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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Novel Idea Quilts 2011 to 2018

2011 Imagine ( Kapitoil  by Teddy Wayne)

2011 Imagine (Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne)

Every now and then I get a really good idea when I'm in the hot tub late at night.  Sometimes the ideas are really quite harebrained, but I do a lot of thinking in there.  Last night I got the idea to do a Novel Idea quilt post so I hope you think this is a good idea too!  Each quilt is labeled with the title of the quilt and the title and author of the book.

I've included all the Novel Idea quilts I've made over the past 8 years and a couple of extras.  Imagine (above) was the first.  It is completely hand stitched using cloth weaving and embroidery techniques learned from Jude Hill. 

The Novel Idea program with the Deschutes Public Library is a community read program.  The book is usually announced in December and we have about 4 months to read the book (less if you are going to be creating art, of course) and then there is a month of group activities offered by the library which culminates in the author visiting town to do a lecture.  As a life-long reader and lover of books, this has always been one of my favorite things about our library.  I was thrilled when Marilyn Forestell (also a book lover and owner of QuiltWorks) suggested starting the Novel Idea Quilt club which gets together just for the purpose of creating quilts and textile art for this program.  Often the author has been able to visit the quilt gallery to see the exhibit and they've always been so thrilled to see it.  That first year Teddy Wayne was able to see the quilts and I was there.  It was so great to be able to meet the author and discuss how I was inspired to create this quilt.

2011 Tea is No Minor Beverage ( The Elegance of the Hedgehog  by Muriel Barbery)

2011 Tea is No Minor Beverage (The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery)

Tea is No Minor Beverage is not actually a Novel Idea quilt, but it's here for a reason.  During that first year everyone was so fired up about making book quilts we decided to do a second project that year and we chose The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I didn't realize until doing this blog post that I've done a tea cup before!  After this one extra book we went to just doing the Novel Idea quilt each year.  It was never a cohesive group to begin with and many of us are now in other small groups which make book quilts.  Mine is The Undercover Quilters which I've mentioned many times before.  

2012 Autumn in New York ( Rules of Civility  by Amor Towles)

2012 Autumn in New York (Rules of Civility by Amor Towles)

The third year we read Rules of Civility which was a favorite with many.  One of the things I love about book clubs of any sort is that I am introduced to books and authors I don't know about.  I became a fan of Towles with this book.  His more recent novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, is one of my favorite books ever.  

You may have noticed that this piece is made with silks.  Also, many of these are hand stitched.  One thing about the Novel Idea quilts is that there are no size restrictions.  When creating for most quilt shows, your work must meet a minimum size.  When I'm doing hand stitched art pieces I prefer to work small, so I love that I can work with any size that works for me.  There also also many hand dyed fabrics in these pieces.  I tend to use my most favorite pieces of fabric for these small gems.

2013 The Spirit of the Wood ( The Snow Child  by Eowyn Ivey)

2013 The Spirit of the Wood (The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey)

Of all the books we've done for the Novel Idea Quilts, I think The Snow Child was the most loved by the quilters.  It's such a visual book with themes that appealed to many.  I had so much fun with this piece.  I used hand dyes and vintage linens and it's all hand stitched.  I did get to meet the author, but it was at the book signing rather than the gallery.  She did see the quilts and was very touched by the whole exhibit.

2014 Longing for Connection ( The Dog Stars  by Peter Heller)

2014 Longing for Connection (The Dog Stars by Peter Heller)

If you haven't read The Dog Stars, it's a novel about a post-apocalyptic future.  Many people I know in town as well as many quilters were put off by the theme, but I actually really loved this book.  There were some lovely moments including a passage which included a poem by Kim Stafford, one of Oregon's past Poet Laureates.  This quilt, which is quite small, was inspired by that poem within the book.  I was able to meet the author at the book signing and to tell him about my quilt.  He saw the exhibit and was so inspired he asked if any of the pieces were for sale.  In the end he bought several of them including mine.  What an honor!

2015 The Wayward Jungle Crow ( A Tale for the Time Being  by Ruth Ozeki)

2015 The Wayward Jungle Crow (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki)

A Tale for the Time Being was such an interesting book.  The author talk was also fascinating.  Like I said in the previous post I am always on the lookout for nature themes, wildlife and especially birds when I read a book for a quilt.  This one did not disappoint with a Jungle Crow that keeps returning to visit one of the main characters.  This one is machine pieced, hand appliqued, and hand embroidered using many hand dyed fabrics and some vintage linens.

