Leaving Treasure Island

Updated: Sep 1

Last year (while Peter was driving) I took photos crossing the Bay Bridge (San Francisco > Oakland, CA) which also rests on Treasure Island. That’s where the title of the piece comes from: “Leaving Treasure Island”.


What attracted my attention are the pyramidical shapes of the tall columns and cables and also the road itself: how it is vanishing into a curve looking like a flat pyramid.


The stitched image was developed over several months:

1) Combining and changing multiple digital photographs resulted in this blue variation of soaring columns and cables.

2) The company dpi-sf.com printed my image on 50 x 66” of silk. On my design wall, I tape the backing, batting, and the front. Sometimes, is use acid-free temporary spray, but I always add safety pins in critical corners to hold the ‘quilt sandwich’ together. Then I drew more details to be stitched.


3) Just up front: I always quilt free-motion, a unique design for each piece.

Machine-quilting of the silver columns (on a domestic sewing machine) wasn’t working as well as I had hoped. So I continued by hand.


4) All the cables of the ‘tall pyramid’ are hand stitched. The ones closer to the viewer have multiple threads (cotton, linen, and silk); the middle ones are cotton and silk, then only cotton, and in the center (closer to the vanishing point) the thread is 100% silk because it’s the fines one. Using multiple thicknesses of thread enhances the 3D-illusion of space.


5) Next, I machine-quilted the street, very densely near the vanishing point, spreading out to the bottom of the piece. This ‘flat pyramid’ took over 200 yards of cotton thread.


6) It’s contrasted with a view of silvery, hand-stitched cars that become smaller in the distance. The diminishing size also creates the illusion of three-dimensional space.


7) The sky took another 200 yards of thread: variegated on the top and Aurifil at the bottom. (The variegated thread broke fairly often, not sure that I would buy it again; but the Aurifil threads saved the day. I’m using them in a metal spool on a domestic sewing machine.)


8) Because I have no surface large enough to iron a 50 x 64” art quilt, I pinned it to the queen-size mattress in our guest room and art archive.



9) All that’s left is finishing the borders and sleeves, signing the piece, and getting it photographed. It’s quite difficult to actually show the range of blues.

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© 2012 - 2020 by Maria Billings