James

20130927-untitledThis is “James”, my entry into A RVA Runs Through It, which is a special exhibit at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Fest (MAQF) this weekend in Hampton, Virginia.

The Richmond Quilters Guild sponsored this exhibit, and it seemed a natural for me to enter using photography as well as quilting.

My Artist Statement—

“I am not a native. As a transplanted New Yorker, the songs that Richmond sings to me aren’t necessarily the same ones a native hears, and I am ok with that! (Obits in my hometown paper for a 97 year old read “Brooklyn native, brought to Staten Island as an infant.”) I get it.

This is the first in a planned series of YoYo quilts. Painted Cheese cloth and Yo-Yo’s depict Class III and IV Whitewater Rafting, surrounded by photos I’ve taken of favorite spots in RVA.”

I love to take photos of the James River, and of things in Richmond that I enjoy.

I have an outsiders appreciation of the place—I don’t focus on the political or Civil War, but I do love a lot about Richmond, and the parallel’s to my former New York life aren’t lost on me. I was born in Richmond County, New York. (More popularly known as Staten Island.)  Staten Island is to Manhattan what Colonial Heights is to Richmond, VA.  Manhattanites stare blankly when you say Staten Island, and when I say Colonial Heights up in Richmond I get that same vacant stare, a level of disbelief that I have wandered so far afield and north of the river.  I went from the forgotten borough to the outer suburban edge of this metro area. It takes almost as long to get to downtown Richmond as it did to get to downtown Manhattan, although the mode of transport is very different. Car.  Not bus, then boat, then train.

The quilt came about the way most good things do. I was walking around the IQF in Houston just after Super storm Sandy, and my mind was distracted by thoughts of home, of the devastation, and I had a certain amount of survivors guilt, being there in TX enjoying life, while so many of my family and friends were battling this storm; seeing all the news reports, and just this sense of doom, and dread for my hometown, and all the places I knew so well.

The idea for this quilt came from that day, because walking through the quilt show in Houston, my mind being pelted with an overload of visual stimulation, I had suddenly envisioned a quilt about Sandy. And, once that came to me, it broke through my inability to buy fabric, to settle on things I liked. I bought fabrics and I knew it would have YoYo’s, and I had very specific ideas, but I wasn’t totally ready to make it. So, it sat, aging, as my quilts often do.

When this challenge was announced, “James” came to me, almost fully formed; so many of the thoughts about Sandy that I hadn’t yet realized just lined up and became this quilt.

Sandy is still going to happen. It’s closer now, than it had been before. This piece was very much a test run.

 

The photos on the quilt are all mine, and are all available to purchase at my website.  This takes you to one page where most of the images are, but please, explore more of Richmond and  more of my photos!

My understanding is after this 4-day show, the entire RVA exhibit will be at a church in Richmond for the month of March. (I believe it is Shady Grove, but am not positive, nor do I have details.) Watch this space for further information.

Vote for me!

Both Aunt Gene and my great grandmother Miriam suffered from Alzheimer’s.

To say they were eccentric is to put it mildy….Aunt Gene lived in this house from childhood till her mid 80’s.  No one was EVER allowed upstairs.  I remember there being strings of used teabags hung across the window by the back door, so they could be used more than once.  They washed their tinfoil.  Aunt Gene never tossed a plastic container away.

When she got closer to leaving the house, she would give me random items…. ONE of a set of antimacassars–because if she gave me a matching set, I might sell it!!! A huge Hellmans jar of buttons and zippers. An isinglass toaster. A jar full of shells. Cardboard pieces wrapped with a few yards of hand made lace (by her, my great great grandmother or my great grandmother…)

When I made this, I wanted for nothing to be new. The main fabric was selvages, the netting from another project, the buttons from that jar, the teabag from a cup I enjoyed…

Spread the word!! IF you go to this link, my quilt is the last one (called Wouldn’t Aunt Gene Be Proud)…VOTE for me!  Ask your friends too!! march 2006 wouldn't aunt gene be proud1Thanks! http://quiltinggallery.com/2013/02/0…rative-quilts/

Kitty….

My dad was a cat man; the story goes how when my mother was in the hospital giving birth to me, my father was home helping  Scrapper, the cross-eyed cat he brought home in a motorcycle bag, deliver her first litter of kittens.

