Stripes, squares, polka dots and swirls

Tapestry tiles

Tapestry tiles in the kiln look like a patchwork quilt

Stripes, squares, polka dots and swirls

Born in 1869, my great-grandmother was quite independent for the times. A milliner in her younger days, she married at the age of 32, had nine children, and became a widow when her youngest was still a baby. She sewed clothing for her children and later in life, for dozens of grandchildren and their children. The leftover scraps of fabric were given new life as aprons and quilts- literally hundreds of each. (She was also a lifelong knitter and until she broke a hip, was hospitalized and passed on at the age of 102; every year at Christmas, she made slipper socks for me and for all of her other 63 great grandchildren.)

My first forays into making things were also in fabric. I began sewing doll clothes (from my grandmother’s scraps) by hand as a small child and when I was 12, I struck a bargain with my parents to get a real sewing machine; I paid for it by sewing party dresses for both of my sisters- a win/win situation for all involved. I’ve sewed off and on through the years, especially when my kids were in their preschool years and would wear whatever was set out in the morning. As time went by, the kids grew and didn’t want to wear pants with balloons on them, my sewing became less frequent and I began creating in other materials.

This Fall is a bit of an artistic homecoming for me. After years as a graphic designer, I switched to glass as a medium because I needed to get back to making ‘real’ things. During the past five years, I’ve learned and experimented with various techniques within the field of kiln glass. I’ve found processes that were interesting, but not for me; processes that required a second mortgage to buy the equipment, and processes that were so intricate, I would need ever more powerful glasses just to find what I was working on. Last spring, I hit upon a few techniques that combine all of my other design and ‘making’ loves. I can print on glass, mold wet glass powders into candy like shapes, cut stencils and sift powder through them…basically create lots of parts to use in 2-D designs.  Oh yes…quilting with glass; my great-Grammy is smiling! Over the summer, I cut stencils- stripes, squares, polka dots and swirls; printed and created my own ‘scraps’, and pulled out leftover materials from previous projects. My quilts, instead of coverlets for the bed, are decorative tiles for the wall and my aprons (serving pieces) keep your food off the table instead of off your clothes. Come visit me at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton next weekend to check out the inaugural pieces.