Sunday, March 24, 2013

It has a New Home!

I never planned on selling this quilt. I made it just for me and my son, to help me deal with the thought that my only child was going to be a Marine and probably go off to war. That was very difficult for me to handle but as all quilters do when faced with challenges; I went to the studio and put my feeling into cloth. There are tears in that fabric. 
I looked at all kinds of patriotic subject matter before I realized it HAD to be a flag.   
My idea was to visualize this quilt years later on the wall in my son’s office when he is an old man. We both made it through the trial of war and came out the other side.

I started to take the quilt with me on the road when I did trunk shows around the country. I had no idea the emotion it would cause in others as I showed it. It was overwhelming and very special, so this quilt is for all the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of soldiers through all the wars who, like me, have given their loved ones for our country to be free.  This quilt is not mine, it’s ours!

I had to write a story for a newspaper about my quilt and this is what I said:

As all parents do, we want a better life for our child.  Joe and I wanted Matt to be able to go to college without the financial burden that we had. He graduated with a degree in mathematics and we were so proud to say that he was the first Bula to graduate with a college degree.  But 2 days later he joined the United States Marines. I was proud and very worried. You see, he is my only child, not that a mother with more than one doesn't have the same feelings.  It just hit me hard.

We stood at the front of the church when he was 1 year old and dedicated him to the Lord and promised that we would raise him up to be the man that God had made him to be. I was thing maybe God wanted a dentist. 

We all went to see him graduate from boot camp that August day in 2010. How proud we were.  That day I saw all the other families that were going through the same feelings as us. I noticed all the flags denoting the various states represented and other countries from which the new Marines had come.  I was amazed how many countries were represented but, of course, that’s what America is — a land of immigrants.

I noticed a young Nigerian man marching at the head of the battalion and carrying the flag for his platoon. My son had told how the other Marines in the Nigerian’s battalion questioned him about life in his West African country. He immigrated here when he was only 14 years old. His days in Africa were spent running from danger and searching for food for his family and there he stood as a Marine holding his battalion flag proudly at the head of the line.
Compared to my own son, whom they’d raised with many advantages, a safe home and plenty of food, I realized that every Marine and every family there told a different story.
I was determined to never forget that day.  As an artist I express my feelings through quilting. I started making the flag quilt immediately when I arrived home from the ceremony, and during the process I cried many tears.  I cried for my only son going off to war and all the other mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, wife's and husbands, that I knew felt the same way.

I made this quilt for the families whose children didn't come home.
I made it for my uncle who had no choice in the 60s and was drafted into Vietnam, served as a Marine, and when he came home, he was spit upon, and I cried again.  I cried for the young men I heard about who have come home struggling to readjust.
Generations of my family have fought for America to keep it free and safe, but I had forgotten that some of these new patriots came to the United States recently for the same reasons and now wanted to stand by this beautiful flag.  I dedicate this quilt to all military men and women.  Because of them, we can say “…and our flag is still there.”

You can see this quilt at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quilters Affair in Sisters, Oregon

Nothing is better than teaching in Sisters, Oregon.  OK, maybe Hawaii but I am stuck on the mainland for a while.  Jean and Valerie at Stitching Station in Sisters have set up a fun and wild week of mad stitching fun in July . If you have never been there, put it on your list. It’s great!  I am teaching a 2 day Hibiscus class, a 2 day new Hidden Beach class and a 1 day Bird Of Paradise class. I promised my students the supply list, color charts, and a little more information to get you ready for the class and here it is!
Let's start with the fabric first, the most important part.  I always say It’s all about the color and that is so true but what if you feel a little timid about how to choose color?  Here is a tips to help you in selecting your fabrics that I learned from Alex Anderson: More is always better.
First, realize that you may have to buy some new fabrics.  You will be making a beautiful art quilt that you will be proud to show off.  I guarantee it.  You are paying good money to take this class and to come to this wonderful retreat. Why would you not bring the best fabric you can?  Treat yourself to making a great quilt, which starts with beautiful fabrics. You don’t need yards of it for this class but you do need the right colors and values in that color to make this work.  The largest amount is ½ yard, the rest will be ¼ and 1/8 yards.  Fat quarter yards work great!  I personally have always been on the quilting budget, so I have had to be careful with the pennies I spend on my fabrics.  That is where the color chart comes into play. 

I have made a color chart to help you choose fabric colors and amounts. In class, I will help you make your color chart with the fabrics you bring.  The key to making a successful color chart is to bring more fabrics choices than are on the chart.  Example: if you can’t decide between 2 fabrics, just bring both.  That way we, together, can select the right colors for you.  You don’t have to know it all before class - I am there to help you, which is why you are taking the class!  Now, breathe.

