Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This Old Map

A map project has been pinned in a corner of the design wall for over a year. Sigh. While ideas about my mother and family are swirling through my brain I also "need" to finish this project which started in a workshop with Valerie Goodwin at Empty Spools. Well, actually it started in a one-day workshop with her at my guild almost three years ago. Definitely past time to get it moving.

As an architect, Valerie uses multiple perspectives in her presentations which inspire her layered techniques in art. My map alternates between aerial and side views, expansive and close-up. At least, it does in my imagination. Getting it to fabric is the challenge.

Coit Tower map quilt in progress
I took her class with a friend. We were both excited beyond measure by the ideas spawned in Valerie’s class. I thought I was working on the lowest layer. Only as it neared completion did I realize the water layer is further “behind.” I’m unsure how to layer these overlapping regions without holes. That’s where it froze. No. That’s where I froze.

So I am determined to work on each layer individually and postpone the decision of how they mesh. This is not a bed quilt. It won’t matter how many layers I create nor how they are sewn. And the idea has been pushing at my psyche for a year. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s a flop. Well, I’ve experienced that before and survived.

Did you catch Maria Shell's recent post about the road to her summer home? Another map quilt.

I read this quote on Pamela’s blog recently:
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power or time.” Mary Oliver

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Public Parks, Private Gardens, and my Roses

Public Parks, Private Gardens at The Met exposits the development of gardening in France between the 1789 Revolution and World War I. Expansive green spaces were created to ensure the "pleasures of the king would be the pleasures of the people." With renewed interest in flowers and the common man, outdoors became places of leisure and inspiration. Is it any wonder artists moved their easels    outdoors, too?

Surprise! Wasn't this work at the Art Institute of Chicago last month? No; this is the final study Seurat made before his masterpiece. What a treat to see it again... with the same painted inner border.

Study for "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, 1884.

According to the information card, the Monet family was in their back yard where Claude worked on the flower beds when Edouard Manet dropped by and started painting them - and their chickens. Before he finished setting up, Auguste Renoir came over, borrowed some of Edouard's supplies, and started his own study which is at the National Art Gallery. Claude is not in Auguste's painting because he'd quit gardening and started his own picture of Edouard. An early example of groups working on a common challenge just like quilters today.

The Monet Family in their Garden at Argenteuil by Edouard Manet, 1874.

There were several Cassatt's including one of her earliest plein air paintings of her beloved sister, Lydia. I love the way her brushstrokes changed from Lydia's delicate face, to broader details of her clothing to the sweeping strokes of the garden.

Lydia Crocheting the Garden at Marly by Mary Cassatt, 1880.

Fashion icon, Empress Eugenie, was painted as if she was outdoors. The detailing of her clothing is exquisite but the background looks more like a stage flat. Results like this pushed artists to move their work outdoors.

The Empress Eugenie by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1854

Altogether this was an excellent showcase of the style variations of studio versus extemporaneous painting in daylight. In some ways it mirrors planned versus improvisational quilting. What do you think?

The day after we returned I became ill and still have little energy. I can't do much except think about the quilt on the design wall. Where should the stems lie? Do they need buds? How realistic do I want to be? {Since friends must point out the rose leaf structure my answer is, "Not very."}

Adding leaves to the rose stems on Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses


Then I cut some leaves. And pondered. And moved a few. And added more leaves.


Moving leaves on the rose stems on Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses

It still needs some tweaking. Once I turn the edges everything will be smaller so more leaves may be in order. We'll see.

The quilt looks amazingly different as the details are filled in.

From the first layout of Coin sheets...

Random light blue Coins form a background 


To the addition of pieced roses...

Quilt with Chinese Coins background and pieced roses

To the thought of stems.

Adding stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt
Who'd a thought?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Met: History Refused to Die

How could I not call in at The Met? It's overwhelmingly large so my best plan is to choose only two exhibits to view per day. This visit included History Refused to Die and Public Parks, Private Gardens.

The former is a collection of paintings, sculpture, and quilts by contemporary African American artists from the southeastern US. Partly due to depressed economic conditions, they all feature discarded/recycled/found objects in their work. They often address slavery and post-Reconstruction oppression but also use African aesthetics and patterning to convey a sophisticated synchronicity. When we actually listen to other people's points of view we broaden our own understanding.

