Sunday, October 30, 2016

Whole Cloth

Whole cloth quilts are made from one piece as opposed to quilts pieced together with many colored pieces. The beauty of the whole cloth quilt is usually the intricate quilting stitches that make up for lack of piecing design.

I had the pleasure of helping the talented quilting artist and teacher Marquetta Johnson with a class for teenage art students. We all worked on a whole cloth that started out as a blank canvas. The students were so creative. They drew fantastic art onto the cloth with fabric markers by Crayola Crayons. I didn't have time to work on mine during the class because it was an example piece. I taught the young adults how to quilt by hand on the cloth. I started mine by showing them a little design of stitches.

I brought my cloth home and did not have the heart to throw it away. It got added to the pile of "I'll get back to someday." One day it called out to me. I haven't figured out why but I picked it up and started doodling with shapes and stitches. I had no idea where it was going but it felt good. It felt real good to just relax and sew by hand.

I added a woman with wings in the center of the quilt and finished quilting the entire top. I put some brown cloth on for the woman. At that point I didn't know where I would go next. I knew I wanted to color with the Crayola Fabric markers. I also knew that I didn't have any, so I ordered some. In a few days they came in the mail and I was on my way. Painting on the colors was equally as enjoyable and relaxing as it was to quilt by hand.

First down was blue, next the center started out red.  Light green seemed like a good idea, but when I finished it I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the last space. More light green of course.  I put some yellow highlights on the center and that tinted it orange. Dark green rounded it out. I can't say that orange tint was where I wanted to go. I wanted more of a gold glow. I have one more thing to try for the effect.

The next thing was the wings. That was virgin territory. I learned a new technique from Tony Williams. He made some beautiful feathers on a quilt. Tony's feathers were so impressive that I thought they were real feathers. I don't think I quite mastered it but I can say I tried it anyway. And I should do better next time I do it.

I still have to put hair on her and bind the edges but I love the way it is turning out. My final goal is to find a nice frame for this one.

Thanks for taking this little journey with me from a blank canvas to a work of art.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My Style

Every artist has an unmistakable style. I am not sure when and how I got one but people tell me all the time that when they saw that one-they knew instantly that it was me. All I can say is that it has been developing over time. When I started on this journey my variety of fabrics were limited. Two things effected it: 1) was our income status and 2) was the kind of fabric I could afford to buy. Ooops that is the same thing. :-)

My first quilt project was made from scraps that my father salvaged from his job. I don't think anyone that I knew made quilts from brand new fabric. Perish the thought. Everyone scrapped and saved to have enough dribbles to make a quilt. So I followed suit. I had a small bundle because I didn't know how much fabric it would take to make a quilt. My ambition was to make a full bed quilt but with my skill level and know how I should have went for something a lot smaller. So when my father brought in scraps from the making of hospital scrubs and nurses smocks, I picked a lovely pattern that I had seen other women make. My father called it "the Fly in the Buttermilk" pattern. I had seen it in a book and they called it "the Jack in the Box". My dad never played with a jack in the box when he was growing up but I am certain he drank a lot of buttermilk. As a matter of fact, he liked buttermilk until his death, especially with cornbread in it. So I suspect he knew more about a fly in the buttermilk than a jack in a box. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the undertaking I had embarked on but my father was so proud that I thought I could do it. It would be about twenty years later when I finished it. That is my regret and that was in the 70's.

Quilt World magazine became popular in the 80's just in time for the reawakening of my latent quilt talent. I decided to try my hand at a quilt that I saw in a book. I loved making blocks and stacking them up. It became a meditation before I knew what meditation was all about. I tried almost every kind of block imaginable. I liked the Star pattern the best. I made a lot of stars. Simply loved them.

My next leap didn't happen until the end of the 90's into 2000. I saw a picture of a landscape quilt and a picture of a person on a quilt. I am not sure which one I saw first but decided that I could do that. I tried my hand at the landscape first. I was so pleased with it I figured I would do a lot more of them. It didn't quite happen like that. I tried my hand at a person next. The first one was alright and the second one got better. Next thing I knew I was about twenty portrait quilts in, doing an exhibit and publishing a gallery book about the exhibit. The book is called Gifted: Art Quilts Featuring African American History Makers.

Which brings me to 2016, and the project that is taking my breath away. I said I would make 20 quilts for the National African American Quilt Convention. The Convention is 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. It is the first ever of it's kind. I guess you can hear my excitement. Check it out at This morning I woke up realizing that 20 quilts is a lot of quilts. I have been working and designing away. And still need two more. They will come. I just need to step back and wait on more inspiration. This project has moved me to yet another level. I want this exhibit to be outstanding, fabulous, noteworthy....

