Friday, July 19, 2013

California Dreaming: Down in the Grove

When my Pennsylvanian Dad came out of the Navy after serving in the Pacific in World War II his dream was to settle in Southern California with his Californian bride (who, legend says, he met at the Officers Club at the Coconut Grove, buy some property, raise and show 5 Gaited Saddlebred horses and watch things grow. In the early 50s my parents bought Mulberry Farm, an orange ranch in Chatsworth at the north end of the San Fernando Valley. My earliest memories are from that grove - the smell of the orange blossoms wafting in the evening, the dappled sunshine filtered through the leaves and the contrast of the bright yellow and orange fruit against dark green. A real California dream.....

Sadly, a few years later Mulberry Farm was sold for subdivision and the horses were gone - not a very practical economic plan to raise a young family. after all, but I've always loved the orange groves of my native southern California though sadly the majority of them have disappeared in favor of tract homes and shopping malls.

This latest quilt "California Dreaming: Down in the Grove" is from a photo I took in our own little urban garden of a dwarf limequat laden with fruit this past spring. Though it's not exactly from a grove it brought back all those memories of California's citrus heritage.

As for the technical stuff - I manipulated the photo on my Ipad in Sketch Guru to obatin a watercolor effect and again on my desk top computer in Photoshop  to tinker with color and saturation.  The photo was printed on a large scale by  I added fabric paint to highlight some of the effects, thread painted the resulting image with silk and polyester threads to obtain texture and trapunto'd the fruit and a few leaves in the foreground to give depth and dimension. The background was free motion quilted very tightly to flatten and thus pop the other design elements. This is the third piece I've finished using these techniques, tweaking each along the way. I'm liking the results.


  1. This Pennsylvania girl would love to have avocados in her backyard! Hats off to you for conquering today's tech so successfully!!

    1. We actually have an avocado in our back yard, but, sadly, it's reaching the end of its life cycle at 65+ years and seems on its way out....

  2. Fabulous quilt! I wish someone could bottle that orange blossom scent. We experience it every year on the way home from Anza Borrego through the backcountry east of the Wild Animal Park.