Lucy T Pettway's map quilt came first - the only Gee's Bend quilt that seems to be intentionally pictorial. She placed the old Pettway mansion at the top with four slave cabins below. Green fields fill the left while the blue Alabama River flows between red dirt banks on the right. This improvisational map should inspire us all. I think she pieced herself into the first slave house. Do you see a woman with lots of black hair in orange dress... or is it just my imagination?

Housetop and Bricklayer with Bars quilt by Lucy T Pettway, 1955.

Loretta Pettway made a series of three quilts of the same gray, blue, and olive recycled clothing in the purest form of the Housetop pattern, although the original inspiration may have been center medallion quilts of early 19th century. The movement of the dark brown and bright blue round is quite intriguing. I keep thinking it's a single round. Nope, it's a spiral. Nope. Very clever.

Housetop quilt by Loretta Pettway, 1963. 

William Arnett began collecting Gee's Bend quilts after seeing this one draped on a woodpile. You've seen it on the cover of his Gee's Bend quilt book and I got to see it close up for quite a while. The orange/yellow/brown fabrics are corduroy while the outer border is used denim, probably from work clothes.

Strip Medallion quilt by Annie Mae Young, 1976.

Pants backs were  preferable in quilts because the fronts were usually worn out from kneeling while farming. Old quilts were occasionally reused as quilt filling. Fortunately this one did not become the batting for a newer model although there are several worn spots that have been preserved with tulle.

Blocks and Strips with work-clothes quilt by Lucy Mingo, 1959.

Somehow this reminds me of a Chinese Coins quilt. The colors simply vibrate with excitement.

Medallion quilt by Loretta Pettway, 1960. 

Joe Minter evokes the forced labor African Americans from cotton before the Civil War to chain gangs in the 20th century, titling it Four Hundred Years of Free Labor. Consider how much easier it is to enrich yourself when you don't pay your workers... or don't pay them a living wage. Are we experiencing similar situations today?

Four Hundred Years of Free Labor by Joe Minter, 1995.

On the way out I spotted this exquisite work by Malian-born Abdoulaye Konate who uses textiles as his primary medium. He sewed long strips and arranged them as a graceful falls in tribute to the indigo dye central to West African aesthetics.

Bleu no.1 by Abdoulaye Konate, 2014.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Cartography of Quilts

The trip to New York was unexpected but once set, I quickly made an ordered list of all the museums and shows in town. All went well until we arrived home. I caught some bug so instead of working on map quilts I'll share some photos while I recuperate.

The first stop was the Self-Taught Genius Gallery, an offshoot of the American Folk Art Museum over in Queens. The very modest entrance is highlighted by a small red awning.

Self-Taught Genius Gallery entrance

Ring the bell, walk upstairs to a single gallery for the well-curated exhibit, Handstitched Worlds: The Cartography of Quilts. Sarah Margolis-Pineo curated the exhibit and was on hand the when I visited. She is a writer with a deep appreciation of quilting. Reading the first paragraph of her description I was struck by how her words focus attention on our six-month Map invitation.

"Looking across city blocks and quilt blocks, roadways and seams, one can see a visible kinship between quilt making and cartography. Both are built upon established systems that use color, pattern, and symbols to create whole compositions from a network of interlocked parts. Quilts and maps are also infused with history and memory - similarly living records of traditions, experiences, relationships, beliefs, and future aspirations. What can be gleaned from a bit of patchwork cut from a wedding dress, castoff feed sack, or commemorative flag? How are personal, political, cultural, and spiritual ideals inscribed onto a quilt's surface, creating a network of roadways and landmarks that illustrate the quilt maker's world and his or her place within it?" - Sarah Margolis-Pineo


Self-Taught Genius Gallery in Queens

Several crazy quilts were displayed, including the only physical recreation of a map.  As curator, Sarah also incorporated contemporary paper maps and a wooden wall sculpture in the exhibit. A political crazy quilt mapped/highlighted critical events of Grover Cleveland's 1884 presidential election.

