The Colors of Kauai

1 multicolor, redChristine here, happily home after a delightful time teaching on Kauai. Many thanks to Jenny Conley and all the lovely quilters I met. You ladies were so much fun! And oh, the fruit, the flowers, the surf, the air, the clouds. And—of course—the colors. My friend Kari  Hannickel and I were inspired and excited by what we saw everywhere, every day. I came home determined to continue my vacation by creating a new quilt design. Isn’t that a great reason to travel, to find inspiration for new projects?

Looking through some of the books in Jenny’s guesthouse, I noticed a block named “Art Square.” In this simple design I saw opportunities to:Art Square

• showcase a pattered fabric in the large, on-point center squares,

• take advantage of the darker areas of Gelato ombrés (in the photos below, colors 301, 304, 903, and 305, available in my online Store),

• create vertical and horizontal bands of color where blocks meet, and

• create a light-and-airy background.

The main pieces of the block were easy. Phillip Jacobs has given us so many delicious prints, and ombrés allow you to isolate just the colors you want.

But what about the background? I wanted it to recede and play a supporting role, and not take away from the colorful ombrés and prints. When I started auditioning fabrics for these cut-and-paste blocks, I was quickly reminded of what a difference the background fabric makes. Here’s my first try:3 dottyYes! dotty 1I love the square dots in the white-and-black fabric above, but you can see what happens where four blocks meet—the design is fragmented. And it’s a bit busy with the other fabrics.

4 lineyI also love the Kim Schafer white-and-black “stripe” shown above. If you run the design in opposite directions as I did, a wonderful secondary pattern emerges where the blocks meet. I think this design would make a great quilt. . . but the background doesn’t recede.

Finally, I found the fabric below in my stash. The openness of the design and the preponderance of white space give the eye a place to rest and create the illusion of two different planes, as if the bright bands of color and on-point squares are floating above the background. This would probably be my first choice for a background fabric.5 light & airyBut of course it’s up to you to decide what works best in your quilt. I encourage you to make mock-blocks to audition your choices. (We’ll do mock blocks on the first day of the retreat, to show you how to create luminosity and luster.) You just can’t tell how fabrics will “get along” until you see them cut into pieces and touching.

Here are a few of my favorite images from our trip, most taken by Kari. I’ll start with photos we took on the fruit-and-chocolate tour that happens at Jenny and John’s farm twice a week. The cacao pods are amazing, so richly colored and textured. 6 cacao podsAnd look what’s inside. Beneath the sweet white “fruit” are the makings of chocolate. (It was the best chocolate I’ve ever had.)7 individ podTasting the fruit is a big part of the tour too. I just had to take a shot of the grapefruit, sliced and lined up for our enjoyment. And enjoy we did!8 grapefruitAfter I finished teaching, we went to the Princeville Botanical Gardens. The wind was blowing hard that day, but the forms, colors, and textures were a visual treat.9 orchid10 Kari  pinkI hope you get the opportunity to be inspired by the colors of Kauai. Until next time, keep playing with the colors in your world (and in your stash). As Nancy McDonald once said, “The quilt you’re working on now is practice for your next one.” Amen!


8 thoughts on “The Colors of Kauai

  1. Love this! I really never would think there was such a big deal with the use of white and black in blocks. Yoowza! You sure showed the difference! And the blocks are so yummy, exactly the colors in your fine pictures. Please, what is the plant in the first picture? My favorites.

    • Oh, I only wish I could tell you the name of those plants. We were on a very fast-pasted walking tour, and I was lucky to snap a pic on the run. But maybe they are bamboo? And thanks for your comments about the black and white fabric—I think it looks so crisp when used with colorful fabrics.

  2. Really enjoyed viewing this. I can imagine how inspiring the colors, shapes and all of the environment would be. You would have no inspiration here….. Everything is white and will be that way for weeks to come!
    Hope you will visit here again in warmer season. Your work is amazing! Take care,
    Barbara Tolbert in Lancaster, PA

  3. Christine, your photos are super! I love the pink grapefruits especially, were they as good as they look?

    The 3 sample blocks really illustrate what a difference a background makes, nicely done. 🙂

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