July 10, 2019

A Special Guest in Chicago

I'm happy to say that I got to spend an afternoon (almost two weeks ago now) in Chicago with Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, her grad student Madison, and her daughter and friend.  Elizabeth is the creator of the Just Wanna Quilt podcast and community.  She's a gem! 

She is a law professor at Tulane University.  She's blended her love of quilting with her skills in copyright law and business entrepreneurship by creating programs that use the quilt world as a case study for her students.  The podcast is a series of interviews with quilters from all the myriad aspects of the quilting world.  It's simply the best thing to listen while quilting, and the info she is gathering is super useful!  Brilliant, and a boon to everyone involved!  It was so great to meet Elizabeth in person and talk face-to-face, the old fashioned way!

Chicago contributed super wonderful weather (a rarity here in this year of very wet and very cool weather with little blips of super hot and humid every now and then).  We talked quilts and quilt biz over lunch, and continued talking during a visit to the mosaics at the Chicago Cultural Center and a wander through the Art Institute, especially the Thorne Miniature Rooms - two of my favorite Michigan Avenue places since my childhood.  Beauty and quilt inspiration everywhere!

The Cultural Center used to be the main building of the Chicago Public Library, so the mosaics feature literature and authors.  It was built in the 1890s, and gained protected landmark status in the 1970s.

This is the staircase at the south entrance, on Washington and Michigan Ave.

This is one of the floor designs.

The detailed ornaments are delicious.  Yes, that's mother-of-pearl.  There's also lots of glass and gold leaf.  The whole place glistens.


And up at the top, there's a magnificent Tiffany dome, surrounded by dense mosaic designs below.

I love this view.  How neat - the contrast between the super intricate designs against the bold geometry and intersecting planes of the architecture.  I think there's a quilt idea in there somewhere... It's beyond gorgeous here!

And I'll also share a few pieces that caught my eye at the Art Institute.  It's always fun to wander there with other people, and discover bits and pieces I haven't seen before.

I've always loved these two tile shapes.  In fact, I first discovered them here at the Art Institute and have long had the idea to make a quilt using them.  Perhaps soon....  Maybe a good way to feature big pieces of my fabrics that I love so much that I don't want to cut up but have been sitting around forever and really should get made into something?  Someday....

I fell in love with the sensitive poses of these two figures.

From the paperweight collection.  I like the faceted ones, which give different views of the flowers inside.  This is also a quilt idea I've had for a long while.  I'm similarly fascinated by city buildings whose windows each reflect a very slightly different view of the buildings across the street. 

And then there's this huge pot.  It's cracked, a bit more than half of the way around.  Those are holes on either side of the crack.  Do you think the pot had been laced back together?  An ancient example of the current visible mending trend?  What do you think?  


  1. Thanks for taking us on your trip. That is a beautiful building indeed with lots of great inspiration.

  2. Beautiful tiles, beautiful building! Thanks for sharing with us!

    1. Grin! Next time you're in Chicago, we'll have to do more than O'Hare. Hee, hee.

  3. Dale DrakeJuly 11, 2019

    Great post, Ann - thanks! I've added the Cultural Center to our list of places to visit in Chicago. Those mosaics look very much like the 12th century Cosmati floor mosaics in Rome ... I wonder if they got Italian artisans in to do them, as West Baden Springs Resort did in about the same time period. My librarian daughter will love it!

    1. The info I'm seeing says the mosaics were "designed by Chicago architect Robert Spencer of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge and executed by the Tiffany Glass Co." (from 1994 article in Chicago Tribune "Inlaid Beauty", which can give you several other ideas of things to see.) Wow, I looked at both the Cosmati floors and the Resort pix - really cool! I recommend also that you add a tour of the Auditorium Theater to your list. And also add seeing me!

    2. Dale DrakeJuly 12, 2019

      Thanks! We'll take you up on that. :-)