Gwenny

2015

2015

A bright light went out in the quilting world this week. Gwendolyn Joy Marston passed away on Wednesday at her home on Beaver Island, Michigan. All around Instagram and Facebook there are messages of grief and photos of her, but I felt a need to do one more blog post about Gwenny. She radiated joy to all who knew her and she loved teaching. Encouraging the younger generation was something she took terribly seriously and I am so lucky that I was able to benefit from this mentoring.

If you would like to make a donation to honor Gwen, here is link to a favorite charity of hers: Oil & Water Don’t Mix.

I was lucky enough to call Gwen a friend and it all came about because of the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon. I actually first came to know Gwen’s work when I lived in Hawaii in 2002. The local quilt shop on Maui happened to have a couple of Gwen’s books and I knew I’d found a kindred spirit as soon as I started reading her first Liberated Quiltmaking book.

The original Liberated Quiltmaking book

The original Liberated Quiltmaking book

If you ever see this book, pick it up. It is a treasure and really, more comprehensive than the later books. I remember reading this one over and over in those early years. When we moved to Bend in 2004 I had no idea how having the Stitchin’ Post nearby would change my quilting life. By that time I had taken tentative steps at some liberated quilt projects. Imagine my delight when finding out at that Gwen would be at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in 2006. I saw her and Freddy Moran give the lecture at the picnic that year. But I didn’t actually meet Gwen until I took my first class with her in 2009. I eventually did finish that first quilt (below) and it’s named A Tribute to Gwen.

2009

2009

2012 A Tribute to Gwen

2012 A Tribute to Gwen

Over the years I took every workshop I could with her and met so many great quilting friends that way. Gwen was the most encouraging quilt teacher I ever had and I knew I was on the right track when she was around. After a while we kept up an email correspondence and I was thrilled when she asked to have some of my quilts in two of her books- Minimal Quiltmaking and Free Range Triangle Quilts.

2010 with Sarah and Cher

2010 with Sarah and Cher

2012 Small Studies workshop, Martha and Gwen

2012 Small Studies workshop, Martha and Gwen

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2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Guild Night Out with Gwenny

2012 Gwen and Sue Spargo

2012 Gwen and Sue Spargo

Two friends that I met because of Gwen are Jan and Marion. We first met at a Gwen and Freddy retreat in 2010 and became fast friends. At a later workshop Gwen suggested we three come to the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in 2013 which was the 30th and final year. We decided to go for it and had the most wonderful time! Even though, by that time, the retreat wasn’t actually on Beaver Island it was so wonderful to see Gwen in her element.

2013 BIQR

2013 BIQR

2013 Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Jan and Marion

2013 Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Jan and Marion

2015 Minimal Quiltmaking workshop, Gwen pointing out my lost triangle points which delighted her!

2015 Minimal Quiltmaking workshop, Gwen pointing out my lost triangle points which delighted her!

Gwen came to the Stitchin’ Post several times in 2015 and 2016 and I took every workshop she did. Her workshops are always fun, but these were especially sweet as we knew that she was planning to retire and we’d be unlikely to see her again.

2015 Gwen with total focus at the machine.

2015 Gwen with total focus at the machine.

2016 QuiltCon Pasadena

2016 QuiltCon Pasadena

In 2016 Gwen was honored by the Modern Quilt Guild with a special exhibit. I made plans to attend mainly to see her exhibit and went with my friend Marion. It was so nice to see Gwen again down in Pasadena. Her exhibit was beautiful and it made me so happy for her work to be introduced to a whole new group of quilters.

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I was thrilled to have Gwen there when I won a ribbon at the show. I think she was just as proud as me. It’s totally liberated. Gwen had so many groupies at the show that it was lots of fun. We did a big dinner out and met for lunches on the patio.

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Later that year in April, Gwen came to Sisters for her final workshops and a presentation called Gwenny’s Night Out. It was bittersweet knowing she would not be back to teach again.