Map quilt by Anonymous, 1886. Possibly VA. Silk and cotton velvets and brocade with embroidery.

The quilter showcased a variety of beautiful stitches throughout. The couched ribbon for the Mississippi River and its tributaries was particularly effective.

Detail of Mississippi River system on Map quilt by Anonymous, 1886.
Susan Arrowood mapped biblical events that were significant to her religious beliefs in her quilt, The Sacret Bibel.

"Sacret Bibel" quilt top by Susan Arrowood, possibly West Chester, PA 1875-95. 

She inked explanations near some of the scenes.

Detail of "Sacret Bibel" quilt top by Susan Arrowood, possibly West Chester, PA 1875-95. 

This redwork spread covered with animals and  soldiers might illustrate a political or cultural map. Every man carried a some kind of weapon - sword, gun, rifle... {If there'd been more women leaders, would we have had fewer wars?} The coal scuttles of Christmas 1902 reprise the same story we see today - the rich man's is full while the poor man is empty.

Detail of In Honor Shall Wave spread by Anonymous, 1902. Yonkers, NY.

Textile manufacturing was critical to the development of America. Indeed, it was a flashpoint of the Revolution. The Hewson-Center quilt showcases many elegant cotton fabrics including the center block which was printed by John Hewson of Philadelphia.


Hewson-Center quilt with multiple borders by Anonymous. Center block printed by John Hewson, 1790-1810. 

The exhibit included a beautiful pink, green and white Whig Rose quilt in addition to this Pennsylvania spread appliqued on cheddar mapping her life on the family farm,

Applique Bedcover by Sarah Ann Garges, 1853. Doylestown, PA. Cotton, silk, wool, and wool embroidery.

and this stunning silk Log Cabin - another mapping of fabrics.

Log Cabin quilt, Barn Raising variation possibly by Sarah Lamb King (1818-82) US. Silk.

Look at all these plaids and stripes.

Detail of Log Cabin quilt, Barn Raising variation possibly by Sarah Lamb King.
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Bars 4 Quilt by Mistake

There are some days I just out-smart myself and this was one of them. Does that happen to you, too? Way back in November I pre-cut strips for Tara Faughnan's workshop. It was a brilliant idea. Really. You see, I had another quilt in mind that used squares the same size as her starting strips. Cutting for both gave me all the fabric choices but less weight to carry into and out of the workshop, and would let me be ahead for my own idea.

But with all the family travails, I forgot this plan. While cleaning and culling the sewing room I found the stack of strips. You may remember I frequently cut too much fabric. And here were all these solid WOFs. I was so annoyed with myself {When will I ever learn to cut approximately the right amount?} but thought I could quickly make one more Bars quilt just to use these up. They all look very similar since only the color choices seem to change so this time I cut the bars much narrower. I did remember liking the dark version of Bars 1 and tried to create that.

Bars 4 quilt in progress
Here it is in progress. As I put the last set on the design wall I remembered what I intended to do with these fabrics. Now they are gone. Darn it.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Making Leftover Blocks Work in a Baby Quilt

Leftover blocks from the Color Study Enough to make a 5 x 5 block baby quilt.

Leftover quilt blocks

Actually, I can make it a bit larger because there are leftover blocks. {I just kept cutting those scraps. My usual M. O.} With three “holes” to fill, I pinned possible pairs to test the choices . Halfway down on the right you can see I pinned three strips to decide which would work best. In the end, I replaced a white background print in another block with the light green... so four new blocks in all.

Previewing the last few blocks for a scrap quilt

Here's the finished top: 6 x 6. Smaller quilts can be more difficult because there's less room to maneuver. And doubly difficult when these are the leftovers. Adding a few specific blocks to fit gaps can make it work. Hopefully it doesn't look like "dregs."

Color Study Chinese Coins 2 baby quilt top

DH took me to NYC last week. Surprise visit so I flew from a different city because I’d been helping family across Texas.  My flight was cancelled at the last minute - my bags were checked. Trying to figure out how to manage best I decided to fly to Boston and spend the night with DD then take the train to town. What a lovely upset. I’ve seen all my children and grandchildren this week and then got to relax with DH, visit museums and take in shows. Who could ask for anything more?

