“We have eyes, and we’re looking at stuff all the time, all day long.  And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
— Eric Carle

Painting by Eric Carle, acryllic on Tyvek, Tacoma Art Museum

Painting by Eric Carle, acrylic on Tyvek, Tacoma Art Museum

In keeping with my resolution to drive less, my niece, a friend, and I made a day trip to Tacoma by bus to see the Eric Carle exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum.  Carle is a well-known, award-winning children’s book illustrator, so I have been familiar with his work for a long time.  I enjoyed reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See to my daughter when she was very young.

Print of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Tacoma Art Museum

Print of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Tacoma Art Museum

I was so enamoured of Carle’s illustrations that I adapted some of them into applique for a handmade quilt.  Carle’s stylized, simple shapes were perfect for copying as appliqued patterns.

Handmade appliqued quilt of Brown Bear, Brown Bear

Handmade appliqued quilt of Brown Bear, Brown Bear (2003?)




The Tacoma exhibit, “Beyond Books:  The Independent Art of Eric Carle,” presented another side of Carle as artist.  It included some of his wood block prints, framed paintings, amazing works on painted Tyvek, and even handmade greeting cards for (lucky) friends.  Now I am even more impressed by Carle’s talents.

The exhibit runs through July 7, 2013.





Book with quilts from the exhibit

I made a day trip to Bellingham last week to see a quilt exhibit at the Whatcom Museum — American Quilts: The Democratic Art 1780 – 2007.  The exhibit, which runs through October 28, 2012, displays about 30 quilts from Robert Shaw’s book of the same title.  I wasn’t allowed to photograph the quilts in the exhibit, but you can see a few of them at this link.

The exhibit showcased mostly traditional pieced or appliqued quilts, such as the log cabin, grandmother’s flower garden, flying geese, whole cloth, Hawaiian quilts, etc. I was most struck by two things — first, how many of these cherished quilts were labelled “unknown quilter” — prized by collectors, but makers unknown.  And second, the quality of the hand-stitching — so small and regular.  These days, so many quilts are machine-quilted.  I still do hand-quilting, but I don’t take the time to make my lines of quilting so close together.  These quilts must have had five- or ten-times as many quilting stitches as any one of mine.  Impressive!

I very much enjoyed my first visit to the Lightcatcher Museum, one of three buildings that comprise the Whatcom Museum.  Its most striking feature is a curved translucent wall, which creates a radiant and luminous atmosphere in the building.

The Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA

Lightcatcher Museum, the venue for the American Quilts exhibit

Entering the exhibit space

Courtyard in the Lightcatcher Museum

Courtyard bounded by curved, translucent wall

The next time I come I will be sure to eat lunch at the museum cafe.

My day of quilts was just half over.  One of my new friends, Bonnie, arranged for a small group to see some Joan Colvin quilts at the private home of Colvin’s son and daughter-in-law on Samish Island.  Joan created “art” quilts.  She had a painterly eye, using fabric to evoke a Northwest color palette in the scenes she created from Nature:  “What is joyful, what delights me about fabric composition is that colored and textured fabrics have their own symbolism.  Though they may speak in different contexts, they lie in wait for me to find their meaning and voice through juxtaposition.” — from Nature’s Studio by Joan Colvin

Here are the Joan Colvin quilts from her family’s private collection:

This abstract quilt was highly textured.

One of Joan Colvin’s signature Nature quilts

Detail, heron

“Sea Blooms” by Joan Colvin

Detail, free-form machine quilting

Joan Colvin quilt with koi

Joan Colvin quilted wall hanging

Trees were another of Joan Colvin’s motifs

One of Joan’s earlier pieced quilts, hand-quilted

My favorite of all — Joan Colvin’s crab quilt made for her son

Colvin created texture and depth by layering sheer fabrics over cottons, and she embellished this quilt with pearl seeds

Grand Old Flag

June 14, 2009

Appliqued folk art flag, felted wool

Appliqued folk art flag, felted wool, December 2000

Hand-embroidered Pledge of Allegiance

Hand-embroidered Pledge of Allegiance, June 1999

"Glory Be" wall quilt

"Glory Be" wall quilt, 1998

In honor of this Flag Day 2009, I am sharing with you some of the flag-themed things I’ve handmade over the years.

“You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.”
     — George M. Cohan, You’re a Grand Old Flag