Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Paint by numbers

I finally got some quality quilty time this past long weekend.  I fought the urge but had to start a new project just to kick start things again.  Last month I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Edyta Sitar and came away with such an urge to make half square triangles.  I also came away with a new book and some fabric but I digress.  My middle child was the first to leave the nest and he asked for a special quilt.  I've spent the last two years trying to settle on the "perfect" one to mark such a milestone.  Fortunately, when Edyta showed her "Mountain Top" quilt I knew I'd found it.  It is the perfect pattern to marry my repro fabrics and something much more modern for a young man.  It also allows me to squeeze in some pinks and purples while camouflaging them with something a little more masculine.  I am pasting my fabrics into my quilt journal so that I can get a sense of how they are playing together and so I don't re-buy any of the batiks when I head to the local quilt shop.

I am still working on the Mary Mannakee block 2.  There are plenty of more complicated applique blocks but this is the fussiest one I've every attempted.  That funky flower on the top left that looks like "jazz hands" took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  And, there are two in the block.  Sigh.  I do like the way the block is gradually filling in.  It makes me think of a paint by numbers project.  I am still pondering how to tackle the middle flower that has some very small little holes.  At least everything is relative...compared to the middle flower the jazz hands are seeming quite simple now.

And...what's a post without my Lemoyne Stars.  Did I mention they were hand pieced?  Of course I did.  Anyway, I've sewn some together and couldn't resist showing off my piles of completed star blocks.  It might be time to commit to a finished size quilt and determine how many stars I actually need.  Hmmm... maybe not yet.  I would hate to get discouraged to find that I am still about 200 stars away from my goal.

A good week

Normally, I like to keep this blog to quilting but once and awhile I gotta be a mom and show off the chicks.  Our youngest had her Columbia University commencement last week.  Can you tell she has a very proud papa?

She's enjoyed her time in NYC.  This fountain is a favorite site during her runs through Central Park.  People were so friendly when we took our photo walk through the park.  She was wearing her robe and got countless well wishes from passers-by. oldest and his fiance bought their very first house yesterday.  They worked so hard to make this happen and we couldn't be happier for them.  I can't wait to visit!

No pictures but our other son started his dream job at the beginning of this month.  All in all, our children are doing a good job at this growing up thing.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baltimore Album quilt revival - onto the fourth decade

I am a proud member of the Baltimore Applique Society.  I know I've mentioned it before but last night's meeting was one of the best I have attended.  BAS is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013 and the program chair is doing a terrific job of securing speakers that could turn even the biggest applique cynic into an applique lover.  Elly Sienkiewicz was the program speaker and she was fantastic.  She wove her own history working with album quilts into the history of quilting generally and the Baltimore Album genre specifically.  Along with that were musings on what draws us to these quilts and she finished up with members of the audience sharing what is so appealing about album quilts to them.  For me, it's difficult to pick a precise reason.  On some days, I see one of those quilts and just want to drink in the riot of color (and touch all the quilting).  Other days, I am enamored by the control of a red and green quilt.  Still others, I find peace in stitching my own blocks or relief that, with so many things out of control, I am master of my own needle and thread.

Above is a photo of Elly with seven current and past BAS presidents.  These women have been very brave taking on leadership of that organization.  I've been a member through at least four of their terms and each has her own style and ideas but all have done the job well.

If you ever took a Baltimore Album quilt class you likely used one or more of Elly's books as a text or source of designs.  I took my class with Mimi Dietrich in 2000 and I confess to not finishing my quilt.  But I learned many skills and acquired nearly all of Elly's books.  Yesterday, I took some time to browse through them and reveled in the history and eye candy they contain.  If you aren't familiar with them, visit your guild library and see if they have copies of Baltimore Beauties and Beyond: Studies in Classic Album Quilt Applique, Vol. 1 and 2, and Papercuts and Plenty (Baltimore Beauties and Beyond: Studies in Classic Album Quilt Applique, Vol. 3) for a place to start.  The photo at the top of this post is Elly with her quilt from Papercuts and Plenty.


This block, above, is from one of Elly's quilts.  It's the one I blame for me not completing my quilt started in the applique class I took.  Everyone has their favorites among the variety of blocks used in Baltimore Album quilts.  Mine turned out to be roses, eagles and ships.  Once I completed my own rose block I decided I wanted to pitch all the rest.

This block (above) has all those funky flower petals done in reverse applique.  Most of the time when I am with people who see something complicated done in reverse they will ooh and ahhh.  But, really that shape is a little easier done in that method.  Still, I think it looks cool.

This is Elly's copy of Dena Katzenberg's Baltimore Album Quilts which is the exhibit catalog from the Baltimore Album quilt exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1981.  I loved seeing her book which had post-its all through its pages and had been taped and re-taped to hold it together.  I can't tell you how gingerly I open my own copy because the book is so hard to find now and, if you do, the price is dear.  Oh, and under that book?  It is Elly's original Spoken Without a Word.  She has a new edition coming out in fall 2013.

Well, thanks for sharing my musings about BAS and the album quilt revival.  I've switched from doing a Baltimore Album reproduction to the Mary Mannakee (not Baltimore, but a Maryland quilt from the same county where I grew up).  Yes, I went straight home after the meeting and started appliqueing.  I should have a finished block to show by this weekend. 
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