in anniston

True confession? So, yeah, I ruminate. Not like a cow, of course, but I let thoughts mull around if they seem to want to stick around. This plays out in two ways that are relevant here: (1) events and statements (whether written or spoken) are dissected or abstracted through the process of essentially over-thinking; and (2) when design ideas take hold, assuredly I’ll pursue it feverishly until it’s time to eat or until the fever breaks.

And then sometimes both (1) and (2) occur simultaneously.

What about those log cabins? Well, some might call these iconic quilt structures “irrelevant” or “played-out,” while I currently find them captivating. The duality holds here: (1) what meaning might these shapes express? and (2) why is the process of building these rectangles untiring? I can’t say that I have answers yet. But we’ll just dwell here a while. Okay?

Last October, while wandering through the marketplace at Quilt Festival in Houston, we happened upon an amazing vintage quilt made of about 1000 tiny log cabin blocks. Each log was roughly 1/8″ wide (finished); it was scrappy; the fabrics spanned decades and ranged from silks to velvets to polyester. And it’s stunning. It was in terrible shape but also terribly over-priced, so I just asked permission to snap a photo and then fondled until I had a sense of how it was made. [The seller agreed to the photo, but insisted that I shouldn’t post it online. I’ve honored her limitation.] Anyway, it was foundation pieced by hand on silks and cottons and then tied.

My buddy Jacey triple dog-dared me (…or maybe I dared her to dare me?). Meh. From the moment I saw the thing, I knew I’d be exploring the possibilities. I was an easy mark. Just call me Stinson. Barney Stinson.

going small

Worked up a template and then pieced onto paper, this was my first attempt. The same template on silk formed the basis for this bigger indigo project, though.

Umm...yeah.

With my precious/hoarded indigos that I handdyed on Osnaburg and flour sacks, I slowly built out to a big rippled and maddening square using increasingly wide logs.

Alabama

Blips of color kept the process interesting. But there was something primal about the improvisation within the traditional construction. The pristine center that I’d manicured carefully quickly became the free-ranging, ramshackle patchwork with personality…and, dare I say, soul.

With aggressive basting and after quilting my guts out the patchwork yielded. Wet blocking further calmed. The metaphor gets too personal here. But I will say that the process of forcing the patchwork to comply with the rules of civil quilt society was not unlike the changes—through both internal and external forces—of the past two generations of my family.

A bit on the nose, but the dirt floor shack my dad was raised in? Well…yeah. But the structures of both are sound. Some of the best human beings I know are associated with that house in the mountains. And this quilt will function well as a quilt…the patchwork, however, was just fine without the struggle to force it to submit to my will.

Alabama

Anyway, in retrospect, it seems that this one is not about that house in the mountains. This one reminds me more of my grandmother’s house; hence the name. From here, I want to try to capture that other house. But I need to get at the orange clay…the orange veneer that you take home with you…and the presence of the past I feel in my bones when there. We must go deeper. But we can also go shallow and explore the worlds that we encountered after experiencing all that history.

That’s just a buncha rambling, though. Someday I’ll figure out how to discuss this.

Or we could try to make something devoid of meaning, just for the fun of applying logs, spiraling over and over and over and… That fun truly gives it meaning too.

The Details
Pattern: precision and improv patchwork
Materials:scraps from the bin: handdyed indigo flour sack and osnaburg; flour sack; muslin; kona snow; osnaburg
Techniques: machined pieced; foundation pieced; machine quilted; and hand-bound
Finished size: 48″ x 60″
Started: November 9, 2013
Finished: June 2, 2014

In 17 days…

In 17 days, some of us will descend upon Austin, TX for a big quilt gathering, QuiltCon. I’ll be taking a class with some of the ladies of Gee’s Bend and attending lots of lectures, including one with Bill Volkening on his incredible collection. Honestly, I’m experiencing a little quilt burnout at the moment, but I’m sure also getting to see friends—old and new—will re-energize me. Oh, and the food and the folks! Tacos and barbeque and southern accents will feed my soul. This chattering is running on, but the icy wintry mess of a day we’re having here reminds me that the weather will also be a welcome shift. Okay…it’s gonna be great!

