Friday, December 27, 2013

In Search Of: Ansley Morris

Ansley Morris was in the 5th grade at Rosa Taylor Elementary School in Macon, Georgia, when she made this quilt block during the 1993-94 school year. Her teacher, Rudine Wynn, was one of her most memorable teachers, and used the quilt to help teach Southern and American History to her students, who also had to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address.

Ansley's block was one of the only ones with a first and last name, so I searched for her online, and found her. Today I received an e-mail reply, with details about the quilt and her participation in the project. It was a blast from the past for her, and a wonderful development from my point of view. Many thanks to Ansley for the great information!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

how are the pictures done?

Civil War Commemorative Quilt / School Project, Macon, Georgia
This wonderful quilt came to me earlier in the year, and I am finally getting around to editing the photos. My interest in finding out more about it is renewed, but for this blog it will serve as a response to one of the most common questions I get: how are the pictures done? This series of pictures should help explain.

Here is what the picture looks like before editing
It is helpful to know a little about photography and have some computer knowledge when trying to produce a publication quality image of a quilt, with background fully cut out. I use Adobe Photoshop, and I am self-taught. Been using the program since 1997.

It looks like a little ink stamper - what a clever idea!
The tool I use most is called "Clone Stamp" and it works by copying one part of an image and replacing another area of the photo with information from the copied area. In other words, you clone it from one place, then you stamp it in another place- clone stamp!

image with top edge clone stamped, and the other three edges are raw 

To me, it's a simple concept, bot some folks really struggle with the idea. Maybe some pictures would help…
Enlarge this picture and look for the plus sign in the lower right of the
white area.  I am cloning the white from that area and stamping it
into the gray band next to the quilt to achieve a cut-out effect. It is
similar to erasing, but you are really placing information from one
area into a different area - the information I am using happens to be
the plain white background
after stamping the area next to the quilt, I often leave a rectangle, which is
simply selected and deleted
if you enlarge the picture and look closely you can see a dotted line box
around the gray- that is what it looks like when you select the area to delete
and now the gray is gone
keep going all around the edge until all the gray background is gone
another detail showing how I use the clone stamp tool
ready to crop and finish
One of the biggest roadblocks for a lot of people has been the cost of owning Photoshop, but that is changing. Adobe is starting to offer Photoshop as a subscription service, so it is more affordable to get than ever before. The other good news is there are plenty of tutorials available online. To see clone stamping in action, check out this link.

So, that is basically how I do the photos. I start with a raw digital image, crop it, make the canvas size larger by adding white around the edge, and clone stamp the white into the area I am trying to remove. I also remove the clamps by clone stamping areas of the quilt on the top edge where the clamps are holding it. Same concept- information from elsewhere is captured and applied. Pretty cool, eh?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Acquisitions

Last year, I self-published a book of acquisitions from the year 2012, and this year I thought I would try publishing another one- 2013 Acquisitions. The book includes many of the quilts collected during the year, full color photo illustrations with information about the quilts.

(Judy Grow, there are dimensions listed for each quilt, just thought you would like to know)

Here's a preview. The book is available as hardcover image wrap, through Blurb. For more information, click here.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

radiating patchwork, two ways

This recent acquisition from an eBay seller in Texas caught my eye because it reminded me of another quilt in my collection.

The first quilt is a variation on the "Sunshine" block by Clara Stone around the turn of the century. The second is a pattern known as "The Thrifty Wife", although the quilt probably predates the 1939 publication of the pattern in the Kansas City Star. Similar effect, two different blocks. Radiating patchwork, two ways.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


This wonderful 1970s quilt was on my "watch" list for a while. It was a maybe, but should have been an immediate yes. My reason for not snapping it up sooner? I did not have a clear idea of how wonderful it was after looking at the seller's pictures. Usually I am good at reading photos, but not this time. The quilt took me by surprise. It was so much better in person.

It was big…actually, huge...110" x 112"…all hand quilted with curved corners at the foot. The other two corners were square, giving the quilt an overall shape reminiscent of very early American quilts and bed rugs. Although the curved corners in this quilt were more likely inspired by mass-produced bedspreads than 18th century bed covers, they were something out of the ordinary for a handmade quilt. It came from a seller in Texas and is mostly polyester double knit.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

two mini modern quilts

AAQI # 13074, Swimming With Thread by Michelle Freedman
Now that the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative has reached its million dollar goal, they are beginning to wrap up the fundraiser and sell off quilts. I was curious to see what was available, and found two wonderful quilts made by friends from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild- Michelle Freedman and Susan Beal. Of course, I had to have both quilts.

AAQI #13083, Improv Rays by Susan Beal
These two mini modern quilts are also part of history. Susan and Michelle were instrumental in the establishment of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and both have presided over the guild, serving important roles during a time of phenomenal growth. Kudos! And what a lucky guy I am.

Monday, December 2, 2013

the key to enjoying December

Before moving to Oregon in 1998, I would run around in a dither each December, dealing with the holiday shopping rush and watching the money fly out of my bank account. Just like everyone else!

Now I ship Christmas gifts to Maine every year, so I have to be organized and early. Usually I send unwrapped gifts, but this year I wrapped them first. One less thing to do when I get there.

Getting it all done early- taking that big, stressful shopping and spending experience out of the equation - I think I've found the key to enjoying December.