Tag Archives: crazy quilt

a little crazed…

The recent days and weeks have been busy, full of daily goings on, dyeing, kit making, workshop prepping, visitors, and then the big event- a beach wedding!

It was a simply beautiful affair on the beach with a BBQ afterwards as the sun set. I had the privilege of making the wedding cheesecakes, vegan chili and helping with the clothing alterations. Others brought food, flowers and officiated. It was a perfect October evening with mild temps and a slight breeze. Children played at the shores edge and adults enjoyed food and conversation. Some surfed prior to the ceremony with the groom. Several people camped overnight nearby, under a bright near full moon.

This Saturday is the first of the two Zoom flower workshops. The material kits have been mailed, the work table set up and today I will do some test runs. The second Zoom date is next Thursday for those who would like to do it a second time or perhaps already had something scheduled for the first date. You can also still order a kit and get the video link when it’s done.

from plain to pleated

I made a whole bunch of extra kits and have added them in the shop. Here in Long Beach, we have hundreds of cargo ships off the coast and politicians encouraging people to shop early for the holidays since the logjam is delaying the arrival of goods. I say, why not make things instead? Here is a list of kits I have in the shop right now if you are inclined to make a hand made gift. I also have a few things ready made that might suit. I’m working on several more. If you have a special custom request, let me know. (I just looked over the shop and see I need to add a few things I never added so that will be my next task…)

Last week’s workshop with Ann Wasserman in her “Preserving Our Quilting Heritage” we were treated to her lecture with samples of quilts she had worked on and new ones now on her work table. We have all sent in photos of a quilt we want to “triage” and of course mine is that unfinished crazy quilt (Ida Belle) I acquired some time back. Here are the photos I sent in.

In between my own work, I have become somewhat obsessed with this crazy quilt thing. In doing a little research, I wondered where the term “crazy” had developed in regards to quilting. It seems (whether true or lore), to have been a reference to the crazed glazes on porcelain the Japanese had exhibited in the 1876 Centennial Exposition  in Philadelphia. Crazing on ceramics occurs when the clay body and the glaze don’t “fit”. That is, they don’t cool at the same rate after firing. This can be caused by a number of things-too thick a coating of glaze, the (intentional or not) chemical composition of the glaze, or thermal shock of cooling off a kiln too quickly. Tension between the clay body and the glaze creates a network of fine crackling. This can be enhanced by rubbing ink into the cracks to make the pattern of crazing stand out on a decorative piece. You don’t want crazing on dinnerware because over time and use the crazing can collect bacteria that may not be desirable. But on decorative ware, glazes can be designed to create a variety of crackle patterns and when I was a ceramic student we had to do just this in the Chemical Clay and Glaze classes. I loved the chemistry of ceramics. During 30 years of running my own porcelain company, we “cracked” many crazing issues. For the most part, even when we wanted a crazed glaze effect on a decorative line, stores and customers would often see it as a defect and we just abandoned it altogether. But that was another time and place…so, back to crazy quilts. So as the story goes, the crazed patterns on Japanese porcelain pieces at this exhibition in 1876 inspired a “craze” itself where quilters found beauty and interest in recreating this type of pattern in their quilts. Previously, quilts had been mostly geometric organized affairs. I imagine that the pieces that were exhibited were possibly Japanese raku.

In between this and that this week, I was looking at Ida Belle and realizing what a task it is going to be to restore it to a reasonable condition and as I was inspecting various parts of it I kept coming back to my interests in Japanese boro traditions and techniques. I can see so many instances where boro repair techniques could be applied. I am not trying to do a traditional restoration of this crazy quilt. This quilt in fact was never completed by Ida Belle. It does not have a binding or a quilt back- it was never quilted or tied or embroidered (something tells me-mainly the types of materials used that Ida never intended to embroider it or embellish her quilt). Perhaps she died before finishing it. The fact that it exists in a fairly decent condition is that it was never used since it was never actually finished. It exists as a quilt top only.
My list of “goals” currently is as follows:

-repair Ida Belle to a condition where it can be lightly used
-use materials I have on hand (as I believe would be Ida’s way)
-apply hand stitching and repair techniques from Ann’s class as well as my knowledge of boro repairs observed in pieces I have collected

-apply a backing and a binding
-steadily work on it as I can-don’t abandon the project!

