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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).


Cheryl Kotecki said...

So you did eventually find some appropriate props to begin the story of this interesting series of blocks. We have a model train, but it's probably 20th century and not one that would make such a nice photo as yours! Pretty block - I get the benefit of seeing yours and others' to figure out my fabric placement.

Judy said...

I also love your props. You are so clever. Your grey and lime are very soothing.

I have finished my block and will send a picture privately. We both have birds in the middle but that is the only similarity .....I will do some sketches of the eventual lay out.....I usually don't think that far ahead.