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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

TOM I Portsmouth Star for Ona Judge Staines

On Saturday we began the newest Barbara Brackman block of the month with the Portsmouth Star block. As mentioned in my previous post this series of twelve blocks will give us some insight into (and I give Ms Brackman's own words) "an important place in the story of the network that assisted slaves on the road to freedom. We'll explore true stories of people who lived in slavery, escaped on the "Liberty Line" or helped the fugitives."

For the first block we had the fascinating story of Ona Judge Staines, a young slave who belonged to George Washington but ran away at age 15 in 1796 and hid in the New Hampshire town of Portsmouth. She was successful in remaining free, married a seaman and remained living in New Hampshire until her death many decades later.

The block looks like an updated version of an Ohio Star block.

As you might have read in my previous post I decided I would use a grey palette for this project. A bird used in each block would symbolize the slaves desire to be as free as a bird. The grey color would evoke the drudgery of the slave life but a few bright spots of color would enliven things from time to time.In this block the stripes represent how a slave might have felt caged in.

 As you know I like to have a bit of fun with my photo taking. What held up the process of the photo taking (I did actually finish my block on Saturday) was my search for props. Since the project is about the underground railway I thought railroad tracks would be good prop to begin with. Besides, it was more practical than setting my block afloat - Ona escaped by sea on the ship Nancy which sailed from Philadelphia to Portsmouth.
We spent several hours hunting through the collection of model trains trying to find an appropriate one. But with a collection that includes a number of European rolling stock and locomotives and a goodly few pieces of Lionel which mostly seemed to come in the livery of the Santa Fe, Union Pacific and New York Central my plan nearly came unstuck before it began.

The block are all 12" ones this time. On Sunday, after I had made my block I came across one of my little scribbled notes and sketch with a layout idea. Oops, I was thinking that this time I might put my blocks on point but the way I have used the bird and the stripe this block looks better as a straight set.

So I have some thinking to do before block II in February when I'll make my second block for the TOM project (Threads of Memory).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Prepping for the Next Quilt Project

Debuting on Saturday will be the first block in the latest Barbara Brackman block of the month project; she has named this one "Threads of Memory" and I take the liberty here to give you a quote directly from Ms Brackman

"The theme Threads of Memory refers to the Underground Railroad. Each month you'll get a block named 
for an important place in the story of the network that assisted slaves on the road to freedom. We'll explore true stories of people who lived in slavery, escaped on the "Liberty Line" or helped the fugitives."
The quilt groupies who follow her BOM/BOW projects have been actively searching through their fabric collections and/or visiting fabric stores to pull together a good pile of fabric to start the project with. And yes, I'm just as guilty.

 To being with I had a stern conversation with myself and said that I had plenty of fabric still left from the Dixie Diary project - and you can see the evidence above. This will be twelve blocks finishing at 12" with a focus still on the Civil War era. Many people liked my pink and grey color scheme and this will be just fine to continue on with.
 Of course once I was in a quilt shop for another purpose I thought there couldn't be too much harm in picking up just one or two more pieces of fabric to add to the pile and liven up the selection. (Guess how many quilt shops I've visited lately?) Then I began to think about making an essentially monochromatic quilt all in greys. It would represent the dull monotonous life of a slave in the Civil War era. But with a pop of color here and there to represent a few bright spots in life I might hope to make something not too monotonous.
 In one store I found three pieces of grey fabric with birds on them. H'mm, in one of the recent BB projects there were a handful of quilters using bird fabrics and they always added a good spark to the blocks so of course I dutifully purchased said fabrics. As you know I employ a lot of symbolism in my quilt pieces and I thought the birds could represent the longing of the slaves to be as "free as a bird".

And then I walked into a store and found this dramatic grey, black and lime green on white fabric. Wow! I said. I could use the greys left over from The Civil War and The Dixie Diary and some of the lime greens from the Grandmother's Choice project. And with that virtuous thought I added this fabric to the collection.

Of course you can see the dilemma I am now faced with. Will my new project be traditional and use many reproduction fabrics or will it be contemporary with lots of the new "it" color, grey, in modern prints? Or will it mix them all together like I often choose to do in a complete scrappy fashion?

