If you need another reason to love antiques…

Consider the inspirational value of a piece with lovingly hand carved details. While I was at the new antiques shop, I spied this beautiful piece, and had to go back with my camera to capture the feathery flourishes and interesting designs.

Antique detail

I looked at this piece in the shop, and all I saw were the designs. In my mind I could see these designs on The Misery Quilt, translated into quilting. I’ve been getting closer and closer to the machine quilting on that project while I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with quilting, and now I know.

Antique detail

The more I look at these pictures now as I’m loading them up, the more I love this piece of furniture. It’s not likely that it will make it’s way home though, for a number of reasons. For one, it’s bigger than a bread box, so there’s no room in the house for it. Two, ITMan doesn’t like it (he said so when we looked at it together) because it has too much carving.

Antique detail

“Too much” was my initial reaction as well, even though I love the designs and they are inspiring my own quilt art. But the more I look at the pictures and think about it, the more I can appreciate it. This thing would completely dominate a room, and you’d just have to plan for that and let it have it’s way. To be honest, I’ve realized that I don’t even know what it was, really. Was it a sideboard, a dresser, or what? I obviously had eyes only for the details!

Antique detail

I can’t wait to start drawing quilting designs!

We went to Ikea and came home with an English antique

English antiqueThe only thing that makes a Saturday morning visit to Ikea slightly more inviting than something like oral surgery is the lack of a strictly soft diet for a week afterward, but it is indeed a near thing. Saturday morning at the local Ikea is the stuff of nightmares: no place to park that isn’t in the back 40, kids running everywhere with oblivious parents, people milling around dazed looking and paying no attention to anything that might be in the path of their cart, and then there’s the pushy people: after I’d been patiently waiting for my turn at the “find the bin that your get it yourself furniture is stocked in” touch screen while the guy in front of me was using it as a catalog (after I’d already been through the parking lot madness, and narrowly missed being broadsided by carts and flying kids just to get that far), then this pushy woman thinks she’s going to dive in front of me at the terminal. Elbows at the ready, I saw her coming and held my ground. I thought my head would explode before we could get what we wanted and escape the insanity, computer desk in hand.

English deskAfter starting the weekend off like that, it can only get better, right? Off home for lunch, then pack the family into the “not exactly a family vehicle” Mustang for a trip to the PX. Now, lately I’ve started my visits to this hallowed hall of military shopping with a stop at the tapestry shop which recently started carrying antique furniture, which sometimes makes the whole trip worthy of the time it takes and the frustration of shopping at Aafes in general. Before I could ever get as far as the tapestry shop on Saturday though, I was distracted by a new vendor in the mall: an antiques vendor no less. Hee hee, now we’re talking. They were only just unloading a (large) truck full of furniture, and already the buyers were circling.

We did our other shopping inside the PX, and stopped back in to circle the antiques shop some more before we quit for home. And there, sitting off to the side, was this wonderful little desk on wheels with two drawers and drop leaves on each side. No less than three other people looked at this beauty while I chatted up the owner and the sales person, and hemmed and hawed over whether to take it home. They knocked a bit off of the “original” price, and I was sold.

English desk

Sure, it’s probably a bit of overkill for a laptop, especially with the surrounding decor, not to mention harder on the checkbook than the cheapo Ikea solution, but it’s also infinitely classier and I can see lots of other things to do with this piece in future incarnations of our house. It’ll fit just about anywhere (in a decent sized house anyway), work in lots of different rooms, with one chair as a desk or two as a game table, or in any number of other ways and places. I already have a couple of side chairs that will be perfect with it when it’s done doing laptop duty. What’s not to love?? Unfortunately, this really is absolutely the last thing bigger than a bread box that I can buy unless I start knocking down walls, and as I said, I don’t think the landlord will go for that. 😦 And the Ikea desk? Still in the box in the storage room, waiting for a move to a bigger house, where we’ll probably need it anyway. ITMan was glad he skated out of putting it together, albeit temporarily!

