Modern Applique Illusions: Grand Canal

Welcome back, and thanks again for following along with the blog tour for Modern Appliqué Illusions! Today, my friend Debbie Grifka is posting about her scaled-down version of my Grand Canal quilt from the book, so head over to her blog, Esch House Quilts, to see what she made!


Grand Canal is another of my favorite quilts from the book, this time because of its inspiration. When I was in college and graduate school I specialized in studying 17th and 18th century European art, and the art and theory of garden design was always one of my favorite topics. Garden designers of this period used a variety of tricks and techniques to shape visitors’ experiences of the formal gardens that they created, which were usually attached to the palaces of politically important figures. Because these gardens were the sites of diplomatic visits, a lot of thought went into how they could best communicate the messages their patrons desired, and perspectival tricks were often employed in this regard. For example, King Louis XIV of France wanted his garden to impart a sense of the limitlessness of his power, and his garden designer, André Le Nôtre, communicated this by installing the Grand Canal, a mile long pool that seemed to reach all the way to the horizon when viewed from the garden façade of the palace of Versailles.

One of my first art history courses focused entirely on the gardens of Versailles, and so I couldn’t neglect this source of inspiration when designing the quilts for Modern Appliqué Illusions. I love the way that Le Nôtre used theory that was developed for two dimensional art–one point perspective–when designing a three-dimensional space. It also thrills the academic in me to re-apply that idea to a quilt–an object that is at once two-dimensional (the picture on the quilt surface) and three-dimensional (the physical quilt itself).

11067, York, FA14

Grand Canal uses a pretty straight forward application of one point perspective. As I discussed on the C&T blog to kick off this tour, one point perspective employs two core concepts: 1. Lines running away from an observer appear to converge at a “vanishing point” at the horizon, and 2. Objects seem to diminish in size as they get closer to the horizon. Grand Canal uses both converging lines and repeated objects of diminishing size to trick our brains into thinking the scene recedes into three-dimensional space. The idea of diminishing size was carried further by my talented quilter, Ann McNew, who reduced the size of the quilting motifs she was using as they approached the horizon-line of the scene.

The large expanse of negative space in this quilt presented a challenge to me when it came to choosing a quilting pattern, and Ann came to the rescue there, too. In a nod to Golden Age France, she quilted a repeating damask pattern in the “sky”, which is surrounded by an exquisite crosshatched pattern that reminds me of rococo French interiors. I wish I could show you some more closeups, but thanks to Ann’s beautiful work, this quilt has been hanging at International Quilt Festival in the MQG Modern Showcase. If you missed it in Houston, you’ll have another opportunity to see it in person at Quilt Con in February, 2015!

11067, York, FA14

Because it’s been traveling, I haven’t been able to get a shot of the back of this quilt, but I wanted to at least show you a shot of the fabric I used to back the quilt. This is a design that I created based on the parterres of the Orangerie at Versailles. The wonderful folks at Spoonflower printed it for me, as well as a couple of tonal designs for the hedges that are based on box-wood leaves (box is one of the most commonly-used plants for hedges in formal gardens). As with Ripples, I have some extra fabric to give away to a lucky commenter, as well as some Pellon 805 Wonder Under–just leave a comment, and I’ll draw a random winner in three days (midnight, Nov. 15)!


Thanks again for following along, and make sure to check out these other stops on the blog tour!

11/10: C&T Publishing
11/11: Jenifer Dick/42 Quilts 
11/12: Debbie Grifka/Esch House Quilts 
11/13: Kathy Mack/Pink Chalk Studio 
11/14: Shannon Brinkley/Bottle Tree
11/15:  Pellon 
11/16: Kevin Kosbab/Feed Dog Designs
11/17: Generation Q Magazine
11/18: Krista Robbins/Sew What’s Cooking?
11/19: Violet Craft 
11/20: Fat Quarter Shop/Jolly Jabber
11/21: Kristy Daum/St. Louis Folk Victorian
11/22: Cindy Lammon/Hyacinth Quilt Designs
11/23: Modern Quilts Unlimited


8 thoughts on “Modern Applique Illusions: Grand Canal

  1. Pingback: Modern Applique Illusions: Chicken Scratch |

  2. This is a wonderful quilt. I love your application of one point perspective and the selection of quilting designs!
    I have to put a visit to Versailles on my bucket list!

  3. Pingback: Wanderlust Quilts Winner! |

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