February 29, 2016

Sailing Ships

I repaired a very, very worn basket quilt made in the 1880s or 90s.  It was so tattered that all I could do was put on a new back and stitch what was left to the new backing for support. 

The background and alternate blocks fabric was wonderful.  It's a conversation print with detailed masted sailing ships and anchors.  The designs are about 3/4" tall.  Here's one of the alternate blocks that was still intact.

Such a fun fabric!  I'm getting more and more into collecting conversation prints.

February 18, 2016

Button Heaven

For those of you, who are like me, totally addicted to Buttons, the Warther Museum is a must-see.  At the very least, it's an idea for what to do with all the button jars and boxes that I can't help myself from buying!

Here's the intro to the Button House section of the museum from the website:

"Freida Warther spent her life button collecting and amassed over 100,000 while creating a unique display of 73,282 buttons on the walls and ceilings of her button house in Dover, OH.

Freida began button collecting at the age of 10 and collected for the next 83 years. She collected about every type of button including: hand-painted ceramic buttons, Goodyear rubber buttons, pearl buttons, brass military buttons, celluloid buttons, calico buttons and even a button from Mrs. Lincoln's Inaugural Dress.

After her children were grown, Freida started laying her buttons out in her own unique designs and quilt patterns. Once the buttons were laid out, she sewed all the buttons onto the boards by hand.

The actual focus of the museum seems to be wood carving:

"The Warther wood carving musuem is the home to over 64 model trains all carved to exacting detail. Mooney Warther loved the steam engine and at the age of 28 he began carving the history of the steam engine. In addition there are numerous smaller wood carvings including, walking canes, plaques, and "whittlings" on display at the wood carving museum."

These two were certainly a creative and interesting couple!  The gallery has photos of both the carved trains and Frieda with her buttons.  I do love buttons!

February 13, 2016

Family History

Today marks what would be my mother's 100th birthday.  In honor of her and my dad, whose 100th I missed a few years ago, I'm posting these photos.

These portraits, taken shortly after their marriage in 1946, stood on my mom's dresser.

My mom was born and raised in Chicago.  I love this photo of my infant mom and my grandma, 1916.  Isn't my grandma's hat perfectly huge?

My mom, about age 3, and my grandma.  I always think this pose could have been painted by Mary Cassatt, such a lovely sense of motherhood and childhood.

My mom, about age 4 or 5, showing that her love of literature started at an early age.  This would be about 1921.

 I think this photo is also worthy of a painting.  It is captioned in the album:  Not a pose - snapped writing "pomes"

My dad was born and raised in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany.  Here's the family peeking out of the windows of their home (my grandmother and grandfather in the left hand window and my dad, uncle, and great-grandmother on the right).

Here's a family portrait.  It looks like the boys are about 5 and 6, so that would put it at about 1913-14.  My dad is on the left with my grandmother.

Here are just the two boys, my dad on the right this time.  I love their little matching suits.

Here's my dad.  Looks like he's about 11 here.  So it'd be about the same year that my mom was photographed writing her "pomes". 

This photo is from about 1927, when my mom was 11.  She and my grandma really had a knack for hats, didn't they?

My dad (left) and uncle, I'm guessing in the early 1930s.

In 1939, my dad (with help from his brother, who had already made it to England, and his American cousin) escaped from Hitler's Germany aboard the ship Athenia.  It is famous as the first civilian attack of World War II, torpedoed in the North Atlantic the day after England declared war on Germany.  In a long saga, he did finally get rescued from the sea and made it to New York City via Halifax, Canada.  This photo was taken by the press as he was united with his cousin on the tarmac. 

After a stint in the army, which earned him his citizenship, my dad made his way to Chicago in search of work.  There, he was introduced to my mom, who was teaching English to German immigrants, by a lady who seemed to know all the new arrivals and delighted in trying to match my mom up with a nice single man.  This match took.

My mom, always a words person, was working as a copywriter for an ad agency.  My dad was an accountant and studied for his CPA shortly after their marriage.  My dad felt that to be really American, he needed a suburban house and lawn, a wife, a child, and a vegetable garden.  And that's where I came into the story.  My mom became a housewife, and then when I was about 12 she became a librarian.

