The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative has put all their stock on sale, including the last two quilts I made for them. All proceeds go to Alzheimer’s research.
“Brian is an “obsessive craftsman” who believes he can build most anything in his life. On his Oregon farm he has built, or renovated, 5 tiny structures. After being told by the county that he couldn’t erect a yurt, he built a code-approved main house “to give us a place to legally stay”.
Once the main house was built, he created several smaller structures (less than 200 square feet) on the property from 90% local materials.
When we started fixing up the trailer I figured, “If we live in it two years, it will be worth it.” It’s been almost two years already, and we’re making plans for more “pods” nearby that will make things comfortable for another “five years or so.” (By “pod” I mean a purpose-specific shelter that is either temporary and movable, or falls under California’s 120 sq. ft. accessory structure limit, therefor requiring no building permit.)
We already have a bathhouse and a secondary kitchen/pantry where we keep our fridge, freezer and dry goods, which we hope to add a sink to soon. Next up is a sleeping pod, since the trailer is cold in the winter and noisy when the wind blows. Also, more shade – over the trailer and nearby – to get us through the summers. Later we might add studios for each of us (right now I’m using an RV as a sewing studio).
I’ve been referring to all this as “pod living,” or my “inside out house” since it consists of a bunch of small units around a yard/garden. It seems like the logical evolution of the tiny house concept in a rural context, and people are doing it – this video is an awesome example – but I haven’t come across a name for it really.
This is series of posts about the contemporary quilters whose work I am excited about. I hope you can point me to others I haven’t come across yet.
Sherri Lynn Wood / Daintytime • San Francisco, CA
Sherri Lynn Wood has been making quilts since 1988, and blogging about the process since 2010. She teaches workshops, guides people through the process of making memorial quilts, and is working on a book about improvisational quilt-making, which I can’t wait to read!
Her quilts are process-oriented and her process is well documented (read more about the I Ching quilt below, and her Mood quilt on her blog). The colours in these quilts are juicy and the piecing is innovative.
Some of her work is available for sale on Etsy.
Most of the time I like to get my fabric from thrift stores, garage sales and other points downstream, but living less than three hours away from the second largest fashion district on the continent, I do sometimes indulge in new fabric.
There are surprisingly few shopping guides to the LA fashion district, and none that share my particular aesthetic: I like very high quality natural-fiber fabric, and I like to pay very little for it. It sounds like an unlikely combination, but fortunately as a quilter I don’t need a lot of contiguous square inches to be interested.
Consider this a first draft of a scrappy quilter’s guide to the fashion district. If you know places I should know about, please throw down in the comments!
FIDM scholarship store - Thanks to this guide, I found this place the first time I visited the garment district. At the back of the store there’s a nice selection of remnants for $1 a yard. Most pieces are less than a yard. They also have rolls – usually upholstery, stretch, or lace type fabrics – and fabric samples at 3 x $1.
B. Black and Sons - This guide turned me on to this shop. I was able to buy ~1/2 yard roll ends of wool and linen for $1 apiece. If you’re inspired by old Amish quilts, don’t miss this place. They also throw away sample books (which is what I used to make this quilt-top in progress), so it would be worth asking if they have any old ones to spare.
Michael Levine Loft – Across the street from the main store, upstairs, fabric is sold for $2.50/lb. Most of the loft is full of knits, because they’re heavier, but I usually find a couple of pounds of interesting scraps.
Living in Vancouver, I discovered the to-the-trade decorator fabric shops on Alexander Street. After one lucky dumpster experience (I got a couple of books full of 6×6 silk samples, I used to make this), I started going into the shops and asking for their old samples. Some would tell me, “we just threw out a dumpster full” while others would set old books aside for fashion students and were happy to let me go through the stash and take whatever I wanted. Upholstery stores can also be good sources. I’m sure it’s possible to do this in LA, I just haven’t yet. – any recommendations?
