A Tribute to Harriet Tubman

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Harriet Tubman’s home built for her by her second husband.  Her resting place.           Please note the veteran star on the right by the flowers

When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

When working on a reading project with a local Middle School a few years back I read Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry.  Chapter 9 is called The Patchwork Quilt.  As a quilter myself, I became fascinated with this chapter.  Harriet was not good at sewing.  As a child her mama and others had tried to teach her but she was all thumbs.  For her marriage, though, she made herself a patchwork quilt.  Ann Petry describes the colors of the quilt and Helen Woodruff Tatlock, who knew Harriet Tubman, describes what happened to it:

           “It seemed as though she would never be able to master the art of sewing, to make the needle go through the material in the places where she wanted it to go.  It was the hardest task she had ever undertaken.

            Yet as the quilt pattern developed, she thought it was as beautiful as the wild flowers that grew in the woods and along the edge of the roads.  The yellow was like the Jerusalem flower, and the purple suggested motherwort, and the white pieces were like water lily, and the varying shades of green represented the leaves of all the plants, and the eternal green of the pine tree.” 1

           “The only person she told (that she planned to escape) was a white woman who lived nearby.  This white woman must have been a Quaker, as it was the Quakers who then gave escaping Negroes the most aid.  Harriet had a bed quilt which she highly prized, a quilt she had pieced together.  She did not dare to give this to any of the slaves, for if this was found in their possession, they would be questioned and punished for having known about her plans.  She gave this bed quilt to the white woman.  I recall that Harriet even told me this woman’s name but what it was I do not remember.  The white woman gave her a paper with two names upon it, and directions how she might get to the first house where she would receive aid.” 2

I called the Harriet Tubman Historical Society in Auburn, New York and asked the lady who answered if there was any information she knew about the quilt.  She had never heard anything about it.  Now, having lived in the Fingers Lake Region for two and a half months I was able to go to her home and resting place in Auburn.  It was an honor.

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In designing the quilt I used the colors described.  The original was most likely done in random patches and perhaps tied together.  I chose to do the border with Flying Geese representing the roads traveled to freedom, the Saw-Toothed Star represents the Northern Star, and the yellow, white and purple patches are Cube Lattice paired with Irish Chain representing the flowers and forest greens.

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Couldn’t resist…my helper, Stella.  She is not a lap cat but she can never resist a quilt!

 

 

 

  1. Petry, Ann. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. HarperCollins Publishers, NY, NY. 1955.  pp 79-80

 

  1. Humez, Jean M. Harriet Tubman: the Life and the Life Stories. The University Of Wisconsin Press. 2003.  p 216

 

Quilts=Art=Quilts: Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York. October 26 2019 – January 5, 2020 Form & Color

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One time I described quilting block patterns as just squares and triangles.  After I said this I took a pause and realized just how wrong I was.  Quilt blocks are so much more as these quilts presented demonstrate.  What I find fascinating is how the shapes of the pieces sewn together can change depending on the color scheme and the placement of the blocks.  As a miniature quilter I have played with this taking small blocks (1”square) with the same material used and creating several different quilts.

Note:  I will be dividing the quilts up into themes for this presentation.  The center does allow photos (no flash!) as long as the photographer gives credit to the artists (always!).  I did not take photos of every quilt.  Most are for sale.  Contact the center or go on their website for more information.  Or…better yet…go there yourself and experience this magnificent display of a beautiful art form.

Another note:  When I take photographs in a public setting such as a gallery I turn off all the sound that my camera makes, I do not use my DSLR which will make noise when the mirror lifts up.  It is less annoying for the people around you especially in a setting that is quiet.

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Looking in Four, 2019     Paulette Landers

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Hishaki-nui #1, 2019     Deb Berkebile

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Circular Infinity, 2017     Susan Michael

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Hedgerow, 2018     Gerri Spilka

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Bliss, 2017     Maria Shell

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Licorice Allsorts, 2018     Jeanne Treleaven

Quilts=Art=Quilts: Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York. October 26 2019 – January 5, 2020 Places

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Where we have been, where we grew up, a special place that we have visited or an experience or geological part of an area can open up our creative process.

Note:  I will be dividing the quilts up into themes for this presentation.  The center does allow photos (no flash!) as long as the photographer gives credit to the artists (always!).  I did not take photos of every quilt.  Most are for sale.  Contact the center or go on their website for more information.  Or…better yet…go there yourself and experience this magnificent display of a beautiful art form.

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Precipice, 2019     Jan Tetzlaff

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The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes    Kathy York

As a miniature quilter I really love this quilt.  All those little squares sewn together (about 1″square) is not an easy feat.  The movement is captivating for me too.

