Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Google or Stitch a Hurricane at Home

All is well here in sunny Southern California To my friends and readers in the northeast: Don't take risks.

Besides doling out not-too-useful advice like that, how can the rest of us help? Obviously, money and blood donations are needed much more than quilts. To donate money to the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org; or call 10800-Red-Cross. To make a quick $10 donation to the Red Cross, text the word "Redcross" to 90999.

To make an appointment for blood donation, go to http://www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation.

If you're in the affected zone, but lucky enough to have electricity and no flooding, it's a good idea to spend your time safe indoors, making  or at least googling hurricane quilts. You will be needing to make one in a few months, when the crisis is over.  To set a good example, I went looking around online for hurricane/quilting connections, here's some of what I found:
  • Suzanne's Quilt Shop in Georgia sponsored a project memorializing the 2004 hurricane season, which involved 4 hurricanes in 2 months (Charley, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan). They asked customers to submit hurricane-influenced blocks, plus a $5.00 donation to the Red Cross per block. Nice fundraiser. View those blocks at: http://www.suzannesquilts.com/hurricane_quilt.htm
And finally: 

Extraordinary images from Hurricane Sandy's devastation of New York. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/29-breathtaking-photos-of-hurricane-sandy-devastat . Image #22 on this page is a rainbow. We really hope that one's real.

PS Sorting real from fake Sandy photos: http://www.buzzfeed.com/reyhan/viral-photos-that-arent-hurricane-sandy .  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Launching the 'Quiltlet' (Quilted Bracelet) Project

I make a lot of quilted/fabric art strips, which I have dubbed 'quiltlets' (combining 'quilt' with 'bracelet').

A quiltlet is a strip that’s about 6 1/2”- 9” wide and 1” - 5” high.  Buttoned, snapped, or otherwise sealed shut, it's a unique artisan cuff bracelet – very on trend. (Proof: Enter ‘fabric cuff’ on etsy.com, and see what comes up!) But wait, there's more!

  • Unbuttoned, it can serve as a bookmark (assuming you still read paper books).
  • Hung by a loop or buttonhole, it becomes wall art, ideal for small spaces (There aren't a whole lot of large spaces left on my walls). 
  • With a few more tweaks, it becomes an artistic luggage tag, coffee cup cozy, billfold, mug rug, e-device holder, napkin ring, and more! 
Because of this versatility, quiltlets are can’t-miss gifts. Even if your friends wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one, they can probably do something else with them!

For the maker, quiltlets (like Artist Trading Cards, Inchies, Twinchies, etc.) offer infinite creative possibilities and learning opportunities, including embellishment and closures like button loops, snaps, etc., that quilters don’t usually get to play with. 

One big goal for my blog this year is to document and write up directions for my favorite quiltlets. I'm shooting for one a week here on Gefiltequilt, but if that pace crushes me, I will slow down!

My very first quiltlet leans Gees Bend. Created in a remote and isolated part of Alabama, the Gee's Bend quilts have had a huge impact on both the art and the quilt world. This particular  quiltlet was inspired by the extraordinary Gee's Bend quilts that use different tones of  worn manual laborers' garments. (Another one: here.)

This one is made from mostly used family jeans, but also some old denim yardage.

That's the arm of my resident teen, whose petite wrist is kind of swimming in this particular cuff. (I can't take a picture of it on my own less-dainty arm because a., I can't hold my hand and push the camera button simultaneously without moving the camera and/or myself, and b. I badly need a manicure. Come to think of it so does my teen, but even as we speak, a quick yet painless Photoshop amputation has just solved that problem!

The stamped metal button is art deco, I'm guessing early 1900s. 

For hanging purposes, the back of this quiltlet has two flat little metal loops stitched on. One is under the button end; the other, harder to see in the second photo below, is a little past halfway along the top edge. Find these in the notion aisles (they come with matching hooks, which I don't use in this project). 

Why did I place the loop in that odd position along the horizontal edge (circled below)? I used a pin to find the balance point, where, if a nail were holding the quiltlet to a wall, it would balance out and not slide to one side. 

So it can be hung vertically OR horizontally. For this piece, I prefer the former.
 Just to spare you from turning your head and/or computer sideways, here's how it looks on the vertical: 

You could also hang it from a nail or tack through the button hole end. (Feel free to stand on your head to view). 

The ties are made from gold/brown variegated perle cotton. Like a real quilt, the ties go through all  layers. (But this is not a true quilt, because there's no batting/inner layer, just the top, and a denim backing.)

