music, but it took some time.  Once done, we had very little opportunity to play with the rest of the band.  Oh well!  I would not let this little hiccup stop me from participating in the Jazz Impressions exhibit!
As usual, my journey started with a Pinterest search that yielded plenty of inspiration.  As a fan of color, I thought it would be fun to pay tribute to "the Blues" and naturally began by raiding my stash of blue fabrics:  prints, hand dyes, solids...the more the better!  As my design coalesced, my fabric collection was more carefully curated to include a fat quarter of my hand dyed ombre fabric and several swatches of Cherrywood fabrics.
The Keys to a Great Quilt:  Beautiful Fabric and Auditions
I saved several images of piano keys to my Pinterest board and decided they would be the focus of my first piece.  I was really drawn to the repetitive pattern of black and white keys and the clean, sleek lines.  I did a mock up to help me determine scale and audition potential background fabrics.  For maximum contrast, I chose to use orange in the background.  By placing the piano keys on a sheet of clear acrylic, I was able to easily slide the board over different backgrounds.  This allowed me to efficiently audition lots of background fabrics (16 or more!!)
Piano Accompaniment Auditions
Using this system, I was able to dismiss several of the orange backgrounds immediately, but there were several that really appealed to my design aesthetic.  In the end, I loved how the orange swirl print created wonderful movement and ultimately played a major role in the overall flow and placement of my piano keys (all 88 keys--count 'em!).  The keys were created by cutting fused strips out of my hand dyed ombre fabric for the white keys and Cherrywood gradations for the black keys.

The keys start out in a uniform grid layout, with orange Cherrywood dots representing the finger placements for the Blues scales.  As the Blues music starts to ebb and flow, improvisation comes into play with the layout and placement of the keys and finger placements.       
Improvised Blues Scales
Once all 88 keys were laid out and fused into place, it was time to add quilted texture to my piece.  The circles of the finger placement dots were carried out in the form of pebbling throughout the background swirls.  Meanwhile, the spiral background influenced the spirals stitched into each of the finger placement dots.  In order to preserve the sleekness of the piano keys, I simply stitched around the perimeter.   
Swirling Texture Details
Textured Blues
"Orange You Glad I Got the Blues?", Finishes 40"x 24"
My "Orange You Glad I Got the Blues" has already made its debut on the San Jose Jazz website/blog to help get people even more "jazzed" up over the exciting events planned for this summer's Jazz festival!
To my fellow SCVQA members--there are still 6 days left to finish up your jazz themed fiber art and submit your online application!  I have great ambitions to finish quilting/binding a second piece...but time will tell whether I am able to complete it in time for the May 10th entry deadline.  Wish me luck, especially since I will be doing the quilting on a loaner machine while my Bernina is being sent off to Bernina headquarters for more repairs!!

To the "Jazz Impressions" planning committee and San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles staff--thank you for the opportunity to have our members' quilts hung in a museum quality exhibit!

And finally, to all fans of jazz and/or fiber arts, be sure to mark your calendars to check out all the festivities planned as part of the San Jose Jazz Festival, especially the wonderful fiber art pieces that will be juried into this very special "Jazz Impressions" exhibit:

"Jazz Impressions"
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

520 South First Street, San Jose
July 8th-August 13th    


  1. This will be a fabulous exhibit. There are so many fantastic quilts entered and yours is one of the best. I have a top but doubt it will get quilted with so much going on in my family. So I will enjoy seeing all these quilts even more. Congratulations on a wonderful quilt and a great explanation of your process.

    1. Awww...thanks Ann! It will be a fabulous exhibit, but would have been even greater with your jazz entry. Hopefully life will settle down and you can enter it into our next quilt show! Can't wait to see it!


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