Responding to Inspiration in Improv Style

In April this year, our group had the great good fortune to organize a four-day workshop with Rosalie Dace.  I was only able to take two days’ classes, but it was very inspiring – so much so that we have already engaged to bring her back next year. This time we had Rosalie’s Earth, Wind, Fire class, which synchs with a group challenge the Pointless Sisters set ourselves earlier this year. Sonoma County is still recovering from the effects of disastrous wildfires that hit our area last October. A lot of people are making quilts in response to the fires. I chose Earth as my first response to the challenge.

Rosalie’s teaching approach is very natural, humorous and free. We each brought inspiration photos to work from and our own fabrics. She shared some of her work with us, and then set us loose with instructions to start putting together pieces of fabric in a way that responded to our inspiration photos. What a variety of results! About halfway through the morning, Rosalie gave us a tutorial on her method of fine-line improv piecing. We just started putting pieces together and making little pieced units that went up on the wall.

I came home with a bunch of little units and little idea how to put them together. There was one piece that had a contrast-y stripe of orange-red, that Rosalie liked and suggested that I continue it further down into the design. I struggled for days at home to do that, and finally figured out how. I also ended up cutting one of the units that she had particularly praised right in half! But eventually I made a composition I liked. I just kept thinking about rocks.


My inspiration photos included a number of rock formations that I had taken on various trips around the western half of the US. Here’s one example, a photo of Devil’s Postpile in eastern California. And another basalt formation, below, taken on a trip to Yellowstone. I had about half dozen pictures of different types of rocks in all. My response to them was not literal, except I think I managed to nail the color palette.

Basalt Yellowstone poster crop


I completed the piecing and then did free-motion quilting/thread sketching with a sheet of photos taped to the wall by the machine, showing various types of rocks for detail. Here is the finished item.


SEDIMENTAL JOURNEY, 18″ X 18″ (2018)

Thank you for visiting!



9 thoughts on “Responding to Inspiration in Improv Style

  1. It’s interesting to learn about your starting point and how the making went for you. I’ve just been puzzling away trying to spot the bits that started as chunks from your class. You definitely captured that rocky feel – I like this a lot.


    • Thank you Kaja! It feels nice to be back in the group! The pieces from the workshop were the bits on the upper right and bottom right, which I bisected. Then the blue-gray bits with the dark lines, which were once a large piece that I cut into three pieces.


  2. I don’t follow many blogs but your work looks so interesting I decided to go for it. This recent is no exception. It would be interesting to hear more about your technical process with all the curvy lines. My Quilting is pretty geometric. Thanks for your sharing. Lyn


    • Thank you Lynda…there are several sources for ways to piece curves, perhaps I can post a list of them one of these days. A lot of what I do I learned online, and/or taught myself. Glad you are here!


  3. How exciting! I’m so intrigued by the way you created this work from various photos of outcrops. As a geologist it amazes me how people transform these into art. I always think much too literally. And to have another class with her next year. Wow. Lucky you.


    • Ah, an actual geologist! I realized about 10 years ago that I’d have liked to study geology, if I had only know in my 20s what I wanted to be when I grew up! Re literal interpretation, Rosalie’s advice was to respond to the inspiration, not attempt to re-create it. I’m trying to remember that every time I do improv, now!


  4. This one is really neat – love the punny title.  Thinking of plate tectonics, stress fractures, compaction, fault zones and other rock talk – loved my UCD geology class more than all the other sciences.   Am I alone is wanting to turn the piece on its ear?Always admiring,Cuz xxxooo


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