He let me have a cat that lived with him that I named Tinkerbell when I was little.  When he died (two years ago today), I believe he was owned by about 6 cats.

I asked his girlfriend if I could have some of his ubiquitous flannel shirts (EASY to shop for at Christmas, plaid flannel never goes out of style)….I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them but I needed to own them.

They hung around the studio for a while, while I was trying to decide what I wanted to do, and then it occurred to me. Rather than making only one quilt with the shirts, or a number of wall hangings for all us kids, I could make stuffed animals—and cats seemed the obvious choice.

This is Meece:

IMG_4739

I found a simple stuffed animal pattern on the web. Sorry, I don’t recall where, it was a while back. I wanted something with a minimum of parts, and nothing too fussy.

I totally ignored the fabric requirements. The pattern was only for the actual shapes.

This is what I did: (and, no, I didn’t take pictures)

  1. Wash all the shirts. Their weights do not have to be the same. (I had 4)
  2. Reverse engineer all the shirts (fancy way of saying take them apart!!!!) I used a seam ripper and pair of snips. Cut off collar, button placket and cuffs. SAVE BUTTONS. Open up the entire remaining shirt, seam by seam. LEAVE pockets intact. Do not worry if there are balding patches or parts that haven’t faded.
  3. Press with steam. Use starch if the fabric is really flimsy.
  4. Using a straight edge and rotary cutter, straighten the edges. Don’t cut fabric into perfect shapes. This is really about just eliminating some of the curvier edges. (you will end up with many sided, uneven geometric shapes )
  5. Purchase the thinnest available fusible interfacing, and according to manufacturers directions, iron all fabric pieces onto interfacing, wrong side touching fusible.  Cut away excess interfacing.
  6. Try to not worry about grain, pattern or any of that. Just take two pieces that have a similar length side and sew them together, with right sides together. (standard quilter 1/4 inch)  Press seam open. Grab another piece and attach this to one of the sides of the previous piece.
  7. You are basically making a big piece of fabric. Resist the urge to square off! You may need to snip off a bit so you can find a flush edge.
  8. Stop when you feel the piece begins to get unwieldy, or you can’t find a good place to sew onto.

Now, you are going to make cats! How many are you making?IMG_0044

  1. Find the primary pattern piece (biggest body, and face, for example.) Place the paper pattern anywhere on your new piece of plaid patchwork.  Keep in mind WHERE the POCKETS will end up when doing so (right side up, etc)
  2. Do not obsess about grain or any color matching.
  3. Cut out those shapes the number of times you need to make your cats.
  4. DO NOT toss your scraps! Keep cutting out your pattern pieces. 
  5. When you have a lot of scraps, sew them back together, like you did at the beginning. (straighten a bit, sew together, iron.)
  6. Continue cutting pattern pieces, “making” more fabric whenever necessary.
  7. Build your cats. Sew and stuff according to directions.
  8. Hint: Sew buttons on for eyes and stitch black whiskers before sewing or stuffing head.
  9. I made a little ‘dog tag’ out of Shrinky Dink material that I ran through the printer with a photo of Dad and a phrase on the back, which I put on the cats as a collar.IMG_4740IMG_4741

I sewed all the scraps back together a few more times, and made little 5 inch tall stocking ornaments that I did a quick blanket stitch around the top.  2012-11 NOV 28-2

The cats all found homes with his sons, his granddaughter, his sister, his girlfriend and myself. The stocking ornaments were given to other family and friends.

A hint or two : This fabric is valuable in that it is a memory and you have only a finite amount.. If you are making a lot or cats, or you are not comfortable sewing, you may want to make a mock up out of muslin, so you can see if there are adjustments to the pattern you want to make, before you start cutting.  You can always sew the mistake pieces back onto the new fabric you are making, and try over, but…. 

Also, if you feel that there won’t be enough fabric, you may want to run to Goodwill and buy a shirt so you have a little insurance. Or you could mix in some other family fabric item.

There is no reason this can’t be made from women’s dresses, dress shirts and kids clothing,—and/or! It’s a patchwork cat, after all!

(linking to Off the Wall Friday!)