I may add others as I go but that’s it at the moment. In another twist, I was cleaning up my work table for the Saturday workshop and sorted some scraps of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. Another project emerged alongside. I became a little obsessed and worked late into the night. It seems that Japanese vintage textiles and crazy quilting are quite like peanut butter and jam.

I chose a piece of egasuri (kasuri with an image or picture woven into it) as a central piece to this block- bird images being quite popular in crazy quilting. I did not use the traditional method of crazy quilt piecing (surprised? haha) but opted to leave all woven selvedges intact as I honor the selvedge whenever possible. I used tattered bits and repaired them using boro techniques- but using some very old red silk in a way that reminds me a bit of the Japanese porcelain repair work called kintsugi. I used hand dyed cotton sashiko thread for the decorative featherstitch (practice needed!) across each joined patch (still a WIP). So now that I have one block near completion, I guess I’ll have to start another. This first block is 18″ x 18″ so I imagine I will do either 6 or 9 for a smallish lap type quilt. Who knows?

One last thing. I’ve started taking photos of all the oothecae I come across in the yard as I do fall clean up work. It helps me remember where they are when it’s time to watch them hatch around February (I’m guessing…). So far I’ve found 6 or so. all in different places. Each egg case can contain 50-200 eggs of the praying mantis! We had so many this past summer.

Ida Belle

I took a little detour to pleat and dye that wired silk organza from the video I mentioned last post. I fashioned a fairly large flower from it so those following along could see the wired edge. I still have to think about what stamens I want to put into- i do think it needs them.

Wiring the edge adds lots of possibilities and can make the pleating come alive. You can get the wire in many colors but here I just used the first thing I could put my hands on which was a copper colored wire.

Then, while looking for some silk embroidery threads I came across another treasure I had almost forgotten about! It’s an old silk crazy quilt with lots of shattered silks which I bought one year at the Houston show.
As you may know, shattered silks from the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s abound in many old silk quilts. The reason being is threefold- silk was often mordanted with metallic solutions to hold or brighten the colors, soaked in metallic salts & allowed to dry, rendering them heavier as silk was sold by weight, and also (I just learned)…to increase the rustle of the bustle (well, actually the skirt) as was the fashion in those times. Bustles-imagine! (Thank goodness we no longer dress like that!)
Unfortunately, this resulted in the breakdown of the silk over time-hardening the fabric to the point of cracking and breaking or “shattering” as we say. For you long time and textilian readers here, this is not news. I only repeat this which has been mentioned here before since there seems to be a new group of readers now whose understanding of such things is unknown to me (welcome new readers- irrashaimasu!).
I made a little video to show you the current condition of the quilt.

Ida Belle

Ida Belle. Isn’t that a great name? Of course I got curious and spent WAY too much time going down rabbit holes trying to see if I could discover who Ida Bella was. I did find one very good possibility…
Meet Ida Belle Sievwright. 1865-1955
She lived in Melrose MA and was associated with this charity fundraising quilt dated to 1897-1898.

After a bit of poking around online, I came across the blog of Ann Wasserman-quilter, quilt restorationist and repairer. She was the person into whose hands the Melrose Quilt fell and who documented the fascinating process of researching and restoring the Melrose Quilt for a special event exhibition in the city of Melrose. Beyond that, she wrote a book, “Preserving Our Quilt Legacy: Giving Antique Quilts the Special Care They Deserve“. She also has an upcoming online workshop on quilt restoration that looks amazing. She wrote about the process of restoring the Melrose Quilt on her blog in six parts. I’m sure in quilt preservation circles she is very well known but not being in those circles I was not familiar with her expertise. After reading all six posts, I started reading her many other entries about other quilt repair and restoration projects.
It gave me some ideas about what I might do with this quilt I now call Ida Belle.