Clothing seconds are factory rejects and usually go for $1 – $10 a piece. Finding a store full of interesting ones is a clothing-modifier’s dream come true. In some cases the damage is a sewing error or small tear, while other times there is an intentional snip out of the garment (I would like to understand more about the industry and why garments are snipped and then donated/sold off). The only source I can point you to so far is the FIDM scholarship store. I did find another store last year, at the edge of the garment district, that sold damaged clothing, but I haven’t been able to find it again!
This is a series of posts about the contemporary quilters whose work I am excited about. I hope you can point me to others I haven’t come across yet.
Eleanor McCain • Shalimar, FL
Eleanor McCain is a physician who has been showing quilts since 1998. Using hand dyed fabrics and a masterful sense of color, her work is both nuanced and stunning.
She uses traditional structures – nine patch, log cabin – to create technically challenging and surprising compositions. I would love to know more about her process and see the work up close. Some of her “basket weave” quilts (in the grid and thirteen series) boggle my mind: I can’t figure out how they could possibly have been pieced together.
She makes both bed- and wall-scale work: the quilt above, for example, is 13″ x 13.” See more at Eleanor McCain.
I found a couple of new quilt-makers this week, and thought I’d do a series of posts to about the contemporary quilters whose work I am excited about. I hope you can point me to others I haven’t come across yet.
Bosna Quilt Workstatt • Germany
Painter Lucia Lienhard-Giesinger creates designs which are quilted, freehand, by a group of Bosnian women. The project was started in 1993 in response to the Bosnian crisis. The most recent work on the website is from 2008, but the work has shown in Germany this year.
The designs, mostly variations on large-scale log cabin and strip piecing, achieve surprising results through deft use of colour and tone. Improvisational hand quilting creates delicate, unexpected textures.
See more at Bosna Quilt Workstatt.
Our architect and natural builder friend Nicholas Holmes took Nathen and I to visit Quail Springs Permaculture, a demonstration farm and village nestled in a canyon near Santa Barbara. Quail Springs hosted a weekend harvest festival that included a tour of the farm, Q&A, and workshops on milking and butchering.
Because we went with Nicholas, we also got an architectural tour, which was great! The handful of houses on the property all seemed to be around 400 sq feet, and each boasted a slightly different design and mix of materials while maintaining a sense of aesthetic unity. A bit like a historical reenactment village… OF THE FUTURE. Some houses had kitchens, while others were just studio-bedroom pods (there is a communal kitchen and composting toilets just a little ways down the canyon).
Nicholas described a roofing system used on several of the buildings at Quail Springs: reed mats are tacked up to the rafters with strips of wood; an earthen plaster is applied from the top and wiped flush from below. Then blue-jean insulation batts go between the rafters, and a plywood and metal roof is screwed on top. I like the texture of the ceilings.
Nicholas had lots of great things to say about light straw-clay (otherwise known as straw-clay, light-clay, or leichtlem), which is straw coated in a clay-slip and tamped into forms around a timber frame. Apparently it offers more insulation than cob due to the high straw content, while being more moisture-resistant than straw bale, due to the clay (I’m making a test brick right now, with clay harvested from a wash and some extra mulch straw).
We slept in a straw-clay dome two nights while we were there, and I loved the japanese-paper texture of the walls and the cozy feel.
Also, the view!
There’s a lot more to say about Quail Springs, but that’s enough for one post.
Making a quilt as a gift for someone feels like a secret collaboration; thinking about that person helps to clarify colour and design choices – choices that can be much more difficult without someone specific in mind.
Our friends Jenny and Nicholas are expecting a baby in just a few weeks. Jenny is a natural medicine practitioner and Nicholas is an architect and builder, and they both work out of a lovingly-restored brick building on the corner of Highway 62 and Sunburst (The Nourishing Tree). The first time I went there I almost cried because it was so beautiful. It’s hard to explain what touched me, but it has to do with colour harmony and the deep, sparing, handmade way they are restoring the building; with sturdy wooden furniture and baskets; and with the palo verde trees, lotus agaves and bees in the garden.
Making a quilt for Nicholas and Jenny was an exciting challenge. Whether I’ve captured their aesthetic or not, I can’t say, but trying helped me.
Thank you Steve Lester for taking a studio photograph of the quilt.