Want to make your own? Here are the basic directions. As always in quilting, seam allowances should be 1/4". 

A. Collect small pieces of denim in a variety of shades, ideally 5 or 6. You can cheat by using the backs, if they're different from the fronts. If you still don't have enough, head for the nearest yard sale or thrift shop.

B. Cut a denim square that is about 1 1/4" by 1 1/4".  (they're piece #1 in the diagram below). Use a scissors and eyeball it for a more natural, wonky effect.  Resist the temptation to use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim these to precise squares or rectangles.

C. Cut another square, about the same size, from a different shade of denim. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch the #2 pieces next to the #1 piece, as shown below.

D. From a new shade of denim, cut a strip that's between 1 1/4" and  1  1/2" wide, and at least 2". That's the number 3 strip.

E. Sew the #3 strip to the long edge of #1 + #2.  

F. Trim the #3 ends even with the ends of piece #1 and #2. 

G. Sew a new strip  alongside pieces # 1 and #3. It's #4 in the diagram. Again, cut it more or less even with the preceding pieces. 

H. Take another strip, #5, and join it to the top of pieces 1, 2, and 4.

If you're a newbie, congratulations, you've made your first 'log cabin block' - the block launches a zillion quilts! 

If you enjoyed the process, make one more log cabin blocks, switching the color positions. 

I. Now, do some freeform log-cabin style piecing, joining squares and  rectangles of various sizes, make 2 more blocks that could be called modified log cabins. Make sure that each has an extra wide strip (#3 in the first example, #5 in the second). You don't have to do this exact plan. 

J. Place your blocks in a row, and arrange them as you like. Each end should have a piece that goes from top to bottom (like piece 3 and piece 5, above). 

K. Use a strip of paper or tape measure to measure tight around your wrist. Add  1 1/2"" to that, to reach the unfinished bracelet measurement. 

L. Line up the blocks and figure out a way to get to bracelet measurement. Remember that each unstitched vertical seam will make the bracelet 1/2" shorter, and each end will make the strip 1/4" shorter. It's a good idea to have a larger piece at both ends, like this: 

M. Sew your pieces together so your strip is about the right measurement. 

N.  Cut a single piece of denim to slightly larger than your finished strip. This is the backing.

O. Place your denim backing on a desk, good side up; then the pieced strip on the backing, good side down. Pin all the way around. Stitch almost all the way around,  leaving a 1 1/2"gap at one short end, as shown on the dotted line below.

P. Clip the seam allowances to a scant 1/4", and clip diagonally at the corner, close to but not through the stitching. 

Q. Using a chopstick or other blunt-ended tool, turn the bracelet right side out. Hand-stitch the opening shut.

R. Add a button to one end. Stitch the buttonhole in the other end.

S. Load a large-eyed needle with embroidery floss, perle cotton, yarn, or whatever else you like. Tie at regular, or irregular intervals. I put ties in most, but not all of the pieces. I do a simple double-square knot. 

T. OPTIONAL: Stitch a small metal loop to the back center of one short end. This is for vertical hanging.

U. Also optional: Find the balance point on the long edge. Place in a pin to determine where the bracelet balances correctly when horizontal. At that spot, on the back, hand stitch another wire loop on. 

Now your giftee can hang this quiltlet OR wear it!

 - Throw some red corduroy into the mix, for contrast, like I did in this denim bracelet. Now you're totally Gees Bend. 

(Just for fun, this bracelet also incorporates a jeans seam (on the left upper side), and wonky straight-line quilting.)
  • If you arrange your log cabin blocks in a square rather than a strip,and use a couple of layers of batting, you've got a Gee's Bend potholder. 
  • If you make your log cabin blocks a little larger by adding logs beyond #5 (starting in step H, above),  you'll have a set of denim coasters. 
  • If you multiply all the measurements by at least 5, you'll have a denim table runner.  
  • If you use a white or light color as the backing, write your name, address, etc., on back, and button it to your luggage handle - you've got an upcycled denim luggage tag.  
  • If you send me a picture, I'll be happy! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Forget the Fighting: Focus on the Fabric!

Photo by Paul Berger. This photograph originally appeared in the Forward, issue of October 26, 2012 to accompany Bukharian Rabbi Fights To Keep Post. Reproduced with permission. Link to the original photo here: http://forward.com/articles/164557/bukharian-rabbi-fights-to-keep-post/?p=1
 I subscribe to the Jewish Daily Forward email newsletter, which alas, doles out a huge platter of procrastination fodder, in the form of fascinating articles about Members of the Tribe and their far-flung activities. 

