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! 



  1. Beautiful! I hope you post a few photos from the completed show.

  2. That fabric is a good choice for coordinating to Ruth's quilt. I can see hexagons in the hand-dyed fabric. Please do show when it is completed.

  3. What an honor to participate in the show and a beautiful interpretation you're creating. The fabric you've chosen is stunning! I know you will create something wonderful. Coincidental topic for this show, I thought your post was going to be about V9's latest challenge when I saw the title!

  4. Thank you, everyone! I will post some additional progress photos as I go along.
    Good point, Martha. But being so close to St. Patrick's Day, I'm inspired to celebrate my Irish heritage in the next VP9 quilt. Stay tuned.... :-)

  5. Isn't it wonderful to get back to the studio and let the rhythm of the creative process take over?! Thanks for all the hard work you and Diane are doing for the Local Color exhibit - lots of behind the scenes details that often goes unacknowledged.

    I'm thrilled you’re using the fabric I created! The color palette next to Ruth's is such a great fit. I can't wait to see the design as it progresses.

    Happy Creating!


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