Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What do you collect?

Yesterday we saw Siobhan and her wonderful majolica game pie dish, collected by her mother at the end of WWII. I was looking at the few pieces of majolica I've got, and thinking about the many things I've collected. Quilts, of course, but small, quirky things, too.

Whenever I go out to have a beer, I grab the paper beer coaster. My collection comes primarily from Pacific Northwest microbreweries. Some are warped, and some stained with dark beer, but that's OK. I like seeing the stains because they're from beer I enjoyed. Some of them are remarkably creative and colorful, particularly the McMenamin's coasters.

If I had to limit the collection to just one chain of microbreweries, it would have to be McMenamin's, a favorite in Oregon and the Northwest. I discovered McMenamin's shortly after I arrived in Oregon in 1998, and have enjoyed visiting the various pubs in renovated buildings filled with exuberant works by local artists.

So, that's one thing I collect, but there are many other little collections in progress. I'll write about them at some point, but what I'd really like to know is, what do you collect? How long have you collected? Do you collect more than one type of object? Post your comments below!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Yankee Quilter Appears on Roadshow...with Majolica!

Hooray for my friend Siobhan, aka Yankee Quilter! She appeared on Monday night's episode of Antiques Roadshow!! But she didn't have a quilt- she had a stunning piece of majolica.

Her mother worked with the Red Cross in England during World War II, and purchased the piece a few weeks before returning home. There was a receipt, and she paid 12 pounds 10 shillings for it. Appraiser Nicholas Dawes called the price "a tidy sum" for the time, and said she must have saved up her money.

The piece had been called a Minton covered casserole by the seller, but it was actually something much more desirable. It was a covered game pie dish by George Jones & Co., made in 1873. It was just gorgeous, and in very good condition with just one minor repair and one minor loss.

Collectors are often willing to overlook minor condition issues with majolica, because it's remarkable when such a fragile piece survives intact. With all the detail on the game pie dish, that only one chick's head was missing was truly amazing. Other than the minor condition issues, it really was perfect. It was also perfectly charming!

Siobhan looked happy with the value, and said her mother would be happy with it, too. I was delighted to see her on the show looking so smart and adorable, and beaming about her mother's prize. Congratulations, Siobhan!! Well done!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

My quilts (so far)

My first quilt top, still a top, c. 2006
Over ten years ago I experimented with sewing by making a quilt block out of Hawaiian shirt batiks. It was terrible.

bad quilt block, c. 2002
Clearly, I had no sewing talent. I put the block away and forgot about it. Several years later, I got the idea that I'd make a denim quilt in the improvisational style of a Gee's Bend quilt - since I'd never be able to afford one - and in a day I cranked out the warpy, wavy top seen above and as the wallpaper of this blog. I wasn't exactly sure I knew how to finish it, and the whole thing seemed like a disaster, so I put it away and forgot about it. I pulled it out a few years later and came up with a plan to quilt it, but still haven't done it. Maybe this year.

"Escape from Palm Beach" 2012
I used some of the same batiks seen in my first quilt block to make my first completed quilt, "Escape from Palm Beach" for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. Later in the year, I bought the quilt back, so I have it. Within the next couple weeks, I did a few other quilts, "Happy Place" for my friend Sarah, "Julie Silber" (for Julie) and "House of Wonky" for the Small Wonders Challenge of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

"Happy Place" 2012
"House of Wonky" 2012
"Julie Silber" 2012
All three of those quilts are in new homes. I gave "Happy Place" to my friend Sarah; I gave "Julie Silber" to Julie when I met her in Bellingham at the Whatcom Museum- the quilt was made on her birthday; and "House of Wonky" sold to a person in California after winning the Viewer's Choice blue ribbon at Sisters.

"Marvelette" 2012
The next quilt was also for Sisters. It was called "Marvelette" and was made after show director Ann Richardson saw "House of Wonky" and invited me to be part of a new exhibit called "ManLand" for quilts made by men. The quilt needed to be larger than anything I'd ever made, so I stitched together large pieces of fabric until it was big enough, and got it long-arm quilted and bound. Both quilts were done to surprise my mother, who was visiting from Maine during the time of the quilt show, and yes, she was surprised!

"Wild-Eyed Susans" 2013
The latest two quilts have been on my blog during the last week, and both were started in Sisters during a workshop and retreat with Gwen Marston and Sue Spargo. "Wild-Eyed Susans" is my wool "Flower Power" challenge quilt for the Northwest Quilters annual guild challenge, and "Center Star" is my wink-and-a-nod to quilt history- a liberated rendition of a classic American quilt.

"Center Star" 2013
It's fun to look at this work as a group. Even though it really isn't a body of work, it's connected and shows a clear progression. The projects have gradually gotten more ambitious, and have drawn more inspiration from quilts, quiltmakers, and quilt history. At this time, I have just two projects I think of as UFOs- the denim quilt top at the top of this blog, and the one called "Oregon July" (below).

