Quilts, Life, & Poetry

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The Quilt

Piece by piece

Scrap to scrap

One small bit at a time…

                        Sewn together.

Solid, floral, themed or batik

Each piece unique…

                        Together diverse

Infinite design

Layered on top of

                        Wool, cotton, cornhusk or hay

That in turn is placed

upon a soft warm layer

                         To touch the skin

Tied together

Finished as one

This is what we are…

                         United in our diversity 

                                                                        AND  our commonality.

–Marcia Gutiérrez, Copyright 2017

Dream Weaver–The Guide

I was taking a class on dream interpretation.  

Every morning I would wake-up and write what I remembered.  One night my dreams moved like a roller coaster ride—up and down, around and around, in and out.  Nothing made sense and then it stopped for just a split second and there she was siting behind a tree stump that wasn’t made of wood.  Opal clear water flowed out of the center of the stump and she was petting the head of a dragon made up of the colors of blue, green and purple.  She looked at me. Suddenly, she was gone and the roller coaster ride of dreams continued.  I spent a lot of time looking up what this meant.  I realized that the tree stump was petrified wood.  I also knew that I needed to do a quilt on her and the dragon.  I decided to add a background of red wood trees, used silk ribbon for the leaves, and fabric paint. The tree stump is appliquéd with hand died cotton fabric.   The water and dragon was a challenge though.  The water in the dream was crystal clear with sparkles of colored light—like an opal I once saw.  I went to a quilt show with a friend in San José, California and found this yarn.  I also found a book on Chinese knotting.  So I made the dragon by knotting the yarn and in turn it also became the water.  I added a pearl and stone beads to represent the chakras.  The quilting around the woman, dragon and tree stump is free form and done by hand.  It begins in the dragon’s mouth.  I began the quilt in Northern California and completed it in Illinois. (19.5 x 28.5 inches, 1999-2001)

Now it’s 2020 and we are boiling over with frustration from a pandemic and decades of racism and the lives that this has taken from our communities. I look at this quilt that represents an inner me…who I am. I look at the dragon and what it represents…the power within. I feel lost, what more can I, a white woman, do to help our communities and the deep pain and fear that many of my friends feel that racism causes. I too sometimes feel this fear for my husband a man born in Costa Rica. I have seen and yes felt the racism as a woman who is in a mixed racial marriage. I have also felt the love in a multi-cultured community. That love is more powerful than any racial hatred. I have seen this in the past 4 years and I see this now as communities, mine included, work together to find answers and solutions to a horrible problem that has festered for too long.

I might not at this moment be able to do more than write poems, work with a group of beautiful women in a theatre group thru zoom on these times, and take photographs of my life in lockdown in France but I know that it’s not just the big actions that count in making this world a better place for all. It’s the small actions too for they build and spread and help in creating a better place for all.

That’s who I am within, that’s the dragon power that resides in me.

“There are no great things, only small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

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.