Archive for July, 2008

Block 6

Vintage Revisited Challenge: Block 6

I still don’t particularly like to do vintage, but I have one more block to use before I’m finished the Mary Kerr’s Vintage Revisited Challenge. Each block is more “challenging” than the one before it and this one…well, this one’s a real doozy! In this case, I think there are real and compelling reasons why this quilt was never finished.

What should I do for this sixth and final quilt in the challenge? That begs a bigger question: where does the inspiration come from?

Sometimes a quilt challenge will immediately inspire ideas. The colors, the subject matter, the size of the materials or the textures — something will spark an idea that can be fanned into a concept, a sketch, a plan. Um, not this one.  

I’m a word person, and so sometimes I rely on words to lead me to a visual idea. “Grandma’s Flower Garden” did nothing for me, although my grandmother did have lots of flowers on her farm. I’m not really a floral quilt person.

For this challenge, three of the quilts are sort of in a series with letters, correspondence, and old-fashioned pens being the common thread. This block didn’t seem to fit with that either. Three of the quilts also have metal embellishments, but that seemed sort of out of place with this block.

Hubby & His Bike

Hubby & his Bike

As a final resort, I looked through my design journal and photographs looking for inspiration.  And there it was: a picture of my husband on a Boy Scout bicycle trip (as a volunteer, not a Scout) fiddling with his front tire.  I’m not sure what it is about this photo that so captivates me, but there it is. I think the orange hat, the greenery in the background, the preponderance of rounded shapes all connect this image to that poor, tattered quilt fragment.

The real challenge here is to see if I can find a way to make those sad little hexagons resemble the photo of my husband. I reserve the right to change my mind if (1) this doesn’t work, (2) I find a better idea, or (3) time requires that I take a more expedient route. Stay tuned for progress reports. And I’d love to have your ideas and comments.
To see the first five of my Vintage Revisited quilts, check out my website homepage: www.MoonlightingQuilts.com. For more information about the Vintage Revisited Challenge, including its travel schedule, visit www.MaryWKerr.com.

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I keep saying that I don’t do vintage, but I just finished my (very late) fifth entry in Mary Kerr’s Vintage Revisited challenge. Mary is a talented quilt appraiser and artist who specializes in vintage materials. For this challenge, she gathered a group of 19 quilters who were willing to work with vintage blocks on and off for two years. I didn’t do this for the vintage; I agreed to participate because I didn’t want to miss out on the fun.

Vintage Revisited Block 5

Vintage Revisited Block 5

Did I mention fun? Well, here’s the fifth block in this six block challenge. Okay, get ready to play along. Here are the rules:

  • You must use at least some of the fabric. (There’s some disagreement in the ranks on this as some of the quilters believe you must use ALL of the fabric!)
  • You can do anything you want to the fabric: paint, dye, stamp (I love to stamp!), whatever.
  • The finished piece must be 24 inches square.
  • The subject matter of your piece is up to you; it doesn’t need to relate to anything vintage.

And so what do you do with this? Okay, I know that some of you might actually like this poor, faded, malpieced block, but once you get past feeling sorry for it, what do you do?

Circling the Drain
Circling the Drain

The first thing I always do is free the fabric from the block.  That’s right, I rip the pieces apart and assess the fabric I have to work with. In this case, the fabric was weak and faded. Okay, I guess I would be too, if I were this old!

Once I have just fabric, I can begin to look for a vision. I fill my head with as many ideas as I can about fabrics that coordinate, bits and pieces I can add for embellishment, and techniques that might work well. The fabric was weak, and so I knew I needed to fuse it to give it added strength. The fabric was unevenly faded, and so I stamped it to make it appear more consistent.
And now for a vision. Well, this vision didn’t come as quickly as I had hoped.  When the time came to give Mary a title, I had nothing. I felt like my ideas were all dead ends — going nowhere — and so I named the formless quilt: Circling the Drain. Now I was locked into using that image somehow. Then Mary called for artist’s statements.  Still no quilt. And so I wrote a statement that I hoped would be general enough to work with whatever I wound up making but specific enough to be worth reading. You be the judge when you see these quilts in person.


Some of the other quilts I made for this challenge dealt with letters and writing, and so I pulled out some commercial cotton with postage stamps on it and some pen nibs that Judy Gula of ArtisticArtifacts.com found for me. The rest is just what happens when you block out enough time in your studio and put some great music on your iPod.


So where’s the fabric from the original block? I took the brown, the blue, and the pink polka dot, added fusible to the back, stamped it all with travel-related images in black ink, and fused it all down. I added the pen nibs to the center.

I have a killer idea for the final block. My concern now is whether my skills can make what my brain can imagine. Stay tuned. I’ll blog this block in progress.

Read more about Vintage Revisited, including the exhibit’s travel schedule, on Mary’s website: www.MaryWKerr.com.

See the other treasures Judy Gula stocks on: www.ArtisticArtifacts.com. If you are local to northern Virginia, check out her bricks-and-mortar store in Alexandria.


Thanks to Kathy Lincoln (www.KathyLincoln.com) for providing the picture of the block intact. I ripped mine apart too quickly for a photo.

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