Monday, December 29, 2008

NYC-Folk art quilts and more

Having a wonderful, busy time in NYC...just walking along the avenues in Manhattan is such a treat...very crowded however. I'd forgotten how many beautiful Art Deco buildings there are. That's my daughter in the white hat and her co-worker in front of their office building-I love the numbers and the grill work over the entrance.This is the painted ceiling in the entranceway-Dutch New Amsterdam and the skyscraper NY skyline!

I did get to see the Christmas windows at Lord and Taylor (Victorian scenes of favorite Christmas stories, songs, etc. just wonderful-the best windows by far-the attention to detail and workmanship of the clothes is amazing) but I couldn't get any pictures to come out, I kept getting me and the crowd reflected in the windows :( but no loss-you can see the windows here If you're ever in NYC at this time of year-don't miss the windows at Lord and Taylor-Macy's are ok, Saks Fifth-ok but even as a kid, I knew the Lord and Taylor windows were the best (that's at Fifth Avenue and 39th street).

We ate at Ellen's Stardust Diner-real singing waiters, met friends and family , caught a movie and stopped in at the Morgan Library and Museum to see the manuscript of the first book of Milton's Paradise Lost.

I went to the quilt exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum...very interesting. The theme was recycling and resourcefulness and there was one very odd quilt made of bits of old sweaters, scarves and even a 1920s bathing suit! Actually, I don't get it-why not unravel the sweaters, knit vests, etc and reuse the yarn? (ok, you'd still have the bathing suit!) I think the intention was to make something different and humorous more than to recycle...again, no picture taking allowed, you can see a selection of the quilts here but unfortunately not the sweater quilt. The postage stamp quilt was very beautiful-3/4" squares sewn into 5" blocks, creating "new fabric". The alphabet quilt was also a bit wacky-A-J was just as expected and then oops, lost some letters there but liked the H so much there were 5. I loved the Sunbonnet Sue quilt-she wears many styles of hats!

I'm off to Philadelphia tomorrow-lunch with friends and to the Philadelphia Art Museum for the Afro-American quilt exhibit...This is so much fun!

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Native American historic dresses

It took 7 hours to drive from Boston to NYC on Saturday because of the snowfall-we postponed visiting the quilt exhibit in Hartford, CT till later in the trip. We spent yesterday close to "home" with rainy and sleety weather but today, Manhattan beckoned-lower Manhattan to be exact.

In the old Customs House down near Wall Street is a branch of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian-I definitely recommend a visit-not only for the exhibits but for the building itself. This is the chandelier in the cloak room!

The present exhibit was perfect for me: woman's clothing! While I was familiar with the beaded dresses from animal hides (even in old westerns, the costumers got that right) I was struck by these muslin dresses and their painted decoration (both dresses are Sioux from South Dakota circa 1890).

I also liked these woolen dresses-the fabric made in Gloucestershire, England was called "saved-list" which was a corruption of "selvage"-the favorite color was red but blue was also used, often with the white (undyed) selvage left on as a trim...very clever!

After this, we walked over to Ground Zero to pay our sad.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New England Quilt Museum and Lowelll Mills

We went to Lowell today, first to the New England Quilt Museum-where they were having a special exhibit of quilts recently donated to the up the stairs and there they were...beautifully familiar Pennsylvania quilts and not the new-to-me New England quilts I expected! Happily they did show some quilts from their permanent collection-an interesting group of Connecticut quilts. Wish I could show you some pix but no go-the main thing I noticed about the Connecticut quilts was that several were two color quilts (a blue and white single Irish chain) or three color quilts (a green and mustard sawtooth star with black plain blocks from 1800 and all the wool fabrics were home dyed with native plant dyes! ) and the blocks were fairly large-at least 12". I don't want to generalize too much here but these were my initial impressions...hope I get to see some more New England quilts while I'm here.

It was then on to the Bootts Mill-definitely worth a trip...a wonderful tour inside the mill with the roar of the looms and wonderful explanations by the US Park Rangers. No pix because my battery died :(

I bought some of the fabric made now in the mill (I chose the green stripe towelling because that is what we saw being made on the looms during the tour ) and two bobbins that went into the loom shuttles. I'm planning on using the bobbin thread for some outline embroidery on the towelling.
I got the camera battery recharged just in time for Holiday greetings from Lowell, Massachusetts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quilting Adventures

We're off on a month long visit to Boston, NY and Philadelphia on Tuesday. We'll be visiting family and... quilt exhibits.

Our first stop is Boston and from there we're planning a day trip to Lowell, Massachusetts to the New England Quilt Museum and the oldest textile mills in the US. The Lowell mills were famous for employing young women, known as the Lowell Mill Girls.

Then its on to NYC and the American Folk Art Museum and their exhibit- Recycling and Resoursefulness: Quilts of the 1930s. This is one of the quilts I expect to see!!
Then its on to Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art's exhibit of African-American quilts. This is the Hands quilt-ooh, I hope to see this too.

