One local Nurse Practitioner, Mary Orencole, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital wrote to share her reflections of the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon and how the international quilting community rallied together in response to support the Boston community.

Her colleagues were among the personnel who staff the medical tent at the Boston Marathon every year. When the bombings occurred during the 2013 Marathon the hospital had lost all connectivity with them that day and staff did not know for hours if they were alive or dead as the cell lines had all been cut off.

They waited in the next hours as the horror of the violent tragedy unfolded. Her colleagues who attended to the young victims that day said it was something that they never experienced or expected and which they will never forget. As events unfolded, officials initially thought that while trying to save lives, the medical personnel were also in possible harms way.

What became apparent was the traumatic effect such a tragedy had on these medical personnel and the need to recognize and attempt to comfort these first responders.

After learning that many first responders suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, many individuals wanted to show support for both the victims as well as the first responders.

At the same time, quilters internationally organized a display of support for the victims and the City of Boston by making quilted flags. The project, "To Boston with Love", was organized by Berene Campbell, from theVancouver Modern Quilt Guild and orchestrated locally by Amy Friend from During Quiet Time.com.

This project produced about 1700 small quilted flags in just a four-week period of time, and were displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on Memorial Day last year. The MFA has retained ownership of these flags, and is currently exhibited them again during the month of April in honor of the 2013 Boston Marathon. (Click on the photo below for information on this year's exhibit.)

The second was the "Quilts for Boston" project an international collaborative effort led by the Boston Modern Quilt Guild (BMQG). The BMQG put out a call for quilters to submit blocks in the colors of the marathon - blue and yellow with some white and gray added. Quickly, quilters blogged, told their friends, posted on Instagram, Facebook and Flickr and rallied quilters to submit blocks.

Quilters sent in more than 2000 blocks from 46 US States and 5 Canadian provinces, representing over 70 modern and traditional quilt guilds from all over the world. The BMQG rallied and hosted a number of sew-ins to turn all of the blocks into quilts, with help from the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild and many other quilters. Quilt stores, both local and online, as well as fabric, thread and batting manufacturers, donated fabric and supplies so that the quilts could be finished. When all was said and done, the guild expects to finish close to 80-100 quilts, a number of which were given to first responders like the Watertown Police Department and those injured.

6452_david_king_md1.jpgIn addition, the group worked with the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and the psychological teams when approached about how the quilts might be displayed at the marathon this year. Decisions were carefully weighted to ensure that the Marathon was "as normal as possible" while finding a balance of showing love and support for all of those affected by the events of the 2013 marathon.

The decision has been made that these quilts will become part of the Boston Marathon every year and will line the medical tents as a token of love and support from an international group of quilters.







Mary writes,"Having personally delivered quilts to providers who were at the scene, many of who tried endlessly to save lives, there are no possible words for the emotions that surface. David King M.D., a trauma surgeon at MGH, ran the Marathon and had just finished the race when the bombs went off. He ran directly to the hospital and spent the night in the OR saving people's limbs and lives. You place the quilt in their arms and nothing else is needed as emotions surface all to easily. Quilts help heal for sure. It is an amazing effort and act of love."

(Photo: David King, M.D. receiving his quilt)

(Photo: l-r: Detective Donohue, Captain Rocca, Natalie, and Sergeant Hoiseth - Boston Modern Quilt Guild)


(Photo: Quilts for Boston Sew-In with Boston Modern Quilt Guild)

This year's marathon will be run on Monday, April 21, 2014.




TQS would like to introduce Roderick Kiracofe and his new book QUILTS to our TQS members.   Many of you, however, may already be quite familiar with his work.

Roderick is the author of the critically acclaimed The American Quilt: A History of Cloth & Comfort (1993, 2004) and Cloth & Comfort: Pieces of Women's Lives from Their Quilts and Diaries (1994), published by Clarkson Potter Publishers (Random House).

He co-founded The Quilt Digest and curated "Showcase" for volumes 1-5 (1983-1987); published Homage to Amanda: 200 Years of American Quilts for the three-year traveling exhibition under the auspices of SITES (Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Services) and wrote the Introductions for A Quilter's Wisdom (1994, Chronicle Books) and Going West! Quilts and Community (2007, Smithsonian American Art Museum)

He produced and designed Yvonne Porcella: A Colorful Book (1986) and was a regular participant on one of PBS' most popular series The Great American Quilt (1991-1992).

Mr. Kiracofe also served as a consultant to the California Heritage Quilt Project. His expertise was used for the majority of quilt search days over a two-year period to date and assess quilts brought in by hundreds of families. He consulted on the selection of the quilts for the exhibition and book Ho For CaliforniaPioneer Women and Their Quilts.(1990).

He served on the first board of directors for Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). He currently serves on the Board of Oakland Art Murmur after helping to create a vibrant arts district in the City of Oakland (CA).

His latest self-published book, QUILTS, was the result of his curiosity about quilts made in "his era."  He wanted to know what the quilts were like which had been made from 1950 to the end of the 20thcentury. Those he considered "outside" the second quilt revival of the 20th century and the Art Quilt movement.  Had they even been made?  He was also curious about eBay and what it was all about.  Would this be a source for finding the quilts he was looking for?  The answer was YES to both questions. He was looking for the quilts that "broke the rules," those that caught his eye and spoke to him as works of art.  He was literally amazed and stunned at the treasures being uncovered.

Roderick found many of these quilts on eBay as well as from private dealers, flea markets and estate sales.  They are from all across the country. Some have documentation of a maker and where they were made; most do not. Some are African American (documented) and many are not. 

He was drawn to the visual beauty and power that each one possesses and is still intrigued and fascinated by the fact they were made by someone and in many cases, slept under.  They hold untold stories and voices.

