Joy — kickstarter campaign 103% funded in two days!!

14" x 14", 2002 or 2003

14″ x 14″, 2002 or 2003


 

I am 91% funded!!!  Make that over goal.  By the afternoon, I hit 103% funded!!

This is me jumping for joy (actually, it’s Cary, about 12 years ago) — but you get the idea.  Thank you Thank you Thank you — to all of you who have contributed to my kickstarter campaign. It is remarkable to feel this support pouring in!

Do you know that Sea Island Indigo will be using indigo with provenance dating back to Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s day?!!  How cool would that be — to actually work with plants that are connected genetically to the 1740’s?

My going to this workshop feels almost as fortuitous as Eliza studying at a boarding school in England that was gifted a greenhouse when the childless next-door neighbor died.  I look at that stroke of fortune and wonder, how much flowed from that — for surely she must have discovered her love of horticulture then.
tugged-on-the-lineI just revised the campaign and it is much better now — more about my project and why the trip would be a boon, and a little less about the indigo workshop itself.  Even if you’ve been, take a second look.

Thank you, Jude, for putting me on your sidebar.  The metrics of my site show me where the donors are coming from — and your link matters (of course it matters!)

This whole process has been kind of unbelievable to me.

Thank you. Thank you.

Ken and I are heading up to Salem today.  It promises to be cooler than yesterday, which is good, because we will be rearranging furniture (among other things) at my sister’s. I am disappointed that I managed to visit Salem almost every week during the Peabody Museum’s Turner exhibit and missed it.

But with this kickstarter news, I won’t be feeling that disappointment for long!

Blood and Indigo — the great reveal

photo of photo in the Charleston Museum

photo of photo in the Charleston Museum

Blood and Indigo — that’s my working title for a novel about slavery and planters taking place in the mid-eighteenth century in South Carolina.  I wasn’t planning to be so open about the project just yet (though I am now more than two years into it), but there is an indigo workshop being held in September just outside of Charleston and I’ve launched a kickstarter campaign to try and garner the cost of the class and a rental car (I have miles).

IMG_2461It would be so perfect!  I traveled to Charleston this past April, as some of you know, but was only there for a short while — I took tons of pictures and did two plantation tours and visited the Chalmers Street former slave auction site and spent two afternoons in the Charleston Museum,  but this would be fabulous — I’d get to see the area in the fall (and take tons more pictures) and the indigo!!  Well, check out Sea Island Indigo!!

IMG_2454It all started with a book by India Flint called “Eco Colour”.  In it, she devotes a page to the colonial settler, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, and her work with indigo.  Next came Eliza’s letters.  Once I started asking myself, ‘what were the lives of her slaves like?’, I was off and running.

from my indigo vat, 2012

from my indigo vat, 2012

For more than two years now, I have been writing, writing, writing, and researching, researching, researching (there’s an example of great writing right there!). I have learned so much about American history that I feel like a different person than when I started out.  Reading slave history changes you.  Details about the slave trade, the slave codes, the brutality, the labor practices, the attempts at rebellion, the words used by the elite to describe “their” African Americans — all change you. The most recent and best thing I have read about slavery and its ongoing harm (I cannot recommend this article enough) was published in a recent issue of The Atlantic Monthly, and it’s called “The Case for Reparations”.  Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, it is hard-hitting, incredibly full of examples of ongoing harm, and it will make you shake your head in sadness and wonder at what we are — we Americans, this America.

An African American crafter, as part of the weekend, will be teaching participants rag quilting and talking about Gullah culture.  I cannot say how perfect this event feels as a boost for my writing project!
manacle

paper piece revealing what must be the name of one of Eliza's sons

paper piece revealing what must be the name of one of Eliza’s sons, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Even if a donation does not make sense for you at this time, please share my excitement for this work!  And now that the cat is out of the bag, I will feel freer to discuss what I am learning here on the blog, and hope you will gladly come along for the ride.