Quilts=Art=Quilts: Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York. October 26 2019 – January 5, 2020 Self-Awareness

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Years ago, in Costa Rica I had the honor of working with a group of socioeconomically disadvantaged girls and the nuns who cared for them during the week.  (They lived at home with their mothers during weekends and holidays).   Though I was teaching them miniature quilting (see September 7, 2015 post: Quilting with Children: Associación Al Niño con Cariño) I was also helping them to become more resilient and self-aware by integrating yoga, meditation, and positive discipline in the class.  I saw a significant increase in their self-awareness as well as their self-worth.

Self-awareness is defined as “having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thought, beliefs, motivation, and emotions…(it) allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.”  Oxford Dictionary

Note:  I will be dividing the quilts up into themes for this presentation.  The center does allow photos (no flash!) as long as the photographer gives credit to the artists (always!).  I did not take photos of every quilt.  Most are for sale.  Contact the center or go on their website for more information.  Or…better yet…go there yourself and experience this magnificent display of a beautiful art form.

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Mitote #12, 2018    Denise Roberts

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Daydreamin’, 2019   Mary Mattimoe

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Anxieties #5:  Acrophobia, 2019      Vickie Wheatley

 

Quilts=Art=Quilts: Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York. October 26 2019 – January 5, 2020 Relationships

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Our relationships with those around us are important to our health.  Sometimes, though, a relationship is not positive…losing someone close to you or trying to work through the challenges around us.  Working through the tough times is also important: Strengthening our resilience for the time ahead.

Art is a wonderful form to express and heal.  These quilts reflect this whether its working through the loss of a loved one or trying to understand the complexity of the relationships around us in our life.

Note:  I will be dividing the quilts up into themes for this presentation.  The center does allow photos (no flash!) as long as the photographer gives credit to the artists (always!).  I did not take photos of every quilt.  Most are for sale.  Contact the center or go on their website for more information.  Or…better yet…go there yourself and experience this magnificent display of a beautiful art form.

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Oxidation, 2018   Judith Quinn Garnett

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Outward Movement #2, 2019      Russ Little

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Broken Circles, 2018  Susan Leonard

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Looking for Tranquility, 2019   Denise Kooperman

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Bends, 2018   Naomi Velasquez

Quilts=Art=Quilts: Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York. October 26 2019 – January 5, 2020 Inspiration

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Ideas for any creation begins with an inspiration.  What inspirers one to come up with the idea for a new work?   It can be a quote, a photo, a bird song, a touch, a dream … it can be anything.

Though all the quilts in this series are inspired by something I chose a few to place in this category.  The inspiration and variety of techniques and medias that they use to create their final work of art in itself is an inspiration.

Note:  I will be dividing the quilts up into themes for this presentation.  The center does allow photos (no flash!) as long as the photographer gives credit to the artists (always!).  I did not take photos of every quilt.  Most are for sale.  Contact the center or go on their website for more information.  Or…better yet…go there yourself and experience this magnificent display of a beautiful art form.

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Collision, 2017     Niraja Lorenz

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Sauté Pans, 2018     Susan Callahan

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The Creative Hand, 2017    Wen Redmond

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Spin Cycle, 2017     Helen Geglio

Quilts=Art=Quilts: Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, New York Exhibit. October 26 2019 – January 5, 2020 Quilts with a Message

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On November 2, 2019 I attended the Quilts=Art=Quilts (QAQ 2019) exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center located in Auburn, New York.  Auburn is the last home and final resting place of Harriot Tubman.  A beautiful town located north of the Finger Lakes Region.

Though I have gone to the quilt museum in San Jose, California and have attended a couple of quilting conferences, I have never been to an exhibit for fine art quilts.  Both my husband and I enjoyed this exhibit (with awards given to some of the quilts).  I love working with textile.  It is a strong tactile media and this exhibit demonstrates that there are really no limits to the materials one can use to express their inner creative soul.

Note:  I will be dividing the quilts up into themes for this presentation.  The center does allow photos (no flash!) as long as the photographer gives credit to the artists (always!).  I did not take photos of every quilt.  Most are for sale.  Contact the center or go on their website for more information.  Or…better yet…go there yourself and experience this magnificent display of a beautiful art form.