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Abstract Quilts in Solids

2016 Gwen having a laugh with Tonye Phillips and my friend Vicky

2016 Gwen having a laugh with Tonye Phillips and my friend Vicky

2016 Gwenny’s Night Out at the Stitchin’ Post

2016 Gwenny’s Night Out at the Stitchin’ Post

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In April 2016 Gwen presented her last workshops at the Stitchin’ Post and then did a Gwenny’s Night Out with all her friends. Gwenny was well known for her little stories and jokes and we delighted in them all. She talked about her more recent quilts and life on Beaver Island. It was such a fun night.

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2016 Jean Wells and Gwen probably midst joke!

2016 Jean Wells and Gwen probably midst joke!

2016 at my Twigs gallery reception

2016 at my Twigs gallery reception

That April I had my first gallery show at Twigs which is part of the Stitchin’ Post. It will always mean a lot to me that Gwen was there for workshops and took the time to come to the reception. Without her mentorship I may not have been there in the first place. What fun!

2016 Free Range Triangles

2016 Free Range Triangles

The very last workshop Gwen did here was this Free Range Triangles workshop. She kept up her good humor and excellent teaching right through to the end. We all gave her big hugs thinking she’d be back at some point if not to teach, just to see the quilt show or something. Alas, it was the last time I saw her.

We did keep exchanging emails, cards, and letters though and I was terribly saddened to hear of her cancer diagnosis last year. She remained cheerful even when her treatment was clearly debilitating. Gwen went to Ithaca, New York for her treatment and to spend time with her children and grandchildren. It makes me happy to know that she had so much quality time with family at the end. I am also comforted to know that she was finally able to get back to her beloved home on Beaver Island just before she died. I know that place meant the world to her.

I feel like I’ll still be consulting her in my mind over the coming years. I’ll certainly be going back to her books on a regular basis. Most of all I will treasure all the memories of this vibrant, funny, creative lady.

Michigan girl

Michigan girl

QuiltCon Traveling Exhibit

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Just a note to say that I’m so excited to report that 70s Child will be included in the 2019 QuiltCon Traveling Exhibit. This is something I’ve been hoping for for a long time. I can’t find a website with the info on when and where yet, but I have heard that it’s going to France, Australia, South Africa and more! That’s really cool. I have never had one of my quilts go out of the country before. I’ll post more when I find out details.

No Country for Fools

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Big Snow, February 2019

Last week we had a huge snowstorm that went on for several days and in the end we had nearly 3 feet of snow on the ground. It was a record amount for this area and led to all sorts of cancellations. It’s also been so cold since then that not much as melted. Now, a new storm just blew in and we’ll get several more inches. I can safely say that just about everyone is kind of sick of snow. We live so close to the mountains that we’d be just as happy to have it stay there and not come down to town! Anyway, it does give one lots of indoor time to catch up on projects when you aren’t clearing snow.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

No Country for Fools, 21” x 24”

No Country for Fools, 21” x 24”

One project I managed to finish is called No Country for Fools. it’s inspired by Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes. This book was chosen by QuiltWorks as an alternative to the Novel Idea book this year. In this case, the author lives in Oregon and she will come to town for the quilt reception and will do an author talk the next day. Here’s a link to the book trailer which is pretty fascinating. Maybe you’ll want to read it too!

The title of this quilt comes directly from the book and is a description of the area of eastern Oregon where it takes place. I took one line that the author had about a dream that she is reminded of just as she drives toward her new life in the wilds of eastern Oregon. Her dream was about a crow flying beside her car window as she drove.

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I used some old shirts that my dad was done with. I cut them into various odd shapes and saved a couple of labels that I incorporated. I combined the shirt fabrics with some Japanese taupes that were in the perfect colors. The background was pieced improvisationally. Then, I appliqued the bird down and added some hand embroidery with embroidery thread (some of which was hand dyed).

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This piece measures 21” by 24”. I machine quilted it around the embroidery. I would have liked to hand quilt it too, but that would have taken too much time and I am having arthritis issues again so I have to be careful.

