Shaft Mines: Pantone Quilt Challenge 2023

Shaft Mines

49” x 37”

United States

The 2023 Pantone Color of the Year is Viva Magenta. Elizabeth Ray and Sarah Ruiz are hosting this year’s Quilt Challenge. I knew I had a box of scraps in this color and similarly-colored scraps. I wanted it to feel moody like the artwork from Pantone. Half way through the process it began to look like a geological dig. I started calling it Shaft Mines.

I grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. My father and brother are coal miners. They haven’t worked in shaft mines, but drift mines. In a shaft mines, there is a vertical entry from the surface into the coal seam— think elevator. In a drift mines, you enter the mountain at an incline— think tunnel or mouth. This quilt feels like both.

Because I was using black, I worried it wasn’t magenta enough. I worried it was too chaotic. I worried my worries would prevent me from finishing it. I tinkered until I gave up. The quilting in straight lines rescued it for me. I love how the dark pink stitches give order to the chaos. I used 8 weight thread in part of it. My machine didn’t like it so I switched to 50 weight in different pinks.

I’m linking this post to the challenge link up page. Go here for the other entries


The Boulevard

The Boulevard is the main thoroughfare through my small city in Virginia.  It’s a four-lane route with restaurants and businesses flanking each side along with strip malls. I live a block off The Boulevard.  At night I see the lights of the businesses and the red lights from my living room.  In the early morning, it is quiet and I hear the trains flying by parallel to The Boulevard.   In this piece, I explored different ways of making a log cabin block to give the feel of The Boulevard.  My starting point was elongated log cabins, then playing with the width of the strips.  I added a traditional log cabin block to represent my home on The Boulevard.

It measures 38” x 38”.

I entered this quilt in the Modern Quilt Guild’s Log Cabin Challenge, sponsored by American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. It will be on display this week at QuiltCon in Atlanta, Georgia. I won’t be there, but I’m excited it will hang alongside so many amazing modern log cabin quilts.

I used 28 weight thread, mostly stitching in the ditch. I hoped it would give a feeling of driving lanes.

Light Coming Home

I started this quilt the week of the Eastern Kentucky floods. I grew up across the border in Southwest Virginia. The images of the debris entangled against the bridges and houses. The lives lost. I processed this through making this quilt. Lots of curves and sharp lines.

When I began, I thought I would use more of the rust fabric, but it felt important to use the vanilla fabric as a dominant background with the black fabric and thread outlining each piece. Mildred Haun’s short story, Darkness Coming Deep, inspired the name of this quilt. It is the story of the death of a child. I wanted to express the opposite of that pain, Light Coming Home. This quilt represents lightness coming to me through the making of this piece.

This quilt will be exhibited at QuiltCon Atlanta 2023 as part of the Windham Fabric Ruby & Bee Challenge.  These are the colors:

  • Russet 51583-40
  • Mandarin 51583-31
  • Vanilla Custard 51583-53
  • Pool 51583-45
  • Cornflower 51583-46
  • Stormy 51583-44

It measures 52.25″ x 52.25″.

I took some risks with the quilting. I used 30 weight Aurifil in black to define all of the seams and to add the illusion of piecing growing from each section. In some places I stitched in the ditch more than once. In other places, I used Sulky 28 weight in white. along with blues and rusts I had from my mother’s stash; some are probably 50 years old, but they worked great.