25 March 2013

Progress: “Then / Now”

Here’s a look at my work in progress for the “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” piece. Part of the WTHM challenge is to use our own style and perspective to interpret an older quilt. 

I’m really not a gardener… at all.  The area around my house is decorated by what I call “Survival of the Fittest” plants. Whatever can survive on its own with no help from me.  I’ve managed to keep one Peace Lily (houseplant) alive for over 12 years, which is my greatest gardening-type accomplishment. Other than that, the only plants in my life come from a grocery store or via FTD.  My experience with tending flowers is to put them in a vase full of water. 

Tulips_WIPSo I decided that was where I should focus my ‘interpretation’. Plus, you know how I love a shiny object. I couldn’t resist the challenge to create (in fabric) the illusion of water with its surface distortion, the reflections and transparency of glass – how fun!

Ruth’s Flower Garden quilt is mostly blue and pink, with little yellow centers in all the hexagon “flowers”.  Maybe because we’re so close to Easter and springtime, I thought of tulips. I’ve always liked their clean lines and wide variety of colors.  I decided to go with a few pink and a few yellow. 

The bright green is all me.  It may not totally coordinate with my “Then” quilt, but that color makes me happy. Green makes me think of living gardens, plants, fresh vegetables, the first buds of spring.  It was a little sad to cover so much of Carol’s fabric, but I felt like the bouquet needed to fill the space.  And I think the green balances nicely against the mostly pink and burgundy background.

I have the bare bones of the fabric “structure” done. You can start to see the outline of the pitcher and the stems in the water.  It still needs a bit more definition.  But soon I’ll be moving on to the final stage – free motion quilting.  The next photo you see will probably be the finished piece.  Stay tuned!


12 March 2013

Work in Progress: “Then and Now”

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on curator duties for SAQA-CT “Local Color” like a full time job. This exhibition has been a goal for Diane Wright (co-curator and co-SAQA Rep) and me for almost 3 years. I’m happy to put in the hours and very excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel – the show opens May 4, 2013.

Still, planning, organizing, logistics… all this stuff is behind the scenes and invisible.  It’s all based on the trust that things will come together and work out in the future.  Being away from the studio so much, I miss that sense of getting something done that I can SEE. Right now.

So this weekend I did the whole “Do Not Disturb” and “Hold My Calls” and isolated myself on my little fabric island.  I let go of all other issues, doubts and questions, postcards, fees, schedules, show books, emails...  I just started stitching.

Ahhhh… the gentle chugging sound of my sewing machine.  I missed you, buddy.

The project I worked on was my interpretation of this quilt by Ruth Snow Bowen (1895-1983).  Ruth made over 300 quilts in her lifetime, all in the same pattern, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden”.  This one was made in 1981 when Ruth was 86 years old.  It’s about the size of a King Size bed, made with hundreds of 1.5” hexagon pieces – all hand cut, hand pieced and hand quilted.


My task is to create a companion piece to hang next to Bowen’s quilt at the Windham Textile & History Museum in Willimantic.  The show is called “Then and Now”, scheduled for January 2014.  Twelve fiber artists will interpret 12 antique quilts from the museum, using their own personal style and techniques.

Here’s where I started:

20130312_48A gorgeous hand dyed yard of fabric made by Carol R Eaton.  I bought it because it reminded me of a flower garden, and it had a similar color palette to Ruth’s quilt. 

But the more I looked at the fabric, the less I wanted to cut it up!

So I decided to use the whole thing, uncut. I referenced Ruth’s more traditional quilt by adding a white border, using a print with a tiny white-on-white floral pattern.

Next I began to stich in the background quilting. and stitch. and stitch. 

The whole thing is about 50” x 60” right now, all quilted and ready to be used as a background for the next stage. I filled in the white border with basic meandering quilt lines.  For the middle part using different pastel colored thread, I kind of went along with the petal-y, flower-y, organic shapes created in this fabulous ice-dyed fabric.


It’s easier to see the stitching from the back:


By the end of the second day, I was happy to be able to step back and take a look at my work.  Despite my red eyes and sore shoulders, I felt rejuvenated and relaxed.

Yea, progress! 


03 March 2013

Celebrating Connecticut with “Local Color”

I’m very excited to announce that 3 of my art quilts have been accepted into SAQA Connecticut’s juried exhibition “Local Color”.

Themel_SciCtrSeen here, Science Center was created with the Local Color show specifically in mind. 

My other 2 accepted pieces are Bundled Up and Blood Iris.

The Local Color show will premiere at Western CT State University (Danbury, CT) on May 4, 2013.  It will travel to several other venues including the Legislative Building in Hartford, and the Guilford Art Center.  More venues will be announced soon.

See SAQA-CT’s blog for more information and a complete list of exhibiting artists.