 

Corn guy and Womb

IMG_5131.JPGFunny to be weaving “fall” when it got so sticky hot here today. This guy got his start on a napkin-basket-loom.  I was trying out some things from the weaving class with Jude Hill (Spirit Cloth, side bar), and sort of having fun.  The warp caught in the grooves of the basket edges and stayed put well enough, but I could only use tape to secure it on the back, so it got loose in places — sometimes to the point of near unworkability.
IMG_0009 IMG_4746Mostly today I pieced rectangles of cotton together, pressed the seams one way or the other, and enjoyed the cool of my basement.  I ran the fan all day to churn some of the mildew smell out the back door. That sounds awful but it wasn’t. It was a nice retreat after two very intense weeks of travel and settling the boys in.
IMG_0278In fact, the cool quiet of the cellar was perfect for my first ‘official’ day of the empty nest — a day that found me tired, disoriented, a little sick, and in real need of silence.IMG_0295 I stitched a linen frond to the woven island piece (above, left) and excavated some of the sections representing Africa from the Middle Passage series (above, right)IMG_0297In the little square above, I put some of the ‘Ghost House’ remnants next to fabrics being used to designate ‘Strange Fruit’ in the ‘White House of Privilege’ series. A panel with a moon stitched on it is being blown sideways by the fan.  I like that almost more than anything else!IMG_0302 IMG_0308 IMG_0310Middle Passage scraps partnered with Ghost House piecing (above). Reading the recent ‘Atlantic’ article, ‘The Case for Reparations’ (by Ta-Nehisi Coates) has got me thinking about all this again (as if the events in Ferguson, Missouri weren’t prompt enough)…IMG_0316And all these tiny little ‘doodles’ wanting a home. The grid has one inch squares, so you get the scale.
IMG_5030I’ll close with a few pix from Vermont.  We camped at a state park located on an island in Lake Champlain.  We did this to save money, but it was really wonderful!  So quiet. So pretty.

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IMG_0269The weather was perfect, and it was nice, as it turns out, to break up the drive and the border crossing over separate days. Since we’ve had some really nice visits to Montreal, including a few memorable dinners, there was no feel of a pauper’s compromise in this plan — none at all. IMG_5084IMG_5092Look at those skies!!

transitions

IMG_0061Here is a conceptual nine patch. It is about all I have time for now.
IMG_0062 I am intrigued by how radically an image can be altered, just by changing how  much light gets in.
IMG_0063IMG_0068This little landscape moves from left to right in installments like a comic book.  I like finding the mountains, lakes, and moons in the fabrics. I like including time as an element in the story of the cloth.

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Colorado

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backyard

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Colorado

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front yard

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back fence

I am in and out of town one more time — so blogging will be more intermittent than usual until after Labor Day. Enjoy the last days of summer!

Because it rained

20140729-082526-30326986.jpgThank goodness it rained on the last Sunday in July, because instead of taking a walk that morning, I went to the MFA.  It was the last day of a quilt show that it would have killed me to miss.
IMG_4648There were about six rooms of beautiful traditional quilts, with a lot of text about the collectors and the quilters’ use of color.  Another friend of mine took exception with how little was said about the MAKERS and how MUCH was said about the collectors.  I spent almost all of my time looking at the quilts, so it wasn’t something I picked up on.  Before I judge the exhibit on this basis, I would want to know what, if anything, they knew about the crafters.  It’s very possible that in the case of many of the quilts, NOTHING was known.

a whole room of Amish quilts!

a whole room of Amish quilts!

In what little text I did read, I noticed an repetitious emphasis on the use of color (we get it! complimentary colors look good together!!) and a real lack of information about the technical structure of the cloths.  Gorgeous trapunto and stippling went without mention; one quilt supposedly had discharged cloth in it where I could find none.

feathered diamond. Penn. 1890's

feathered diamond. Penn. 1890’s

But! I still thoroughly enjoyed the show and firmly believe that quilts belong on the walls of our art museums — and not just the magnificent Gee’s Bend quilts, either.

All the photos were taken with my phone, so please indulge the lack of focus!

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bold and dynamic use of plaid

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An entire room of variations on the Log Cabin pattern was my favorite part of the show, not only because of the quilts themselves, but because the grouping revealed how profound an impact color/value choices have on design.  All the quilts in the room used the very same pattern and yet were radically different from each other.

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unbelievably small strips!

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20140729-082527-30327633.jpgThis was one of many beautiful nine patches in the exhibit.  The show made me appreciate the uses of white when making patterns and colors sing.

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woolen, tied quilt — nine patch and rail fence

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Quilter Mary Alma Parker

"Memphis Blues" by Mary Alma Parker

“Memphis Blues” by Mary Alma Parker

Even if you have a loyal cadre of readers, sometimes blogging feels like dropping pennies into a deep, dark well.  “Hello?!”  you call out.  “Anybody there?!”

