300 Quilts · Quilt Finish

Picties and Verities • Quilt Finish

Picties and Verities, quilt #243
71″ wide by 78″ tall

Finally!

This baby has a new name: Picties and Verities.

What, you ask? Well, that phrase was in a poem I read about a thousand years ago, and I liked it and wrote it down and of course I can’t find it now, because that’s my life, when even what we had for dinner last night is cause for wandering around in the corridors of memory.

Verities, defined: a true princple or belief, especially one of fundamental importance. Seems to me that striving to be happy, knowing that the sun shines on all of us, as well as the idea that it’s always good to go home — with or without your trailer — just have to be some verities.

Picties, defined: For this one, I went to my husband’s college Oxford Dictionary, a two-volume set complete with magnifying glass. Pict (rare, it says, from the 1400s) means to paint or depict or represent. I would say all those bits of appliqué up there qualify as little pictures. Of course the Picts were also the ancient name of people from North Scotland, and are associated with elves, brownies or fairies. And possibly old grey castles with dungeons (an allusion to its working title: Trapped in the Dungeon of Cute). And since my great-grandmother was from Scotland, I own that heritage with pride.

I sewed on buttons last Saturday, while listening to my Guild’s program, and added, as is my usual, “Made in the time of Covid-19” for anyone who receives this quilt after I’ve gone to the afterworld to frolic with Scottish fairies. You’ve seen photos of this, but here’s a last batch of fun.

And since you’ve read this far, I now treat you to one of my husband’s beautiful photographs, taken the last week of January:

Aloe Blossom

We retraced his steps to take a look at it this past week, because in trying to identify what it was depended on what the plant’s leaves looked like: if they were cacti-looking, it was an aloe. If they were leafy, it was a kniphofia (aka Torch Lilly or Red Hot Poker). It’s an aloe, but it is a distant cousin to kniphofia, apparently. My husband Dave takes long walks everyday, bringing home pictures like this, reminding me of when my children used to bring me home bits and pieces of their days, spilling them out into the kitchen, a line or a thought floating backwards over their heads deep in the refridgerator.

It’s so nice to watch Dave gather his interests about him now, after having had his nose to the grindstone for years, bringing home the proverbial bacon to put in the fridge for those now-grown children. His process — of snapping pictures of whatever interests him and only later culling and choosing — reminds me of this quote from the artist Ann Hamilton:

“A life of making isn’t a series of shows, or projects, or productions, or things; it is an everyday practice.  It is a practice of questions more than of answers, of waiting to find what you need more often than knowing what you need to do….Our culture has beheld with suspicion unproductive time, things not utilitarian, and daydreaming in general, but we live in a time when it is especially challenging to articulate the importance of experiences that don’t produce anything obvious, aren’t easily quantifiable, resist measurement, aren’t easily named, are categorically in-between.” (Ann Hamilton, artist)

Having had three finishes within a couple of weeks, and today teaching a workshop with the Surfside Quilters Guild, my next plan is to do some wandering myself, maybe some daydreaming and find those experiences that don’t produce anything obvious, yet are so critical.

And P.S. Blocks 4, 5 and 6 of Shine: The Circles Quilt are now back on the blog, free to all.

Other posts about Picties and Verities:

300 Quilts · Quilt Finish

Postcard from Burano

Postcard from Burano, quilt #242
11″ x 22″

Over the space of several years, I tried three times to get to the small island of Burano, just a vaparetto ride out of Venice. And when my husband and I finally made it there, we had only about an hour before the next ride back to Venice.

When the boat docked in Burano and everyone turned right to go into the main part of town, we turned left and wandered, taking in the brilliant color, the laundry, the umbrellas, the acqua alta barricades in the doorways, snapping away.

We arrived at the outgoing vaparetto a few minutes early, but stood in line, mentally and physically leaving Burano forever.

So when I had a chance to take Gillian Travis‘ class in October 2019, pulled in by the chance to do a fabric representation of that small island with its brilliant colors, I signed up quickly. It was at PIQF (Pacific International Quilt Festival); my friend Leisa and I traveled there and spent three days in the hotel, rarely leaving as the Mancuso quilt show had many pieces to see, and then there were all the vendors (of course).

In our Townscapes class, we started by tracing, and Gillian had very specific and helpful instructions on how to do everything. I listened carefully and took copious notes. This was one project I wanted to finish. She’s the one who taught us the trick of using parchment paper as a backing for layers of fused fabric (instead buying those expensive specialty sheets).

When I got this far, she came over, and making sure it was all fused together, peeled it off the parchment paper like peeling off a giant sticker, and we plopped it onto a stretch of blue fabric I’d chosen (in consultation, of course).

And this is where I picked it up, a year and some months later. But I’d been to Burano and seen the white window frames, the laundry and the umbrellas, so I pulled out my photos and started adding details.

I imitated the upside down boots on the left side, having found that in our visit:

In the course of time, a lovely splotch affixed itself above one of the chimneys. I tried to get it out with soap and water; it just means that some of the gulls of Venice would now fly through my sky. Her method is to stitch details into the picture while stitching down the fused pieces.

I did that, constantly referring to all the snapshots I took during class. I used a free-motion quilting foot, realizing I would sacrifice another needle to the gunk of fused fabrics.

Then I added borders, as I knew I wanted to stretch it onto bars like California Bear.

I quilted it lightly, trying to add some detail to the sky, but not too much, winding my way around the gulls.

Side view of the borders wrapped and stapled.

I took shots of all the details. Like the teacher, I tried not to be too pristine about how I stitched the window frames, or added detail to the laundry. I can sometimes be a little too uptight about those sort of things, and while I’ll never be an artist like Ms. Travis, I can imitate in order to learn new things.

Work of Gillian Travis

And if you’ve been to the Yorkshire Dales, she has a townscape for you too.

If you want to read about our quick trip to Burano, I include many colorful photos on my travel blog, TraveledMind.blog. (It’s currently under renovation/repair having suffered a loss of domain name recently, and I’m still working to get it back up to where it was.) On the blog, we’re currently in Tokyo, soon heading to Korea and yes, it was a trip from 2017. I’ll get it finished, hopefully before we head out again, maybe in 2022?

Happy February. Wear a mask, get your vaccine, and stay home and quilt!