Artful Log Cabins at Empty Spools

Well, here goes! Empty Spools Seminars started on Sunday afternoon. I checked into my room, unpacked my suitcases quickly, and then walked over to check into the Seminar (they have a beautiful huge hall (Merrill Hall) that is headquarters for all the goings on all week.) And then I drove straight over to Katie Pasquini Masopust’s classroom because we were supposed to have an hour and a half intro to the class. And indeed, it was an intro Plus! Katie shared with us quite a few of her artful log cabin quilts along with the inspiration photo for each of them.  Then Katie had each of us (there were 18 in our class) show our inspiration pictures (here’s the blog where I shared the pictures I had chosen.) I did discuss the little waterfall picture with her, and she agreed that there wasn’t enough contrast in it to do this technique. So I did use the same picture that I had chosen. The finished quilts are supposed to be more abstract than representational.

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And then Katie had us take out our tracing paper and draw several grids over the inspiration photo! That was more than I had thought we would do on this  first afternoon! But I had been thinking about how I would do this particular photo, and I liked the very first grid I drew. Katie approved.

And then it was on to dinner and after dinner back to Merrill Hall for  a presentation by the  Artist in Residence. Empty Spools has been running for 30 years, and pretty much everything about it was very well organized. I appreciated that each evening session started exactly on time, and usually lasted about 45 minutes. It was fun having the evening sessions, because at Asilomar, there are no TV’s in the rooms!

And the next morning, bright and early, we were back at work. Katie had us finalize our grids, and then trace them onto acetate. Then we taped the acetate to a white paper backing so that she could take them and have them enlarged at Kinko’s.

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Each person decided how large they wanted their final quilt to be. So my grid, which was based on my 8X10 photograph, was enlarged 400%, which made my quilt about 36X40″. Katie had two enlargements made–one for your placement grid, and the second so that you could cut each piece out and use it as a template. I think that this is the first time I have used this method, and I do think that it could be very useful in other applications.

When Katie returned with our full size grids, we were ready to start our log cabin blocks. Each block was started with the original little block from the 8X10 drawing (we used the tracing paper pattern and cut each of fabric from that pattern, including a 1/4″ edge.)

We put the acetate back over the photograph, and used that for color placement in constructing each block. I forgot to tell you that Katie had instructed us to pre-cut our strips before we came. I was VERY happy that I had done that, as it saved a lot of time in the workshop.

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And even with saving that time, I still did not finish my quilt. Katie had instructed us to bring batting and backing with us, and several women got to that point, and completely quilted their pieces. Here is my piece so far:

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One of the most interesting things I learned from Katie was that even though she does most of these quilts with intense grid quilting, she quilts each block separately. Which seems so much easier than running long grid lines the entire length of the quilt! If you are interested in seeing more of the workshop photos, you can visit Katie’s FB page.

A little more about Asilomar and the whole Empty Spools experience. The food was very good, served cafeteria style. There were always several selections for each meal. And there were always vegetables and salad available at each meal. There was an evening program each night except Wednesday (which I was very grateful to have that night off.) But I enjoyed all the programs. Each evening there was show and tell from the students. Most of the students were showing work that they had completed a previous year at Empty Spools. Each teacher spoke, about 3 or 4 each night. Some of them had a slide show, and others showed real quilts. Katie was on her way (after Empty Spools) to do a one-woman show in Spain, and so she brought all thirty of the quilts for that show with her. It was a real privilege to be able to see her work so close-up and  to hear about the way she constructs her quilts.

Another thing that was very nice was that the quilt shop in Pacific Grove (Back Porch Fabrics) provided a shuttle van from 4-6pm each night, so you didn’t even have to drive into town and find a parking space! There was also a tour of the 17-Mile Drive. I did not do that, but heard about it from one of my table mates. And of course, there were miles of beautiful walking paths and the ocean, and they even had bikes to rent, which I would have loved, except all my energies were focused on quilting!

And then I came home and started working on and finishing projects that I had left off before I left for Empty Spools. I am planning to get back to my Log Cabin project tomorrow!

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9 thoughts on “Artful Log Cabins at Empty Spools

  1. Debby-
    Many thanks for sharing your experience at Asilomar. How interesting to see your your progress from photo to sketch to quilt. Beautiful work!

  2. What an intriguing technique! I really like the controlled aspect of it, even though the end result is abstract. Perfect for a person who likes to plan but really wants to do improv. Me? I will definitely take a longer look at your project as well as the others on the workshop page.

  3. WOW! Jealous! Thank you for sharing – sounds like it was an amazing experience and I love where your quilt is going. Off to check out all the links you provided.

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