Friday, October 17, 2008


This is “Motherhood,” a group art quilt by the Pandoras. Last year, we decided to do a quilt as a group and chose the theme of motherhood. We designed the shape of the panels so that they would fit together, but could still stand independently. Each panel is 12" on its short end, 24" on its long end, and 36" long. Each has a sleeve at the top and bottom, so they can be displayed together, but are not sewn together.

The panels are by (from left:) Grace Howes, Lushorn Millsaps, Susan Brubaker Knapp, and DeLane Rosenau. Each of us chose a different aspect to motherhood that was important to us. We decided that we should all use some blue in our panels so that there would be some continuity, but other than that, were permitted to do what we wanted.

Grace's panel deals with issues surrounding motherhood in Africa: maternal and infant mortality, war, rape, and famine. It shows a woman holding the continent of Africa on her pregnant belly, and is embroidered with tears done in a metallic thread:

Lushorn's panel is about generations of women, and is done in a family tree. Images of a baby, an infant, a young mother and an old woman are embroidered into the tree trunk. This was Lushorn's first experience free-motion threadpainting and quilting!

My panel is about nursing, one of the great joys of the early years of my motherhood. It shows a breast-feeding infant, and has the word “communion” threadpainted in the arch. I tried to replicate the sleepy, drunken, satiated look of the baby that I so loved seeing when nursing my two daughters. Nursing truly was a kind of communion for me, a holy connection between mother and child.

DeLane's panel deals with the issue of infertility. A woman stretches her arms up to heaven begging for a child, while a trail of beads connects her heart to her womb. DeLane also quilted some important words into her piece.

I am so proud of the work our group is doing! Each one of us is pushing ourselves to try new things, and getting better with each project.

Another lover of the Glasgow Rose

Yesterday, I got a really nice e-mail from a woman named Kelly, who had just ordered a pattern for my "Glasgow Rose" quilt (see photo above). She wrote, “I want to tell you HOW excited I am to find this. I grew up in East Aurora, NY where the Roycrofters are. I have always loved their rose so much. Even from such a young age. When I decided to get a tattoo that is what I got. [See her photo below.] To honor my home town which I miss dearly. I cannot WAIT to get started on my very own quilt.”

I wrote back to tell Kelly that I am a huge Roycrofters fan, and a fervent admirer of the Arts and Crafts movement. About 15 years ago, a wonderful Roycrofters exhibit came to the Virginia Museum of Art and my husband and I, who were living in Charlottesville, VA, at the time, went and enjoyed it very much. We have some reproduction and some antique Craftsman furniture, and I actually made this quilt to compliment my living room furniture.

The Roycrofters were a handicraft community founded in East Aurora, NY in the 1890s. It became a well-known center of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States.

Kelly included some websites of things to do and see having to do with the Roycrofters:
The Roycrofters at Large Association and the Roycroft Festival

Roycroft Shops, which carry Roycroft china

The Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, furnished with original and reproduction Roycroft furnishings

Roycroft Pottery, which carries gorgeous one-of-a-kind hand-thrown pottern in the Arts and Crafts style by Janice McDuffie

Here's the story behind Kelly's tattoo, in her own words:
“I wanted something to really show who I am. Not to mention it is permanent so I MUST love it. Not an option otherwise. I had a very hard time finding anything I wanted and the couple tattoo artists I went to just couldn’t grasp what I was looking for. I happened to work with someone who dabbled in painting and art. So I told him what I wanted. Something girlie, Celtic hearts and has to have THIS rose.(The Roycroft/Glasgow Rose) So this is what he came up with.

“I am of Celtic descent on my dad’s side. It is just uncertain to whether we were Irish or Scottish. (I have red hair, fair skin and blue/grey eyes), but I have always been drawn to the Celts. For me it represents my heritage.

“The heart to represent my love for most everything. Family, friends, animals, nature, etc. The Rose wasn’t an option. I always LOVED that rose from my days growing up. For me it represents home.

“Being my birthday is 6-26-76 and my mom always called me her demon child (too many 6’s she said. LOL ..) my friend decided to put in 7 hearts to give me a little added luck. The little heart above the rose originally was a swirl pattern. But it was too tight for the tattoo artist to do. So we changed it to another heart. Never can have enough.”

Here's a little history about the Glasgow Rose:

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was part of "The Four" — a group of artists including Mackintosh, Herbert MacNair, and Margaret and Frances MacDonald — that grew out of the The Scottish Movement at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland in the late 1880s and 90s. They are credited with popularizing the Glasgow Rose, which became one of the most famous motifs of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was adapted from Aubrey Beardsley, and used on furniture, pottery, stained glass, metalwork and other decorative arts. For more information, go to the website for the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society.

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I just added a new feature to my blog called “Following.” If you look on the right-hand side of my blog, right at the top, you'll see it. It says, “Followers,” and then “Follow this blog.” If you click on those words, you can sign up to subscribe to my blog, and you'll be notified whenever I post something. It's one more way of building a little community online, which is what I love most about blogging.

I'd love for you to follow me! – Susan