Yesterday's edition linked to an article about a Bukharian rabbi involved in a leadership battle. When I clicked on the link, the photograph above appeared, which knocked me to my knees. (See it full size in its original setting here: http://forward.com/articles/164557/bukharian-rabbi-fights-to-keep-post/?p=1)

Paul Berger's article examines all sides of the controversy, but I was far more interested in the picture. Those textiles blow me away! I've never seen such elaborate Sukkoth textiles. (Sukkoth is a harvest holiday during which Jews build and eat in outdoor shelters. The walls are often made or adorned with  decorated fabric panels). This fellow's sukkah (the actual shelter) appears to be made from museum quality textiles! Not to mention that royal blazer he's wearing!

Does anyone know anything about these incredible sukkoth panels? I'd love to see more. Have you MADE sukkoth panels? I'd love to see them, too!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Say 'Yes' to the Wedding Quilt, Part II: Blood, Fonts, and Tears

(In  Part I, we embarked on a  quilt-making adventure that morphed into an episode of reality TV's 'Say Yes to the Dress.' Here we find more eerie parallels.)

4. Count on the bride's taste being different from  yours. On The Show, the salesperson quickly learns to subsume her or his tastes to the bride's. Similarly, for quilters, taste in fonts. The Hebrew quotation that the couple wanted, from the Song of Songs, means ' This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.' I have dozens of Hebrew fonts, many of which came installed with my computer, some of which I bought from a font company (Davka.com). I sent my bride four typeface alternatives, two curvy and traditional #1 and #4), two cleaner, and more linear (#2 and #3). I chose only chunky fonts, with no skinny bits, since I was planning to machine applique each letter.

Personally, I like #1 and #4 best – I’m showing my age! But, hands down, The Bride and Groom liked #3. I was very glad that I asked! (Hebrew students: Line 4 is nonsense Hebrew. I hope.)

5. Let her wear cowboy boots. Some brides on The Show are quirky. At their weddings, they plan to wear a red petticoat, a turtleneck collar, or in several cases, cowboy boots. The sales associate might raise an eyebrow, but she keeps her mouth shut.

My bride was actually not asking for anything wacky. But I wanted her to, in the sense that I wanted her to be personally invested in this chuppah. She had asked for collaboration, and that’s what I hoped to achieve. She’s an architect, so I asked her if she would be willing to design the central Jerusalem scene. In fact, I hired her to do it - I told her I’d reduce the price if she designed it. Urban landscapes aren’t my forte, and heck, as an architect, I knew she had to be a lot more building-sensitive than me. She accepted the challenge, and did a beautiful job, as I had suspected she would.

6. Jack things up. On The Show, when the bride likes a dress a lot, but isn’t quite ready to seal the deal, the sales associate will “jack her up” (!) with a jeweled belt, “hair jewelry”(never heard that term before), chandelier earrings, and, of course, a tiara and veil. Everyone is blown away, waterworks ensue, and the dress is sold! Similarly, I decided to jack up the Jerusalem scene. I added a ray of light, with lighter-value fabrics in a swath that goes diagonally across the medallion, to correspond with the ray of light going through two corners of the quilt. It gave the scene a lot more drama.

7.  If there are no blood spots and everyone cries (with happiness), you've done your job. This quilt took four months of hard work, and I loved nearly every single minute of it. My bride was a joy - encouraging, helpful, and appreciative at every turn. She was truly a dream client, and I felt honored to work with her. 

The only thing I didn’t love was my ever-mounting terror that I might somehow stain the bright white expanses. I became afraid to bring coffee or chocolate into the same room as it – quel sacrifice! While hand-sewing the binding, I actually did poke myself with a pin and shed a drop of blood on it, but managed to wash it out immediately. (And guess what? The same exact thing once happened in The Show, except worse, when the alterations lady poked the poor bride’s ribcage with pins, leaving several bloodspots down the sides of the dress. They got ‘em out, though, regrettably, they didn’t show us how…. did they hold the dress under a bathroom faucet, like I did with the quilt? But I digress.)

When it was done, I took a picture. 

Next, I brought the quilt to the mailing center, and watched with mixed emotions as the clerk carefully packed it up. I wanted to cry. It was like sending a puppy to a shelter. On the upside, I wouldn’t have to worry about drinking coffee or eating dark chocolate in my sewing room, anymore.

