300 Quilts · Red, White and Blue · Shine: The Circles Quilt

I Hear America Singing

I finished the red, white and blue version (top only) of Shine: The Circle Quilt and I did it by the time of the Inauguration of our new President, my goal.

This is not my first red, white and blue quilt, nor my first Inaugural quilt. In 2005, I attended the Inauguration of President Bush while we lived in Washington, D.C.

It was a really cold day that day, and being from California, I wore long johns underneath my pants, two sweaters, gloves, a hat and scarf and I was still frozen as I spent most of the day in the 20-degree cold. When it came time to find a bathroom, that chick in the red coat behind me accosted me, admonishing me for leaving this site while the Inauguration was going on. Okey-dokey. Fevered believers, everywhere.

Fancy ticket from my Congressman, but then I scored a better one, thanks to my Congressman’s staffer:

Waaay less fancy, but lots closer to the action, as I was in North Standing, which meant I was in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pond. Unfortunately it also meant that I couldn’t see much of anything because of trees, but it was very cool to be there, anyway.

Two quilts came out of that time. The first one was a quick flannel quilt which I spread out on the floor of our apartment in Virginia and tied together while we were watching the returns come in from the Bush-Kerry political contest.

Flannel Squares on Point, quilt #58

Really stunning (haha), but I use it to this day.

D.C. Dots and Dithers, quilt #60

And this one, D.C. Dots and Dithers, which you can read about here.

But this post is about finishing the quilt top for my red, white and blue version of Shine: The Circles Quilt. I’m really happy to be at this point, and already have the backing picked out.

Because I knew I wanted to write about this on Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2021, we took it down to the most traditional government building we could think of: our very own Riverside County Courthouse. Some skate-boarding teen boys gracefully cleared out when we showed up.

I titled it after Whitman’s poem of the same name, where he asks us to listen to America, with its varied carols, and then goes on to identify the different workers he imagines, all building this great country of America (and which is always under construction). Yes, in the poem there is someone sewing, but I can imagine many more songs and carols in 2021.

Whitman probably couldn’t have imagined a female Vice-President in his day, nor women in Congress or the Senate. He wouldn’t have thought we would have women doctors, as they tend to covid-19 patients lined up working hard to breathe, a rhythmic straining that populates too many places these days.

We have carols of discord, tunes of tumult and shouting. While some of this has existed in my own home when the teenagers lived here, it feels harder when this cacophony surrounds us in our public lives during a pandemic. When it’s this noisy, it’s hard to put my head down and stitch a seam, concentrating on my own tune of color, patches and cloth.

We have our own carols, we quilters: the whir of the machine, the click of the scissors, the slice of our rotary blades through the cloth. Whitman’s genius of a poem is that he stretched to include all different kinds of work and workers, yet give us an insight into their lives, with “each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else.” Yet in our singularity, we are drawn together, “blithe and strong” all of us with our “strong melodious songs.”

I honor our tradition of presidential inaugurations. When I was there in Washington DC in person, there was a sense of excitement, of an event, of something happening that was bigger than my own tiny quarrels in my life. Being there all day made me lift my head, look around and see all those people and to realize that we can come together whether our guy won or not, and commit again to this great experiment of democracy.

And that’s why I made a red, white and blue quilt.

from here

I Hear America Singing

by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I scanned that North Standing-Green ticket and used it as part of my label on that quilt.

Museums · Quilts · Travels

A Piece of Her Mind: DAR Exhibit 2019

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When my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C. recently, we took in an exhibit at the DAR Museum titled, A Piece of Her Mind.  It had a focus on how technology — in an historical sense — affected quilters at an earlier time, just as much as it affects us today.  I thought you’d like to see some of the quilts, so here we go.

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I actually have to give a lecture in 2020 about the impact of technology, and all that was swirling around in my mind were topics such as social media, rotary cutters, our fancy high-speed sewing machines.  But this showed me that technology’s impact is not just a recent phenomena.

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An example of a table-top sewing machine with foot pedals was in front of a beautiful quilt of basket blocks.

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The blocks were appliqued (interesting to note her use of black thread, no matter what color the fruit), and from the appearance of it, stuffed (trapunto?).  It also looks like she quilted the “plain” blocks first, then sewed the basket blocks in between the quilted blocks — a really unusual way to construct a quilt.

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The Red and Green Bethlehem Star Quilt (1840-1860) benefitted from the relatively new ‘Turkey red’ dyes.  According the title card, previous to this invention, “dying cloth this color of red was a complicated dye process. [In addition] [g]reen had to be dyed in two steps (yellow, then blue) until late in the 1800s, but a more reliable option called ‘chrome green’ provided the leafy and emeral hues seen in mid-century quilts.”  This cotton quilt was made by Sarah Hall Gwyer (1819-1882) in North Carolina, or Omaha, Nebraska.

