Sunday, April 7, 2024

Four Windmills, 55 Years

Ever since moving to Southern California 30 years ago, I have marveled at the region's windmills, especially the miles of them between my Los Angeles home, and the "Road to California" quilt show in Ontario, CA, that I visit annually. They look like this:

Sometimes they spin in unison, sometimes out of sync, but they always make me happy, a majestic miracle of alternative energy. 
In February, when I was playing with a raw-edge fabric-covered-with-tulle technique to make Valentines, I thought of those windmills and decided to make some. I pulled all the pieces from my batik scrap bag.
The highest scrap was a failed experiment with stamping circles of gold paint on fabric. (below, left). The planet on the far right is a different piece of batik. 

For the centers, I used decorative buttons, because, why not?

A friend saw this on my Facebook page, and bought it for a friend of hers who works in alternative energy. I was thrilled, but sad, because now, I thought I didn't have a windmill quilt!

So I made another one. This has fewer windmills, and instead of buttons, I sewed hex nuts to the centers. 
Then it occurred to me that hex nuts are probably the last thing you want holding rotating blades, because they will unwind eventually, right? But I didn't want to take those nuts off, because they're so darn cute! 

And it wasn't until after I'd finished the piece, that I remembered I'd made windmill-themed fiber art more than 50 years ago. This thing has been lying on a bureau in my bedroom for so long that I almost never notice or think about it.  (Note what's happening in the upper right corner when I tried to photograph it.) 

It's felt and embroidery thread, made from a kit, probably in the 60s, when I was in elementary school. I cut the pre-marked shapes out of the felt, and followed the stitching directions, which included zigzagging leaf veins, and square stitches for the windmill blades. It's clever and adorable, and none of this was my idea -- I just followed  directions, which is how so many of us begin our fiber art adventures!

After I finished it, it followed me around. I found it in a box and laid it out in my bedroom a couple of decades ago.  

So after making the quiltets above, I noticed it again, with new eyes, and decided to take its picture. My grandcat loves when I get laser-focused on taking a decent photo, and as you can see in the upper right of the photo above, and below, she wants to help. Here's where she wound up, sitting-in for quite a while, until I finally tricked her into leaving.

So not only is this piece worn by age, sun, and never having been washed, but now it's also embedded with cat fur.

And now, I thought, I own TWO windmill fiber art pieces. But wait, there's more! Writing this blog post I remembered I had  another windmill, in my quilt "Nonsense Town," which is only about year old.

It's in the top row, center. 

It's sort of a cross between the Dutch technology in my Sixties sampler, and the sleek newfangled California model. Newsflash: This windmill, on this quilt, is now a puzzle on The Quilt Show, because of my recent episode! Find the puzzle here

So now, if any one happens to ask me, "What is the recurring lifelong theme of your quilts?" instead of answering, "Um, I'm not sure," I  have a concrete answer: "Windmills!"

Was a sampler your first fiber art? Do you still have it? Have you taken its picture?

For more about the relaxing confetti-raw edge applique technique, go to