Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One of a kind-Centennial Quilt! Lots of photos...

I didn't think I had properly posted the full story of my journey on the Smithers 2013  Centennial Quilt. 

Here are more photos close up so you could see some of the fine details of this quilt and some of my thoughts of taking on a huge project.

It began because I had a dream. 

I just couldn't fathom that our largest community in the Bulkley Valley would not have a centennial quilt when celebrating 100 yrs. We live very northern lifestyles. If we want opera, we must fly to Vancouver paying lots of dollars to get there.

I felt we have so much to celebrate in our community that it was only fitting that we have an awesome quilt to represent the growth in the last 100 years of Smithers.

I originally had discussed this idea with Heather Gallagher at our local Chamber of Commerce and she was inspiring, telling me of her idea of a train barreling down a line. Hence, the train became the lower focus of the entire quilt. 

I took the project on with as much zeal as I ever do! I drafted a plan on graph paper, played with some colors and dreamed away the last winter months of 2011. 

Early in 2012, I wrote a few articles for our local newspaper to alert the community to my exciting community quilt undertaking. I asked for quilters to join me in this once in a lifetime kind of project?  I was really pleased when 6 local artists joined me in this undertaking and they each supplied me their individual work of art, compiled in this quilt.

Top left on the Centennial Quilt is "Old Church Block" which is a local landmark and was the first church built in the start out days of Smithers.
Nicole Tessier was  the only brave local quilter, one who as it turned out to be, the only other quilter on the project. It was her undertaking that brought about this lovely, fine detailed work on the Old Church. Bravo to Nicole! Thank you so much!

I took the artistic license to embellish her Old Church block with musical instruments and a Bull Moose walking by on the street, which is quite common in our community for some reason.

Then we have the "Forest Crazy Quilted Block" that I made which represents the awesome forested land of miles and miles of untouched wilderness, valley's to dream of and rivers and creeks flowing over rocks and tumbling down glaciers. This was my thinking when I started to make this block.

The middle top block of a man standing with some sort of odd instrument in front of him is known as our local "Alpine Al" which represents the Swiss connection so strongly identified by our farming and pioneer families in the valley. Thank you to my good friend Marta Wertz, who is a local artist, jewelry making and great local volunteer!

Here Martha stands in front of the Bugwood Bean on Main street best coffee in the valley!

Then we have the "Babine Range Thread Painting Block" which I did to represent the eastern side of our valley is also part of what makes Smithers so attractive to amenity migrants like the hundreds of new faces we see every year in our community.

Smithers is an eclectic, recreational and solid likable community filled with all ages and all interests.

The stitching was overlaying of stitching onto tiny pieces of fabric I had glued down onto the range. Then I turned on some good music and stitched a landscape that is driven into my brain. I pass this range everyday of the week, they are stunning and beautiful all months of the year!

The below the Babine Range on the right, the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, representing our First Nations neighbors who form an integral flavor to these northern parts, many who still trap, fish and hunt as a means to put food on the table every day. My thanks to the Elders of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en for their approval of inclusion into this memorable stitched artifact for future generations.

This project grew as time went on and I learned that taking on a project this large is not for the faint at heart. It takes commitment, courage to put yourself out there in such a 'public' way and the willingness to put aside all sorts of other fun projects, time with your hubby and time with friends.

I made time to take off with our long time friends and listened to the sweet music that our husbands made on a warm summer evening.

A lot of alone time occurred with this quilt. The memories of fireside fun sustained my journey. I kept in touch with the other artists along the way  via email.

Then to the left of Office of the Wet'suwet'en logo is the textile art piece made by Linda Stringfellow of Telkwa, who is a local artist with some awesome annual shows.

I love this piece by Linda, she has captured the playfulness of freeform textile art.

You can see how lovely and fitting her piece made in the whole grand scheme of things, this photo was the weeks before the completion in mid-April of 2013.

The Town of Smithers in  gold embroidery while not the blue of our town colours, somehow the idea of blue words on the quilt, didn't turn my crank. BV Cleaners did this work for me and took a load off of the potential of hand embroidery.  Sorry I didn't have a exact photo of this embroidery for some reason!

This quilt caused so much learning and stretched my wings so many ways, its hard to remember all the moments of 'uphill battles' and simple & joyful discoveries that presented themselves to me. 

