Welcome to the second installment of posts that look deeper into the making of my art quilts recently shown at Squam Art Workshops.
This quilt is titled New York Beauty and is a dynamic example of what can happen when curiosity and spontaneity collide. For the complete view of "My Enchanted Wonderland" installation, please click here.
Title: New York Beauty, 34" x 32.5"
Materials: Batiks and quilting cottons; wool and poly blend batting
Techniques: Hand and machine piecing, needle-turn applique, ink-jet printing, machine quilting
Date: February-April 2018
One wintry afternoon, diligently stitching along on some of the other quilts in this collection, I went into the studio in search of something and found myself rifling through a drawer only to come across a stack of envelopes with my grandfather's hand writing. Perhaps I should have left those letters for another day and gotten back to my stitching, but instead I chose to stand in silence and open each envelope, unfold each letter and read all of my grandfather's words. The memories! My heart was both happy and aching at the same time. Missing them all. The bottom of every letter was signed, "All our love, Grandma and Parpar". I knew then and there that a quilt had to be made to celebrate these letters.
New York Beauty (NYB) is a classic quilt block that dates back to the early 1900's, and was a way of using up very small fabric scraps that would otherwise be considered unusable. Because of its construction, the block earned quilters ample bragging rights. When I began quilting, I remember seeing NYB quilts and thinking, "If I could make that some day...." In February, I sat down and taught myself how this block works. All of the triangles in my quilt are hand pieced, and thanks to my friend Marion's guidance, I was able to advance from straight rows to curves. Steadily stitching peaches and pinks to lovely grays and deep blues became a soothing way to sail through several days of winter in upstate NY. At this same time, I was looking at an older drawing I had made of a plant out in the yard. Its spiky nature seemed to mimic the traditional NYB block, so I used it for the needle turn applique design in the center panel. I may never learn the plant's name, but we've both been growing alongside each other in our natural habitat.
Like so many of us, much of the joy I experience with each art quilt is selecting fabrics and colors. Quite often, the core palette presents itself to me, I see it in my mind's eye, and then my job is to make sure all of the supporting players do exactly that. If I had to choose, I'd say that's my favorite way to build a quilt because I can get to the rest of the process much sooner than if I'm deciding on the entire palette (so many choices!). I often marvel at other quilters' color choices, and I know I'm not alone with my affinity for antique quilt palettes! For me, the study of color is a lifelong pursuit, and this I truly believe: color is a language unique to each of us and spoken by all of us.
Leave me your questions and comments. I'm grateful, and I read them all. You can also find me on Instagram @tierneybarden and email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you haven't seen my Pinterest boards, there's bound to be something there that will suck a few hours out of your day.... :)