Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I will never be able to describe in words the joy, excitement, pride in my country that I experienced the night of the election. I couldn't let down my guard until I saw the 11 pm postings, and then I couldn't stop crying and laughing...for hours. I woke up, still giddy, the next morning, and went to the Obama campaign office in Bethesda, which was being rapidly torn down. Many people came over to me as I gathered up my "Dear Mr. Obama" quilt, telling me how much pleasure it had given them, and it also made a great backdrop for photos of each other.

As I drove home with Mr. O on the passenger seat, I began wondering how many other ObamaMama's there were out in the country who, like me, was driven to make a celebratory quilt. I thought about how wonderful it would be if there were such quilts, to bring them together for the inauguration. So, after running the idea by several friends as a "sanity check", and asking Susan Shie if she'd be willing to contribute, I sent out this notice:

I have this crazy idea: wonderful "Obama Quilts" on display in
Washington, D.C. for the inauguration.

I see two major challenges:
(1) Can we get enough quilts to make it possible?
(2) Can we find a great place(s) to display them?

I plan to tackle both challenges at the same time.

So, to you wonderful Obama-mamas out there, I'm trying to get a
sense of the "inventory" we could amass in the next month and a half.

I'm excited to tell you that Susan Shie has promised to send a large
Obama quilt to help us jump-start the effort. So, please tell me if
have an "Obama" quilt to display.

While this is going on, I am going on a hunt for places to hang
them. This week I'll start making phone calls. If any of you know
people I could call to get the quilts displayed, please let me know.

I'm open to all suggestions, comments, advice, and tips.


Well....within 30 hours I had over 40 quilters raring to go. So the first question was answered: we did have an inventory. Now where could I find a venue in a town that had no more hotel rooms left? After many days of fruitless searches, we lucked out.
One of my many emails crossed the desk of an art teacher (David Phillips) at a local college (Montgomery College), and he was heading off to a meeting with several people from their Arts Institute, and he thought that our proposal might fill a gap in their winter schedule that they were having trouble filling. He presented the idea and they liked it! In fact, they got excited too. The college had received a donation from the Cafritz family to build a new Arts Center, and that's where we'll be. It's a wonderful, modern urban museum space with high spaces, good windows, good walls. It's perfect. And the college is being so gracious to us: they will insure the quilts, unpack and repack them, have them professionally photographed and hung, prepare accompanying matrials, and do some PR work. They will make a DVD of all the quilts which will play in their lobby. They will print a binder of all the Artist Statements, which in this group, are sometimes even more moving than the quilts! They even hope to produce a book about this historic exhibit, the proceeds of which will go to scholarship funds for the students, many of whom, like Obama, came up the hard way and are inspirational in their own right.

Now, heading into the home stretch, we are a group of 61 art quilters: all-volunteer, grass-roots, multi-ethnic and very talented. We come from all corners of the US and as far away as Australia. We'll have two large Susie Shie pieces, a group quilt by Fiber Artists for Obama that was shown in Houston, a piece by Michelle Flamer that went to the DNC convention, banners, flags, portraits, and more. Many of the quilters (like me) have been moved to do more than one entry. It's going to be a FABulous show.

The show is called: "President Obama: A Celebration in Art Quilts".
It will hang at the Cafritz Art Center, 150 King Street, Silver Spring, MD.
Dates: Feb. 9 to March 5.
Opening reception will be Friday the 13th from 6 pm -->.

You are all cordially invited!!!!

You've seen my original Obama piece, but I'll share two other works (in progress):
"HOME" is made for Malia and Sasha (in my mind), and it depicts the happy new White House on a bright sunny day, with dad going off to the oval office, and the rest waving goodbye to him. The sun is so happy he's wearing sunglasses, but he could also represent the secret service guys whose job it is to protect all these wonderful people.

The second piece is to be an interactive piece, displayed with an attached notebook and pen. The title is "What was it like for you?" It's composed of many different pieces of plaid fabric to represent the diversity of us all.

One of the lovely spin-offs of development of this show was that a number of us were invited to be interviewed by Karen Musgrave who is with Quilter's SOS -- Save Our Stories, a project of the Alliance for American Quilts. The tapes and accompanying photos will be part of a public archive that will be made available for the public and future researchers and quilt lovers. The project has more than 800 interviews online, archived at the Library of Congress. (www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/qsos/)

Now, wouldn't it be lovely if this tribute show to a most popular president at a historic junction in our history could be seen outside of the D.C. area? Let us know if you want it to visit your town!

The Fall

I finally put the finishing touches on my Pelican quilt, which is a collage of a bunch of photos Dave and I took when we toured southern Florida. We spent three hours watching them at the Bird Santuary run by Laura Quinn on Key Largo. These are such amazing birds, and when they come in for a landing, they look like pterodactyls with their 7-10 foot wing span. Some, like the guy in the center, are quite cheeky. You see that look in his eye? He's saying, "You got a fish...I know you do...hand it over!" It was fun to figure out how to attach all the shells (many sewed on, others glued), to make a wave (a piece of lace curtain), to show distance (size as well as size of chicken scratch quilting stitches), and to show a storm coming in from the right (luckily found several scraps of sky fabric). I even found a use for the tiny metal fish charms I bought. Now, having hung it in one quilt show, I've realized how heavy all that stuff is....and my horizontal lines are separating in spots, so it's going back to the shop for some overhaul. The photos are from before completion, but they tell the story.

Veggie Update: I added another veggie to my series..a charming beet, who allowed me to pose all her leaves all spread out on a beautiful silk moire background. Not an easy fabric to quilt, let me warn you! But it's so pretty when the light hits it just right. I call it "The Expansive Beet."

Good Things:
(1) first place for "Homage for Donna" at the Young at Art show in Va.
(2) Mississippi John Hurt sold at the SAQA auction and went to a good home.
(3) Viewer's Choice award for "Gotta Dance" at the Nimble Fingers show (a local guild)
(4) Two small pieces sold at Needle Chasers of Chevy Chase show (Homage to Donald Sultan & The Coneflowers)
(5) Masterpiece for Nancy was accepted into SAQA's 2009 "Points of View" show.

This ain't why I quilt, but it sure is nice when it happens. I quilt because I "have to."