I Left My Heart in San Jose

On my recent visit to the West Coast I stopped off in San Jose and made a quick trip to San Francisco.

beautiful morning view

In San Francisco I visited the studio of quilting guru Joe Cunningham. Joe was one of the artists in the group quilt show back in January at Wheeling Artisan Center. I popped by his studio and had a great time picking his brain. I also snuck a peek at a work in progress and heard the stories behind over a dozen of his quilts.

One of Joe’s many wise sayings was “19th century quilters made quilts from an idea not a pattern.” I really enjoyed learning more about his process and even seeing one of the quilts currently being stitched.

Joe’s workflow for creating his own CNC stitching patterns ties in very well to what I’ve been learning about digital embroidery through the Digital Fabrication Residency. I’m itching to experiment with it!


The Pacific International Quilt Festival is the largest quilt show on the West Coast. I went to see Calavera on display along with 800 other quilts…I had never been to a bonafide quilt show before and it was quite a sight to see!

There were so many quilts of all kinds of freaky stitching. I saw a wide range of traditional and modern quilts. This was a quilt with a felted top that caught my eye since it broke the rectilinear norm:

seeing this in person never gets old!

Speaking of quilts…

No trip of mine to San Jose is complete without quilting a sizable quilt top at TechShop San Jose. They have a nifty HandiQuilter Longarm Machine that’s a lot of fun to use. This picture inspired my second large-scale quilt:

I mapped out the pavement pattern and drew out the roots from a bird’s eye view.

The pavement pieces were lasercut out of thrift store clothes. I used the CNC vinyl cutter to make a large pattern for the tree root component. Instead of the blade attachment, I used the pen plotter.

This is a sneak peak of the quilting process I embarked upon in San Jose:

I’m still figuring out how to finish the edges. I’d like to try something other than a straight edge square. 

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About mitchcollective

MITCH Collective is a community-driven catalyst promoting creativity in the Ohio Valley. MITCH Collective enriches Martins Ferry, Ohio and nearby towns by: -inviting artists, writers, and musicians to experience the beauty and creative potential of the area while creating new work and interacting with local residents through the residency program. -inspiring a historically economically depressed area by teaching new skills and ideas that will help foster new problem solving approaches for challenges that face the community. -collaborating with nonprofit and municipal organizations in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to bring innovative, interdisciplinary projects to life. Facilities include printmaking, screen printing, sewing, quilting, and bookbinding. Visit www.mitchcollective.org for more information.
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