Sunday, August 21, 2016


I had the wonderful experience of attending another Trunk Show by Dawn Boyd-Williams yesterday. I am always so impressed with the things that motivate her to do what she does. Her work is so thoughtful. She says, "I read a lot, listen to a lot of music, watch people, and study all kinds of cultures." She set me to thinking. What is my impetus? I do all of those things and the impressions hit me differently. That is the beauty of individuality. The spectrum of light can come from the same source but be perceived by each person as a different color. So Dawn and I both read a lot, listen to a lot of music, watch all kinds of people, and study all kinds of cultures. She sees red when I see blue.

 I have had so many requests for quilts about the President and the First Lady that I want to tell you what motivated me to make several of the quilts.  This piece is called "Elegance." It is the first one I made a couple of years after the first inauguration around 2010. I had this idea of portraying the First Lady in a red dress (although she wore white at the inaugural ball) to show that she had a powerful and forceful spirit. I also had an idea of  a couple dancing and enjoying the dance. I thought it was symbolic of the dance they would have to do to survive in the white house. I made them with really big smiles as I could see them sidestepping political BS. It was early on in my work with faces so I can now look back and see some things I could have done differently (better). I also wanted to have the 3-D effect, so I made his bow tie and the bottom of her dress stand out. I purposely chose the light background because I wanted them to stand out. 

Then I was asked to do a portrait workshop and I had this idea that a picture of the president would be a portrait that most of the class members would like to make. So I created the "44th President" quilt for that class. The class never happened but this was the preparation. Either I seem to like him in a blue suit or I have seen a lot of pictures of him in a blue suit. I can say that I made this face twice for this quilt. The first time I made it, I used the wrong color brown fabric. It looked like somebody but not the President.

When Barack Obama won the Presidency the first time, we were overwhelmed with emotions. Pride was one of the most prominent of the emotions. Mrs. Mattie Pittman asked me to make her a quilt for the bed with a picture of President Obama on it. I said yes but had no idea how it would look. So I threw it n the back of mind and tossed it around for a few years. Then her daughter said she wanted a quilt for her mother. She said, "she likes big hats and I was thinking of a quilt with a lady in a hat." I remembered that she had previously asked for an Obama quilt and now her daughter wanted a lady with a hat. The light bulb turned on in my head and I heard the ancestors sing. I'll combine the two requests and make a quilt with the President and the First Lady and I'll make the First Lady with a hat on. Not just any old hat but a big church hat like Mrs. Pittman would wear. I made the First Lady's face first. After that, I found a hat that I wanted and designed a dress to go with the hat. I wanted a big 3-D flower to place on the hat, but how would I make it and keep it light so as not to weigh the quilt down. I decided to go with ruching. Ruching is a French word which means to plait. It is a very ancient technique. A strip of fabric or ribbon is gathered in a repeat pattern and as the gathering thread is drawn up the strip forms scallops or petals.

I used a ribbon made from organza. I really liked how light it was once I finished. I set it aside and kept working on the quilt. Next I did the President's face and his suit. The back ground was next and then the people were sewn onto it. For Mrs. Pittman's quilt I added rows of squares to the center back ground to make it bed sized. Once all pieces were in place, I quilted it on the long arm machine.

I sewed the ribbon flower on to the hat. Made a gazillion french knots to mimic hair on President Obama's head. I added all the final embellishments to finish it off.  I named it "Just Between Us" because the President seemed to be laughing at something whispered between them while the First Lady looks like she held the punch line. It was seven years from the time Mrs. Pittman asked me for the quilt to the time I finally finished it. I spent about five years thinking about the concept. She was so happy when she got the quilt. She laid it on the bed right away and then declared that people could only see the picture of the quilt when they came by. 

There is probably at least one more Obama quilt inside me. Not sure what it will be but it is stirring around somewhere in the back of my head. Like Dawn, I will read something, or someone will say something, or a song will touch me a certain way and the foundation for that next quilt will spring forth from the back of my mind.

I can't wait!

See more of my quilts at

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