Monday, April 4, 2011

Celebrating Life, One Stitch at a Time

Part of why I've been so absent from the internet lately and its taking so long to get my space yarns listed on etsy, is because of this-

I managed to find an affordable last minute fare to visit my Grandma and see her quilt show- "Shirley M. Gerardy, Master Quilter"! She has been quilting for around 75 years, and has made over 200 quilts. Many of them have been pieced by hand, and nearly all have been hand quilted.

Technically, she is a master- every stitch is perfect and even, every corner is matched exactly.

More importantly, she is an artist. I realized that at this show more than I ever have before- seeing 60 quilts all hung at the same time truly showed me the breadth of her abilities! Without any formal artistic training, she can take dozens of different prints in different colors, and make them into a cohesive visual whole. She chooses designs to stitch when quilting that enhance the patterns in the pieced top, rather than simply stitching to keep the batting in place. She has embraced new innovations in fabric, and trends in quilting- she hasn't liked them all, but she's always been willing (and eager) to try new things and innovate.

The rooms used for the show were large enough to hang bed sized quilts without feeling cramped, and the natural light was perfect for viewing. Somewhere around 70 people came to see the show. It was the perfect tribute to a woman who is adored by many- our cheerleader, teacher, guide, and inspiration.

I never realized before just how much my grandmother has been an artistic influence on me. I owe my design aesthetic to her! Everything I embrace- texture, construction, and innovation, I can trace back to learning from her point of view, usually subconsciously. The subtle sense of humor that is present in all my favorite design work, was present first in many of her quilts.

Her details are exquisite- cows, horses, and vegetables hidden in the "fields" in her quilt depicting America- with its purple mountain majesties. In a quilt made from my childhood clothes, she included my overalls in a way that you can still hook and unhook the shoulder buttons! In "Star of Sweden", she "fixed" an abandoned quilt top found at a garage sale- the blocks had been set square, with a pepto-bismol pink fabric between all the blocks- it was hideous! She turned the blocks on point, put a blue fabric between them, and saved just a tiny bit of that pink fabric for a stripe around the edge- in that small dose, the pink unites all the disparate colors in the blocks. The detail in the story told in her Colorado State Fair quilt is incredible!

The wall hanging with photos is a perfect example of how she embraces innovation- unfortunately old iron on printer inks weren't very lightfast, so the photos have faded badly, but she made this quilt to encourage me after a skiing injury to come back and compete and win- and she used scanners, computers, printable iron on transfer paper-in 1998, when that was new technology and she was 80 years old! Note the detail- she stitched ski tracks into the hill behind me! I encourage you to enlarge each of these photos and soak up the small details and the overall impact of a few of my grandma's beautiful quilts.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I have only seen a few of Aunt Mariah's quilts.

    Cousin Kevin