When the bride’s family received it, she, her groom, and her family, opened the box together. And, they told me later, they were overjoyed, and tears were shed. In a good  way. I was ecstatic.  I was even happier when they sent me pictures of the chuppah in action, during the wedding ceremony. 

I had had no idea that they'd be standing in front of a stained glass window with similar colors - and, what's really eerie, a ray of light coming from the upper right, just like my chuppah's central design. 

Hang on a second! I’m hearing a voice! Who’s talking?

CONFIDENT-AND HAPPY-SOUNDING MALE VOICE:  “When a bride gets the dream wedding quilt that she helped design, the bride, groom, and quiltmaker will all feel fine.”   

(Or “will walk in the sunshine,  Or, “will have no reason to whine.”)

Or something like that. 

(Note: If you missed Part I, it's here: http://gefiltequilt.blogspot.com/2012/10/say-yes-to-wedding-quilt-part-i.html

(For a discussion of the feather quilting on this quilt, go here: http://gefiltequilt.blogspot.com/search/label/feathers.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Say 'Yes' to the Wedding Quilt, Part I: Everything you need to know about making a wedding quilt (chuppah) is on reality TV

I have a secret guilty pleasure—tell no one! It’s that t.v. show called ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ about brides and their families and friends, shopping for pricey wedding dresses.

Shows need plots, and in this one, it’s usually a power struggle. Whether concocted by producers, or genuine, I don’t know (some say ‘reality t.v.’ is an oxymoron), but on nearly every episode, a sister, mother, best friend, or groom tries to force the bride to buy something that he or she loves, but the bride does not.  

When the bride does find a dress she loves, and emerges from the dressing room to show it off on the runway, the offender(s) giggle and carp:  “You look like a linebacker!” “You look like a bedspread!” or, the classic, “You look like a hooker!” The bride scurries back to the changing room in tears (except for that gal who wanted to look like a hooker).  

In the dressing room, one of the sales associates – all skilled psychotherapists   –   gives the bride a powerful pep talk, explaining that if she’s old enough to get married, she’s old enough to choose a dress. Meanwhile, the manager is out by the runway, scolding the rude entourage. An invisible, troubled-sounding male narrator ominously intones, “Will Rachel’s mom [sister/cousin /best friend] stand in the way of her dreams?” 

After a commercial break or three, everyone behaves better, and the bride nearly always winds up with the gown she loves. In the closing moments, the now-jubilant narrator declares: “If a bride stays true to her style, she’ll glow as she walks down the aisle,”  or, “If everyone keeps an open mind, she’ll walk down the aisle looking divine.” It often rhymes, or nearly rhymes.

Formula, yes, but in today’s troubled times, I find it soothing. As an unrepentant quilt embellisher, I enjoy looking at lace, tulle, silk, satin, tiaras, pearls, bows and bling. Pretty dresses, pretty brides, pretty crazy entourages and pretty steep prices (from $1,000 to $30,000 or more) – except for the tab, the stakes are pretty low. So it’s relaxing to listen to The Show while I quilt, or take coffee and chocolate breaks to watch.

Over the past several months, my whole life began to morph an episode of The Show.  That’s because height of my addiction coincided with working on a commissioned quilt that would also serve as a wedding canopy, called a “chuppah,” at a Jewish wedding.

This bride first wrote to me in December telling me she wanted to collaborate in making an heirloom quilt that would serve as a canopy for her summer wedding, and then would stay in the family as a quilt for generations.

I‘ve made chuppot (the plural in Hebrew') before, but never while hooked on bridal t.v.  The next thing I knew, the edges of my daily reality got all fuzzy, like on The Twilight Zone, and I transmogrified into the supportive Sales Associate, while my bride became, well, The Bride. She had the hopes and dreams, and it was my job to help her realize them.

Here are some of the lessons I learned that are as true of helping a bride choose a wedding dress on reality television as they are of making a bride a wedding quilt in regular old reality.

1. Start with the visuals. Sales associates like it when brides bring in photographs of favorite gowns. They don’t have to guess from a zillion possibilities. Similarly, my collaboration with this bride started with images. She told me which quilts on my website she liked best. She also told me she wanted a scene of Jerusalem in the middle, surrounded by a Hebrew quotation. I started sketching variations and emailing them to her as pdfs. (I sketch them on my computer - I find Coreldraw easy and intuitive). I had some Jerusalem fabric in shades of gold, and I scanned it to use it in the drafts as the Jerusalem landscape.

 Ideas flew back and forth. (By the way, the Hebrew in this image and the one below is nonsense/placeholder Hebrew. Don't worry, we straightened it out by the time of the wedding!)

