The Undercover Quilters :: A Gentleman in Moscow

Our 10th Anniversary!

Our 10th Anniversary!

For our 10th Anniversary year we chose A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles for our quilt book. This is one of my favorite books of all time and if you haven’t read it yet, you should give it a go. I think you’ll like it! Our quilt exhibit at the Mt Bachelor Quilters’ Guild show a couple of weeks ago looked fantastic and I thought I’d share all the photos here. Each quilt has a full photo, at least one detail plus the maker’s quilt show tag with a short description. Except for mine which didn’t have enough room so I did a separate info sheet with all the details which I’ve copied here.

One thing of note that I didn’t notice until the quilts were displayed all together is that they are predominately shades of grey and blue. It was a complete coincidence that that happened, but it makes for a very cohesive exhibit. There is one other thing to look for, since it’s our 10th anniversary we decided to have everyone somehow represent “10” in their quilts. Some did it more than once, some did it expressly, and for some it’s a little more hidden. See if you can find them all. Enjoy!

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Herr Drosselmeyer by Cheryl Chapman

Herr Drosselmeyer by Cheryl Chapman

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2019 MBQG Quilt Show  (78).JPG
Metropol Hotel by Suzanne Martin

Metropol Hotel by Suzanne Martin

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2019 MBQG Quilt Show  (73).JPG
Nevertheless, He Persisted by Jane Davis

Nevertheless, He Persisted by Jane Davis

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A Game of Zut by Kristin Shields

A Game of Zut by Kristin Shields

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My generic quilt label with a real explanation of my quilt below.

My generic quilt label with a real explanation of my quilt below.

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A Game of Zut
Kristin Shields

This quilt was inspired by A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles for the Undercover Quilters Book Club. 

This marvelous story of a former aristocrat subjected to house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov makes a life for himself despite his constrained circumstances and affects the lives of countless others over the years as the world comes to him. 

He and his daughter Sofia develop a game they play each night as they wait for dinner in the hotel restaurant.  They call it Zut, so named because, “according to the Count, Zut alors!* was the only appropriate exclamation in the face of defeat.”

“A game of their own invention, Zut’s rules were simple. Player One proposes a category encompassing a specialized subset of phenomena- such as stringed instruments, or famous islands, or winged creatures other than birds. The two players then go back and forth until one of them fails to come up with a fitting example in a suitable interval of time.”

At their final dinner together they play a particularly poignant game of Zut. “Sofia rose from the table to give her father a kiss on the cheek. Then returning to her chair, she leaned back, squinted, and said: ‘Famous threesomes.’ ‘Ha-ha!’ exclaimed the Count.”

*translation: darn, shucks, dang, shoot; pronounced zoot-ahlor*

Fabulous Foursomes by Susan Mondry

Fabulous Foursomes by Susan Mondry

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The Willowy Woman by Cindy O’Neal

The Willowy Woman by Cindy O’Neal

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Fantastical by Wanda McGehey

Fantastical by Wanda McGehey

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Map of Moscow by Erin Biskup

Map of Moscow by Erin Biskup

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Secrets Undercover by Martha Sanders

Secrets Undercover by Martha Sanders

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St Basil’s by Betty Gientke

St Basil’s by Betty Gientke

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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

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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Books on My Mind

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I pretty much always have books on my mind, but even more so right now as I have sold several of my handmade blank books recently.

It reminded me of a recent blog post by Sarah Swett (Bookish Thoughts) that made my jaw drop. Please take a look at it and if you like what you see consider subscribing. Sarah’s blog is a new favorite to me, but always beautiful and insightful. I am inspired to try her little woven book covers someday.

In the meantime, I have made the hand patterned blank watercolor books you see here which you can find in my KMS Handmade shop. Some have sold already, so look quick if you are interested. I also have plans to make a fabric covered book soon. I want to do a hand stitched cover with watercolor paper inside and I’m still figuring out how to put it all together.

In addition to books I’ve been making, I am always reading 2 or 3 books at once. I’m listening to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles right now (it’s my third time reading this one), because it’s my next Undercover Quilters Book Club quilt book. On this listening I’m making notes in my hard copy of the book of all the passages that speak to me. Later on I’ll go through them and decide which one to base my quilt on. I’m also re-reading my very favorite childhood series of magic books by Edward Eager (start with Half Magic). I discovered my library has them available as e-books and the newest edition of Half Magic has an introduction by Alice Hoffman where she puts into writing all my thoughts about these books and how they shaped me at the age of 10 or so.

I tend to read a pretty eclectic mixture of genres. I recently finished several interesting books including The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (utterly charming), Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (somewhat baffling, but it made sense in the end), Educated by Tara Westover (beautifully written, but horrific subject matter), and The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King (learned a lot I didn’t know about Mr. Rogers).

I belong to two book clubs. One is pretty traditional and really discusses the book and the other is my quilting group which may or may not discuss the book for a while, but always has fun. I love them both and get great recommendations for books from both. Sometimes it can be hard juggling all the books I try to get through which is one reason I listen to a lot of audio books. I can get a lot of studio work done while listening. It’s the absolute best thing for machine quilting which tends to get boring if I don’t have a book going in my ears.