Now this Ida Belle may or may not be MY Ida Belle, but I like to think she might be. There are reasons to think it is a distinct possibility. The timing is right. I would date my Ida Belle somewhere between 1910 – 1935. Why you ask? There are some tobacco silks in there that can specifically be dated to 1910, so it can’t be before that. Ida Belle Sievwright would have been in her late 40’s to early 50’s in 1915 and she would have been 70 in 1935. Her two daughters were born in 1891 & 1898. Her husband was a travelling dry goods salesman. She would have had access to basic fabrics but would not have been considered a wealthy woman by any means. My Ida Belle is unfinished. The back and binding were never completed. The sewing is very competent, the decorative stitching simple but very consistent. All the decorative stitching is done with bright colored wool yarn. No fancy silk embroidery threads for Ida! The pieced backing cloth is completely made of simple recycled cottons and linens- mostly clothing or linings. A simple and frugal gal was Ida! Even though her family and daughter’s name appear on the Melrose Quilt, she could very well have been one of the quilters who worked on it. The Melrose Quilt was tied with wool yarn, not hand quilted. Apparently that was typical of many more utilitarian quilts of that time. The fancier silk crazy quilts had lots of embroidery, used more luxurious silk threads and often included silk velvets. This quilt is not that.

In any case, I had a great time exploring Ann Wasserman’s site, Ida Belle’s history, and imagining what I might do with this fixer-upper of a quilt. As most of you who know me, you know I would ideally want to get it into a condition that allows it to be used. It’s no use folded up into a drawer somewhere. At the same time, I want to make it so it doesn’t deteriorate any faster that it needs to. I also don’t like the idea of covering the back of it. I find the back as interesting as the front! I wondered about putting a simple binding on it and perhaps a 4-5 momme silk organza backing. That way, you can still see through it. Then maybe tying it all with wool yarn. That’s after doing the repairs on the shattered silk blocks.

Let’s dream and wonder…

always a pleasure

probably the greatest thing for me is when i see other artists get excited about using something i made in their own work. that’s really always been a thing with me. from way back when in the early 80’s working with the owners & designers at the 1928 Jewelry Company, to Trifari, Eisenberg, Avon and Tupperware (to name drop a few) i’ve always added value and style to the work of others. part of it is just the practical fact that i found i could make a living doing it and part of it is that i like to ignite the embers of creativity in others.

having just finished up the recent quilt show here in Long Beach, i was thrilled to have made the acquaintance of a few more artists and designers who made a beeline for the ribbon with ideas of their own- inspired only by the color and texture of the silk and their own imaginations- what-iffing along the way. i just packaged up a lovely order for Judith Baker Montano whose silk crazy quilting is world renowned. you know when someone just hones in on the best without hesitation and a twinkle in their eye as Judith did upon discovering the ribbons for the first time. i could see her mind working as she chose her colors- the perfect top 4 best sellers without batting an eye- and there were lots of colors to eye! that’s a real pro for you. can’t wait to see what she does with it. too bad i didn’t have her book, Elegant Stitches which i’ve owned for over a decade with me for an autograph! next time, i’m gonna try to get in on one of her classes. she’ll be teaching at Houston as will i in

4  borealis colorways-old gold autumn,purple passion,ecru,midnight

4 borealis colorways-old gold autumn,purple passion,ecru,midnight

with a cup of coffee in one hand and my finger on the trackpad, i ventured a visit to jude’s what-if blog this morning. always a dangerous thing for me, especially in combination with a little caffeine (thanks jude!) and immediately i was off on a what-iff adventure of my own. as noted on my facebook status (join the fan page!) it got me wondering what i would be making today if i wasn’t filling orders and preparing for this weekend’s workshop. oh well, that’s another day- but it did make me commit myself to AT LEAST ONE FULL DAY each month of non commercial work. i can afford that (if i cut out sleeping! -kidding-kinda). there are so many ideas rolling around in my head-things i want to try and experiment with and make.
i hope i don’t lose track of too many of them.
fortunately, if i do there’s always more in the pipeline!
and here is Milo, silk sitting for me. waiting for me to GET TO WORK ALREADY!
milo silk sitting (it's still in it's plastic)

milo silk sitting (it's still in it's plastic)

speaking of what-iffing….what if we got in a van and toured the world singing songs and playing horns?

