Art Quilt: Fire Line: Do Not Cross

On a recent trip to Los Angeles I could not go the quickest way, I-5, because a fire was too close to the connecting freeway, and they had to close it. So I took the scenic route, US-101, which tipped me toward the ocean. While creeping along through traffic jams in Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara I happily gazed out the window into the blue. On the return trip a few days later, I-580 was open again, and around Tracy I noticed blackened hills that went on for what seemed like miles. And then the black stopped. A wavy line separated black from tan, the normal color for the hilly grasslands at this time of year. I pondered that line. Beautiful, but disturbing. Visually interesting. Something clearly had been spread there to contain it so precisely. I thought that would be how my next quilt would come together. But the quilt went in a different direction, perhaps like a fire.

A reader, who had enthusiastically bought materials some years ago and noticed my 2024 interest (blog post here) in Alabama Chanin, generously sent me her full box of cotton knit fabric, and another box of button & craft thread and the French embroidery thread that A.C. sells. There was quite a bit of red. Fire red. A beginning.

Fire Line: Do Not Cross
34.5"w x 42"h (87.5 cm x 107 cm)
Overdyed cotton knit with resist fluid, cotton, hand-dyed velvet, found fabric; hand drawn and cut stencil with metallic fabric paint; letterpress printing on cotton; reverse applique; sashiko-style quilting; hand-quilting

I drew and carved a stencil, first using it with some water-based masking/resist fluid, then with metallic gold paint. Although I have worked with it and do work with it, red is not my color. To tone it down, I mixed up a dye solution (Better Black) and painted over the masked areas on one piece of cloth, then folded and painted the other piece, much like shibori, but without tying it. The black was light, so it became maroon. Even better.

Stencil with resist and paint, below.
Metallic threads with the knots showing for the flame-like quilting.

Stencil with paint.
Two reverse applique areas, one with a piece of letterpress printing cotton scrap from my quilt, Precarious.

Letterpress printing from wood type, gold on black Kona cotton, gave it another texture, and was good for the binding.

Sashiko stitches for the edges: rising steam pattern at top, arrow/feather pattern for bottom right, and a few loose cross stitches for the bottom.


I thought this piece was about the physical line where they had stopped the fire, the division on the hill between black and tan that I saw on my drive home. But it took on the feel of an internal fire, a drive, a desire, and an emotional line one must not cross or extinguish. An eternal fire, an always fire. A life force.


Thank you, Lynn!