a little crazed…
The recent days and weeks have been busy, full of daily goings on, dyeing, kit making, workshop prepping, visitors, and then the big event- a beach wedding!
It was a simply beautiful affair on the beach with a BBQ afterwards as the sun set. I had the privilege of making the wedding cheesecakes, vegan chili and helping with the clothing alterations. Others brought food, flowers and officiated. It was a perfect October evening with mild temps and a slight breeze. Children played at the shores edge and adults enjoyed food and conversation. Some surfed prior to the ceremony with the groom. Several people camped overnight nearby, under a bright near full moon.
This Saturday is the first of the two Zoom flower workshops. The material kits have been mailed, the work table set up and today I will do some test runs. The second Zoom date is next Thursday for those who would like to do it a second time or perhaps already had something scheduled for the first date. You can also still order a kit and get the video link when it’s done.
I made a whole bunch of extra kits and have added them in the shop. Here in Long Beach, we have hundreds of cargo ships off the coast and politicians encouraging people to shop early for the holidays since the logjam is delaying the arrival of goods. I say, why not make things instead? Here is a list of kits I have in the shop right now if you are inclined to make a hand made gift. I also have a few things ready made that might suit. I’m working on several more. If you have a special custom request, let me know. (I just looked over the shop and see I need to add a few things I never added so that will be my next task…)
Last week’s workshop with Ann Wasserman in her “Preserving Our Quilting Heritage” we were treated to her lecture with samples of quilts she had worked on and new ones now on her work table. We have all sent in photos of a quilt we want to “triage” and of course mine is that unfinished crazy quilt (Ida Belle) I acquired some time back. Here are the photos I sent in.
In between my own work, I have become somewhat obsessed with this crazy quilt thing. In doing a little research, I wondered where the term “crazy” had developed in regards to quilting. It seems (whether true or lore), to have been a reference to the crazed glazes on porcelain the Japanese had exhibited in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Crazing on ceramics occurs when the clay body and the glaze don’t “fit”. That is, they don’t cool at the same rate after firing. This can be caused by a number of things-too thick a coating of glaze, the (intentional or not) chemical composition of the glaze, or thermal shock of cooling off a kiln too quickly. Tension between the clay body and the glaze creates a network of fine crackling. This can be enhanced by rubbing ink into the cracks to make the pattern of crazing stand out on a decorative piece. You don’t want crazing on dinnerware because over time and use the crazing can collect bacteria that may not be desirable. But on decorative ware, glazes can be designed to create a variety of crackle patterns and when I was a ceramic student we had to do just this in the Chemical Clay and Glaze classes. I loved the chemistry of ceramics. During 30 years of running my own porcelain company, we “cracked” many crazing issues. For the most part, even when we wanted a crazed glaze effect on a decorative line, stores and customers would often see it as a defect and we just abandoned it altogether. But that was another time and place…so, back to crazy quilts. So as the story goes, the crazed patterns on Japanese porcelain pieces at this exhibition in 1876 inspired a “craze” itself where quilters found beauty and interest in recreating this type of pattern in their quilts. Previously, quilts had been mostly geometric organized affairs. I imagine that the pieces that were exhibited were possibly Japanese raku.
In between this and that this week, I was looking at Ida Belle and realizing what a task it is going to be to restore it to a reasonable condition and as I was inspecting various parts of it I kept coming back to my interests in Japanese boro traditions and techniques. I can see so many instances where boro repair techniques could be applied. I am not trying to do a traditional restoration of this crazy quilt. This quilt in fact was never completed by Ida Belle. It does not have a binding or a quilt back- it was never quilted or tied or embroidered (something tells me-mainly the types of materials used that Ida never intended to embroider it or embellish her quilt). Perhaps she died before finishing it. The fact that it exists in a fairly decent condition is that it was never used since it was never actually finished. It exists as a quilt top only.
My list of “goals” currently is as follows:
-repair Ida Belle to a condition where it can be lightly used
-use materials I have on hand (as I believe would be Ida’s way)
-apply hand stitching and repair techniques from Ann’s class as well as my knowledge of boro repairs observed in pieces I have collected
-apply a backing and a binding
-steadily work on it as I can-don’t abandon the project!
I may add others as I go but that’s it at the moment. In another twist, I was cleaning up my work table for the Saturday workshop and sorted some scraps of vintage Japanese indigo fabrics. Another project emerged alongside. I became a little obsessed and worked late into the night. It seems that Japanese vintage textiles and crazy quilting are quite like peanut butter and jam.
I chose a piece of egasuri (kasuri with an image or picture woven into it) as a central piece to this block- bird images being quite popular in crazy quilting. I did not use the traditional method of crazy quilt piecing (surprised? haha) but opted to leave all woven selvedges intact as I honor the selvedge whenever possible. I used tattered bits and repaired them using boro techniques- but using some very old red silk in a way that reminds me a bit of the Japanese porcelain repair work called kintsugi. I used hand dyed cotton sashiko thread for the decorative featherstitch (practice needed!) across each joined patch (still a WIP). So now that I have one block near completion, I guess I’ll have to start another. This first block is 18″ x 18″ so I imagine I will do either 6 or 9 for a smallish lap type quilt. Who knows?
One last thing. I’ve started taking photos of all the oothecae I come across in the yard as I do fall clean up work. It helps me remember where they are when it’s time to watch them hatch around February (I’m guessing…). So far I’ve found 6 or so. all in different places. Each egg case can contain 50-200 eggs of the praying mantis! We had so many this past summer.