Friends have teased me about my no-UFO policy, but really, my college art background squelched the inclination to let visual projects sit for long. Even though I still need to get back to the denim top, I plan to do something about that this year. :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Center Star, 2013

Center Star, 2013
The Center Star quilt is finally bound. I wanted something very specific for the binding: narrow, 1/4" pieced rather than the standard 1/2" single-fabric binding. I chose this finish because I felt it would enhance the irregular edge rather than eating it up, but I didn't trust myself to get it done right in time for the NW Quilters show in a few weeks. So, I worked with a professional, guild mate Sylvia Gray, who also does sleeves for my antique and vintage quilts. The long-arm quilting was done by Tomme Fent, also to my exact specifications.

This quilt was started last November during a Liberated Medallion workshop with Gwen Marston in Sisters. It was my first quilting class, and first sewing class since the 7th grade. We had fun, and several of us spent the rest of the weekend together in the retreat with Sue Spargo, which is where I started the "Wild-Eyed Susans" quilt. It's nice to have both done within a few months of starting them, and they will be displayed at the NW Quilters 39th Annual Show in April.

More experienced quiltmakers roll their eyes when I say I have a no-UFO policy, but I'm going to try to stick to my guns. There are things I experimented with, which I'll never finish, but I don't consider them UFOs since I don't intend to finish them. At this time I have just a couple UFOs, and I'm not starting anything new until I finish one of them. The one I'd like to finish next is called Oregon July and the goal is to have it ready in time for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show this summer. It will be my eighth completed quilt.

next up: "Oregon July" in progress

Sunday, March 17, 2013

MIssissippi Bricks, c. 1950

There's something very modern about this quilt, even though it was most likely made in the 1950s or 60s. It came from an eBay seller in Mississippi, but that's all I know about it. The quilt is a traditional brick pattern, but the use of color and play of mostly solids with some plaids is very fresh. It's kinda wonky, not in the best condition, but it's art!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lucky Winner

I never win raffles, but at the Monday meeting of the Northwest Quilters I was the lucky winner of a beautiful little quilt made by guest speaker Terrie Linn Kygar.

Terrie makes wonderful quilts made of layers of fusible applique colored with melted crayons, and during the meeting she shared her quilts and did demonstrations of the coloring technique. It looks like a lot of fun!

When she saw which one I picked, she seemed pleased and said it was one of her favorites. I asked her to sign the quilt, and she did, in the lower right. Someone else said she should date it, so she added 2013.

Terrie has published a book called "Creative Quilts from Your Crayon Box" and it's worth getting just to see the pictures of her beautiful creations. For more details about the book and how to order it, click here.

Lucky me! I love this little quilt. I'll have to hang it up and enjoy it! Thank you, Terrie!! One last note: the Northwest Quilters 39th Annual Show will take place at the Portland Expo Center April 11-13. Don't miss it! For more information, click here.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lulu's Favorite New Toy

Lulu likes to fetch the yarn ball, just like a dog would
Forget the Rolex, and forget the mouse on the wire- Lulu has a new favorite toy. Its called the yarn ball, and it's a ball I made out of braided yarn, similar to what I used to create the vines on my "Wild-Eyed Susans" quilt. Yes, Lulu finally got to play with the yarn!

The funniest thing about this cat and the yarn ball is she fetches it just like a dog. When I roll it down the hallway leading to the front foyer, she chases after it and brings it back most of the time. Of course, when I tell her to fetch, she leaves the ball behind and pretends she doesn't know what I'm talking about. But I got a picture to prove she does it (at top). What a funny cat!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

finishing touches

I'm just putting the finishing touches on "Wild-Eyed Susans", my 2013 annual guild challenge quilt for the Northwest Quilters. It came together nicely, even though it was a bit of a struggle, and it seems photogenic. I just need to put a sleeve and label on the back, and it's done. Such a happy quilt!  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flower Power Challenge Quilt

It's done! I started this quilt last November during a Sue Spargo retreat in Sisters, and it had been sitting awhile. But with the deadline looming for the Northwest Quilters Guild challenge, I needed to finish it this weekend.

hand-braided binding - Lulu tried all weekend to get at it
At the last meeting I entered and told Kathleen Swick, the person in charge of this year's challenge quilts, that I'd try to have it done in time, and I didn't want to disappoint her.

It's my first wool quilt, first applique quilt, first hand-quilted quilt, and first Sashiko quilt, if you can call it that. More importantly, it's my first challenge quilt. I'd wanted to participate, and that was the only goal. The icing on the cake is it was fun. Lulu had fun watching, but was disappointed I wouldn't let her play with the fancy threads and yarn.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What am I working on?

Flowers! These are applique vintage stumpwork stars, and I thought they'd make great flowers. The centers are pom-poms, and the vines are braided yarn. It is 24" square, and I started it in the Sue Spargo retreat last fall in Sisters. The applique is almost done, and then I will quilt and finish it over the weekend.

I'm thinking about quilting it in emerald green pearl cotton, big stitches, something basic to unify the background a bit. Lulu is very interested in what I'm doing! She loves yarn!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

four non-cottons

Quiltmakers tend to love their cotton fabrics, and as a result, a majority of handmade quilts are made of cottons. Lately there seems to be a renewed interest in wools. That got me thinking about my favorite non-cotton quilts, and here are four. There's velvet, silk, wool, and polyester - four non-cottons.

All four quilts are visually sophisticated, and the characteristics of the fabric is what makes each quilt so successful. It's interesting to consider them as a group. It hadn't occurred to me before now. What's your favorite non-cotton material for making quilts?