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I really love the fabric that the bird is made from (you can see it up close below). I have this stuff in several patterns and colors and it’s really different from any other fabric I’ve used. I call it bubble fabric, but I don’t know the official name. The pattern is created with texture rather than printing. These fabrics were made by Diamond Textiles and I haven’t seen them in a long time, but they are really great for turned under applique because they are thin, but very sturdy and the turned under edge just holds a crease really well. I added the embroidery embellishment by just following the pattern on the fabric.

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I washed the old shirts from my dad, of course. But I also didn’t obsess about stains or holes as you can see below. They tell the story of the cloth and the quilt, so I actually highlighted them.

I have seen a few of the other quilts in this exhibit, but I am really looking forward to seeing them all up. It should be an excellent exhibit. If you can be there, the reception is Friday, April 5, 5-7 pm and the author talk is the following day. Contact QuiltWorks directly if you are interested.

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What Winter is For

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There are some things that I don’t love about winter- extreme cold and icy roads are the worst. But there are many things to love about it including snow play, cozy fires, hot chocolate/coffee/tea and downtime. Most of us don’t get enough downtime with our modern, busy lives, but I live for this every winter. I look forward to the months of January and February as the least demanding of the year. During this time I can try new things, spend all day reading a book, binge watch fun stuff while knitting or doing other handwork.

It has also become a habit of mine to use the downtime of this time of year for some easy, mindless sewing. I love making simple comfort quilts that I can donate to my quilt guild. The quilt guild coordinates the donations to a number of different charities in my community. Our guild collects over 400 quilts each year from guild members and others in our community. Each guild member is asked to provide at least one community quilt each year, but since I love making small quilts I always donate several. This year I went a little bit crazy and made 10 kid size quilts. Lucky for me I had all this fabric, thread and almost all of the batting in my stash already. I don’t use a lot of prints these days, but I do love them. In my art quilt work I often put a fun print on the back just to use my favorites. I have been trying to decrease the size of my stash for the last few years so I set aside piles of prints that I wouldn’t mind using this way. The scraps will also be used for comfort quilts as time goes on.

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These quilts were made in two different ways. I either cut 20 10” squares as in the quilts above, or I cut width of fabric strips to use horizontally as you’ll see below. I think the main thing that makes these quilts work is that these are fun prints. Some of these quilts are almost like I Spy quilts and will be just the thing to distract a child going through difficult circumstances while also providing a cozy place to cuddle.

I then machine quilt them with a simple serpentine stitch (on a Bernina it’s stitch #4 with the length increased to 2.5). Then I do a machine stitched binding. The horizontal strip quilts are the fastest, taking about 3 hours. The 10” block quilts take a little longer for the piecing, but they work great if you have smaller pieces of a bunch of different fabrics.

Comfort quilts have the advantage of needing to only be fun and colorful. They don’t need intricate piecing. They can easily be done by quilters of all levels and will surely be appreciated by various charities in your community. If you don’t have a local quilt guild you can check with Project Linus, your local hospital, services for women and children, even your local fire department might be interested. If you are inspired to try one let me know and Happy Quilting!

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Road to California Quilt Show

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It’s always a thrill when a quilt comes back from a show with a ribbon. This time I did know about it ahead of time because a friend sent me a picture from the show, but otherwise it would have been a complete surprise. Rhythm of the Rails has had quite a time at the shows since last year. It’s been to QuiltCon Pasadena, AQS Fall Paducah, Pacific International Quilt Festival and now Road to California. It’s won a Judge’s Choice and an Honorable Mention. I may send it on to one or two other shows because there’s still time, but for now I’m very pleased! This is the first time I’ve entered R2CA and I have never been to the show, but I hear it’s a really nice one. I have had to cut down on my quilting travel a bit so I won’t be at QuiltCon in Nashville either, but I do have a quilt heading there: 70s Child. We’ll see how it does. In the meantime this quilt has pride of place right by the front door and I even hung the ribbon with it, just for a little while.

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