Sunday, January 28, 2018

Islas Canarias finished

It's done! This is my travel art quilt of the Canary Islands.
Islas Canarias Art Quilt

I started this project on a cruise to the Canary Islands and other destinations in Spain.

I didn't expect it, but the Islas Canarias stole my heart. 😊 As I mentioned in my last post, the islands are now on my bucket list of places to visit (for at least a few weeks!)

I've had a great time finishing this baby. All of the embroidery represent places on three of the Islas Canarias: Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote. As you'll see, each island is very different.

Gran Canaria
Playa de las Canteras, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

We walked around Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, from the port to the Playa de las Canteras. This is a 3 kilometer beach with a lovely promenade, hotels, stores and cafés. We stopped in a restaurant for café con leche while a quick storm passed through and ended up staying for an amazing homemade pizza.

This is an embroidery of the promenade and the slightly stormy Atlantic Ocean. I also included a palm tree, although the water behind it is calmer.

I added some poinsettias since they were found growing in many parks. I don't think I've ever seen them grow in a garden, especially in January!

Palm tree and calm water

Poinsettia flowers on Las Palmas de Gran Caneria

Parque Nacionale del Teide

Our second stop on the islands was Tenerife. There is so much to see and do, but on this trip, I decided to focus on the natural aspects of the islands. Our tour was to the Parque Nacionale del Teide.

On the way to the park, we drove through the Corona Forestal, a protected forest of Canarian Pines that are endemic to Tenerife. The trees can survive forest fires and volcano eruptions through their fireproof bark. After such a fire, the tree trunk will continue to grow after a few years.

You can read about the red bugloss plant in my previous post (see Related Links).

Canarian pine on Tenerife
Red bugloss plant in winter


Lanzarote has a radical landscape because of the volcano eruptions that lasted six years from 1730 to 1736, and then a smaller one in 1824. It's really amazing to see the destructive force of a volcano, as well as the perseverance of the inhabitants of the island. They have adapted and have succeeded in working in this new environment.
El Diablo de Timanfaya

As part of the tour of the Parque Nacionale de Timanfaya, the guide takes you around three stations that highlight the geothermal energy of the dormant volcano. The fire in the quilt depicts one of the stations where straw burns brightly from the underground heat.

The image next to the fire is based on the metal sculpture known as El Diablo de Timanfaya. This scupture was designed by the great Lanzarote artist César Manrique.

César Manrique had a huge influence on his home island. The white buildings that are traditional to the island, are also a part of the government's policies to preserve the original look of the island. On my next visit, I will spend much more time seeing Manrique's creations.

The last two images below illustrate the wine industy of Lanzarote and the lichen covered lava rocks.

Before the devastating volcano eruptions, Lanzarote had a lot of agriculture, including wine production. After the eruptions, it was discovered that the soil underneath the volcano ash was still good for agriculture and that the volcano ash acted as insulation to keep water in the soil.

Because of the wind conditions on the island, they started sheltering their vines in man-made depressions that are partially protected by rocks. In our tour, we visited La Geria winery that makes lovely sweet wine.

I chose to depict lichen on the lava rock because it is the first thing that grows after a volcano eruption. The lava rock that I used comes from a necklace that I purchased. I created lichen to cover it by placing a couple of pieces of wool fibre between 2 small pieces of Sulky Solvy water soluble stabilizer, and then FMQ it with various colours of silk thread.

Wine growing in Lanzarote and lichen covered lava rock
To finish it off, I decided to write the name of the islands (in Spanish) at the top of the quilt. As much as I like the black fabric with yellow polka dots, it needed a little something to liven it up. The letters are cut from fabrics that I had brought on the trip and were then raw-edge appliquéd. I used some of the green olivine gemstones (peridot) found on Lanzarote to add the dot to the "i".

I moved the sun to the top left corner of the piece and then added a little needle felting underneath to separate it from the letters and add a little whimsy. While I was at it, I felted some of the same wool fibers inside the embroidery of the fire.
Top half of the Islas Canarias art quilt
What I learned

Bottom half of the quilt
  • I had an awesome time making this art quilt. It was fun to decide what to put on it to depict the islands and then to figure out how to do it. I used my notes, some of our pictures, the internet, as well as the many postcards that I bought for inspiration.
  • It's the first time that I used the Solvy Sulky water soluble stabilizer. I've been wanting to make something like this for ages. It was super easy and fast to make. I'll be using this technique again!
  • All of the fabrics, except for the backing and the binding, came with me on the trip. I did have to dig into my scrap bags for more polka dot fabric for the binding. 
  • Since I had a finished edge on the top and bottom of the quilt, I decided to create a separate backing and batting piece that is attached to the quilt top through the quilting. I've done this before on my Woven Landscape (see Related Links). 
    • I measured the back of the quilt top, then cut the batting to roughly that size and a backing that was a couple of inches larger on all sides.
    • I then wrapped the backing around the batting edges and sewed around it. I did have to cut and re-stitch one of the sides to adjust the backing/batting piece. 
    • When the backing was the right size and didn't show from the front of the quilt, I pinned the backing to the front and FMQ around the blocks, appliqué and embroidery. Finally, I FMQ over the binding to ensure that everything would stay together.

Related Links

Project Details
Islas Canrias art quilt

Islas Canarias 

11" x 12"

Materials: cotton, wool roving, lava rock, peridot, wool fibre, cotton and silk thread, Sulky Solvy water soluble stabilizer, embroidery floss

Techniques: hand piecing, appliqué, needle felting, embroidery (stem stitch, running stitch, Pekinese stitch) free motion quilting


  1. Your travel journal is amazing!

    1. Thanks Suzanne. It was the perfect way to commemorate the trip!

  2. What a great way to document your travels. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!

    1. Thanks Cynthia. I really hope to keep doing this. It was also great to be working on it during the trip. That adds a lot to it!

  3. Such a cool idea- I love how it turned out!

    1. Thank you! I am really happy with how it turned out.

  4. A great trip and a great way to remember it (beyond the photos and postcards and other souvenirs). Claire aka knitnkwilt

    1. Thanks Claire. I think that it's even better than the postcards and photos since it's now on my wall and brings back happy memories every day :-)

  5. What a wonderful way to remember the terrific places you visited - well done!

    1. Thanks so much Susan, and the bonus was that it was fun to make!

  6. Hello Andrée,
    This is a fabulous quilt, you have packed so many memories into it. The fact that you have incorporated the lava rock bead and olivine makes it extra special.
    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!
    Love, Muv

    1. Thanks Muv. You would have laughed to see me frantically looking for a souvenir that I could incorporate into the quilt :-)

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks Gosia. It really was a great trip. I hope to go back one day!


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