I love a good map. I think this fascination started as a child when my family took road trips all over New England. We would pile into the family sedan, my father always driving, and my mother always knitting in the front seat. A sleeve of peppermint Life Savers would be passed around, in hopes of keeping the three siblings in the back seat quiet, and the trip would begin.
|My mixed-media fiber collage, "Ancestral Home."
In a short while, the glove compartment would open and the maps would emerge. I remember being the one who would mark the journey we were taking, always interested in finding the shortest route, the most scenic view, and the tallest mountain. Then I'd heave a sigh of relief if I could coax the map back into its previous folded shape without creating an outcry from my siblings who would complain if the map encroached on any of their precious space (I always sat in the middle).
Fast forward (ahem) at least 40 years, and not much has changed. My husband always drives. I am the one sitting in the front seat knitting, and our four children all have love/hate relationships with each other as well as with the maps we pass to the back seat. Of course, the GPS has changed our navigation, but the maps of New England still live in our glove compartment "just in case."
Several years ago I started using vintage maps as the bases of my fabric collages. I am always on the lookout for beautiful maps (whose copyright has expired) to use in my work.
The nest in my fiber collage "Ancestral Home" was built upon an island created from scraps of two maps of Ohio. The three stone "eggs" represents me and my siblings. This piece, which I created in 2011, hangs in my studio as a reminder of my beginnings.
The nest is made of snippets of fabric, fibers, threads, and paper I've saved from cutting supplies for other projects. If you don't have scraps at the ready, you can layer some fabrics on your cutting mat and use a rotary cutter and ruler to slice off snippets at least 3" long.
I arranged the fabrics and fibers like a bird feathering its nest, and played with colors until I found a combination I liked. Then I free-motion stitched the scraps together onto the paper and fabric base using colored thread on top and monofilament in the bobbin.
I don't always use nests in my textile art, but birds do feature prominently in my map collages. They perch on the shores of the Great Lakes in several of my pieces, and I have made many new pieces since beginning this series. So far I have always used the original maps, but I'm considering using copies in the future so I can focus my resources on creating more collages instead of searching for the maps.
I love fabric collage, because it allows me to build something out of the fabric scraps, ephemera, and fibers I collect along my fiber art journey.
Where are you going with your quilting and fiber art journey? With March being National Craft Month, I encourage you to take this opportunity and explore new techniques, delve further into favorite ones, and maybe try a fabric collage or two using bit and pieces from your past travels.
We have all the inspiration and directions you need in the Quilting Daily Shop. Consider us a GPS for your art!
P.S. Do you still use maps or have you moved on to the GPS? Leave a comment below.