There'll be other quilty outings too: I may take a side trip to Baltimore. I've heard that the Baltimore Museum of Art is showing Baltimore Album quilts this month and next...a rather rare event and only a train ride from Philadelphia! And then there's always fabric shopping :)

Since I'll be staying with family, I'll have access to a computer and will post my quilty adventures and some others too...I can't wait to see Rockefeller Center and the big tree in NY, the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia and new places I don't even know yet in Boston.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Vintage Jewelry

This is a 1950's crystal necklace and clip-on earrings set that my mother gave me. I was going to a family wedding in the 1980's and when I showed her my dress (strapless with a full skirt) she said " I have the perfect jewelry". I haven't had an occassion to wear them since! I take them out and try them on but they never go :(

This is a pearl choker that I also got from my mother. I love this necklace- if they aren't "real pearls"-what's that thing about biting them-then they must be Bakelite! :) I get much more use out this necklace than the crystal-when I wear them DH calls me Marion the Librarian but personally I think they're more June Cleaver!

I love vintage jewelry-when I wear it I feel like I am experiencing something from another age. For example, I can tell you that those clip-on earrings really hurt, so now I understand why in 1940s movies, women were always taking their earrings off to talk on the phone-any momentary relief was welcome!

There are lots more VTT treasures to see at Coloradolady.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Original Chanukah Stitcheries

These are some fun-rather silly-Chanukah stitcheries. I've called them Fashionista Girl (poor thing, is she worried her hat will fly off or burst into flames?) and Chanukah Top - a very happy fellow!

She's so cute and tiny, she fits perfectly in this 4 x 6 picture frame.
I made him (I can't help it! he's a boy to me!) into a gift bag-his smile just seemed to suggest "goodies".

I thought I'd share these stitcheries with anyone who would like to make them for themselves or a friend so I made my drawings and stitch guide into Pdf files (and the gift bag instructions too).

Go here to download Fashionista Girl (then click on the button "click here to start download").

Go here to download Chanukah Top (then click on the button) and here for the Gift Bag instructions.

Drawing and making these was alot of fun-I would love your input, let me know what you think. This is the first time I've ever gone "public" with my stitcheries.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Black and White Quilt Challenge

I'm very excited-I just joined the Black and White Quilt Challenge hosted by Jackie. I found out about the challenge when Eileen posted about it.

This is going to be a bit more of a "challenge" than I expected-this is the rather paltry state of my black and white stash. I always thought I had alot of b&w fabrics until I went to collect them all. Many of my "b&w" fabrics I discovered have another color or several other colors there -just the black is rather predominant. The challenge does allow for another color but I think I want to add that separately. So now I am going to be "challenged" to buy b&w fabrics! I do have lots of white :)

This is a year long challenge but lots of people are already in full swing and you can see what's happening here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie:Elegant Aluminum Candlesticks

These aluminum (yes, aluminum!) candlesticks were made by the Wendell August Forge in Pennsylvania. I had never seen aluminum used this way before I got these.(mostly just as pots and pans!) I am now on the lookout-I would love a bud vase :)

I love the design, especially of the candleholder part-it looks like a curled leaf. The floral pattern on the dish part is raised as you can just see in the pix. They are quite small, about 2 1/4" tall and the dishes are 4" across.

In 1928, James McCausland became the chief designer at the Wendell August Forge which had opened in 1923 . By 1929 he was already working with hand wrought aluminum. By 1932, the first known catalog for Wendell August featuring items such as these candlesticks was produced. I don't know when these were actually made-there is no date on the bottom but stylically I think they are from the 1930s.

Wendell August Forge is still in business and they still have aluminum pieces but nothing like this: mainly commorative plaques and plates for businesses.

For more Vintage Thursday treasures, visit Coloradolady.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plaids, plaids, plaids-quilt top finished

It was great getting back into my sewing room after the oven drama, Thanksgiving and on Monday, our youngest's 21st birthday.

I finally finished the plaid quilt top-and I'm very pleased with it. I like the way there is a lot of different things going on-all this from just one block!

I had finished the half blocks for the sides
when I realized I had to make quarter blocks

for the corners so out came what was left of the plaid stash once again.

I kept the orange block and used the last of that fabric for one of the half blocks too. This is a special fabric for me-years and years ago I made a quilt for my Mom. It was my third quilt ever and the first machine pieced-I even took her with me shopping for the fabrics and she picked them out. I completed the quilt, she took it to Florida for the winter and just didn't match her decor!! :) What to do...I went to a local quilt shop-a wonderful shop called Country Quiltworks now in Montgomery County, Pa then in Bucks, and they suggested buying 1/8 of a yard of each fabric I planned to use in the next quilt, keeping half the 1/8 yard and sending half to my Mom. It worked (on that quilt I used a rotary cutter for the first time! we are talking a long long time ago :) The orange plaid is what was left of one of those 1/8 yards.