The allure of antiques and quilts

I think there are times when ITMan rues the day that I discovered antique furniture (okay, let’s be honest, I know there are times!). Lately, probably due to the number of new pieces that have found their way home with me (more on those later), I’ve been thinking about what it is exactly about antiques that speaks to me so strongly. So take a look at this:

Carved medallion on buffet

This is the carving on one of the doors of my buffet in the dining room. This is not a recent addition, but one of the pieces I got in Antwerp when I took a road trip to an antique wholesale warehouse with two carloads of other shoppers a few years back. I bought some other pieces on that trip, but we’ll get to those later. Anyway, I looked at this carving with new eyes some time ago, and thought about translating it into a quilted design. I think it was Kristin’s needle doodles that started me on that track, and I figured at some point I would work on some sort of a practice piece to see if I could duplicate the look and the texture of this design in fabric and thread. That’s as far as the idea went, but it was still floating around in my head when it came time to figure out what to do with the border of The Misery Quilt. The scalloped border was definitely more perfect than the idea that came before, but it still needed something more, and here’s what developed:

Border medallions

Can you see the roots of this design in the carving on the buffet? I loved those little curved edges around the central medallion on the buffet, and they soften the line of the oval, and add a bit more interest. I can hardly wait to get to the quilting part to add to the effect! I’ve planned to put sixteen medallions, eight each of two different sizes, in the outside border of the quilt. The embroidery designs are all just a bit different, since the feathery magnolia and leafy designs are all actually separate embroidery files that you can put together any way you like and stitch them out.

If you look closely at the background of the medallion on the buffet, the wood has been textured in some way, so it almost looks like stippling, in person anyway. I don’t know that “textured” is the proper term, since I know just enough about wood carving and furniture making to appreciate it, and nothing more, but you get the idea. I’m planning to quilt The Misery Quilt in #100 silk thread, and will probably put some insanely small background pattern around the flower in the medallion. The medallions are fused together, by the way, and I’ll do satin stitching with the silk thread on the edges like I’ve done in other places on the quilt.

I’ve come to realize that many of the reasons quilting attracts me the way it does go for antiques as well. Character, individuality, the unmistakable stamp of loving hand craftsmanship, finely wrought details, and the sure ability to stand the test of time; all these things are inherent to both antiques and quilts. Is it any wonder? Even the excitement and satisfaction of the search is similar: when you find the perfect antique that you just love (and can afford, and have a place to put!) you get that warm, fuzzy feeling, just like when you’ve found the perfect fabric for your current project, or you’ve tried some new technique or design solution and it’s given the project new life and made it better than you ever imagined it could be. What’s not to love about antiques and quilts?

A return to former times

I visited the Black Forest Quilters Guild once again last evening. I’ve been away from the guild for a number of years, since about the time I passed the presidency on to Liz probably. I think I was a little burnt out on it all after three years on the board, and then life just got busier and busier for me and Friday nights ceased to be quilt nights, even just once a month for a meeting. In the last couple of years, I’ve stopped in here and there, but I hope to make it a more regular entry on my calendar going forward.

It was really wonderful to see all the ladies I’ve not seen in many years, and do some catching up. Show and Tell is usually the highlight for me, and last night was no exception. One member shared three antique quilts from her great grandmother that were made around 1900! It was so special. I nearly cried at the beauty of these quilts, especially the Double Wedding Ring, and it was just so lovely that she shared these pieces of her heritage with all of us.

I’ve only ever seen one other antique quilt that I really loved (and I couldn’t afford to buy it), and maybe it’s the lack of familial connection with the quiltmaker that turns me off to antique quilts a bit. A quilt just seems to mean so much more when it’s a part of your own heritage and you feel a connection to the maker through shared blood. I’m sure that there are many other antique quilts out there that are beautiful and that anyone would be proud to own, and as quilters and textile artists we are all connected in a way, but those lucky quilters who have quilts made by their ancestors are the ones I envy just a bit.