We soon learned that what really needed figuring out was the border, which brought me to the next lesson…

2.  More is more.  In t.v.-land, some brides want it all – rhinestones, pearls, lace, feathers, beads, ruching, fabric flowers, a train, the whole 9 yards (literally).  The sales associate has to break the news that more costs more.  My bride especially admired one of the most complex quilts on my Judaiquilt website, called ‘Invocation’.
 Oh sure, what’s not to like? That particular piece is the quilty equivalent of a gown by P’nina Tornai  (designer of famously sexy, overwrought wedding dresses. Yes, that's a see-through bodice).
 Invocation isn’t sexy, doesn’t have any bodice, nor tens of thousands of sparkly jewels, but it is a bit overwrought, with a 500+ piece border, made from dozens of different batik fabrics in shifting values, which took me, oh, about a decade (on and off) to arrange. 

So, just like a sales associate  suggesting only gowns within the bride’s budget, I tried very hard to focus my bride with sketches of MUCH less complex borders (like, 14 pieces instead of 500). 

 No go. She kept choosing the more intricate options. I reluctantly told her that, if she really wanted that 500-piece border, I would have to raise the initial price. I held my breath, as they always do on The Show, wondering if the bride’s family could or would pay the extra to get what they wanted. They did.  Phew! 

4. Sometimes the Bride has to touch the textiles. From The Show, I learned that there are poufy “ball gown”-style wedding dresses, which differ from slender “mermaid gowns,” complete with tail fins – who knew? A bride who walks into the salon wanting to look like Cinderella might, to her shock, walk (or swim) out looking like The Little Mermaid. Or vice versa. Only by trying a dress on can she learn what she likes.

Similarly, figuring out colors and textures for our quilt.  In our early emails, my bride told me she imagined ‘royal’ colors, like golds, silvers, coppers, and whites. I couldn’t quite figure how that would work in cotton batiks, which I had initially planned to use (Batiks are what give Invocation a painterly quality). If a quilter’s cotton isn’t overprinted with metallic ink, the golds, silvers and copper become yellows, greys and brown. So I offered alternatives. What about adding more color, in jewel tones, like blues, purples, greens?  Then I had another idea: What if I made the quilt in silk dupionis? Then they would have the metallic sheen! I sent her lots of snapshots of different shiny fabrics.

What a mess, right? It took me a while to realize that all these photographs were confusing us further.  A photo can only go so far in capturing the real look, feel and hue. In desperation, I stuffed about 30 fabric swatches into an envelope, and mailed them to her, in the good old U.S. Reality Mail. I asked her to sort them into three piles: Love, Indifferent, and Hate. 

She and her fiancé did the sorting together. When they mailed those swatches back to me, in three  marked bundles, I could never, ever have predicted the results:  
I stapled the results to three separate pieces of paper. LOVE swatches are on the left; INDIFFERENT in the Middle; and  HATE on the right.

They loved many of the blues, browns and tans. Hated all purples and greens! They didn’t like grays (= cotton silvers). They were indifferent to the pinks. But there were lots of exceptions, which took me completely by surprise. They disliked several of the blues that were the exact same hue as the blues they loved, but which had a different subtle print or batiked design. Same with the browns. Same hue, but different patterns, raised strong feelings in them, much more than I would have predicted. 

I hung the three sheets on my wall, and referred to them frequently, making the quilt as much as possible from LOVE set, throwing in INDIFFERENTs when necessary, and no HATES, of course.  This very specific information was pure gold in terms of steering my fabric choices.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No Country Bumpkin! Bumpy Pumpkin!

I was outside my Trader Joe's store the other day, and there were pumpkin bins outside - no surprise at this time of the year. I walked past a huge box of pumpkins, and realized they were all astounding - wrinkly skins and bumps, or thorn-like brown scales, all incredibly complex.  This particular pumpkin was shining its yellow face toward me as I walked by. It stopped me in my tracks.

Not being the rural agricultural type (e.g. not a country bumpkin, no offense intended), I couldn't figure out what variety this is. (And Internet searching on "bumpy pumpkins" is not revealing any answers.)  Does anyone know? It might be a gourd. All I knew is that TJ was asking just $5.99 for the whole glorious thing! I took it home and put it smack in the middle of my kitchen table. (Next to our towering pile of unread newspapers.)

