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

Small Studies with Gwen Marston July 2012 (6).JPG
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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2016 QuiltCon (2).JPG
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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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Gwenny's Night Out (30).JPG
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

Judge's Choice for Waiting for Sanity

I'm back from Savannah and getting back into things here at home.  Today I'm just popping in to report that Waiting for Sanity won a Judge's Choice award from Judge Kristy Daum!  That was such a wonderful surprise.  This quilt was inspired by the free range triangle quilts of Gwen Marston and was started in a class with her last year,  So, again, I am indebted to Gwen for the inspiration.

Here are links to two previous blog posts about this quilt:  

If you want to see all the winners, check out this post by the Modern Quilt Guild.  Any time I go to a show there are always fabulous quilts that I don't remember seeing, so it's great that we can go back and look at posts after the fact.  I'll be posting my photos and impressions from the show over the next week so stay tuned for that.

QuiltCon 2017 : Waiting for Sanity

Waiting for Sanity 49x48

Waiting for Sanity 49x48

This is my final quilt that will be heading to QuiltCon 2017 in Savannah.  It all started during a workshop with Gwen Marston, Free Range Triangles, at the Stitchin' Post last April.  If you click that link you'll see Gwen's quilt that inspired this one as well as in progress photos.  

Here's what I wrote for the quilt description:

"Waiting for Sanity was begun in early 2016 during a class with Gwen Marston.  The colors I used are some of my favorites with a naturally patriotic theme.  As it turned out I didn’t get around to finishing this quilt until after the dreadful 2016 election when I was left with a feeling that sanity has gone out the window.  The title is a direct reference to the liberated hourglass blocks."

I really love this quilt, but it will always be linked in my mind to the election.  As we go further into the transition I can see that sanity will not return for quite a while, but this will always remain as a reminder for what happened this year.

When I tease out the election connection I can say that this is one of my most favorite quilts.  I had so much fun making the liberated hourglass blocks. If you piece the squares you use to make them, they can be even more fun.  You might end up with something as strange as a little tiny red triangle.  Like in Gwen's quilt I sewed together several blocks at a time and put them with other sections.  If they were too long I cut them off so there are places with wacked off blocks. 

I love the places where one triangle in a block is bigger than the other one (see the large red block below).  You might also get something that looks a little like a bowtie.

The quilt parts sat in the closet from April to November, when I got it out to finish the top.  I decided I wanted to make it bigger so I added the large blocks around the outside.  I decided to make it more neutral by leaving out the red.  The top ended up being about 50" square and it shrank a little with quilting.  As it turned out I didn't manage to get around to quilting it until the days after the election.  I was still in shock and disbelief and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Often a title comes to me even before the quilt is made, or usually sometime during the piecing process.  In this case I had nothing in mind, but this is what came to me while I was doing the narrow channel quilting.  So, it's a patriotic quilt, which I always intended, but it marks a difficult year.  

I hope that it is well received in Savannah, but as the theme suggests, time will tell.

Gwen Marston :: Free Range Triangles

Gwen's last workshop at the Stitchin' Post in Sisters was called Free Range Triangles (like the book).  Even though I have some quilts in the book I knew I had to be there for Gwen's last class.  You remember this quilt from the previous post?  This one was so inspiring to me.  I love how it goes predictably until there's a point that's cut off.  Some blocks don't maintain the dark/light value contrast that you might expect.  Then, there's that black square created from several blocks with the right corner missing.  I love that!

I just happened to bring some of my favorite indigo fabrics with some white and other neutrals.  I also had the red, so this sort of Fourth of July mashup came to being.  I think my style is even less formal than Gwen's.  If you look at Gwen's quilt at a quick glance, you might think it's all perfectly organized.  Then you look a little closer and notice the anomalies.  I think with mine, you might notice the anomalies sooner.  Anyway, I just had a lot of fun with this while I worked on it over the 3 days of the workshop.  

Whenever I work on a quilt that involves variations on a theme I find that I can't help myself from trying new stuff as I go along.  I can't help it!  I've said before that I'm easily bored by a quilt that's too predictable, so my mind starts to go through all the possibilities that I haven't tried.  Also, because this was a workshop with other students I might have been feeding off the energy of the crowd.  Either way, you'll notice with the last photo that I've added some interesting variations in the outer blocks.

I haven't touched this project since the workshop, but I hope to get it out again soon.  I really love what happened with it and I want to make it a bit bigger.  

Gwen and her Michigan mitt!

Gwen and her Michigan mitt!

The workshops were fun and so inspiring, but it's sad to think that Gwen won't be teaching here again.  I'm not sure when or if I'll see her again, but I just wanted to thank Gwen again for all the great memories and inspiration!

Gwen Marston :: Abstract Quilts in Solids

Let's go back in time again to April.  This was just before my move and everything was really hectic, but I sure wasn't going to miss taking a couple of workshops with Gwen Marston (her last in Sisters)!  The first was Abstract Quilts in Solids.  This is the second time I've taken this workshop.  Gwen's class samples were amazing as always.  She spoke about color, value, intentional and accidental surprises, and how she sometimes uses a small study format to prepare for doing something larger.  

Gwen's classes are always fun.  Here's Gwen and Tonye Phillips having a laugh.

I took photos of lots of other class work, but I've decided to not post the pieces by other students without permission.  Above is my own collection of small studies that you might find familiar.  All of these were later hand quilted for my gallery show at Navigator News.  I knew the show was coming up and thought I'd better take that time to make some small pieces for it.  Check it out if you are in Sisters this week!

Bedouin & Navigator News
143 E Hood Ave
Sisters, Oregon