In the spring, as some of you know, after a quick trip to Charleston, South Carolina, I posted some images from the Textile Wing at the Charleston Museum, including the quilt by Mary Alma Parker pictured above.  My sewing readers voiced their appreciation.  Plop!  The penny dropped down. And, that was that — or so I thought.

Turns out, that was not it.  Last month Mary Alma Parker’s daughter, Clare Butler, emailed me. Not only had she had found my post (really?! by what miracle?), but she had read it to her mother and my appreciative words ‘really made her mother’s day’!  How cool is that?!

Ms. Butler and I exchanged a couple of emails, and she has given me permission to tell you more about her mother and her mother’s quilting.

First, find better pictures of “Memphis Blues” in the Charleston Museum’s flickr set.

sorry so blurry! a phone picture shot through glass

sorry so blurry! a phone picture shot through glass

I was taken with the quilt’s exuberant use of prints, its lovely colors, and the playful departures from traditional patterning. Based on those three aesthetic traits, as well as the title, “Memphis Blues”, I speculated that the maker was African American. I could find nothing online to contradict that assumption. Well, I was wrong.

Mary Alma Parker was born and raised in Memphis and has lived in Charleston with her husband (a Charleston native) for the last 25 years.  Her daughter told me that her mother was “very influenced by African-American design aesthetics and artistic composition from her early years and throughout her life”.  Mrs. Parker took my incorrect assumption about her origins “as a compliment”.

Her daughter also wrote this:  “She chose to use the paper template hexagons as her motif on Memphis Blues because many quilters viewed them as crafty and trite”.  She wanted a familiar visual motif so that the “focus could be on the randomness of her composition, color, and pattern choices”.  That certainly worked!

I also learned that Mrs. Parker never used a machine for anything and that she belonged to a quilting group in Charleston where they “focused on learning a variety of techniques”.  It was in that group where she discovered a love of the applique method.  Mrs. Parker went on to make a completely original Baltimore album quilt, as well as a one featuring collard greens, called “State Vegetable”.

Like many quilters, Mrs. Parker was a recycler before recycling was a thing.  Her daughter wrote:  “I now recognize her as one of the thriftiest recyclers of just about everything — way before it was popular as it is today.  You’ll notice the circles used as the quilting pattern on Memphis Blues in the borders — those are tracing of cans of food from her pantry.  She always used cans as pattern weights when she sewed all of our clothes when my sister and I were growing up, so it is logical that she would use them as patterns for her quilting stitch designs too”.

Clare has promised me pictures of the Baltimore album quilt, and if she finds them, I shall be sure to post them.

 

P.S. Mary Alma Parker was also a collector of unusual vintage quilts and many of those in the permanent collection in the Charleston Museum were her finds.  Here are two links and some text her daughter emailed me:

One in particular that you may recall seeing in the museum is the cigarette silks quilt.  A partial picture and description can be seen on this page: http://www.charlestonmuseum.org/early-20th-century-quilts.  Cigarette silks were one of the first premiums marketed to influence sales of a product in the US and targeted the growing leisure class of women interested in crafting. Here is a brief explanation of the trend: http://www.geocities.ws/nimue_139/history.html

 

 

 

 

summer passing

Wow, the season can really slide by. Today? I am going to go swimming! Have to. Have to.

a beautiful surprise

a beautiful surprise

It’s been a quiet week.  By that, I mean fairly unscheduled (there were nine yard crews and a morning of limb removal on our street).  The light and air were pretty the day I took two of the Star Maps outside.
IMG_9980 IMG_9981 IMG_9989 IMG_9992 I had time to weed, clean, visit my sister, get our rugs cleaned.  Boxed up the old tape players from the Perkins Library to return them.

end of an era

end of an era

Both of my boys qualified for audio books and machines from the Braille and Talking Book Library.  What a great service that has been! Tapes delivered to your door, free postage to return, a large library to choose from.  With my older son, in particular, it made a huge difference.  Some months in middle school, he listened to six or seven books on tape, which meant that he entered high school more literate than some of his better-reading peers.
IMG_4586Me? I am slogging through the excellent novel, “Cloudsplitter” — by Russell Banks.  I don’t really recommend reading THREE 800 pages novels in a year (“Our Mutual Friend” by Charles Dickens and “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, being the other two).  To get through this one (even though it’s SUPERB), I had to take breaks to read six shorter novels and Stephen King’s wonderful, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft“.

Earlier in the year, I read another historic novel about the radical abolitionist, John Brown:  “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride. Have learned a lot about Kansas and Missouri and how the battle about slavery played out there in the years leading up to the Civil War.