So, how about you? Read anything good lately?

Quilt Show in the Park :: Martin Marten Quilts

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The Mt Bachelor Quilters' Guild Quilt Show in the Park was last Saturday.  It was an amazing day for the quilt show with picture perfect weather. It was sunny, dry, and not too hot.  The smoke of the previous week had cleared out and this week's smoke was yet to come.  I took lots of photos of the show, but have posted the rest of them on the guild 's website. So please go to the link if you want to see the rest of the show.

In this post I will highlight the Undercover Quilters special exhibit of Martin Marten quilt.  Our quilts were inspired by Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  If you like these quilts I hope you'll consider reading this wonderful novel.  To see what they looked like a few days before this go to my previous post about our quilt reveal meeting.

I think our quilts looked amazing together, partly due to the uniform size of 40x40 inches.  They were also paired beautifully as you'll see below.  After the paired photos I'll go through each quilt individually, so keep reading to find out the scoop behind the quilts.

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Watch & Learn by Jane Jensen-Davis

Watch & Learn by Jane Jensen-Davis

Jane's quilt was inspired by the techniques of quilter Susan Carlson.  It was really amazing to see how this one came together.  Jane used many different Australian prints to bring this scene to life.  One thing I love about these quilts is that although 6 of them include the marten, none of the quilters does it the same way.  And that tree is amazing!  I love the blue streaks.

This book is a coming of age novel of a sort, but it follows two main characters as they grow up.  One is Martin the marten and the other is Dave the boy who lives in a log cabin with his family in the little hamlet of Zigzag on the slopes of Wy'east* in Oregon, USA.

Doyle is one the most amazing authors to read because his love of language comes through every page.  This book includes all manner of tales of the people of the community and an amazing variety of natural history about the wildlife.  I feel like I know a whole lot more about pine martens after reading this book.  

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Living on Wy'east by Lani Sanders

Living on Wy'east by Lani Sanders

One of the things we highly encourage in our group is to get your quilt done in any way that it makes sense to you.  If you happen to have the perfect UFO lying around with a log cabin and lots of animals which were mentioned in the book, then yes, please go with that.  Lani got lucky in that these blocks were already made and she only had to put them together and quilt it.  How perfect is that embroidered log cabin?  Did you know that the Beaver is our state mammal?  If you aren't a quilter, did you know that quilt block is called log cabin?  This quilt is soft and cozy and oh so perfect for the book.  Lani noted that her family has a cabin in the little town of Rhododendron which is in the same area this novel is set.  

Wy'east is the Multnomah tribe name for Mt Hood which is in the northern part of Oregon and part of the Cascade Mountain Range.  In the Author's Note at the beginning of the book Doyle calls it the "holy mountain Wy'east".  One of the main characters in the novel, Dave, "prefers to say that he lives on Wy'east, which is what the first people who lived on the and around it called the mountain for thousands of years, rather than Hood, which is what some guy from another country called it one day."

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Dave's cabin

Dave's cabin

Oregon State beaver!

Oregon State beaver!

Zig Zag River by Betty Gientke

Zig Zag River by Betty Gientke

Betty is a talented art quilter who likes to hand dye her own fabric.  This piece includes hand dyes and depicts the river that runs through the town in the book.  In fact, the town is named for the river and that's true in real life, though Doyle makes pains to say that the town of Zigzag in the book is not like the real life town of Zigzag. 

"On the other hand, the Zigzag River in this book absolutely is the real Zigzag River on the holy mountain Wy'east."

Betty perfectly depicts the river flowing through the trees with dappled sun and shade.

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Wy'east by Suzanne Martin

Wy'east by Suzanne Martin

Suzanne is one of two new members to our group.  She really outdid herself with this map quilt which shows Wy'east with its glacier and the ribbon of the Zigzag river flowing from the glacier .  Dave's sister Maria is a precocious child who sees the world from a map based perspective.  I love that Suzanne picked up on this detail for her quilt.  The running trails are shown as well as Dave and Maria's log cabin and another version of Martin.  The applique for this quilt was all layered on top of a white background.  We were all impressed by how she did the chinks in the logs of the log cabin.  Those are just slits cut into the brown fabric.  It works perfectly!  She also did a tiny marten in the trees.  What a wonderful addition to the group!  

Overview of Wy'east with glacier and the Zigzag River.

Overview of Wy'east with glacier and the Zigzag River.

Dave's cabin

Dave's cabin

Martin the marten

Martin the marten

Peek-a-Boo Marten by Sally Black

Peek-a-Boo Marten by Sally Black

Sally's quilt was a bit of a surprise at our quilt reveal.  Previously we had only seen the tree trunk and then she showed up with that adorable marten face!  It really makes this quilt and fits the book perfectly.  She also represented his sharp claws which are mentioned specifically in the book.  One of the things we see Martin do throughout the book is he watches other animals and people as they go about their days.  A watchful marten is one that learns and lives.  Sally's color choices are also interesting and so effective. 

