A couple of weeks ago I jumped into my first-ever woodworking class. I recently became interested in woodworking and designing my own quilt display racks. The photos show the progress of the cheese board I put together during the class. During the class I learned how to use a radial saw, table saw, drill press, router, planer, and band saw. It was great in helping me start to get over my fear of the table saw. It's scary, but not nearly as bad as I expected, especially if you remember to make safety the first priority. The workshop also use a Saw Stop, which is hyper-sensitive. (Check it out online!) I enjoyed the experience so much I signed up for another workshop in a couple of weeks. We are going to make a set of shelves.
My goal is to take a couple of classes that teach me the skills I need to put together my own custom quilt displays for our house. I figure if I put a lot of consideration, time, and work into my quilts I should be equally considerate of how they are displayed. They are my art after all.
I've been keeping my hands busy since we launched the inagural members' show for the Pittsburgh Modern Quilt Guild. Putting the show together took a lot of my precious spare time, so I am starting to get back to projects I put on hold. My time is still pretty limited because of the demands of my job at the museums (it's the busiest season, we are relocating, and co-worker on mat leave) and putting my family, especially my two-year-old son, first. I've grown to dislike this phrase, but it really is "this season" of my life.
While my son napped on Sunday we pulled out the refrigerator we reclaimed from my husband's grandparent's farmhouse. This is a part of our on-going kitchen renovation, which is about 90 percent finished. (Finally!) I was able to get it cleaned up and scrubbed down with wire brushes to remove rust and loose paint. Before kiddo woke up I even got the first coat of paint on the sides. In the next couple of weeks I will repaint the entire thing and possibly add some red stripes for fun. After the refrigerator is installed we will only have finishing touches left over, like trim work and some painting. It's been a fun journey taking on such a large renovation project, and I'm appreciative the husband let me lead the way with the overall design of the space. My love of color takes a lot of trust!
As for quilting projects, I am almost finished with a quilt for my nephew Ivan. (I will post photos when it is finished.) There's a story to this quilt - I started it last year for his first birthday, and now it looks like I will have it finished in time for his second birthday, which is this weekend! Better late than never, right? I feel bad it has taken me so long to finish the quilt. 2013 has been a lesson in time management and simply accepting I can only get so much accomplished in the span of a day. It's also been a good lesson in my inability to please everyone, but that's a story for another time...
In addition to finishing up ongoing projects, I decided to start fine tuning my free motion quilting (FMQ) skills. This weekend I put together these two practice blocks for a class I'm taking on Craftsy. This is my first class on Craftsy, and it is with Leah Day. I'm curious to see if I will be able to learn her techniques while watching her on video. I've only taken in-person FMQ classes, so this is a new adventure for me. Fortunately, I can work on the class lessons for as long as I want, whenever I want. This is good considering how full my life has been these past few months. And, of course, if will remain full, since we are expecting another baby in spring 2014. I will be sure to post pictures of my progress as I work my way through the class. I may need some encouragement and advice from my FMQ buddies.
Last Saturday I spent the day in Herndon, VA attending the Not Fade Away conference presented by the Quilt Alliance. This was the first educational conference the Quilt Alliance has offered in many years, and I was happy to learn they plan to present a similar conference every two years. The Quilt Alliance is an advocate organization for the preservation and documentation of quilts. They have been responsible for the development of The Quilt Index, Quilters' S.O.S. (Save Our Stories), and Quilt Treasurers. The focus of this conference was to educate those interested in quilting (i.e. quilters, collectors, historians, and curators) on the importance of capturing the story behind the quilts and the quilters who made them. There were morning and afternoon workshops focusing on quilting and social media, properly photographing quilts, self-publishing, and labeling. Personally, the two highlights of the conference were the keynote presentation, which was presented by Janneken Smucker, material culture scholar and Amish quilt historian, and the closing session on historical quilt research presented by museum curators, including Marin Hanson, Curator of Exhibitions, International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSC&M). Both were unique opportunities to peak into the challenging and interesting world of curatorial research for those who aspire to work professionally in textiles and craft, such as myself.
There were many things to take away from the conference, and I have continued to ponder the information I gathered while there. Obviously after hearing Marin Hanson I want to make a trip to Lincoln, NE to visit the IQSC&M. The new building design by Robert A. M. Stern looks amazing, but I'm aching to see the collections, especially the Ardis and Robert James Collection. I also continue to wonder how many modern quilters label their quilts. I wonder if modern quilters think about documenting the process of designing and making a quilt. Is a blog post with a few pictures enough? (These thoughts are put in the context of the modern quilter, but they apply to all quilters, makers, etc.) Should we be telling the entire story? And, when we choose to record the documentation of our quilts virtually, how do we intend to maintain that information once we no longer blog or God forbid stop quilting?
I admit I haven't always labeled my quilts. Going forward it will be one of the last steps I take as I finish each quilt. As well, I need to quit being so lazy about documenting my work. Photographing them isn't enough. I need to take the time to write out each story, including dates, which fabrics I used, etc. Over time I won't remember the details of every quilt I make, and the documentation needs to become a part of the process. The owner of a quilt is bound to have his or her own story about the quilt, but the first chapter of a quilt's story should come from its maker.