Next month I am scheduled to give a talk about my Quilted Homes to a group of artisans: “The Village Quilters of Cathonsville”. I just confirmed with the guild representative the length of my talk (one hour) and the number of people in attendance (70-80). As I logged on here to write about this upcoming event, I became overwhelmed with the degree of talent that I will be addressing. I know I checked out the group when I was first offered the speaking engagement, but I guess when the time period becomes ‘less than a month’, the task becomes more overwhelming. 🙂
To give you an idea where my slight panic may be coming from, Mimi Dietrich is one of the founding members of the guild. Check out her website! Amazing!!!
When I started making my quilted homes, I didn’t even know the style had a name (usually found under the category “quilted landscapes”). I had developed the process on my own about three years ago, more out of necessity than anything else. I wanted to make my parents some pillows for their Florida home that featured the two items they both collected down there; a pelican for Mom and a lighthouse for Dad. My plan was to piece together an applique with heat-n-bonded fabric and stitch it down on background. I have no talent for sketching, so I went online and downloaded an image of a pelican on a pier. I printed this out, cut out the main shapes and then traced and cut out the corresponding fabric from these shapes. I sewed it all down onto a background of waves and sky. I remember really enjoying how much the eye of the pelican came to life when I stitched on it. I ended up doing the same for the lighthouse, shipped it all off for Christmas or their anniversary (I forget which one now) and let the whole thing slip out of my mind. I find that I often do that with the things I create. I have a much loved neighbor that I have made things for over the years and I can not tell you how many times I have said “this is cute” over something she has out that I had made for her! (How embarrassing!)
Speaking of that neighbor, it was a Christmas present for her that same year that started my work on the homes. I have talked about this before, but let me allow me to recap — I had my son Tommy take a picture of her barn from our property. It is a view I love that she does not often see. I didn’t have the technique down yet, but I printed out the picture and started to work from there. I got the colors I wanted from my stockpile, ironed some heat-n-bond on the backs of the fabrics and set to work piecing out the material. I didn’t “cut and paste” the way I do now. I just eye-balled it and it was a real mess. I kept trying to figure out the perspective until I finally gave up and cut the barn out of the printed copy I made. It was like a lightbulb went off! I remembered the pelican and lighthouse I had done for my folks and spent the rest of my time cutting out the shapes from the picture, re-cutting them on the fabric, then pasting (ie: ironing) them down on the background. Simple, really.
The best part of it all was how much my neighbor loved it. I had given the picture to her right before Christmas, which turned out to be her and her husband’s anniversary. He had been very ill that year and was of failing health. The barn was built by his ancestors and was his favorite piece of their land. I had not known these details and was touched by the significance of my gift. A few months later she commissioned me to design a similar piece for a friend of her’s, and I guess you could say the rest is history.
I thought in this post that I would pay homage to those early works. I struggled though most of them, used my seam ripper a great deal, and made many mistakes. But if it wasn’t for those early struggles, I would not have reached the level of comfort I have with this process, and confidence to turn what I see into a quilted picture. I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank the ladies from the guild for their confidence in me. I am feeling very humbled by the attention I have received from this truly talented group of people.