Grandmother's Garden

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Grandmother's Garden
55.25 in
38 in
(140 cm x 97 cm)
Photo Credit
Diane Powers-Harris
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Challenges seem to have been my "thing" during the 1990's, 2000's and to a lesser degree even today. Since this was a little different from my usual venue, I decided to take part in the 2003 American Orchid Society Quilt Challenge - "Orchids in the Garden". We had to incorporate a recognizable amount of the 3 challenge fabrics - the sky, the floral in the "trellis" and the lady slippers in the foreground.

Grandmother's Garden, 3rd and final in the Redlands Rapture Series, was inspired by 1930's Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks from my stash and a photo of my grandmother, Edna Ricker. My original design features fussy cut fused raw edge applique elements edged with satin stitching and a pieced trellis created using the Garden Maze block. The domed top, crafted using reverse applique, was discovered in the local newspaper advertising gardening supplies. I projected an enlarged image onto the wall, drawing over the lines for a template. This is when I discovered the hand drawn original was unevenly lopsided! Carefully re-drawing the dome ensured balanced symmetry.

My grandmother's photo was enlarged, then printed on fabric. Colorizing photos with waxy crayons, then heat setting was a new trend at that time. Thinking it would be interesting to include this technique, I experimented with the simple process. I added color to my grandmother's lips and sweater using two shades of pink and colored her skirt navy blue. This worked well, however over the years some color has started to rub off.

The vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks are beautifully executed by an anonymous quilter from the past who exactingly fussy cut the floral motifs. This supplied the illusion of a garden walkway where one can slowly stroll enjoying the harmony of a multitude of flowers and their scents. Grammy and her faithful Scottie, Tammy, are taking a moment to rest after their perambulations.

I love fussy cutting and this quilt is no exception! Many pretty flowers are tucked among the flagstones and in beautiful ceramic pots. My now recognizable signature palmetto fronds and giant split philodendron leaves, as well as other ferns indigenous to South Florida, provide additional interest. Every garden requires a bird bath. This one is so inviting the birds are already in attendance with more on the way!

Since I never really enjoying hand quilting, the concept of machine quilting was quite enticing. Unfortunately I had quickly discovered I didn't much like machine quilting either. What a horrible statement for a quilter to make! With that said, since I never could get the hang of the free motion process, up to this point I had been machine quilting geometric shapes using a stop, turn and start method. Grandmother's Garden was my first real attempt to do free motion quilting for an entire piece. It looks fairly terrible, especially my poor grandmother's lovely curly white hair. One thing I did discover, free motion zigzag is a lot of fun to do. Just goes to show, there's always a silver lining to be found!

A final story I'd like to share is about delivering my quilt to the show site. My husband, wonderfully supportive man that he is, offered to make the trek to the venue. When he arrived, the location wasn't yet open. A lady sitting on one of the outdoor benches asked my husband if he was delivering a quilt, to which he replied, he was. They waited companionably together until my husband started to fidget. This lady suggested he leave my quilt with her, which he did! I was appalled, asking how could he hand my quilt to someone and not even get a name? My husband calmly replied, "she seemed honest." My main concerns were, was she part of the show team and if not would she abscond with my new "masterpiece" and how to explain no pick-up receipt when retrieving my quilt? As it turned out she was honest, handling both the intake and return of quilts. Phew! Upon explaining why I had no pick up ticket, she calmed me by remembering my husband. After presenting ID, my grandmother was allowed to come home with me.

Over the years I've enjoyed both amazing friendships with quilters and their eagerness to share knowledge. However, what I'm most appreciative of and find highly comforting is the integrity and honesty which, for the most part, is an integral component to our close knit community. In a nutshell my husband's comment "she seemed honest" (which she was) personifies this ideal. What a tribute to quiltmakers.

By the way, even with my poor attempt at free motion quilting, Grandmother's Garden placed 2nd in the show!


American Orchid Society Quilt Challenge - "Orchids in the Garden", Boca Raton FL, 2003
placed 2nd.
Ocean Waves QuiltFest, Miami FL, 2003, placed 3rd in Art Quilt Category
100% cotton fabrics. Threads include rayons and metallics. Warm and Natural Batting.
Fussy cut fused raw edge applique, reverse applique, traditional piecing and applique, computer photo enhancement, printing on fabric, crayon colorization.

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