I learned the Seminole piecing technique in an Adult Ed class taught by Kristen Otte in fall 1998. The principal reference used was Dorothy Hanisko's Simply Seminole, The Quilt Digest Press, 1997. I truly enjoy the design possibilities that this technique offers and have made probably two dozen Seminole quilts in an assortment of color schemes. A Seminole quilt is a fairly quick project so has been a favorite of mine for gift quilts. I first pick a "focus fabric" which I use in three or four of the strips and sometimes also the vertical or horizontal borders. What I love is digging around in my embarrassingly large stash for the candidates to go with this focus fabric.
My most recent Seminole, entitled "Red
Sea Dawn", 2007 (84x96 inches) is, in fact, a landscape. Bob and I were on a diving research trip to the Red Sea in the summer of 2006, organized by Avigdor Abelson (at the University of Haifa) and Steve Gaines, a colleague of Bob's at UCSB. The light on a late afternoon dive inspired the strip in the very middle, just below the mountains, and the rest of the quilt was built around that strip. Starting from the bottom, using fabrics which have sand and stones, is a strip suggesting the ocean floor. Above that is a sequence of strips using watery and fishy fabrics. The colorful one features lots of coral reef fishes both in the fabric and appliqued on top and stuffed using the trapunto technique. Then there is the original strip suggestive of the reflection of the dawn sky on the surface of the water. Above that is the evocation of the mountains of the Sinai. I hand painted the sky on that strip to be more "watercolor" like. My favorite strip in the quilt is the blazing sunrise above the mountains. This strip fades into a pale dawn sky which bleeds into the dark night sky at the top. I studied the colors of the dawn sky for months on my weekend dawn walks with my girlfriends, Anne and Nancy. I made two nearly identical versions of this quilt, one as a thank-you for Avigdor, one for Steve. The one for Steve (andPeggy) is double-sided and features a variant of Rob Appell's "Dolphin Dance" pattern (right). This latter was pretty good fun to make in that a "garage saler" friend found a skirt with the most marvelous octopus and squid print. I tried valiantly to include the octopus on the front quilt "Red Sea Dawn" but, with its cryptic coloration, it just kept disappearing into the background of whatever strip on which it was placed. It took some convincing to persuade the octopus that it had a place on the back quilt but it finally accepted a spot in the lower right side.