We'll all see. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Day Trip to Paducah

I had a wonderful time!!!! First let me tell you how it all happened. Earlier this year a friend called and said, "do you want to go to the Quilt Museum in Paducah? We could go up one day and come back the next." I jumped at the idea and then put it on the back burner. I almost forgot about it. Fast forward past several months, she called again and said, "Aisha let's set a time right now. How about October 1?"

So the air is fresh in Paducah this morning. The first stop yesterday was the Hancock's of Paducah. I failed to take a picture when I walked in. I should have but I was so overwhelmed and euphoric that all I could think of was where do we start. So we went to the farthest end and walked up and down each aisle. Ou uuuu uu... Fabric Heaven. Seriously fabric heaven. We filled the shopping cart with as many bolts of fabric as it could hold and that we thought we could afford. Next we went to the cutting table. After we got all that fabric cut, the workers told us of another room in the back with pre-cut packages. Off we went. More wonder was waiting in that room but I decided to pass and order later online. The last stop for me was the remnant table. Found about five more pieces. Since I forgot to take a picture at the store, I decided to take a picture of the fabric I bought.
After walking around the store for a couple of hours and not to mention the 6 hour drive, we were ready to eat something. I brought some salad from home because I was so sure there would not be anything I could eat at the restaurant. That is usually the case, so I ate the salad I brought in the car on the way to the restaurant. Boy was I wrong. We went to JP's Bar and Grill.

The atmosphere was nice and the food was wonderful. The waiter was very knowledgeable and seemed to know that we were people who wanted some healthy food. To my surprise the food was fresh cut, fresh cooked with olive oil as opposed to butter. Just what I needed. I passed on the asparagus and went for hummus and waffle fries. The portion was so large that I had to stuff it in past the salad I had already eaten.

Some how I managed to get all of the fries down by dipping them in the hummus. I had to pack the pita bread to go. I have to give my friend all the credit for doing a fantastic job of finding us a wonderful place to eat. I do have to say that the asparagus looked really good on the other ladies plates but I had no more room in my stomach. One more thing- I have a thing for sweet tea, especially if it is good. This one was good (not as good as the sweet tea in Charleston, SC or at my house) and the waiter kept my glass refilled. I drank way too much tea.

We passed by several shops on our walk back up the street. One lady ducked into a boutique and ended up buying some jewelry. I waited on the sidewalk while the other ladies disappeared into a shop ahead. The next store was a Trump supporters store. They seemed to be selling t-shirts, bumper stickers and other Trump paraphernalia. They looked at us as we passed as if they were not welcome there. I could be wrong- I was wrong once back in 1929. ha ha ha. Then we passed one more shop that was going out of business. Passed it by. The other ladies emerged from the chocolate shop with goodies in bags. I missed that. A two hour walk around the Quilt Museum would be just what the doctor ordered. I had to walk that food down.

The anticipation swelled as we approached the building. We just knew we would see something exquisite. 
Once inside we found that no photographing was allowed. We took pictures in the lobby and memorized the rest. The quilts were awesome but we were sorely aware that there were no quilts that reflected us. I wondered if I were an alien from outer space, would I think that African American people failed to participate in this craft. The Gift Shop did not have even one (1) book by an African American person. I guess that thought was in my mind since the Smithsonian National African American Museum just opened. I could see those people in the Trump store probably asking why would you need another Quilt museum for African American people. Everybody wants their achievements and accomplishments to be acknowledged. We are no different.

The docent met us at the door and welcomed us in. We went right away to a reversible quilt hanging to the right. We could see a beautiful landscape quilt in the distance. She explained the layout of the place and told us how a few of the quilts were created. I rushed ahead since we only had two hours to see everything in the exhibit. I saw some beautiful log cabins, some horses and other art quilts. We saw abstract and traditional. Once I had seen them all, I realized that I had time to go back through and study some techniques. Some quilts had reverse applique' while others were painted on, one was thread painted and many had exquisite quilting designs. (Quilting is the stitching that is done to hold all three pieces of the quilt together). Another docent asked me had I settled on a favorite. I don't know if I found a favorite but I couldn't get the landscape  quilt and the scallops on the bright colored log cabin quilt out of my head.

I left the museum excited about the quilts I had seen along with the inspiration that I had garnered and some deep thoughts about our needs.

I swear I fell asleep with visions of new quilts in my head.