news from the traveling minstrels is that they are now leaving Germany headed for the Netherlands, Holland and beyond. a little road weary but still alive and singing for their suppers. NPR had an interesting post on musicians who make a living and then there is this on the dangers of signing with a record label.

ahhh…life in blogland

shibori girl furoshiki image lifted and used on a commercial website

shibori girl furoshiki image lifted and used on a commercial website

Woke up this morning to the usual list of email and started hitting the reply and delete buttons as needed with Milo on one arm of the sofa, Tigga on the other, and a cup of coffee. Paper read and discarded to the recycle bin.

Several posts were running around my head, just which one would I write today? First, I have a post on Jude’s CQR collaborative (what if?) project- I finished my first block– took me several hours- but what fun it was what- iffing all over the place! Photos have been posted over at the Flickr pool. Thanks for all the comments and all the fun I had looking at everyone else’s crazy blocks. There’s more to come I’m sure!

I finished all the silk shibori scrap bags and they are all addressed and ready to go. I even managed to sneak in a couple extra to make it a total of 12. (Sorry- no more right now-have to move on to other things. I may put them up on the etsy site for a while at a fair price if you are interested- give me a day or two). I can’t wait to see what all you creative crazies do with them. Of course they are not just for the CQ blocks but it would be great if you send links to an image of what you created with them.
All the bags contain some ribbon as well as some pieces of various shibori- I did a little color coordinating by the pool with a glass of wine with my friend Gail (thanks Gail!)and they looked quite interesting when we were done. I hope you enjoy them!

A little milestone to share- the two year milestone of the blog just passed and over the weekend Shibori Girl leaped over the 100,000 view mark-that’s views, not visits. But still a high watermark. Thanks to all who share and contribute here.

As I scrolled through the email I came across one that indicated a comment had been left on the blog regarding one of my posts on furoshiki. It was one of those comments that I usually delete as it was someone placing a link for their business as a comment and nothing more (now deleted). This one piqued my interest as it was a site advertising furoshiki so I clicked over to look. Imagine my surprise when I discovered an image of my work being used on their site to promote their product! You know, I take lots of photos and many people have asked permission for usage and made all the appropriate attribution etc.. Most of it for non commercial usage. Not so the case here. This is also one of those websites where there is no contact info, no phone number or address to indicate where they are located. I have filled out the requisite contact form, hit the send button, and am waiting to see if there is any response. I have, however, (thanks to Google) been able to come up with 2 names but still without any real info. What would you do?
Hopefully, they’ll contact me and we’ll straighten it out.

New Shibori Ribbon Colors added…

Yesterday was a day in the dye studio dyeing to order but I managed to have a little time to make up some new colors that have been on my mind recently.

We had a surprise visit from little Arabella (she’s almost 4) where everything she’s not supposed to touch (mainly, the street out front) became “hot lava!”.
I knew I had names for the new colorways:
Lava Rock, Hot Lava, & Cool Ash

lava rock, hot lava, & cool ash

lava rock, hot lava, & cool ash

These colors can also be ordered as Silk Shibori Pocket Squares.

In addition, I have joined Jude’s Crazy Quilt Revisited what if? and at the moment if you are a what iffer over there and part of the CQR challenge I have 10 shibori silk scrap bags to give away to the first of you claiming them by leaving a comment here asking for one. There is a CQR flickr pool now dedicated to the blocks as they are made invented.