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Martin the marten

Martin the marten

What's That? by Martha Phair Sanders

What's That? by Martha Phair Sanders

Martha is the one member of our group who is famous for her last minute quilt finishes.  If you look at the previous post which was on a Monday night, you'll see that her quilt didn't have Dave in it and didn't have the marten.  She had only three days to finish the whole thing because the quilts needed to be turned in last Friday.  Somehow she pulled it off and it came out great!  Martha has depicted the moment that Dave and Martin see each other for the first time.  

"Marten!  And just as Dave realized what sort of animals they were and blurted it aloud, they vanished back into the woods, graceful and silent as wraiths; but the last one heard Dave say the word and turned and looked at Dave, and he and Dave stared for a long instant at each other before Martin slipped under a fern frond, following his family, and Dave stood up, thrilled and stiff, and walked home to tell his family what he had seen."

Martha also does a lot of hand dyed fabric and other fabric manipulation.  She includes fabric painting and fabric collage here.  

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Martin the marten

Martin the marten

Dave the boy

Dave the boy

Baggallini Bandit by Cindy O'Neal

Baggallini Bandit by Cindy O'Neal

Cindy's tale of this quilt is quite interesting and complicated and if you ever see her you should ask her about it.  This is the short version.  The raccoon became her focus when she decided to take a workshop with Sophie Standing.  Everyone in the class was going to do a raccoon and with this book it worked out perfectly because just about any animal you can imagine living in the Oregon Cascades is mentioned in the book.  Anyway, Cindy learned Sophie's stitching technique at a workshop where it turned out her table mate was none other than NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg.  Have you seen this cool video of Karen sewing in the International Space Station?  But I digress...  Well, then there was another story that Cindy tells of a recent camping trip in Yosemite National Park when a raccoon stole a Baggallini purse from the tent.  That's how the quilt got its name. 

There were other misadventures I haven't mentioned here, but I don't want to give away Cindy's whole story.  Besides, just take a look at this beautiful raccoon!  The raccoon panel is created separately from the quilt underneath.  It was made with various commercial cotton prints over which Cindy stitched with many colors of thread.  It really is stunning.  The eyes, which took many hours just on their own, are only created with stitching.

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Maria and the Finch by Kristin Shields

Maria and the Finch by Kristin Shields

This is my quilt and I already wrote a whole post about it, so I'll refer you there, but I did want to point out that this is Dave's sister Maria.  She looks wiser than her years even though this scene is her 6th birthday.  But as I mentioned before she is quite precocious so I gave her a more serious look.  Also, this is her Cassin's Finch which was a birthday gift from the Unabled Lady.  (You'll have to read the book to understand the way Doyle names people).  However, there is one little twist to this story.  In the birthday scene Maria's finch is indicated to be a female.  Later in the book the bird is clearly stated to be a male and that is what I depicted here.  I am guessing this was just an oversight, and I'd love to ask Doyle about it, but he passed away last year.  The later passage talks about bird song and says "he, the finch" several times, so I suspect that is what he meant it to be from the beginning.  Anyway, that passage is a delightful discussion of how Cassin's finches came to be called that. It's in chapter 42 in case you are interested.

And Martin!  Yes, here's another version of Martin.  

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Flash of Gold by Cheryl Chapman

Flash of Gold by Cheryl Chapman

Cheryl is the other new member to the group and I'm particularly delighted about that because she's my sister.  Cheryl's quilt is so representative of her style of art.  She is primarily a glass artist (shop Silly Dog Art Glass) and she works in a whimsical folk art style which really comes through here.  She loves to do hand work and this quilt is no exception- it simply oozes with hand embroidery and hand quilting.  Cheryl has also represented Martin here, but not in a traditional way.  The ribbon of gold winding through the trees is Martin on his way to something.  He is also written about this way as he quickly makes his way through the forest. 

"....perhaps as you walk in the woods or sprawl in a mountain meadow or lie abed early in the morning and stare out the windows, sure that you just saw, just for and instant, a flash of golden brown against the long green splash of the trees."

Embroidery/Quilting

Embroidery/Quilting

The "flash of gold" running through the trees represents Martin the marten.

The "flash of gold" running through the trees represents Martin the marten.

A Bear Visits Martin by Susan Mondry

A Bear Visits Martin by Susan Mondry

Susan was inspired by this bear block from a UFO she had.  Again, if you've got the perfect thing already started, just keep going.  We love to finish up those UFOs!  Susan found a passage to go with it too.

"Up and up comes a very old bear through the thinning juniper and alpine fir and into the tumbled rock fields, and Martin watches from a high stone pillar."

In this case the bear block also includes the orange bear paw pattern which is a traditional block.  I believe this block was from a local block of the month.  The rest of the quilt includes wonderful forest colors of brown and green.  

And that's a wrap for this particular exhibit.  We already have plans for the quilts to be exhibited at QuiltWorks in Bend and hopefully at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show next year.  I hope you enjoyed them!

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