March 11, 2013
Rabbit and Maple - Work in Progress Update 4
The vintage component of this work is multifaceted. I began with some embroidered blocks that I bought on eBay years ago. They were dingy, and someone had appliqued odd butterflies on top of them, but they cleaned up beautifully and are of excellent quality. At the time I posted a query on a listserve--remember those?-- and a kind soul snail mailed me a photocopy of an article by quilt historian Barbara Brackman. I can’t find it online, but in summary it identifies my blocks as designed by Eveline Foland, who was associated with the Kansas City Star newspaper. The “Memory Bouquet” set of twenty patterns was published in October and November of 1930. I really love the graceful, flowing lines of her designs. They seem timeless.
I built out the blocks with solid colored triangles, then added pieced triangle blocks. The fabrics I used are from my personal collection, which begins with scraps from my mother’s housedresses sewn in the 1940’s. A lot of the ones I pulled from the stash for this project were from my own garment sewing when I was in high school and made most of my own clothes. It’s a bit odd to think that part of my personal history now loosely qualifies as vintage…..I am paying tribute to a lot of women who stitched and sewed with this work, my past self included!
I paint a lot of the fabric I use in my work, starting with pfd (prepared for dying) silks and cottons. I don’t dye fabric, the process doesn’t appeal to me, and for the most part I don’t feel the need to acquire hand-dyes. However, now and again I come upon an artisan whose dye work blows me away. I’ve used some of Deb Lacativa’s sugar dyed textiles in several of my pieces; there’s nothing else like them. Lisa White Reber is another artist who has caught my interest. I first met her online, and then talked with her in person a few times. I am in awe of her technical knowledge and expertise, and the way she applies it to make unique art cloth. A year ago at a quilt show I bought some yardage that she treated with multiple processes. I thought it was stunning, and it put it aside to await its moment. With this project I realized it was completely appropriate for the patchwork and to build out the borders. A visitor to my studio observed that the patterning resembled Rorschach-esque stylized rabbits, and while that did not consciously play into my decision to use it, it’s just possible that my subconscious was on the job. See Lisa’s work for sale at her Dippy Dyes site, and check out her blog. (Disclaimer--I have no affiliation to Deb or Lisa, and this is not a sponsored post. I’m just a fan.)
What with the multiple rabbits, and two big maple prints, and 6 patchworked vintage blocks, and the bits and bobs and borders that I used to make it all work together, the finished top turned out on the large side by my standards, roughly 75” by 88”. I am very, very happy with the design and assembly. I will be less happy once I am wrestling it under the machine to quilt it, but so it goes. Quilting will have to wait for a bit as I am heavily into a design furor right now, and I am about to be distracted by the arrival of spring.
Bonus footage! I was interviewed by the local paper as part of a story about the AQS Quilt show that’s coming to Lancaster, PA this week. You can read the article here. At the end, there’s a short video of me in the studio, and at one point I briefly display the finished Rabbit and Maple top. Go take a look, and enjoy!
Addendum: the newspaper just published the interview as a YouTube video.