October 29, 2015

Crib-size Crazy Quilt, c 1890

Antique crib quilts don't come around often.  For pretty obvious reasons, they were used hard and washed a lot.

This one came to me for repair and sprucing up.  In addition to being well over 100 years old, it has family history and provenance.  This adds up to a quilt whose significance way outstrips its actual size (22" x 35")!

To make this even more fun, the quilt's owner sent me two old family photos to include here.  Here's the family home in Blue Island, IL.

And here's the family photo taken at the wedding of her great-aunt Sadie.

October 26, 2015

A Log Cabin Quilt that Fools the Eye

A few weeks ago, I visited an open house at Harvey Pranian Art & Antiques.  Harvey has decades of experience in the antique/folk art/fine art biz, and finds the most wonderful things.  I highly recommend browsing at his site. 

Here's a small log cabin that really intrigued me.  (Photo by permission.)

From across the room, I thought the quilt was made of log cabin blocks with a pieced black and red vertical sashing.  It's a great visual rhythm.

But actually, the whole quilt is made from square courthouse steps blocks with the same patchwork placement, just rotated 90 degrees in alternate columns.  Brilliant fool-the-eye effect!  Hooray for homespun artists!

You'll note that the black squares are all pieced with their own little logs!  The logs are 1/4-3/8", both wools and cottons, as I recall.  You can kind of get a sense of the scale by looking at the little hang tag on the left edge in the first photo.

October 19, 2015

La Grange Community Quilt

This quilt was made in 1979 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of La Grange, IL, a western suburb of Chicago.  

It hung in the La Grange library for quite a while, and then was in storage during and for a while after the library's move to a new building.  The library is now ready to hang the quilt again, and they contacted me to help spruce it up.

October 12, 2015

Favorite Quotes # 10 - Simple Things

"Some of the greatest poetry is revealing to the reader the beauty in something that was so simple you had taken it for granted."
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
Nature's Perspective - 1989 - 107" x 81"
I heard this line in the midst of a long, rambling interview I was watching online.  I backed up over the spot and wrote it right down.

I would expand the concept to all art, not just poetry!  Certainly for me, this has been a theme to my art making, though I have never realized it or expressed it so clearly.

I love experiencing art as a way to see more clearly.  I think art is truly art at its best when artist and viewer meet at that place of clarity and inner knowing, a place where they recognize and acknowledge each others' humanity and each others' spirits.  That to me is a great definition of beauty.

And these meetings are not predictable.  I like that I will never really know how and which of my quilts will impact which viewers.  Sending a particular message is not the reason I make quilts, that's for sure.

The image for Nature's Perspective came to me while driving home through Wisconsin farmland at dusk.  I felt like I was almost flying over the landscape, and the land was like a billowy quilt, tacked down at the corners by the farm building and the occasional trees.

But the most meaningful comment I had on this quilt was from our friend Jon.  He said it perfectly represents a vision that had always intrigued him - that the sky is so smooth and uniform while the earth below is so varied and dimensional.  Sure 'nough, he's right!  But that concept had never entered my mind while designing the quilt.  That conversation taught me a lot about art.

Actually, I get a bit perturbed about writers who try to define what "Art" is in discussions about whether art needs to be beautiful, or needs to have social commentary, or needs to be shocking and cutting edge, or needs to be created in a perceptible series that experiments around a theme (as I was told in a quilt design workshop years ago), or needs to be in fine art media, and so on and on and on.

In my world, Art is what someone is drawn to create, and Art is what gives someone else a satisfying experience.

Details about how the quilt was made:
The sky is half a Sunburst pattern.
The farms are Prairie Queen and Corn and Beans blocks.
The farm buildings are black felt.  The glowing windows and the trees are embroidered.

Due to the perspective, there are no two templates exactly alike.  My husband the engineer helped with the drawing and figuring.  Every template was numbered and marked for right side and top.  It was quite a serious undertaking!  I have never made such a large and complex art quilt before, and have no plans to do so again!

October 7, 2015

A Room of Her Own

"A Room of Her Own"

I just completed this wall quilt!  It was commissioned by a wonderfully thoughtful husband in honor of his wife's milestone birthday.

It is inspired by a quilt I made 1999, called "Memories of Spring" (21"x19").

He liked the airy, dreamy, and old-fashioned homey look of the quilt.  He asked for a larger piece with personalized references to the things his wife loves and to their family.  The idea grew from there, with both of us making additions to the contents of her "room".  Here's the initial sketch.