One such challenge was the sunset and Hudson Bay Mountain painting in acrylics that my good friend Perry Rath made, which was originally 18 x 24 inches. But I tried all sorts of ways to make the original work, but without wrecking my sewing machine, it had to be transferred and during the transfer process, we lost inches. So there was another revision of the graph paper layout of the quilt. 

So if anyone reading this wants to take on a big project like this, build in more time than you think. This project had 11 revisions to the planned quilt layout. I had thought and planned for maybe three revisions. But as soon as the June deadline was over and I began to assess the pieces turned in, I was left with realizing that one artist had actually created the piece horizontal, rather than vertical, so here was the another revision.

Below Perry's piece, you'll see the awesome original design of salmon in aboriginal art style these are an original of Todd Tracey Lace who is a chef by day and artist by night who designed the salmon block for the quilt.  The acrylic original included the blue background, this didn't turn out as nice as I wanted for Todd's Salmon. Just the salmon were transferred to fabric and done up in machine embroidery. I came up with the background of water for the three fish. They represent the importance of fresh water wild salmon for First Nations food fishery and for our own recreational and commercial ocean fishery that these salmon are connected with.

Anne Havard is a real trooper, her skill in art leaves us all breathless all the time and I commend her tenacity to actually make her piece in fabric right from the beginning. Anne has not spent years becoming a quilter, but she persevered and we're so glad she did. Anne's block represents the days of a 100 years ago, when all our supplies were brought into the valley on pack trains of mules.

The to the right of the pack train is my second crazy quilting block of the quilt. This is one very special because, in late November I got a call from my good friend Nola who asked if there was anything she could do to  help me? 
I lamented about the fact that I really needed a crazy quilt block in purple colours that represent the flora of our beautiful area, I was in love with the purple fireweed that thrives in northern B.C. But VERY challenged with the large amount of applique work I'd originally wanted for the flora.
Thank You Nola!

Then I couldn't forget to include Sir Alfred Smithers block in this write up.

Sir Alfred Smithers was the big wig of the Grand Trunk Railway at the time. His directions on the site of Smithers townsite earned him this special distinction. This color thread painted image was taken from the only photo we had in the book Swamp to Village, a history of Smithers.

Above and to the right of Sir Alfred is the block entitled "Wet'suwet'en Home" which honors the original people of this area, the Wet'suwet'en Nation. This block was made from a conversation I had with Charrine Lace, Todd's wife who spoke of this kind of memory she had of the original style homes. The dancers are wearing my version of traditional regalia similar to this image.

I worked over the winter months of 2012 & 2013 feverishly, taking every day off from my job to make this quilt. I longed for the end, had nightmares of not completing it on time!

This cold winter drew on as I worked on the quilt. I did have the submitted items from local artists, having those all submitted to me by the end of June 2012. From them on, I worked as the single artist making this quilt come together. Lists became a part of my process of making art. I checked off items as I worked through a long list of mini deadlines of my own to make this possible. Unfortunately, Nola Weston and Nicole Tessier were the only two quilters to lend a hand.

The Canadian National Railway or CN as we call it locally, was the main focus of the end of the quilt. This image of the train has multiple layers of cloth, thread painting and embellishments that are so subtle that you can't see them unless  you know they are there.

The whole vision I began to see as I placed and replaced the  blocks I saw the pieces floating against a black night sky. I decided in early November that the background was going that way and began the intricate and time consuming 'one off' style of piecing in order to create the multi-colored black sky.

In between the other more dominant blocks sit 'Poplar Grove' acrylic painting that my husband did to present the miles of poplar forest now so dominant in our northern region.

The Glenwood Hall was the first community hall in the valley. In the days of horse and buggy it made it a popular place to visit and socialize and its still in use for the same purposes today. Its owned and run by the Glenwood Women's Institute. unfortunately, the home made fabric transfer did not hold up to the amount of movement required to machine quilt this project. Sorry ladies! :) If you want a really good image transferred, please go to Bulkley Cleaners for their advice and expertise.

Heather Gallagher, Manager of Smithers Chamber of Commerce was the original seed planter of the  train coming around a corner. This was her idea back in the fall of 2011.

 I made it happen with the final days of hand sewing on the binding in preparation for the Smithers & District Trade Show.

And so without further a due, here is the finished Smithers 2013 Centennial Quilt.

All the doilies at the bottom of the page are from local pioneer families. The fell into the project like snow banks do, softly they become mountains of snow. They provided the bottom overlay of white upon the white fabrics purchased from my sponsor Mad About Patchwork. 
These little bags of delicate items found there way to my door step. Thank you to all those lovely families who chose to donate something of their family to this project.