Lots of photos, lots more map ideas swirling but not clear.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

AHIQ #35: Maps


I thought the next AHIQ invitational was ready but have found myself repeatedly drawn to a new idea. Whether my mother’s passing made me consider past events or all the journeys by plane and car allowed time for reflection, traveling through history and over these long distances refocused me on diaries, connections and maps. I propose Maps and Mappings for our next six months’ study.

"Maps ultimately testify to our belief in the value of exploration, whether the compass is pointed inward or out. To do so is to appreciate the value of the mind as a dynamic vessel of exploration; it does not travel according to the limits of the compass rose, but moves by association. And when the mind comes to rest, when it ceases its orientating leaps and shunts and association, we find ourselves back where we started, where Here intersects Now." Stephen S Hall

Wikipedia defines a map as "a symbolic depiction emphasizing relationships between elements of some space, such as objects, regions or themes" that  "may represent any space, real or imagined, without regard to context or scale."

Road maps, geologic maps, treasure maps,

Texas Geologic Map, UT Austin 1992

landscape and house plans.

Eichler home floor plan

Instead of large-scale geography, it could also be the location of genes on a potato chromosome ...

 Schematic representation of the shape of DNA and the base pairs from PotatoGENE website

Or an imaginary or spiritual journey. My mother had an old needlework picture of the human heart. Not the Valentine heart but a realistic model with all the veins and arteries showing. Religious virtues were inscribed in different regions. I'm not sure where that picture went. She did have some downright scary art.

It could be as simple as a garden or as complex as the paths of every person in a city. Ed Fairburn combines portraits with maps. It could be as small as a pinhead or as wide as the cosmos.

The Milky Way Collapsing by Kukicho-san

"A map is a means for discovery, to be used for any kind of territory. It is a way to get from A to B, sometimes by way of Z. Most simply, a map is a cry from the wilderness, saying 'I am here!'" Katherine Harmon

Maps can relate time and frequency. David Ramsey’s post on cartographic mapping  revitalizes all my the timelines we made in grade school. Who knew they could convey so much? Many bloggers map their label frequencies on the sidebars. The more frequently the label is used, the larger that phrase appears.

Want to read up on mapmaking?

Map Art Lab by Jill Berry and Linden McNielly (2004) is a series of creative weekly exercises for mixed media. Only a few directly address quiltmaking. This book is also suitable for teenagers.

Map Art Lab by Jill Berry and Linden McNielly

Alicia Merrett has made map quilts since 2008. Her book, Mapping the Imagination (2014), is out of print but she has three Contemporary Quilt Demonstration videos on YouTube. You can find examples of her work in her gallery.

Valerie Goodwin's Art Quilt Maps (2013) specifically addresses making map quilts reflecting her training as an architect and professor.

Art Quilt Maps by Valerie S Goodwin
Her work involving imaginary and real places can be seen at:
Other artists working with maps as the foundation of their painting, collage, or quilting include
"Maps have been used to demonstrate position, location... but they can also teach history. They can be used to hold stories and feelings about a place." Diane Savona

This Pinterest board has more links but is certainly not inclusive.

The opportunity to express history and feelings in patchwork, collage, stitching, painting, and stamping makes me believe this could be an interesting challenge. I hope you'll join us.

Also posted on AdHocImprovQuilts blog.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 21, 2018

CCVIII: Strewing Roses

This is where I left off with Chinese Coins VIII. You may remember, these were cut for a guild demonstration that was delayed due to family issues. I decided the light blues would make a good background for the roses I'd always wanted to applique. These roses, though, are pieced.

They need stems and leaves IMO. My first idea was to make a partial wreath with the stems but it didn't work. {And I forgot to take a photo.}

Quilt with Chinese Coins background and pieced roses

Next I ran all the stems in the same direction but don't like it much better..

Testing stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt

Third try put them in a triangle. Better.

Testing more stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt

Adding some length to the stems. They are turned under yet.

