Friday, September 27, 2013

Ode to a Barn

On our property on Pennsylvania (the one we will be leaving) is a barn, well over a hundred years old.  Inside is a great echoing, arching, hallowed space, filled with shadow slashed by light. I have, over the years, tried to capture my feelings when I stand in that space but never found a way to put them into fabric until I created a little challenge piece  (click to see my post on it) based on the word "light." One of the people who commented on that piece thought it looked like standing inside a barn and I realized that it did--it was what I had been seeing all those years.

And so I made "Barnscape," a bigger piece:

And this is a much better photo of it than the one you saw in the last post. It is roughly 58 x 37" and I mean roughly because it is not a true rectangle (the photo makes the sides look more squared up than they are)--nothing in an old barn is level or square. 

Aside from the black and white, the fabrics are my hand-dyes and I suggested the rough textures of the barn wood with the machine quilting and hand stitching--

This may continue in a series. We shall see. And if you are still with me, thanks for the company--and check out what's happening at Nina's Off the Wall Friday post.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I had meant to bring back a few photos to share with you from the PA National Quilt Exhibition but between worrying about running out of power with no way to charge my phone and the quality of the photos, I didn't have much to choose from and I will only give you a very small taste of what I saw.

The judged portion of the show included such delights as Rachel Derstine's "Rousseau."
I love that glowing piecing in the sky.

The show always includes a good number of pieces from the World Quilt Competition and there were, as usual, some impressive works among them.  I was looking at techniques, and things like the tiny hand stitching on "Scenic Splendour" by Jenny Williamson and Pat Parker of South Africa caught my eye:

But I probably spent the most time at the SAQA exhibit Color Wheel of Emotion--many eye-catching pieces here, like Louisa Smith's "Synchronicity,"

and lots of inspiring techniques.

And, if you are still with me, thanks for the company on the very brief tour.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Unexpected News

"Congratulations" read the subject line of the email.  This was the day before I was to get up well before dawn cracked to ride a bus to see my two quilts (and many others) that were juried into the Pennsylvania National Quilt Exhibition at the Philadelphia Expo Center.  With the chaos of the summer I almost didn't take the time to enter them but was very pleased when both "Unexpected" and " Barnscape" were accepted.

And now this news: Unexpected had been awarded 2nd Place in the Innovative Category.  I let out a whoop and luckily Terra (the only one home at the time) did not knock the computer off the table in her desire to celebrate with me.

And, of course, since I did board that bus yesterday morning, there are pictures:
The first and second place winners in each category were all grouped together near the entrance. And so here is "Unexpected"--
and here is a picture of Barnscape--it's an unbelievably lousy photo but I was relying for the first time on my smartphone to take photos and learned that it is worth carrying around a camera. I thought I had taken several photos of the quilt but this is the only one I had at the end of the day.  

Barnscape did not show up well against the black curtains.  Oh, well.  . . .

And, if you are still with me, thanks for the company!

Monday, September 9, 2013


And I am not referring to the relative darks and lights of the colors we all work with. And then again perhaps I am. But for the past couple of weeks I have been waist deep in trying to figure what things I value.  This is not about the big intangibles, like the relationships with my family and friends that I hold so dear, but this is about things.

I have been sorting through "stuff," deciding what to put in our barn for the moving sale.
Since we are moving to a smaller house and the goal is to simplify, any argument for keeping something must be based on something stronger than pure sentiment, a process that is perhaps a good exercise for making design decisions in a quilt. The chair, for example, that I have had since I was a teenager has lovely carvings on it but is downright uncomfortable to sit in for more than fifteen minutes. It is among the items in the barn picture. 

Some decisions are easy: things like dishes and silverware are coming with us because we need them and we like the sets we have; things like the dining room set will not come with us because they simply do not fit in the new space. But there are so many items where the decision is more difficult--and then there are the surprises. As I cleaned out a small (about 2 feet long and about a foot high), old (antique may be too sophisticated a word for it) wooden chest that held an amazing number of videotapes, all but three of which were headed for the trash, I planned on dusting it off, having Tom repair the piece of trim on the lid that had fallen off once again, and carrying it to the barn.  But when I closed the lid on the empty box, I ran my hand over it and felt the smooth, well-worn wood and the place where someone had, at one point in its life, hammered a series of circles into the top for some reason. And I really looked at it.

I had already begun to evaluate it from the moving sale point of view and was not sure anyone would buy it or pay much for it. But I felt deeply that I wanted to keep it. And I began to see just a bit more clearly what I value--not what the market values, or the majority of people or even my best friends--but what connects with me. It's old, it's well used, it's wonderfully textured, it's made of something that changes, disintegrates, and will continue to do so, the color is rich and mature but not uniform--all these things contribute to why I value this piece; yet each falls short of a complete explanation. Ultimately I can't put it into words but it's a very important understanding, particularly when we are all so constantly battered with other people's opinions urging us in directions that may be good for someone else but may not be the best ones for us.

"Do what you love and the money will follow" goes the too often repeated maxim. But first we must come to know what we love. So perhaps when I am finally finished culling my life's detritus and can return to focusing on my stitching, I will bring just a small bit of new wisdom to it.

And if you have managed to read these ramblings to the end, thanks for the company!