On May 28th at 7:30 I'll present this complete quilt to the Town of Smithers Mayor and Council. This was an awesome ride, one that I'll never forget.


I'm linking up with Blogger's Quilt Festival, vote for this group quilt category!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

UFO's are callin me, softly and persistantly!

Yes, its that time of the year and even more attention has to be paid to finishing up my numerous UFO's and this is the list.

Above is my long awaited Mexacali Quilt. I've designed an awesome border for it and can't hardy wait to get to this one first!
Then below, I hand sewed these cute little Dresden plates for a mini quilt from Quiltmania magazine and has been calling me for several months.
I love Dresden Plate quilts and so I have a few to finish and this one is on the list.
I love the randomness of true scrap quilts. I know that the popular versions out there are to pick fabrics from your stash that can become " scrap quilts" but are not really using up your scraps, so I'm holding the line on that with this quilt.
More Dresdens are hiding in the UFO bin.
They actually got this far on the journey to completion. So this what I'm quietly working on while culling out for spring cleaning and getting ready for a garage sale!
Hope your long weekend is awesome and restful or playful or both!
All the best,


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Marizipan Mother's Day

I began my Mother's Day with a phone call with my oldest son who called at 7:45 am and I was still sleeping. How nice before I was even awake! Then shortly a few hours later, my youngest called and it is REALLY nice when they call their ol'mama!

After breakfast of an egg omelet, thanks to my sweetie! 

I began to play with solids from MAP and thought maybe there was some discussion going on between the rail fence blocks and the solids Pam had sent me.  

I love solids. You can do so many things with them if you allow yourself to be committed.

I decided here with this grouping of colours.

Then I cut blocks to fit the measurement of each block created with the rail fence blocks.

My squares of solid purple were 6.5 in. squares cut in  half and placed on either side. This is where I cut off the little wee tail that forms on the second triangle added to the new block.

I've beens spring cleaning and painting our home and getting into the garden, our rhubarb, garlic and strawberries are coming along. My hubby has been doing most of the painting while I'm at work and it looks great!

Thanks for any comments you'd like to share about what you did on your Mother's Day?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Random Strips of Scraps

I've been recuperating, painting and spring cleaning and getting ready to make a move in my room. I've  been filled with pain for the last 8 months, struggling along getting the centennial quilt done. I'm am not sad or complaining or anything, its just what's on my mind. I've acquired a pinched sciatic nerve. If you've never experienced it, mine is awesome in sudden and stabbing pain, which grabs your attention and then is gone again. We've sorted it out and now medication helps keep me focused on living the happy life I live.

I decided to tackle my scraps as a start to 'de-briefing' myself from the high times of creation in a big way.

I have loads of scraps and they must go, so I am scrapping many kilograms of scraps into our upcoming garage sale. I am realistic and judicious in my culling that I'm doing and do I decided that an easy way to cull is to make rail  blocks with mostly only one print strip in the bunch. I fear I may have grudgingly held on, not listened to my best culling efforts as you'll see in the following blocks.

Do you ever get possessive about your fabric stash?

What makes us hang onto thousands of scraps and hang onto such huge stashes of fabric? For me, I'm always wondering that if I give it away, I'll need that particular print and I won't have it anymore?? You know, the kind of frustration that puts your hands on your hips and you are wagging your finger at yourself. This all goes along with some good blues music that fits well with your wagging finger and your swaying hips.

As you can see, I have a swastica/windmill thing going on...maybe its the wine or the blues music coming from my hubbies music room, I don't know, but this is where my evening went.

I was truly working from the standpoint of empty the bags of scraps and make something from what falls out theory  So my rails or strips don't look like most seen on this Pinterest.

Frankly, not too many of my quilts look like anything I've seen on the Internet? I feel that I don't want to imitate anyone else, I like to go my own way and this comes across in my work.

What do you think of this theory of working with what falls out?

So would  you like to try this theory out? Then get on board and join me.

Now, folks this is only an expansion of a bunch of great idea to eat through your scraps in a time efficient way. For inspiration  see what JulieKQuilts did with her scraps.Its a simple premise really, just take out a bag of scraps and let them fall as they are and make rails from what simply falls out. Are you up for the challenge of what seems like random play?

If you'd like to just link back to my post and get busy with your Random Strips of Scraps! Follow me if you'd like to do more fun, simple and random projects.

All the best,


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