I just love the way the yellow and green fades to orange. This view above, I suspect, is upside down. Here's what he looks like flipped the other way:

(Both sides unaccountably have a small stalk). The yellow splotch is probably its tush, rather than its face.

Why do these colors make me so happy?

And why is it that I used to hate orange, before I loved it?

Orange used to bummed me out. But the more I quilted, the more  I began to like, and then LOVE the color orange! Just recently, I've been adding large doses to my quilts, like this one (which you saw in an earlier post): 

I have several wonderful pieces of batik/hand dyed orange. Here's one spectacular piece that I'm having a hard time cutting up. I think it stands by itself as a work of art. I should just frame it.

The winner of the recent AQS Des Moines quilt show is a totally incredible orange and blue quilt by Marilyn Badger called Eureka:

OMG! Want more? Do a Google image search for "amazing orange quilt" and you will be rewarded. Here's one by quiltmaker Tomoko Tomo http://createcreatively.tumblr.com/post/22093976223/orange-range-by-tomoko-tohno-this-stunning-quilt. This particular quilt appeared in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, with the foundation piecing pattern, here: http://www.quiltersnewsletter.com/webextras/quiltersnewsletter/feature366/index.html.

Some people don't want to be limited to orange pumpkins, with or without bumps. They want to make their own pumpkins out of fabric and stuffing: Here are two different tutorials:
And then there are the people who decoupage fabric onto actual pumpkins. Tutorial here:
 http://www.gussysews.com/2012/09/fabric-covered-pumpkins-diy/ The only problem with this is that you will have to throw away the pumpkin (and the fabric) eventually.

Hmmm, maybe I should stitch up some permanent sunset-colored pumpkins using my glorious streaky batik!

Would love to hear about your pumpkiny art!

Worst Craft Ideas, Ever

Absolutely hilarious. But not for children (unless you're prepared to answer some awkward questions):

Friday, October 5, 2012

Framed, Again

I tried to describe in my previous post the clever way my friend Petra "framed" some potholders I'd made her, turning them from mundane kitchenware to sublime kitchen  art. She purchased squares of  wrapped canvas, each mounted a sturdy wooden  backing. She chose a size slightly bigger than each quilted piece. She did a quick and energetic paint job on them, with abstract splatters of acrylic paint, a la Jackson Pollock.  The painting was not only on the front of the canvas, but all the way around the sides. Then she stitched the potholders to the center. No glass, no sweat, and I love how her color choices enhance these small pieces! Thanks for the photos, Petra!

Monday, October 1, 2012

I've Been Framed!

Although I have not yet framed any of my quilts behind glass (or plexiglass) for my own home, I do love it when friends and clients frame my work.

 For one thing - a la Sally Fields, it makes me say, "You like me/it, You like me/it!!" (Note boundary confusion between my personal value and my quilts' value. Possible new blog/psychotherapy topic.)

Plus, I love coming across one of my framed quilts in their house - it's startling, just like coming across one of your own quilts in a quilt show - and gives you several useful moments of seeing a familiar piece through  new eyes. It's also interesting to see the choices that they, or their framer, made to enhance the piece.

This was a small 40th birthday piece I made for my dear friend Heather, who is a multitalented mother, writer, organizer, gardener, landscape and interior designer, soccer mom, and much much more.

It's full of in-jokes, which fortunately we don't have time to discuss here. (Actually, I've forgotten some of them. Why 'Free Parking'? Heather?)

The framer put it against a beautiful royal blue silk mat, a color I never would have predicted. (He or she must have picked it up from the darker fireworks).

It was then placed into a thick rectangular plexiglass frame. Photographing this outside is a total waste of pixels.

Speaking of photography, I didn't take a really good picture of it before presenting it, so I recently asked Heather if I could borrow it back to snap some shots. It took quite a while to unscrew the screws holding the lid on, in order to get a decent picture. This frame is made to last!

There are many other ways to frame a quilt, and I even have a book on the subject, which I've read, but never actually tried.  My friend Petra took one of my small pieces (which I billed as a potholder), and 'framed it' by purchasing a slightly larger mounted canvas, painting the canvas with globules of complementary colors a la Jackson Pollock, then stitching the quilt to the center of the canvas, with a couple of inches of the painted canvas showing all the way around. That came out very well too.

Some quilters say that framing pieces allows them to price them higher (which is to say, price them at a fair level that respects the amount of work, time, and talent that actually went into making the piece). People are more likely to see a framed piece of fiber art as a fine art investment, rather than as, say, as a potholder.

Do you frame your quilts? Why? And how? (More ideas welcomed!)
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