Check out the quilt articles in my blog
Watch the one-hour video of my talk Computers, Quilts, and Privacy, November 1, 2013
My quilts were featured in the Quilt Inspiration blog in the article Engineering and quilts, by Lorrie Faith Cranor on March 12, 2010.
This page includes my most recent quilts. For older quilts and quilted clothing see:
Black and gold quilt, 2011
machine pieced and quilted, 49 in. x 56 in.
I made this quilt for the Colfax Party For Play auction. It is the same pattern as Nina's baby quilt. These are not colors I would normally choose, but I wanted to work with the Pittsburgh color scheme. I think the high contrast worked well.
Lying on the Floor of the Pittsburgh Children's Museum Looking
At the Ceiling, 2011
machine pieced and quilted, 23.5 in. x 23 in.
The Pittsburgh Children's Museum has an art installation in their great dome (which used to be a post office). Pink and orange streamers are suspended on threads. They are hanging in a grid, so in reality they are parallel. But if you lie on the floor in the very center of the dome and look up the streamers, they appear to radiate out from the center. I snapped some photos with my cell phone while my kids were working on art projects at the museum. As soon as I saw the streamers from that perspective I knew I wanted to make a quilt of that image. The radiating lines in the dome ceiling and the large dark circles are pieced. The lighter circles in the dome and the streamers are all fused on and stitched.
Improv Quilt #1, 2012
machine pieced, machine and hand quilted, 24 in. x 24 in.
I made this quilt for the Colfax auction, but I'm not sure I want to part with it. Most of my quilts are fairly well planned before I ever start cutting fabric. For this one I selected 10 fabrics and then just started cutting and sewing. The only rules were that all shapes had to be convex quadrilaterals and two shapes from the same fabric could not touch each other. As I got close to the desired size, I worked on making everything fit into a square. Most of it is machine quilted with straight, parallel lines. I used several colors of thread, including some metallics. I also did some hand stipple quilting with big stitches in a heavy pearl cotton. My youngest daughter calls this color scheme "sunset colors." This is a favorite color scheme for me. I enjoyed improvising and plan to try this technique again.
Improv Quilt #2, 2012
machine pieced, machine and hand quilted, 23.75 in. x 23.75 in.
Same idea as Improv Quilt #1. This one was inspired by the blue fabric with red dots. It includes a lot of hand quilting, including many many French knots. This is the first quilt I made on my sabbatical. [blog post]
De-identification, 2012 35"x35" machine pieced and quilted, hand embroidered; commercial printed cotton and batik fabric, polyester organza, smartphone photos of flowers at 30x magnification digitally printed on fabric
Closeup images, slicing, reassembly, overlays, embroidery de-identify images, similar to privacy protections for personal data. However, re-identification is always possible. [blog post]
B, 2012 12"x12" machine pieced and quilted, hand embroidered
This is a 12-inch square made as part of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh's Artabet project. This quilt is mostly about shape and color. The negative spaces are as important as the positive spaces. I was aiming for a composition that was appealing even if you don't care about the letter B, which I don't. I also wanted a quilt that demonstrates the techniques I like to use and my personal style. [blog post]
Big Bright Pixels, 2012
64"x64" machine pieced and hand quilted cotton fabric
This quilt was inspired by the oh-so-colorful paintings of Loretta Grayson. After a few days of being mesmerized by all that wonderful color I sorted through my fabrics and found the 40 or so brightest, most saturated, near-solid fabrics in my collection. Then I began cutting them up into piles of 4.5-inch squares. I started laying out the squares on my table and the design grew and grew until I filled my table and I had a 16×16, 64" grid, and no more room on the table. I decided to hand quilt this one with big stitches and bright perl cotton thread. [blog post 1, blog post 2]
Interleave #1: Venetian Lines, 2013
23.75"x23.75" machine pieced and quilted cotton fabric
My inspiration came from some images of quilts by Kent Williams in the January 2013 issue of American Quilter. I like the way Kent creates the illusion of shape by sewing together thin strips of fabric. I worked out that with 1/4 inch seam allowances, if I cut the fabric into 1-inch strips, half of each strip would be lost to seam allowances. Thus 1-inch strips from two panels of fabric could be interleaved, allowing the designs from the two panels to be superimposed without distortion. I decided to add improvisational piecing to the mix to add an extra layer of interest to the design, and because improv piecing is fun. I used a quilt-as-you-go approach to sew the strips together and to the batting at the same time. [blog post]
Interleave #2: Sunset Over Water, 2013
24"x24" machine pieced and quilted cotton fabric
This is the second quilt in my Interleave series. I made the panels out of only six pieces of fabric each, and I sliced them into only 12 pieces. But there is still a lot of texture here, as most of the fabrics I used are multi-colored commercial batiks. I cut the slices 1.5-inches wide so that they would end up 1-inch after accounting for seam allowances. In order to keep everything lined up nicely with proper spacing, I had to cut a .5-inch strip after cutting every 1.5-inch strip. This quilt is finished with some meandering free motion machine quilting in a colorful variegated thread. [blog post]
