Project Quilting: Hometown Proud

This week kicked off Season 9 of Project Quilting where participants are challenged to start and complete a quilt in just ONE week!  This week's theme was Hometown Proud.

I spent considerable time reflecting on what I consider my Hometown.

Initial brainstorms focused on my childhood's hometown: Chester, NY.  Potential inspiration included the birthplace of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, the burial place for The Hambletonion 10 (a famous racehorse sire) and the rich soil of the black dirt farms.  There were a few sparks of inspiration but each was brief before considering other quilt design options.

On Thursday, I met a friend for lunch in downtown San Jose, CA--in a neighborhood that I had yet to explore but had a lot of charm & energy.  On the return drive home, I reflected on my past 7.5 years of living in San Jose and how much of an impact this city has had on my creative pursuits, friendships, career and pretty much every aspect of my life!  My partner, Doug, is an Electrical Engineer, so the Silicon Valley/technical connection struck a personal chord.  Upon arriving home, I checked on the mail to find  Doug had received his latest issue of IEEE Spectrum (Electrical Engineer trade magazine) which had a fabulous cover that had abstract computer circuitry with several more inspirational graphics inside (one featured my own creative mantra:  What If?).  Then I turned on my laptop to catch up on facebook posts and saw that The Late Night starring Jimmy Fallon also featured circuitry in the background of an older clip featuring robots.  All signs seem to point to San Jose/Silicon Valley. 
Technical Research
The large number of high-tech companies here in the San Jose/Silicon Valley has significantly impacted the area's demographics, housing market, traffic and even the art scene.  I wanted to capture these changes, specifically on the rapidly rising cost of living and how the swell in population has contributed to horrendous traffic conditions.  After a quick sketch, I went to my stash and made a huge mess pulling out all and any fabrics that might tie in with software/programming, hardware, electricity/technology, traffic, housing, etc.  From there, I began to edit my design and thereby curate my fabric palette and experiment with some piecework to create an abstraction of Bay Area traffic.
Software
Project Quilting was inspired by the fashion reality show, Project Runway, where fashion designers have set parameters to create a look in 1-2 days.  In each season, there is one or more "Unconventional Challenges" where the designers are taken to a surprise location to source their materials.  We had two retired Hewlett-Packard laptops (interesting to note that HP was founded in a garage, here in the Silicon Valley region) in the garage waiting for the next electronic recycling day.  Doug and I armed ourselves with screwdrivers and had a fun tear down/laptop demolition session.  Both laptops were disassembled and we salvaged any hardware that could be used to embellish my city landscape.
Hardware
In the 7.5 years I have lived in San Jose, I have seen considerable changes in the City Landscape in effort to accommodate the population influx.  Smaller homes are knocked down and replaced with large condo and apartment complexes.  And despite the influx of construction, finding affordable housing remains one of the biggest issues facing Bay Area residents--to the point that many are moving out the area entirely (especially artists).  Just like San Jose, my City Scape design changed rapidly as I explored working with the hardware parts in combination with fabric and creating exciting new compositions. 
Prototypes
Once I narrowed down on the design, the pieced construction went together surprisingly fast (only 3 seams to sew with one being a free-form curve).  Aurifil 50 weight threads were used to free-motion quilt designs that evoked the feel of technology and moving traffic.
Production
A layer of Pellon Decor Bond was placed between the batting and quilt back to help stabilize my sandwich in preparation for attaching the hardware embellishments.  Many of the circuit boards already had holes that I could use to hand stitch onto my quilt.  For the keys and other parts that needed additional holes, Doug used an Xacto knife and/or Dremel drill.
Unconventional Materials
Using the embellishments to create buildings, vehicles, dimension and hidden messages was a lot of fun!!  In fact, I am seriously considering incorporating unconventional materials into each of the five remaining Project Quilting challenges as they add an extra layer of challenge, whimsy and fun!!
"Do You Know the Way to San Jose?", Finishes 22" x 34"
With just an hour to spare, I will be linking up to Project Quilting for the week of online voting (which will open in another 2-3 hours)  Be sure to check out all the amazing entries and vote for your favorites!  Hint Hint--be sure to check out Entry #102.

There is still time to join the Project Quilting fun!!  The next challenge will kick off on January 21st with a fun new theme to be announced.  Until then, I will be in the studio tidying up the mess of fabric & hardware from this week's challenge!!

Comments

  1. I had to share this with my computer/electronics junkie husband. Love it!

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    1. Thank you for sharing Vicki!! I was most thankful ofr my computer/electronics junkie partner who helped with sourcing the hardware embellishments. Hope you can collaborate on a future project!!

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  2. Wow! That is really unique! Love your creativity!

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    1. Thank you! These quilt challenge themes really prompt me to consider new designs/ideas and materials!! Looking forward to the next challenge them and what it may inspire!!

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    1. Thank you Polly--I am pretty excited about this new quilt!!

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  4. Clever you! And kudos to your able assistant, Doug. Does he want this for his office? Somehow I see an upcoming show of your work.

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    1. Thank you Ann. Yes--Doug & I are quite the dynamic duo. There is a possibility of him hanging this at his work...or we might hang it here at home. But I think it is the start of something exciting!!!

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  5. Small world, I live near Washingtonville NY, right down the road from Chester. Great use of unconventional materials in your quilt, and the quilting is wonderful!

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    1. Delightful to hear from a fellow Orange Countier---Washingtonville no less!!! Thanks for visiting and so glad you enjoyed my entry!!

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  6. This is just the coolest. It's just like the unconventional challenges on Project Runway, but I think you used the materials in a way they never have. I loved the whole story, but I have to admit, you had me at cream cheese.

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    1. Thank you Carla! Yes--I was definitely channeling Tim Gunn's "Make It Work!" as I worked with these unconventional materials. Maybe I will revisit the Cream Cheese idea for a future PQ challenge?!?

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    1. Thank you very much Camille--so glad you enjoyed this piece!

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  8. WOWZA!!! What a cool quilt! Without reading your story, I would never have guessed ypu had computer parts in there! I just LOVE how you embraced the unconventional material challenge! Great job!

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    1. Thank you for reading about my journey creating this fun quilt. I really enjoyed incorporating the computer part to create my little cityscape quilt. I am hoping to incorporate more unconventional materials into future challenge entries--so I hope you will visit again and see what fun design will be inspired by the next challenge theme prompt!!

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  9. I am in utter awe! This is one of the coolest pieces I have seen - EVER! Great take on the challenge and amazing job on using non-quilting items to create this city - WOW! seriously - super cool.

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    1. Thank you Kim...given how many entries you've seen in the past 8+ years--that is high praise indeed!!! I really enjoyed working with the unconventional materials...perhaps a future challenge theme?!?

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  10. Love this. I grew up in Los Altos, north of San Jose and this is such a fantastic representation of the current state of the Silicon Valley, as compared to how it was when I lived there in the 1960’s and 1979’s. Did you see Sarah Goer's entry? She did a piece on San Jose too. Great job!

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    1. Thanks Bernie! Happy to hear it fit your experiences living here in Silicon Valley. Yes! I saw Sarah's San Jose inspired piece too. SJ was well represented in Project Quilting Round 1!!

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