Tuesday, December 3, 2013

As I sort and organize possessions for an upcoming move, I am rediscovering the impressive handwork of my foremothers… and fathers. Two great-grandmothers, as well as my maternal grandmother, and my mother were all prolific needleworkers. It's no wonder I have the 'itch' to stitch. It's in my genes.

Quilting, knitting, embroidery, tatting, weaving, you name it… they probably tried it. I have examples of all these, but a prize possession is two sample books created by my great grandmother. She was into knitted lace, crochet, and tatting; she used journals to write out patterns and attach a sample of each pattern to the pages. It is truly amazing.

Here are a couple of photos, so you can see what I mean.

I will be talking about this heritage of multiple generations of needleworkers at the Pine Tree Quilt Guild meeting in Augusta on Saturday, January 25th at 1 p.m. The program is a combination Power Point and trunk show. I love sharing this stuff!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Improv piecing with Denyse Schmidt

Pieced block with randomly assigned fabrics.
by Bonnie Dwyer

Many thanks to The New England Quilt Museum http://www.nequiltmuseum.org for bringing the "Mother of Modern Quilting" to Lowell Saturday, November 16. Sixteen quilters experienced a day of hands-on improvisational design work with Denyse Schmidt, commercial graphic designer turned quilt maker and fabric designer. She is riding the wave of this currently popular modern quilting trend. More info: www.dsquilts.com

Although 'modern' quilting does not appeal to everyone - especially improvisational work - I found the day to be transformational. Meaning, spontaneous piecing has a place in the quilt world once more. Trends are cyclical. My grandmother made "string" quilts out of scraps in the 1940's and 50's. Although her reasons were practical, influenced by the economic depression in the 1930's, mine are more about finding accidental design in randomly chosen fabrics. I felt her smiling down on me as I basked in the glow of "making something from scraps" - a philosophy I've always embraced. The day was satisfying and I came away with renewed energy for working with fabric.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is this quilt bright enough for you?
This is one of the quilts I will show in Whitinsville, MA tomorrow night. I will be visiting the Blackstone Valley Heritage Quilt Guild to present "Tickled Pink," a trunk show of 40 or so pink-themed quilts. Some are from the 19th Century and some are brand new. Several are for pure entertainment value - as in, "what was THAT quilt maker thinking???" 
This one is a 1960's or 70's era polyester/cotton number. And it's all hand quilted! 

Included in the trunk show are several beautiful newly made pink quilts that are available for purchase. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Another finish, only a few days late for my self-imposed monthly challenge! Pickup Stix was created for a modern quilting workshop I taught last week in Topsfield, MA. The wonderful women of Essex County Needleworkers Guild invited me to present a morning lecture/slide show about the development of modern quilting. Then, in the afternoon workshop a group of Guild members tried their hand at improvisational piecing --- with great results! Maybe I will get to share some of theirs in a future blog. 
This picture is the sample I made to demonstrate one improv method. I like the quirky and playful qualities of this design, and I think the participants enjoyed the liberating technique. I know I had a great time!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

At last, a finish!

I love to start new projects. Selecting and coordinating fabrics for a new quilt is my favorite part of the creative process. Finishing? Now, that's another story. Recently I pledged to a group of quilt business buddies that I would finish one project each month until the pile is gone. How brave was that? Or, maybe "naive." At any rate, here is the first one I finished from a group challenge. No title yet. Ideas?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I love my quilt appraising job. People bring me their quilts and pay me to look at them, identify what they have, advise on how to take care of them, as well as to assign a value. It's about MORE than the monetary value. Sometimes it is a family heirloom, or their own baby quilt, or a flea market find.
The ones with stories are the bestPrograms by Bonnie Dwyer, The Quilt Whisperer. Every quilt has a story, it just may have been lost along the way. I always urge the quilt owner to write down what they know about the quilt. The most important facts are the "who, where, and when." Who made or owned it; where they lived; and when they lived. These details can help future generations know where their heirlooms came from. Here is one from my own family. I am grateful my mother made a label and stitched it onto the back so I know which ancestor made it. This one is part of my "Six Generations of Maine Quilt Makers" lecture/trunk show. More info here: here

Monday, August 5, 2013

I am working my way through a pile of appraisals after the wonderful Maine Quilt Show at the end of July. Perfectionism is my nemesis. Every detail must be correct, since a written appraisal report is a legal document. I must be able to defend it in a court of law, so I attending to the details is a good thing!

It's a beautiful summer day in Maine, so that motivates me to get this done so I can go outside and enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My, oh my. How time does fly! It's been nearly a month since I posted to my blog. And, now it's time to prep for the Maine Quilt Show, where I will be appraising all three days, July 26, 27, & 28. Doing appraisals and seeing many friends - old and new - really gets the adrenalin pumping! I love the excitement of this annual event. If you have never been to a quilt show, please think about going to the (air conditioned) Augusta Civic Center this weekend. There will be traditional, art, and modern fiber pieces to view. Not to mention vendors of all things fabric-related. You will be in for a visual feast!

Here is a link for details:
Maine Quilt Show

Monday, June 24, 2013

I've been very quiet here.... I'm not sure why I have such a hard time blogging, but I plan to do better. One never knows where a quilt idea may come from. I like to use my own photos for inspiration, and a new camera is helping me explore again. Landscapes and plants are what I find interesting art subjects, so a recent trip to Acadia National Park got the creative juices flowing.

I was having a hard time getting a decent photo of a sunset from our campsite. I stopped after taking about a dozen pix. None of them seemed likely to inspire a quilt. Until I looked again. This out-of-focus one seems like a good candidate. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Austin, Texas was the place to be last weekend. It was the inaugural conference of The Modern Quilt Guild and there was excitement in the air. The conference was well-attended, with 1500 pre-registered participants; total attendance figures have not been released. The modern quilt movement is attracting new as well as veteran quilters! FMI: The Modern Quilt Guild

Ann Woodhead and I visited "our" quilt in the exhibit there. I pieced "Orange Improv" and Ann did the wonderful machine quilting on it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Art Quilts Maine

Saturday, February 9 is the next meeting of Art Quilts Maine, an active group of art quilters from across the state. We currently have a traveling exhibit "Postcards from Away" in which the artists interpreted a real or imagined fabric postcard. Here is my 20" x 30" post card quilt depicting a lovely pink bromeliad I photographed in a tropical garden on Grand Cayman Island.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cold winter days push me toward warm orange and yellow colors when I am making quilts. Here is a new piece in progress. There. I feel warmer already!

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Lunar Luminosity" is my latest finished piece for our "Fearless Designer's" group challenge. Each month we are assigned a word (chosen by one of the ten members) to interpret in fabric. I generally go overboard with complexity, hence many incomplete pieces. This time I decided to go to the other extreme: simple. I'm thinking about adding some tree branches in the upper right... because I now think it is TOO simple.