Five of my quilts will hang in the show. I thought I’d remind you of the four I’ve shown here before and then tell you about the fifth later in the week. These are the descriptions I sent in with the entries, along with links to the original posts.

Self Study #4: The one for T

Self Study #4: the one for T

Claiming stand-your-ground rights, in February 2012 George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing, the hoodie became the icon for the outrage. I played with self-portrait images to try to somehow comprehend this simple dimension of the case. Is a hoodie just a symbol of a hoodlum, whose only fate should be early death?

This quilt is a collage of those self-portraits in a hoodie rendered in applique using a street art style; it is a tribute to young Trayvon who needn’t have died that night.

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Tune in Next Week

Tune in next week

This quilt originated as a Modern Quilt Guild fabric challenge sponsored by Michael Miller. The grey print reminded me of the stellated Sputnik satellites and early television antennae. Hence it inspired this improvisational mid-century modern graphic design. The irregular, but always rectangular (often log cabin) shapes bounce up on the blank field with a sense of new vigor. Other regions of the design are playful deconstructions of the architecture.
(Longarm quilted by Pam Cole).

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In Anniston

Alabama

The first of a series of log cabin quilts designed to represent places important to me, this is at once traditional and improvisational work, using my own handdyed indigos to represent my grandmother’s house in Alabama. In the construction, there was something primal about the improvisation within the traditional construction. The pristine center that I’d manicured carefully quickly became free-ranging, ramshackle patchwork with personality‚Ķand, dare I say, soul.

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In Wedowee

In Wedowee

Part of a series of log cabin quilts representing places important to me, this is our ancestral home–a dirt floor stick shack–where my father was raised on the land where our ancestors were enslaved in the mountains of Alabama.

Built by hand from handdyed cottons using just scissors, no rulers. Improvisational handquilting in pseudo-Kantha style is an attempt to mimic the tractor tracks on the farm. Crop circles and planting furrows.

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Of course, quilts look very different in person. I’m looking forward to the show in Austin to see looks of great work in person.

Next time in this space? I’ll show you my snatch (quilt).

No, really. But not really.

(not nearly) wordless wednesday: In Candyland

A counterpoint to an elegy

This is more of those sticky pastels, this joins In Hogtown, In Wedowee and In Anniston as part of a series of log cabin quilts representing places important to me. This one is more conceptual: the place and time of my happy and naive preteen years, a small fantasy filled with improvisational impulses and possibilities.

In Candyland

In Candyland

In Candyland

In Candyland

In Candyland

In Candyland

The Details:

Materials: commercial cotton solids; natural muslin
Techniques: machine pieced; needle-turned applique; folded prairie points; machine quilted; hand bound
Finished size: 18×19″
Started : November 15, 2014
Finished: November 23, 2014

In Hogtown

So…how about another finished quilt from last year?

On July 1, 2014 I was granted a bit of freedom from RealJob. It’s a freedom I’ve not had in many years and it turned out to be the Best Thing Ever.

Part of my time was spent catching up on all the creative work I’d missed out on for a year. And then I began to think about what ought to be next.

In Hogtown

Ever just ask yourself…what if?

In Hogtown

What if you want to sew log cabin blocks using skinny strips? (Let’s go with 5/8″.) And what if you don’t mind some wonky personality in them? And what if…? You name it.

In Hogtown

What if you vary the sizes and don’t require squares?

In Hogtown

Eventually I made this quilt that joins In Wedowee and In Anniston as part of a series of log cabin quilts representing places important to me. This one is my college town, with all the various structures: long skinny dorms, teetering houses in the student ghetto, etc.

In Hogtown

This one exhibited in Houston at the International Quilt Festival in October 2014 as part of the American Made Brand Farm to Fabric.

In Hogtown

The Details:

Materials: American Made Brand cotton solids in almost all the colors
Techniques: machine pieced; machine quilted; hand-bound
Finished size: about 30″ square
Started : June 28, 2014
Finished:August 15, 2014