Aztec Autumn 39 x 32 Cindy Grisdela 2010

Well, I got a “skinny email” from the major show I entered this piece into–meaning it was not accepted, so now I can unwrap it and show it off! It’s called Aztec Autumn and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I thought it had a chance of being accepted, but you can never tell how a particular show is going to be juried. Maybe it just didn’t fit in with the overall plan for the show. Anyway, I win because now I don’t have to keep it a secret until the show. Aztec made its debut at the McLean Project for the Arts Artfest last weekend.

I created the spiky central section and asymmetrical border using improvisational piecing–my new favorite construction method. I purposely made the spiky sections different sizes to add energy to the design, then I put in three different improv blocks to add another twist. In this design, the asymmetrical red and cinnamon brown borders give the eye a place to rest from the busyness.  The spiky border also has an irregular curved edge, which echoes the inner curved borders.

There’s a lot of dense free motion machine quilting on this one–right click on the image to see it better.

I’ve become fascinated with the abstract geometry of these quilts made with solid fabrics. The challenge with solids is that color and design is all you have to work with–there’s no pattern in the fabric to create secondary interest. The intuitive design process is key. Because there’s no pattern to follow, the design evolves organically as one decision influences the next. It’s almost like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, but without the picture on the box to guide me. The process often takes a good deal of time, because the design rarely comes together in one sitting. Often I have to walk away from it for a few hours or days and come back to see where to go next. It’s an intriguing challenge. I’ll be talking about some of the other quilts using this process in the coming week.

Don’t forget the Great Falls Studios 7th Annual Studio Tour coming up in a little over a week–Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17 from 10 AM – 5 PM both days. It’s a free tour and it will go on rain or shine–we’re hoping for sunshine! Get details and download a map of the tour at the Great Falls Studios website,

The tour is a lot of fun and it’s a unique opportunity to see artists at work in their own space. For me, you’ll get to see my work on the walls in the environment it’s meant for, plus I’ll have gift items and I’ll be demonstrating my design process and my free hand quilting style. Hope to see you there!


  1. tallgirl on October 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    It’s gorgeous!! Clearly the jury was out of their mind. I love how we optimists see this ‘skinny email’ as an opporutnity to show our work elsewhere.