Monday, December 21, 2015

Paper Pieces

I was recently in Paducah, KY, for a quilting retreat with friends. We made a stop at Paper Pieces, a shop (and on-line store) for paper piecing supplies. Before I get into this post, I just want you to know I am not in any way being compensated for this write-up. I am just a happy customer (and my friends tell me an enabler). The owner and staff were VERY friendly, informative, and welcoming. The shop itself is small but well stocked with all your paper piecing needs. I bought the coolest things.

First, I purchased a great portable work table. Here are the pictures from their website (although they really don’t do the table justice—mine is cuter).

This thing is ingenious. It tilts, it has a place for three spools of thread, a little magnet to hold your needles, a cloth cover along with a heat-proof cover for ironing, and the cloth cover even has a little pocket on it. When all the covers are taken off, sandpaper has been added to the top. That feature is great for holding your fabric in place while tracing pattern pieces. It even tilts. One of the best things about it is that it is made in the USA. This is a well thought out piece.

My other purchase was a small ring-type cutter for cutting thread.

The owner of the shop told us this cutter was originally made for cutting fishing line, but the fisherman's wife used it for cutting her sewing threads when she couldn’t find her scissors. She liked it SO much she gave cutters to her friends, and they all loved it too. I plan to use it when traveling. I figure it will be much easier to get to than scissors when I’m sewing in the car AND I can use it on a plane. The cutter rings come in black or pink.


I wanted to buy lots of things at the shop but didn’t since I will be working “forever” on my big hexagon project. If you ever get to Paducah, stop by. If not, you can always shop online here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

What's in a Name?

I REALLY have trouble coming up with names for my pieces, and I struggled with the name for my latest piece. You can see the quilt in this blog post. Here are a couple of detail pictures. (I'm happy I decided to hand quilt this piece.)

I asked friends (who came up with some very good ideas--"Poppy Daze" was my favorite), I did some research, and I thought about it A LOT. I looked for synonyms for "poppy," but I didn't think "opium," "drug," "brown stuff," "opiate," "heroin," or "morphine" were appropriate. While doing some research, I read about how the poppy was the inspiration for a famous poem and was touched by the story of how the poppy is used as a remembrance for fallen soldiers. I thought I had stumbled upon something I could work with here.

"The sight of these delicate, vibrant red flowers growing on the shattered ground caught the attention of a Canadian soldier by the name of John McCrae. He noticed how they had sprung up in the disturbed ground of the burials around the artillery position he was in. It was during the warm days of early May 1915 when he found himself with his artillery brigade near to the Ypres-Yser canal. He is believed to have composed a poem following the death of a friend at that time. The first lines of the poem have become some of the most famous lines written in relation to the First World War."

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

The information in the previous paragraph comes from the website listed below. If you'd like more information about the poppy and how it became a symbol of rememberance check it out here--

So, I chose "Remembrance" as the name for my quilt. Not only does "Remembrance" refer to the poppy's being the recognized symbol of Remembrance for fallen soldiers, but (in this case) it is also a nod to Marie Webster--a "remembrance" of her accomplishments as a quilter and early female entrepreneur. She authored a book and had a business at a time when that was a rare occurrence for a woman. "Remembrance"--here's to you Marie Webster!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Finally Finished

I have been frantically working on a piece for the last two months. Thankfully, I had some quilt/art retreats in those months that allowed me the concentrated work time to finish it. "Remembrance" was made in response to a call for entry for the regional SAQA exhibition, Dialogues: Contemporary Responses to Marie Webster Quilts to be held at the Indiana Museum of Art early next year.

According to the SAQA website, the following is the exhibition concept: "Artists are asked to submit work that responds to the early 20th century quilts made by Marie Daugherty Webster (1859-1956). Webster’s quilts were inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and represented a fresh and innovative approach to quilt design. Since then, the world has changed dramatically. Our experiences, perceptions, ideas and art have been influenced by wars and political upheaval, by the changing roles of women, by globalization and environmentalism, and by extraordinary advances in science and technology. We invite you to respond to a single Webster quilt or to the group as a whole – specifically those designed in the early 1900s – with work that reflects the times we live in: how do we, in the early 21st century, express ourselves artistically? Your artist’s statement must cite the connection you are making to a particular Webster quilt or quilts."

I didn't go into the work with anything political, environmental, cultural, or scientific in mind. I looked, primarily, at her style and design sense. Her style and mine could not be more different, so coming up with a design that was influenced by her work and still stayed true to mine proved difficult. I like bold color and bold shapes. She used (primarily) VERY traditional designs, lots of flowers, and pastel colors. The one thing we have in common is the hand quilting. There is NOTHING that gives you the look of hand quilting. I bought her book, researched her quilts, and still struggled to find an inspiration; I kept going back to her Poppy quilt. You can see it here.

The thing I liked the most about it was the "flow" and symmetry of the central poppy medallion. While I am drawn to symmetry (as most people are), I don't like too much of a good thing, and I kept this in mind while making my piece. When you look at mine, you will notice that it is not (intentionally) EXACTLY symmetrical. I'm showing the quilts side by side so (hopefully) you can see how her work inspired my piece.

(The picture above is deceptive--Marie's quilt is a full-size quilt; mine is about the size of her central medallion.) My background is solid white and is HEAVILY hand quilted. I took this photo of my quilt with my phone; I guess I didn't realize there was a big shadow on it till I'm looking at the photo now. (I'm not seeing anyting very well these days; I have to have eye surgery in January--long story.)
In my next post about this piece, I'll tell you how I came upon the name for my quilt and a bit more about the exhibit.