Next supply you will need is Steam- A- Seam 2.  I don’t use the Lite because it doesn't stick as well as the 2.  It can be purchased in packages or by the yard - it doesn't matter but you will go through it like candy. When I say to bring 6 yards I mean 6 yards.

Another important tool is the scissors you bring to class.  You can’t build a house using a TV remote, right?  Do yourself a favor and bring some good, comfortable scissors.  You will need large ones (8”) and a small pair.  I did a blog on good scissors called Running With Scissors - you may want to read it before class. It’s kind of funny, too.

If you have any questions please email me.  If you can’t find Steam-A-Seam 2, you can buy it from me. Here’s the link to my web site. They will also have beautiful fabrics and Steam-A-Seam in Sisters.  
Now, download your supply list or I can mail you one if you don’t have a good printer.  I look forward to meeting you and playing with color. 

Hibiscus Class

Hibiscus Supply List:
  • Background fabric cut to 28"X 28" in a color you want your flower on.
  • Tweezers or stiletto to help you move small pieces around.
  • Sharp scissors in a variety of sizes - this is your most important tool for this technique.  I like large (8”), good quality scissors for cutting.
  • Sharpie markers, fine tip and bold in black
  • Pencil with eraser 
  • Small post-it notes
  • Glue stick
  • Straight pins - I like the larger ones with the yellow round heads.
  • 6 yds. Steam-A-Seam 2 - I like the 18”width, but any size or packages will do.
  •  Teflon pressing sheet (optional
To finish your quilt at home:
  • Sulky Rayon 30 weight thread, in colors that match your project
  • Jeans Denim needles or Top Stitch needles in size 12/80 or 14/90
  • 1 yd. batting -I like Dream Cotton in the lowest loft,Request.
  •  1 yd. backing fabric

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Little Quilt History from Nebraska

Art and creativity today is always influenced by the past. Even when we think we are being so original it still has ties to the past.  So it’s important to know where we came from and what were they creating?  As I get older, I really appreciate the women that molded my life and art today, even the ones I never met.

In my first year studying art at junior college, I remember being so bored by art history class.  I loved the impressionists and wanted to just study from that time period forward.   But we had to start at the beginning.  Why do we have to know this stuff? I would ask my art teacher.  She would very wisely say To be able to stand upon a firm foundation to create.  I didn't really know what she was talking about at the time but I sure do now and I can’t get enough of the history of artists, their art, and the whys and hows of their work.  What was going on in history that influenced their work and there lives?
When I use the word artist I am also including quilters. Yes, quilting is art even though it has been a much under-appreciated art form.  You can see the art so clearly when visiting the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.   This is one of the must visit sites for the art quilter.  I had the privilege of getting a private tour of the museum this last week while speaking and teaching for the Nebraska Quilt Guild. 

OMG!  Don’t mess with Nebraska - they got it all going on.

The first exhibit I saw was on the history of indigo painting and dying in America.  It was fascinating as it covered all the different processes and colors of indigo. There were many processes for adhering the indigo to the cloth over the years so it would remain permanent.  America loves its blue!

I learned so much about the process of indigo dye and all the different colors of indigo. You can see that in the quilt above.
One color sometime makes the best statement.
I love this one.  This quilt is called Britchy Quilt and was made by Maggie Smith in 1980 in Greene County, Alabama. It's hand-pieced and hand-quilted.  She removed the pockets which give a great block of deep blue.  I love the fading of the indigo jeans and  how she put this together.  Pure art.  I see a little Gees-Bend in this one.

 This next exhibit was 100 years of Quilts and their photographic history.

Quilts were used a lot in family pictures.  Do you have any old pictures of family with quilts?
This little girls has a crazy patch dolly quilt in the corner.

 This is a photo of Bertha Neiden and her award winning quilt. She was very proud of this quilt and rightly so. Someone even wrote on the picture that there are 10,222 pieces in this quilt.  She counted?
The museum has the original quilt in its collection.  It was damaged in a flood and the colors bled but that gives it a water color effect that I love.  She worked in a garment making plant and made this from the scraps.

The fabric looks like velvet but it is 100% cotton and has the look and feel of Cherry Wood fabrics. NOTE: I did not touch it.

Then there was this great picture of the Cherokee lady from Oklahoma Territory quilting an Irish Chain.  They met at the church once a week and quilted together.  Someone listed all their names on the back of the photo.  That is what my great-grandma Lula Youngblood-Standlee did and she was Cherokee.  Quilting is in my blood.
Nothing says America better on Saint Patrick's Day than a group of Native American women working on an Irish Chain Quilt in red and green.

 A blizzard blew me into the state of Nebraska but the quilts and quilters lit my fire.