Quilts That Matter Part 2, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

Quilts aren’t just an early manifestation of recycling and a great example of sustainability: they can also be art. Last summer I went to a local Quilt Show and I’m in awe of what modern quilters are up to.

For this week’s photo challenge “Threes” I’m picking photos I took of three fabulous quilts in the show. I’d never heard of “thread painting” but two of these are examples. Click on the images for attribution and for a closer look …

And an even closer look (I’m loving the frogs) —

I can’t resist including one more, the Baby-Dress Quilt:  I’ve been itching to share this one ever since I saw it. So many people stopped to study it that I had a hard time getting a photo without someone standing in front of it. Grandmothers everywhere, take note …

Baby Dress Quilt -- Lynn Fountain: A Quilt for Two Julias

Lynn Fountain: A Quilt for Two Julias

There were beautiful examples of traditional patchwork quilts in this show too, from new fabrics to vintage, and even flour sack prints (I have one of those from my grandmother).

I went to the show hoping to see some examples of re-purposing old quilts. No luck there, but I’ll be watching for the next show just to go and appreciate the work.

Now it’s time once again for me to contemplate – how shall I choose which of my own quilts to find new homes for?

See more weekly photo challenge posts here.


Quilts That Matter, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

I’ve been reading Nate Berkus’ Things That Matter, so I’m picking a “thing” for my photo challenge: treasure.

My mother's applique quilt.

My mother’s applique quilt.

I’m the repository of the family quilts. Add some more that I collected along the way and that means I have more than my share. Some sorting-out is going to have to happen. But for today, I’m sharing a favorite — definitely a quilt that matters.  My mother was a young woman in her 20’s when she pieced this quilt top from scraps left over from her sewing. It lay in storage for a few decades before she showed it to me, and we had it quilted.

I’ve lived over a decade without my mother now. The fabric she handled, the delicate stitches she took, this gift she gave me — all call back her loving presence and shine a little light into the past to illuminate the early lives of two people I cherish.  Two, you ask? Yes, look closer and you’ll see my brother’s baby clothes.

M quilt Carrols clothes ducks and chickens DSC_0897

My mother's quilt, my brother's baby clothes.

My mother’s quilt, my brother’s baby clothes.

When I see her small regular stitches on the appliqué, I feel like I’m reading her handwriting.
That’s how I know this quilt belongs with me, for now anyway.

“Deciding what things belong to you is deeply personal.”  — Nate Berkus

What do you have that you know belongs to you?

Here’s a link to more posts for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

A Homes Tour, Chicago, and ‘The Bean’ (Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie)

Sometimes it’s good to get away and see some fabulous homes. It may seem like coming back to work on my own place would be a downer, but I usually come home inspired, and with much needed objectivity. Last May, Sam and I went on what seems to me the ultimate Homes Tour:  the Wright Plus tour in Oak Park IL.  Prairie Style homes may not be categorized as minimalist by today’s standards, but you can bet they were when viewed from the Victorian side of history (um, doilies anyone?).

So, you’re wondering where “Selfie” comes into this? — here’s one from the same trip to Chicago, a reflection in Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate”, aka “The Bean” — yes, I like hiding behind a camera.

Selfie in the Bean, with Sam at Millenium Park in Chicago

Selfie in the Bean, with Sam at Millenium Park in Chicago

But back to Wright Plus Of course no photography was allowed in the homes’ interiors, but nobody said I couldn’t photograph the brochure:

Wright Plus Brochure

Wright Plus Brochure


Prairie Style, closely related to Arts & Crafts, Mission, and Craftsman style, shares their love of simplicity, good craftsmanship, honesty in the use of materials, and integration of design and nature. Don’t forget, it’s William Morris, leader of the British Arts & Crafts movement, we have to thank for “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

A few exterior shots:

The tour also included entry to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Hyde Park IL.

Robie House, Hyde Park IL May 2013

The Robie House: the upstairs rooms (being renovated, so usually closed) were open especially for Wright Plus tour members.

I may have made a mistake planning the Chicago trip for May 2013. If we’d waited for 2014, then instead of Frank Lloyd Wright and fellow architects, we’d have had all Frank Lloyd Wright houses on the tour. Here’s a link to All Wright – 2014.
Then again, it’s hard to get to all the homes in one day on a normal tour year. The Wright homes have bigger lines than the others —

Wright Plus tour line, Oak Park IL, May 2013

We’re in this line for our first tour of the day.

To see to all the open homes last year, we had to skip Unity Temple and the Wright Home and Studio (since those are open year round, we might get back someday). Note to tour planners: All Wright should really be a two-day extravaganza.

Here’s a link to others on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Selfie.

Hmm, I wonder why they call it "The Bean"?

Hmm, I wonder why they call it “The Bean”?

Meanwhile, here at downsizer’s-central, I’ve not been idle. Progress comes slowly, but it comes.

And of course I’m looking forward to spring because — that brings more home tours!

Do you have a favorite home tour to recommend?

Simple Living and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

What’s better than downsizing?  –Not acquiring something in the first place. But even if you’re committed to simplicity, a time will come when an object calls your name.  If you feel the temptation getting too great, try this. Take a picture of it.

Inuit carving: Shaman in the act of transformation.

Object: Inuit carving, Shaman in the act of transformation.

Here’s an example. Years ago I saw the collection of Inuit soapstone carvings in the art museum in Toronto and lost my heart. Of course they weren’t for sale, but for the rest of my vacation, I ogled carvings in shop windows. Luckily they weren’t of the same quality, so I wasn’t tempted to acquire one. Then, not long ago, in a Vancouver gallery I came face to face with some that did have the terrifying energy and presence of the museum examples. And, they were for sale. Were they outside my budget? Of course — way outside. But I told myself some things were worth it. And they are, don’t mistake me, but a piece like that wants a home where it’s center stage. A fabulous sculptural object would just disappear into the mess of “stuff” I’m still sorting out here. So, I took a picture of it.

Shamans are the best. This one is powerful even from behind the reflections on the glass case. And who doesn’t long for transformation? Wouldn’t it be symbolic to have one where I see it every day?

Here’s a shawl sized scarf I wanted from a shop in New York. I stopped in twice to admire the embroidery and touch the silk. (And what was I thinking? Where would I wear something like this?) It was right after I’d seen the Indian Exhibiton at the Met — I was vulnerable. Once again, my camera saved me.

An embroidered Indian shawl I didn't buy.

Lusting for a shawl? Take a picture.

Now I’m finding that it even works for things I’m having trouble giving away. Having second thoughts about parting with something? Take a picture — especially now that photographs are digital. I don’t even have to find a place to store prints.

I know I’m not the only one to think of this — it’s Virtual Hoarding 101, and it works like a charm.

Check out more objects in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Object.

What’s your best tip on avoiding the temptation to shop?