QUILTS focuses on the historical journey of the quilt as a work of art. The joy and excitement of showing quilts from the collection at SFMOMA, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, Petaluma Arts Center, and on Facebook and the incredible responses received through those venues was a huge motivating force in his creating this printed/digital archive.

Here's what Roderick has to say about his collection and his book:

The most recent thrill around the collection was hearing a story from a quilt colleague who has been working with a quilting group in South Carolina. She showed some of my quilts to the group on her iPad.  "Miss Ella" spent a considerable amount of time looking and holding the iPad and her comments made it clear she had gained a new appreciation for her own quilts. She shared that her quilts had embarrassed her daughter.

One of my goals in assembling the collection was to bring these "under-appreciated and unacknowledged" quilts into the light; to bring them to new audiences who would see and appreciate them AND hopefully be inspired.  The thought that Miss Ella would be validated for what she had created deeply touched me deeply.  The truth is, I cried.

QUILTS is not only a departure from THE AMERICAN QUILT in content, but also in presentation and design.  (I still love that book and project, but I wanted to see what other conversations could be had.) My love of photography and photo books came into play in designing and creating this book.  I designed a presentation that allowed the viewer the space and opportunity to view; see what you see and observe.  Relevant information for each quilts follow at the end of the book.

I highly recommend (for those with iPads and iPhones) downloading it as an eBook.   I have loved producing beautiful print books, but the first day I saw QUILTS as an eBook I was elated. The quilts truly shine in this format. The ability to touch and enlarge them, to observe them closely is almost like holding one in your lap; then back away to see it "on the wall."

Roderick has been kind enough to share photo excerpts from QUILTS below.   You can purchase the book here.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow




It's All in the (Minute) Details by Lilo Bowman

Every so often, as I walked through the rows of outstanding quilts at this year's International Quilt Festival in Houston, I had the feeling that a certain quilt was calling out to me for closer inspection. Such was the case with Mission Impeccable by Kumiko Frydl (shown above). This astounding miniature (16 3/4" x 16 3/4"!) quilt required 10 - 12 hours of work a day over a four-month period, but it was not the first time Kumiko created this design. In fact, this diminutive beauty is the third quilt in a series, each one tinier than the last. No doubt, Kumiko is a quilter who loves to challenge herself! 

While working with miniature quilts is not where Kumiko began, working with fine details is something that  has attracted her for a long time. As a graduate student studying commercial arts at Tokyo University, Kumiko spent many hours at her drafting table. When not studying for her degree, she enjoyed sewing many of her own clothes. With a father in the textile industry, she had a great opportunity to utilize the fabrics available to her. As fate would have it, when she met and married her husband,  his job required a move to England, and Kumiko naturally came along. 

England, she quickly discovered, was a bit limited in fabric selection, and the price of those available fabrics was very high. Also, the couple's small apartment did not include space for working on large sewing projects. It was time for Kumiko to reassess her situation. She began to study quilting on her own, but later joined a guild where she was taught many new skills by the members. It was also during this time that she began making bobbin lace. 


Bobbin lace making.  Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Bobbin lace is made by tacking a paper pattern to a small, firm pillow. Each thin bobbin is wound with a length of thread, and the lace is created by twisting and winding the individual threads around pre-placed pins to follow the pattern. Depending upon the design, as many as several dozen bobbins may be required. While this particular craft may not appeal to those who don't care for intricate, detailed work, it was perfect for Kumiko. 

Following several more moves, Kumiko found herself in Houston, TX. By this time, she had become quite proficient in quilting and wanted to try her hand at making even more challenging pieces. In 2007, she fell in love with a quilt she saw on the cover of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. The quilt, made by Kathy Nakajima, was called Sunshine Rose Garden, and while Kumiko was drawn to it, she did not simply want to copy Kathy's original design. Instead, Kumiko decided to make her version in miniature, replacing the appliqued elements with silk-ribbon embroidery. This smaller version became Mission Impossible? and measured a tiny 20" x 20" in size.  To her surprise, the quilt won a First Place ribbon in the miniature category.


Now Kumiko was challenged make even smaller quilts. Two more versions have been completed with Mission Impeccable, measuring a mere 16 3/4" x 16 3/4", the smallest to date...and another First Place winner in the miniature category in Houston in 2010. 

The central Mariner's Compass in this tiny quilt is made up of 128 individual spokes. At 1/20th the size of the original, there was no room for error in the paper-piecing process, Kumiko explains. With such a small project, she generally sews with 18 - 23 stitches per inch.  She describes herself as stubborn, and says that she does not give up until she has perfected each element. Such dedication means that she often works 10 -12 hours every day without fail when a deadline is looming. 


Notice the clusters of hand-embroidered silk-ribbon flowers that surround the central compass. Kumiko designed the flowers to represent the appliqued ones in the original inspiration quilt.


All of the free-motion quilting in this quilt was done with YLI 100% silk thread in the top and Superior Masterpiece thread in the bobbin. For this detailed work, Kumiko likes to use a Microtex 60 needle. The quilt is made from100% pre-washed cotton and hand-dyed cotton, and Kumiko drafted the entire design on Golden Threads paper. Not surprisingly, given her background, she finds the drafting the most enjoyable part of the entire process.

As she designs mostly for competition, Kumiko doesn't have a great deal of time for other projects. While you might think that a miniature quilt takes less time, that is not necessarily the case. You might be surprised to know this piece alone took around four months to complete, and chances are that it required just as much patience and stubborness to complete as its larger counterpart. 

So the next time you walk through a gallery of miniature quilts, step in for a closer look. Better yet, bring a magnifying glass. You just might be surprised at what you discover.





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