In 1964, my uncle visited from England, the first, and sadly also the last, time the brothers saw each other after the war.  My uncle took this photo. 

Memory nugget, my dad:  Spending his Sunday afternoons in the comfy chair at the living room window with his newspaper, his cigar, and his favorite classical music on the record player.

Memory nugget, my mom:  Often getting such a bad case of the giggles while trying to read Winnie The Pooh stories to me that she could hardly catch her breath and get the words out.

A hundred years is a long, long time, an amazing landmark birthday from which to contemplate their experiences and personalities.  

February 10, 2016

Hugs and Kisses Crib Quilt

One of my best friends just became a Grandma!  I've known her son, the new papa, since before he was born, as the saying goes.  So a crib quilt was in order.

I saw this quilt on Pinterest.  Such a cute idea for a baby quilt, and also fun with lots of scraps, which I have aplenty.  The pattern and instructions can be found at Moda Bake Shop. 

These are 4 16" blocks plus sashing and borders, ending up with a 40" square quilt.

And here's the handsome little fellow at a week and a half old, already knowing exactly what to do with his quilt!

And by the way, if you are interested in following this family saga, the happy parents were the recipients of the wedding quilt I wrote about a few years ago.

February 5, 2016

Paintings by Ella Gardner

My friend's grandmother Ella Gardner was a prolific painter.  And she also made quilts.  She painted lovely scenes of rural Wisconsin life, her Amish neighbors, and my favorites of course, quilters doing what we do best - making and loving our quilts.

There is an exhibit of Ella Gardner's paintings up now through  March 12 at the Steenbock Gallery in Madison, WI.  The Wisconsin Regional Arts Program has created a lovely page about Ella Gardner and her art. 

Quilting Party
Here's a short bio of her, from the back cover of her 1998 book, A Celebration of Life:
Award-winning artist Ella Gardner always had the desire to paint. In 1936 she attended classes at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago, but rarely set up an easel for the next 28 years. Teaching, farming and motherhood filled her days with little room left for art.
But the urge to create never left. In 1964, when her youngest son started college, she picked up a paintbrush and has been making up for lost time ever since. She works in oils, pastels, acrylics, watercolors and ink; the subject matter often dictates the medium, she says. A member of the Wisconsin Regional Artists Association since 1964, she has won numerous awards over the years.
Rural life–the kind of life she and her family have always led–dominates her work. In her paintings farm memories come alive: the major events–the excitement of a farm auction, the thrill of haying before a storm; and the quiet moments, such as the cats playing in the barn. Nature in all its moods is ever present in her work, most dramatically in her series inspired by a trip to the Canadian Rockies.

On a joyous romp through so many of Ella’s works are her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As with all of Ella Gardner’s paintings, these truly are A Celebration of Life.

Ella's "making up for lost time" resulted in a portfolio of 700-some paintings, made between 1964 and 2007.  700 paintings!  She exhibited many one-woman shows including one in the Governor’s Office in Madison, WI, in 1983.

I think both her subject matter and her spirit can interest and inspire quilters to "have fun and make things," as they say.  You can see lots more of her art on the website my friend created in her honor. 

Amish Kitchen
The Big Log
And to make her story even better, there are the heirloom quilts.  These were likely made by Ella Gardner, although the first one could have been made by her mother who was a seamstress.

The Grandmother's Flower Garden, 66 x 84", was made c. 1935.

This Grandmother's fan comforter, 70 x 87", was made c. 1955.


My favorite is this Lone Star quilt.  It's 77" x 88".  Made about 1945.

The rhythm created by the rows of pale yellow gives emphasis to the central darker colors and the light edge.  This quilt certainly showcases the artist's eye!

Such wonderful, happy artwork!

The Comforter

Amish Ladies Quilting
 "Beauty in the life of the Amish is expressed in the quilts that they make. They find satisfaction, as well, in the usefulness of the finished product. They often use scraps of material too small to be used otherwise."  E.G.