Quilts as Storytellers

This Tree of Life quilt, circa 1850-1875, has a new chapter to it’s story. I date it thus because red and green quilts were very popular during that period, plus the tiny stitching and materials support my supposition. If I can pin down the maker’s life dates, we might have something more definitive.

Repaired Tree of LifeThe binding and edges were quite worn so I removed 1″ from three sides, and 2.5″ from the top. This allowed me to have fabric for repairing the 2 tears that remained (open previous post Tree of Life). A older fabric removed from another quilt was used to rebind the whole quilt. The beautiful cotton batting was made at home. When the upper edge was removed I could see the layers of cotton that were laid together after they were carded.Tree of Life batting_1

The brown fabric was originally green, and most likely home dyed. The reason I think this is because of what I found in one of the sashing strips. This close-up shows some sort of printing that would have been on the original cloth. Tree of Life printingStore-bought cloth would not have printing on it like this. When dyed, it must have been a dark enough green that the printing didn’t show. I expect that the green faded so badly because it was not a stable dye – sunlight and washing would have done the damage. What about the two darker green triangles? Probably a different fabric put in the dyepot that held the color better. Another interesting aspect is the cloth used for the back. Folded to the front as a binding, it is very loosely woven, much like cheesecloth.

Back of Tree of Life quilt, with repair
Back of Tree of Life quilt, with repair

I still don’t know who made this quilt. The owner is a little unsure, but has given me some names which I can research through census, marriage, and death records. There may be a lost chapter of this story that will be recovered.

Tree of Life

Let  me share a picture of the quilt that was brought to me yesterday for repairs.Buehler_1The provenance is unclear, but it is fairly old, made in either Alabama or Mississippi. The quilting stitches are tiny. The fabric that appears to be brown was actually green that faded. The edges are fragile and there are a few torn places (See upper left area where light shines through.)

The challenge is to what is best for the quilt, maintain it’s integrity, and accommodate the desires of the owner. I will post again when there is more to report.Damage on Upper edge

Dyeing with Black-Eyed Susan Flowers

This year I allowed the fringe of wild Black-Eyed Susan plants around the edge of the woods to prosper. They have been glorious.Native black-eyed Susan flowers

Yesterday I cooked up a small dyepot for 3 skeins of wool embroidery yarn. The trick was to not over-cook the flowers. The dye liquor looked fairly brown, and with the addition of a pinch of alum and cream of tarter, I still got a nice yellow. IMG_2815_1

Needleworking an Idea

A Soul's Journey 2016
A Soul’s Journey

This is my latest original creation.                 Will you describe to me what you see?

I was asked to represent the journey we take through life encountering some of the same issues and challenges over and over again.

Flowers and Their Fruit

This past week there has been some fruiting in the wild areas of my sphere. Flowers are still coming, but fruit is forming, and seeds will be along soon enough. The season is moving on.

Passion flower - the Tennessee State Wild Flower
Passion flower – the Tennessee State Wild Flower

These grow everywhere if there is no mowing.

 Passion flower vine, leaves, flower, & Fruit
Passion flower vine, leaves, flower, & fruit
Moonflower or Jimson Weed
Moonflower or Jimson Weed

In a more cultivated area this Moonflower was out early this morning, but withered when the sun showed up.

Seed pods are prickly, maybe to prevent ingestion - halucinogenic.
Seed pods are prickly, maybe to prevent ingestion – halucinogenic.