I guess it is going to take a block or two before I settle into one or the other. Or maybe I'll have to be an over achiever and make two blocks each month. Blocks will be released on the last Saturday of each month.

What will it be, what will it be? Stop by each month and find out what happens.

In the meantime, the opening reception for Something Blue is this Sunday so I better be thinking about what I am going to say in my "informal talk". I'd love to see you there.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hanging a Show

It seems as though I have been awol for the last several weeks. In reality I have been planning for, and then hanging, a quilt exhibit in a local gallery, ArtSpace Herndon.

Yesterday, with a small team of helpers, 78 quilts got put up on the walls gallery style. Yes that sounds like a lot, and it is, but most all of them are on the "wall hanging/display" size. In all the hustle and bustle yesterday my camera stayed quietly in the bottom of my bag and so I have no action shots to share.

But today I went back and took a few photos.
 Oh, here is one action shot after all! The installation of the banner I made for the show required a little more ingenuity than most exhibits they hang there. This is the view as a visitor arrives through the front door - of course most visitors will not be greeted by the volunteer up a ladder!

 And as they turn to the main front desk they'll see my quilt "Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue" paired with a lovely one made by Anne Smyers titled "The Five Elements: It All Begins in the Water".
Entering the main gallery space you'll see this; and indeed, that is my big quilt "The Blues and the Greys" from the Barbara Brackman Civil War BOW done back in 2011. The center large quilt on the back wall is an applecore quilt - the top was pieced by Susan Shaw's great grandmother in the 1940's and then hand quilted by Susan last year.

 To the left is an alcove with a number of small pieces. The nine pieces arranged in a random oval are all 12" pieces made for a challenge I issued to a few quilters in early December. The requirement was to make a quilt inspired by, and titled with, something you heard from your Mother. That challenge is named "My Mother Always Said". There are some fun pieces to see in that one.
 The main feature of the exhibit is The June Bride collection. Beginning in 2011 I gathered a group of 13 other quilters and issued them a challenge. I would give them a vintage quilt block (one that had been made as a block but never got beyond that stage) and they were required to make a piece, 24" x 24" using that block. There were five sections to the project and all had as a theme something to do with a wedding.

The first section, A Bridal Shower, was hung in a show I co-curated here at ArtSpace in January 2012. For this show the four other sections are displayed. Because of space restrictions not all of the quilts in all of the sections are here...but 39 are!

Above you can see two rows of four quilts (i.e. 8 quilts) that come from the "Baskets for the Bridesmaids" section. Then, overlapping, (and looking at the photo below) there are another two rows of four quilts from "The Brides Wedding Day Album". On the longer straight wall are nine quilts from "The Rehearsal Dinner".

 Tucked in on that short wall on the extreme right of the photo above are a couple of "story boards" that briefly describe the project and display the vintage blocks that everyone started with.

 Now on the longest wall (above) we were able to hang all fourteen of the quilts from the "Tuxedo Rental Time" section.
Then as you turn to leave the show you'll see this corner which demonstrates the variety of styles that comprise the show.

If you're counting, yes, you did not see 78 quilts. Amazingly, we ran out of the hanging wires and a hasty order was placed for more. In a week or two I'll show you the balance of the pieces.

On exhibit from today, January 14 until Sunday March 2, the show should surely provide a dose of color for the winter months. There is a catalog with details of all the quilts to walk you round the show and a visitors book for you to leave your comments in. And if you have a case of the winter blues, then do make a visit to see the show, titled "Something Blue", and come away feeling refreshed and buoyed by seeing quilts given the gallery treatment.

The opening reception will be on Sunday, January 26 when we'll have refreshments, a mix and mingle with many of the quilt artists and I will present an informal talk about the show and related quilt topics.It would be great to see you there!

Thanks to all who helped me by lending their quilts for the show and, for the assistance in getting it up and ready for primetime yesterday.

Am I forgiven for not blogging much lately? A new Barbara Brackman BOM will begin on Saturday January 25 which I will be doing so watch out for that. And maybe now this show is up I'll have time to finish off last year's The Dixie Diary.

Promises, promises!