Adding length to stems on the roses of the Chinese Coin quilt

Next steps: turn the stems, and add leaves.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chinese Coin Color Study

Flotsam and jetsam. Did you know they mean different things? Flotsam is marine debris accidentally lost overboard while jetsam is tossed when the ship and crew are in peril - usually to lighten the load.

Sorting and clearing my stash located lots of flotsam - stuff I hadn't deliberately tucked away but was too small to find easily. It took going through the fabrics individually to bring them to the surface. And much of it needs to be jettisoned. It weighs me down. As a quilter, however; it's very hard to let the “precious” pieces go. It all becomes precious quickly - even when I've tossed it out of the box. {Gollum, gollum.}

Projects like Scrap Vortex and these darling Christmas balls make me feel terrible for not using everything myself... even though I'll never get through it all... even though it weighs me down physically and psychically. Currently my largest section is solids {which I collected for last year's workshops.} Of course there's a huge pile of printed scraps. The solids are large pieces so more difficult to discard {although I could cut each in half and not miss it.} But scraps dance in my dreams.

I decided to make a very quick one-block quilt that might resemble Chinese Coins {because it's very hard it is to actually discard/sell/give away fabric.} Just four tiny coins from each...


Pairing solids with prints - all from the discard pile. I wish I could say this was all the discards but it's barely a dent.

Coins cut and paired

Once I started sewing many of the pairs didn't work out. Each time one looked uninspiring, I left it out as I sewed the next sets so I could see if the pattern and solid paired better with something else. I wanted both continuity and contrast but wasn’t sure how to define that.

Here’s the first finished {sewn} combinations.

Simple color study block mixing a print and a solid fabric

Moving the blocks around led to this...


Simple color study block mixing a print and a solid fabric
Which cried for another column. Back to the never-ending scrap bag.


Simple color study block mixing a print and a solid fabric
The sewn top emerged by the end of the day. .

Color Study Chinese Coin quilt top

This mix of solids and prints reflects ‘me’ more than all solids. It’s simply a one-block quilt that looks like a Chinese Coin variation even though it's made from blocks. That's a good thing because my guild demonstration is rescheduled for mid-September.

Just as I queued this up for posting I saw Cynthia’s version here. Interesting differences when sashing is added. Doubly interesting that we had such similar ideas independently.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bars Quilt Finished

The Bars quilt came from a workshop with Tara Faughnan. While I classify it as a Chinese Coins {which I certainly already knew how to create} learning how Tara uses solids might push me into including more solids in my own work.

The top has been sewn for months but I finally had time to quilt it. {Funny how much easier Bars 2 and 3 were to quilt. Oh, the joys of baby quilts.} Just simple straight line quilting with the walking foot again. This is 50-weight thread is slightly heavier than the 60-weight I previously used. The difference is unnoticeable in straight line work but becomes more apparent when stitching over previous lines in free-motion work. I hope this thread will hold up better as single lines.

Bars quilt with solid fabrics

My biggest takeaway from Tara's class was pairing colors by theme - not necessarily value. I mentioned before that we each created a personal sheet with color snippets for each prompt. Many people cut out one-inch squares or more for each; I pared the narrowest sliver from the selvedge for each. Hey, I might need that fabric!

The sheet is such a wonderful tool I pinned it on my cork board for easy reference.

Continuing to use my stash, I pulled three different shades of yellow, gold, and chartreuse Metler thread for quilting. Unless your nose is right on the quilting line the slight difference are hardly visible.

Bars quilt binding 

The back uses three larger remnants.

Back of Bars quilt shows parallel quilting lines

Previous posts:
1. Bars workshop
2. Sewing the top

Quilt Details
Size: 60" x 64.5"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: yellow, gold, and chartreuse Metler cotton thread
Quilting: Straight lines with walking foot

Two years ago I stored my fabric in one small and two larger boxes. The large ones became too heavy for me so I purchased four smaller boxes and transferred the stash. {DH took the big boxes off my hands and yes, he increased his junkheap  collection of important artifacts and tools.} My verbal plan was to whittle my stash down; obviously that wasn't the real plan. The fabric drought ended; I bought a bunch of colors that weren't in the stash. Like me, my stash has fattened over the years. But I have a plan...

Enjoy the day, Ann