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I loved this broderie perse (or appliquéd chintz panel) quilt from the 1820s not only because of the design, but because of those stitches!  Seeing evidence of another woman’s handwork always makes a quilt more personal for me.

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This Baltimore Album Quilt is from about 1850, and is made by a member of the Hayden family from Baltimore, Marlyand.  It’s cotton, with wool embroidery.

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This appliqué quilt was made by Mary Swearingen King (1811-1902) in Findlay, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  I loved the applique birds:

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They look almost pre-historic, here, feeding berries to their young.

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Beyond the technology-oriented quilts, there was a section on quilts that were affected by the culture of the day.  I was drawn to the red, white and blue quilts.  That center block is the flag from Cuba, explained below:

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I zoomed way in (the ropes around the quilts didn’t permit close inspection) so the picture is a bit globby, but you can see the Clay ribbon in the outside border.

The exhibit also had a series of crazy quilts, some quilts made with toile prints, and quilts inspired by popular fictional characters.

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Afterwards we went to the library–quite stunning in a panoramic view.

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There was also a quilt of another kind in the Renwick Gallery, just up the street, made out of snippets of movie film.  The title of this is “Fibers and Civilization (1959)” and was made in 2009, using 16 mm film and polyamide thread.  This piece of art is from Sabrina Gshwandtner, and I’d seen some of her work before at LACMA.

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Then we hopped on the Metro and went over to the National Museum of American History.  Can you tell I looked up on the internet where all the quilt exhibits were?

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Unfortunately, this spectacular quilt was behind a piece of highly reflective glass, so the only way I could get a photo was to gently lean my photo lens on the glass to cut the glare.  This means that I couldn’t get a photo of the complete quilt, but here are some segments.

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In another small exhibit, they had a lot of crazy quilts.

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I was quite interested in what this title card (above) said about the advent of patterns for crazy patchwork.

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In between all this, we stopped for some lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster shop, meandered around the Mall, and hung out together.  We really like DC, as you probably know.  More photos can be found on Instagram.

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Later that week we had a gathering at the The National Press Club in D.C., where they host the White House Correspondent Dinners, and we had a spread of yummy desserts to choose from.  I chose one of these (it’s the color, naturally!) after I’d had the requisite chocolate treat.

So, here’s your spot of fall color–happy quilting!

 

EPP · Guild Visits · Quilts · Travels

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Perhaps the UCR Science News was looking for something other than Nobel-prize generating stories or research about saving the world from cancer, but I’m happy that the editor liked my quilts, sent to him by my favorite guy (my husband).  The quilts were displayed around University of California’s campus near some of the science buildings (and in the Botannic Garden).  Thank you!

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In other news, we visited the (tiny) exhibit at the DAR museum this past week (their library, above) in Washington, DC.

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More on the exhibit in another post, but I met three quilters while I was there:

From the top left: Beth, a long-time friend (we always meet together at this particular science meeting of our husbands), Rhonda (who I met when I lived in D.C at the local quilt guild), and Bette (who I met online and since have become good friend with via correspondence and phone calls and occasional meetings). But that’s not all the news.

National Press Club

I spoke at the National Press Club, after I was proclaimed Queen of England.
Full story, below.

Headline Queen Elizabeth

Kidding, of course.  I merely posed, and the other photo is a leather-embossed rendition of a famous headline, one in a row of famous headlines.

Climate Change Protest

We’d done most of the museums in December when we last visited, and I was wondering what to do one day when the Climate Change Activists staged one of their protests right outside my hotel.  I threw on my clothes and went down to watch.  I remember how the police used to break up other protests long ago, with tear gas and heavy-handedness.  This experience was more like a garden party, as slowly, they encircled the boat parked in the middle of 16th and K. While the activists moved on to march around D.C. the police cut the handcuffs and tethers of those who remained, then towed away the boat.  I was quite impressed with the whole experience, both of those who felt strongly about making a statement, and the police officers taking good care of those who they serve.  Another reason why I love D.C.

Okay, I promise more serious quilty stuff soon.  I’m coming home tonight from my niece’s wedding in the Bay Area, hoping to dive into what I’ve left undone while traveling.  Before I left, I did get one quilt to the quilter’s, after auditioning, digitally, many different designs for quilting.

North Country Sept 2019I also cut more pieces to keep going on my North Country Patchwork Quilt, eeking this one out, bit by bit (photo of what I have so far, above).

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I did get caught up with my temperature quilt, which is turning out to be very different colors than what I expected.  I find it’s easier to do a whole month at a time, than piece-mealing it, day by day.

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Lastly, this coming Saturday, October 5th, I’ll be presenting a (mostly) modern quilt program at the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild in Riverside, California.  They are a small modern guild, with a whole group of interested, dedicated quilters. Maybe you’ll be there?