Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Glorious Broderie Perse!

On our recent trip to the American South - Charleston and Savannah in late April - Glen and I were  impressed and inspired  by the amount of 18th and early 19th century architecture and decorative arts which have been saved in these two beautiful cities. A case in point:  We wandered into the Charleston Museum   , by the way, the oldest museum in the United States, founded in 1773, and found in the Textile Gallery the most amazing and comprehensive collection of 18th and 19th century broderie perse quilts made by early Charlestonian women and  donated by their families. 

Displayed in low level lighting to preserve the fabrics and their original colors, these quilts fairly glowed inside their glass cases. Broderie Perse is an early technique of hand applique' in which motifs are cut from printed fabrics - mostly cottons- and attached in pleasing arrangements on a cotton or linen background fabrics. The background fabric is then finely hand quilted . These quilts incorporated French and English copper plate and wood block printed dress and upholstery goods. The detail is amazing and the colors are superb. The patterns echo the chinoiserie craze of the 18th century and the neoclassical taste of the late 18th and early 19th. 

Enough  words - let the quilts talk for themselves.

This little crib quilt below was actually my favorite -  I may have to make my own version of this with some reproduction fabrics.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Well,  it's been entirely too long between blog posts! Yes, I've been busy with all sorts of things including travel, leading the Board as president of Westside Quilters, and yes, even getting down to some fabric art....

My latest completed work is a quilt commissioned by an old friend from another life - a life spending summers riding the high trails of the Sierra Nevada in the 1970s through early 1990s.  After several years, we have re-connected and after taking a look at my quilting website and this blog asked if  I would make

 her a quilt from one of her photographs of a view we often shared - the beautiful Little Lakes Valley on the Eastern side of California's Sierra Nevada range. North of Bishop and south of Mammoth and Yosemite this gorgeous place is reached from Rock Creek Road off Route 395 at Tom's Place. 10 miles up the road you reach the  trail head at Mosquito Flats (aptly named!) to what used to be called "Crank Case Grade" the remnant of a 1920s trucking road to a tungsten mine in a neighboring canyon. The trail leads upward and upward to this glaciated valley dotted with small lakes and headed by a glacial cirque formed by 13,000 plus foot peaks and dominated by the splendid Bear Creek Spire. Her photo was taken from the Mono Pass Trail which rises from the valley and heads north towards the John Muir Wilderness and Yosemite.

Glaciers still dominate this valley, though they are smaller now than I remember from my childhood when I first rode and hiked here. I've seen the Swiss Alps and the Rockies, but to me nothing compares with our own Sierra Nevada eastern slope.

I translated my friend's photograph, first into a crayon sketch (see at right) and then into a quilt top with using a fused applique' technique with hand dyed cottons and cotton batiks. i took some artistic license and added the tree on the right to give some depth and focus to the panorama.  The details including the snow pack, mountain shadows and thousands of pine trees were added with textile paints, ink markers and machine embroidery.  The top was mounted with one of my favorite striped hand dyed cottons and free motion quilted.

My friend has so far only seen a photo of the finished quilt and as I send it off to her in a week or so I hope it brings back to her the same great memories of the time we both spent in this amazing bit of California.