2016 Spirit Tree ( Euphoria  by Lily King)

2016 Spirit Tree (Euphoria by Lily King)

In 2015 my sister, glass artist Cheryl Chapman, moved to town.  She also loves books and is a quilter so I thought I'd better get her involved in the Novel Idea quilts.  We both made quilts for the exhibit, mine is above.  I was inspired by the cover of the book and also a passage about the rainbow gum trees.  In addition to that Marilyn had an idea for folks to make masks as part of the exhibit.  It was a theme that related to the book and many people did so.  Cheryl came up with the idea of making glass masks.  We had so much fun getting together to do this.  We created the glass forms in her workshop and she fired them.  Then we had a day in my studio creating the fabric additions for the top of the masks.  

2016 Fused Glass Masks ( Euphoria  by Lily King) Cheryl Chapman on the left, me on the right.

2016 Fused Glass Masks (Euphoria by Lily King) Cheryl Chapman on the left, me on the right.

2017 The H Quilt ( Homegoing  by Yaa Gyasi)

2017 The H Quilt (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi)

Last year the book was Homegoing which had a multitude of characters, time frames and locations.  In end I decided to put this quilt in the exhibit even though it wasn't made just for the book.  I had actually finished it a couple of months before with no other inspiration than seeing an old H quilt and thinking it would be cool to try it in an improv manner.  Plus, my maiden name starts with H.  As it happens, one of the main characters in the book was called, simply, H.  How coincidental is that?

You can read yesterday's post to find out about Ranjana's Chai (below).  If you haven't made a book quilt yet I highly suggest it as a jumping off point.  My rule with them has always been that my quilts are inspired by the book.  They are not necessarily illustrations of the book.  You can take a feeling, phrase, sentence, word, color scheme, character, animal or object for your inspiration.  It is really fun though and maybe you'll even meet the author some day!  I have done 19 book quilts so far (wow!) and am making plans for my 20th for the Undercover Quilters.  This year our book choice is Martin Marten by Brian Doyle.  I can't wait!

2018 Ranjana's Chai ( No One Can Pronounce My Name  by Rakesh Satyal)

2018 Ranjana's Chai (No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal)

Once Upon a Quilt

Once Upon a Quilt, 24x36

Once Upon a Quilt, 24x36

A few months ago I was contacted by Jeanette Pilak, from the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, about a new fundraiser that they were planning.  It would be a quilt book.  An actual book made with quilts!  Sounds like a pretty cool idea, huh?  She asked if I wanted to make a piece for this book.  There would be 12 quilts and they would be displayed in a giant book July 3-8.  Folks would be able to bid on them in a silent auction.  I was intrigued.  The theme of the show this year is Storytellers.  

I accepted the challenge and went about working on this quilt which I call Once Upon a Quilt.  I wanted to make something that celebrates the history of quiltmaking, celebrates the anonymous quilters themselves, and shows what you can do with old quilts to repurpose them.  It all started with the vintage cutter quilt that I've been using on various small projects over the years. I used that as the base for this quilted flower garden.

Then I went on a search for some vintage grandmother's flower garden blocks, yo-yos, and some other old blocks to cut up to use for the animal applique.  I tea dyed all the parts and the cutter quilt to bring a sense of history to the grouping and to harmonize the colors.  I cut the flower blocks into circles and hand stitched them down.  They I added quilting stitches through those layers.  The vintage cutter quilt had become quite tender on the back, so I left knots where I sewed things down, knowing I would eventually add another back to the quilt after most of the stitching was completed.  

Then I added the birds and the bunny.  These were so much fun to do.  I used a raw edge technique inspired by the work of Mandy Pattullo in her book, Textile Collage.  Lastly, I added a bunch of vintage flower yo-yos, newly made flower yo-yos, and the hand embroidered bees and ladybugs.  This whole piece felt like an experiment from beginning to end.  I really like how it came out.  I added a little bit of hand quilting after putting on the extra backing.  The quilt is completely hand stitched except for the first stage of the binding.  I hope that it is appreciated by show goers.  I probably won't do more projects this big in this style, but I like the animal collage technique in a smaller format and I'm sure I'll do that again someday.  

Look for the Storyteller's Book in the courtyard of the Open Door Wine Bar in Sisters, Oregon July 3-8.  You can read more about the book in the Show Guide PDF.  You'll also find more about the various special exhibits around town on show day.  I have 4 quilts in the show this year.  Look for them in the following special exhibits:

  • 2017 Storyteller's Book- Once Upon a Quilt
  • Mountain Meadow Quilters Guild- Log Cabin Quilts- Dancing in the Streets
  • SAQA Central Oregon-Pathways- Oglethorpe Square
  • The Undercover Quilters- All the Light We Cannot See- For the Watchers and Dreamers

Hope to see you at the show!