Interleave #3: Waveforms, 2013
24.5"x24.5" machine pieced and quilted cotton fabric
This is the third quilt in my Interleave series, and my first foray into writing a computer program to generate quilt designs. At Golan Levin's suggestion, I gave up on using PowerPoint as a design tool and wrote a program in Processing to generate sine wave patterns. I included slider bars to allow me to vary the number of waves, and their offset, frequency, and amplitude. This allowed me to experiment with lots of wave forms as well as color combinations. Then I selected a design to render in fabric and selected fabrics from my stash that matched the colors in my design. I selected 9 commercial batik fabrics and one shimmery woven cotton fabric. Like the previous interleave quilts, this one is also constructed from two panels. These were cut from full-sized paper templates, and then sliced into 1-inch slices. [blog post]
Self Portrait, 2013
23"x30.75" machine pieced and quilted cotton batiks, commercial cotton prints, digitally printed cotton, polyester organza, and silk
This quilt is based on a photo of the artist, digitally manipulated and pixelated, and digitally printed on fabric. I covered some of the printed pixels with other fabrics before sewing it all together. The quilting is all free-motion free form spirals. [blog post]
Interleave #4: Sine of Spring, 2013
24"x31" machine pieced and quilted cotton fabric
Similar to Interleave #3, this quilt was designed using Processing. For this quilt I started by selecting several brightly-colored batik fabrics from my collection. I photographed them and inserted the digital images into my computer-generated designs. This allowed me to adjust the design with the actual fabric placement. To make the piecing go faster and keep the lines straighter, this time I first drew parallel lines at half-inch intervals on plain fabric and used that as a guide for piecing the strips. I love the colors in this quilt, which remind me of spring flowers. As I finished this quilt Spring was finally coming to Pittsburgh. [blog post]
Interleave #5: Tartan Tango, 2013
25.5" x 33.5" machine pieced and quilted commercial batik cotton fabric and wool tartan fabric 2013
Another variation on the Interleave sine wave theme, this one features Carnegie Mellon's tartan fabric. This quilt was a commission for the Carnegie Mellon president's office. [blog post]
Interleave #7: Five-Four, 2013
25.75" x 33" machine pieced and quilted commercial batik cotton fabric, hand embroidery 2013
Another variation on the Interleave sine wave theme, this one interleaves a panel composed of five fabrics with a panel composed of four fabrics for an interesting rhythm. Look closely for the free-motion machine quilting and hand embroidery. [blog post]
Interleave #6: Porto, 2013
31.5" x 25.5" machine pieced and quilted digitally printed cotton fabric and commercial batik fabric, hand embroidered with pearl cotton
This quilt features a photo I took in Porto, digitally manipulated, and digitally printed on fabric. Batik fabrics are spliced into the digital print. The quilt is designed to show a view of Porto at various levels of focus, granularity, and abstraction. If you look at the quilt up close the pixelated sections appear mostly as abstract regions of color. On the other hand, you can see the un-pixelated sections most clearly, although they are rippled, as if reflected off water. The ripples are both a design choice, and an artifact of the medium - fabric stretches as it is sewn, so perfect alignment is difficult to achieve. Step back from the quilt until you are too far away to see the un-pixelated sections clearly, and now the pixelated sections start coming into focus. Step back further and the larger pixelated sections convey meaning. The batik fabric sections appear as regions of color taken from the scene: the most abstract representation, color without meaningful shape. I began playing with pixelated images in my earlier quilts as I explored visual representations of privacy, and have continued to use this technique, even when privacy is not the main focus of a piece. [blog post]
Security Blanket, 2013
63.5"x39" machine quilted, digitally printed cotton fabric
Large archives of stolen passwords have been made public over the past few years, including an archive of 32 million passwords stolen from social gaming website RockYou that were made public in 2009. My research group has been trying to find ways of improving password policies through studies that involve analyzing stolen passwords and comparing them with passwords created by participants in controlled user studies. I examined the 1000 passwords that appear most frequently in the RockYou data set and categorized them into thematic groups. I then created a word cloud in which each category of passwords was assigned a color and each password was scaled to represent the frequency with which it appears in the data set. I had the resulting image digitally printed on cotton fabric. I then used to fabric to create a quilted security blanket. Like the passwords included in this piece, a security blanket offers comfort, but ultimately no real security. [blog post]
Lorrie Faith Cranor