 

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Go Back Where You Came From, 2019      Jeanne Marklin

 

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On the Path II, 2017     Daniela Tiger

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when all is said, 2019     Melissa Matson

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Listen Louder than You Sing, 2017   Shannon Conley

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Truthfulness, 2017   Sandra Poteet

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Imagine, 2019    Priscilla Smith

La Iglesia

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 La Iglesia (The Church)  13 sq inches mounted on canvas and framed

I love working with appliqué. It gives you so much more freedom with form. The inspiration for this piece came from my personal history. I was born and raised in San Diego and in Old Town San Diego there was a wonderful plaza call Bazaar del Mundo. It was built like a Spanish home with the rooms all opening up into a central plaza. You could walk from room to room (or store to store) thru a covered walk way. There where cages with birds and the garden and restaurant in the center.   A friend of mine managed a shop there and later the whole plaza. The owner would bring in cultural events. Bazaar del Mundo became an important part of what San Diego was about. And then, after 35 years it was gone (or forced to move). Old Town San Diego is part of the park services and they allow anyone with the highest bid to take over a lease. A big company came in and out bid the woman who had leased this area for 35 years. People protested but there was nothing that could be done. She moved to a different location and now the area is full of stores that can be found anywhere–nothing unique, no culture. Actually Old Town San Diego has become an extension of a touristy concept of Tijuana with bad restaurants (the good ones don’t seem to last) and colorful junk for sale. Before this all happened I bought a ceramic piece from Mexico and the shopping bag had a design similar to the one on this quilt.

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It’s based on Mexican Folk Art of ceramic churches. The flowers are based on popular tissue paper flowers that you can find in Mexico. The pattern for the door is from a church door that I took a photo of in France.

Quilting with Children: Associación Al Niño con Cariño

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The Associación Al Niño con Cariño is located in an old elementary school just outside Alajuela, Costa Rica.  It is run by an order of nuns from Columbia.

The girls that the nuns care for, ages 5 to 16, live there during the school year from Monday thru Friday where they attend a public school.  They go home for the weekends and holidays.  Home for them is a simple wooden house in a slum.  I went out with a couple of the Hermanas (Sisters) once to take photographs of their homes.  This experience gave me a new perspective of seeing what theses simple wooden houses meant to these single mothers.  They all felt blessed to have a place to call their home.  In one case, the mother and her three daughters had been living in a cave in the back of her in-laws’ house that was built against a man-made cliff.  The in-laws had dug a hole in the dirt wall for them and this is where she and her daughters lived when the nuns found them and took them to a better place to call home.

I began teaching after school yoga and meditation classes helping the girls find balance and harmony in themselves.  At the time I was also teaching myself how to miniature quilt so I ended up integrating the yoga, meditation and sewing into one class.

I hope they learned from me at least half as much as what I learned from them.

It was the best 3 years of my teaching career.

Quilted Tales: Why Miniature Quilts?

I was 10 years old when I made my first embroidery piece.  Didn’t know what I was doing but I did enjoy it.  Then I found a small book on embroidery for 35 cents and taught myself how to work with these wonderful stitches.  Still have the book.  I painted with thread and needle as a painter paints with brush and paint.

When I was in Jr. High School a friend’s mom made a handmade quilt for her bed and I was both hooked and enchanted.

Traditional quilts were too large though.  I like to do smaller pieces like I did with the embroidery so it wasn’t until many, many, many years later when I was living in Costa Rica and visiting family in San Diego that I saw in a book store a magazine called Miniature Quilting that the world of textile art changed for me.

Through this first magazine I learned about foundation piecing and made my first quilt using the house pattern in the instructions and creating my own until I had a quilt that depicted what a Costa Rican community was to me.  I ended up teaching miniature quilting to a group of nuns and the young girls under their care.  A whole new world was open to me.

Miniature quilting, to me, has more to do with the art of quilting and needle work.  I have had traditional quilters tell me that a quilt is not a quilt unless you can snuggle in it.  I love to snuggle and have a lap sized quilt that I made that I love to lay under during the winter.  I also love to look at the smaller quilts as I would a piece of art and enjoy the movement of color, form, and design that went into them.  Some were challenging where I had to learn how to create effects that I wanted.  I can get more detailed in a small quilt than I would in a larger one made to cover a bed.  Each stitch has a thought in it.  Sometimes that thought is about the friend that I am making it for, sometimes it’s about life.

A few weeks ago I was hand quilting in the dentist office waiting for my daughter.  The woman sitting across from me said, “You’re hand sewing that?!?”  Of course.  The more modern work today with the computerized sewing machines where they do it all for you look like something store bought.  Too perfect.  I love the look of handmade.  The perfect imperfections of the stitches.  It’s an intimate moment pushing the needle through the three layers or adding embellishments to a piece.  I never know how it will look in the end for I always add to the design as I go along.

Quilted Tales is about the journey that I go through in creating my quilts.  My hope is to enchant you as I was enchanted by that first quilt laying across my friend’s mom’s bed.

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Detail of Colores de Costa Rica: El Pueblo, first miniature quilt.