Plus Sign Quilt and My Discovery of the Red Cross Quilt Project

I wanted to make a plus sign quilt, which led me to the internet for some research.  We are flooded with images, stories, and blips that we register as cool or nostalgic.  We file it away in the back of our minds, thinking one day I will try that, or that reminds me of something I had as a child, or evokes some other nameless emotion.  So it was for me with the new rage of plus sign quilts everywhere.  It is the new symbol of gender neutral and packs a powerful stream of thoughts and emotions, but whose idea was it originally?  This was something I wanted to find out before I actually made anything with this design, as it has become increasingly important to me to be as completely original and authentic as I possibly can with everything I make.  IMG_2831So of course, I went to Wikipedia and various quilt indexes to see who made the FIRST plus sign quilt.   I found that while the notion of a “Plus Sign” Quilt might be a modern one, the symbol of the Red Cross is not even remotely new or original to anyone living today…Especially quilters.  The sign of the American Red Cross, an organization founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, is very well known and recognized as a symbol for humanitarian aide and distaster relief.  So much so that in 1917 during World War I, in an effort to raise money to help with recovery at home, a quilt campaign was established that called anyone who could make and contribute a quilt featuring the symbol of the Red Cross, to do so.  The quilts were auctioned off to the highest bidder and funds were used to help purchase ambulances and other emergency equipment.  A lot has happened since that time, and now plus signs are everywhere.  I felt pretty safe in assuming that I would not be infringing on anyone’s rights to make a quilt featuring plus signs, but the symbol reminds us that there is always growth that can happen after something traumatizing happens in our lives.  It reminds us to have hope for more and to stay strong.  My research led me to realized that the symbol is bigger than me or my creative juices, or one person out there who may have made a plus sign quilt.  It is a symbol, almost universal, to make this world a better place and to help one another.  I decided to try a simple screen print for this initial project.  I really enjoy the process of screen printing, but as with most new techniques, it still remains a bit of a mystery to me.  I printed a large, whole piece of organic cotton muslin with black water-based, non-toxic ink, and made it into a double thick playmat, measuring 60″ x 60″.  Organic hemp denim went on the back, with two layers or organic cotton and bamboo batting inside.  This project sold last year, but I want to make another one day.

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Jane’s Wedding Tree – Part Two

Jane’s Wedding Tree stitch art began with a very simple drawing and picking out colors based on photographs she had provided for me.  All of these colors are organic cotton scraps from my hand dyed fabric collection.  These make the prettiest range of colors, which are rich but also soft, perfect for this project!  Next, I made the “streamers” for the tree by ruffling LOTS of little fabric strips.  Some of these strips were originally one yard long, and ended up being only 10 inches!  Putting this together involved cutting and placing the pieces where they should go to make the stitch art resemble the Wedding Tree as much as possible.  I ironed everything to keep it in place before securing it with the stitches.  Drumroll, please!  Here is the finished product!  I am really happy with the way it turned out, and I think it captures the spirit of Jane’s Wedding Tree pretty well.

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And here she is again, the beautiful Jane under her wedding tree!  Congratulations on the two year mark, dear friend!!  Here’s to many, many more wonderful years!  Cheers!

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Jane’s Wedding Tree – Part One

This is my friend Jane’s wedding tree.  I love Jane.  Jane is a straightforward girl with a head full of words, and a heart full of love for kids.  Jane is a teacher.  I love Jane.  Now that my very simple tribute is over, let me say that when my friend Jane came to me and told me that she loved my stitch art so much that it gave her an idea, I couldn’t wait to hear what she had come up with.  Trees speak to us all in different ways, and this tree was a thing of beauty for Jane.  She wanted to get married beneath it’s soaring branches, and so she did.  Her sister decorated the tree with these colorful streamers, and it has since become a very special symbol of their marriage.  For their first anniversary, which is symbolized with paper, her darling husband made her a picture of the tree with tissue paper and glue.  What a lucky pair!  While touching, sweet, and oh-so-meaningful, the paper didn’t hold up so well over time.  Her second anniversary is rolling around the corner, which is symbolized with cotton.  How perfect!  I had no idea that my most favorite medium was cornerstone of second anniversary gifts, but Jane did.  And she knew what she wanted to give to her guy for their second anniversary:  A stitch art picture of their wedding tree.  Today I will make Jane’s Wedding Tree, and I am so excited to get started! 

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General Woodiness…

Hello! Josh here.  My contributions to the Shop stems from my fascination for and the usefulness of wood.  I am a self proclaimed (and many agree) wood nerd and wood geek.  A certifiable wood collector who expresses creativity and finds inspiration through the salvaging of discarded urban-cut trees.  Cutting down a tree is a mournful event, but to cut a tree down and discard it as trash is positively criminal.  A tree is way too beautiful to be discarded!  Making beautiful, heirloom quality objects that will be preserved and passed down through generations from its wood is a tribute to the tree itself as much as it is a tribute to the maker.  And so, here I am:  A yard full of wood, a few chainsaws, and a humble sawmill; a workshop full of tools and sawdust; and, a (soon to be full) Shop full of wonderful wooden treasures!  Have a look around and come back often!  Things will be changing rapidly as we get moved in good at our new home at www.goodwinscustomcrafts.com.  And last, but not least, let me introduce these two rascals: Annabelle and Zoey.  They keep me company when I am out in the shop and keep an eye on things when I am off gathering more wood.  They are the Wood Yard supervisors, and love to climb on woodpiles and nap in mountains of sawdust.

 

Hand Dyed Organic Muslin

I have a new love for fabric dying!  I love the art of fabric dying because you are in complete control of the type of fabrics used (it is really hard to find organic solids in a wide range of colors…they are mostly bright primary style colors), the depth of color, and the relationship of one batch to another.  For instance, the range of colors you can get by varying the amount of time the fabric stays in the dye results in this pleasant gradiant of color that is going to be beautiful in quiltmaking!  These colors are so rich and subtle, powerful yet gentle at the same time.  The dyes are fiber reactive, non toxic, and can be mixed and matched to create custom colors as well.  The possibilties are endless.  All cotton used is 100% organic, but I am currently in the process of experimenting with PFD (prepared for dye) fabric, verses regular unbleached fabric, because there is a better variety of options available if you don’t limit yourself to the PFD.  I am also experimenting with different fabric types, such as muslin verses poplin, fleece, silks, canvases, dye concentrations, and anything else I can think of!  This was the first collection of fabrics, and they came out beautifully!! I bought the dye from the Dharma Trading who also sells a really nice variety of ready to dye projects for the do-it-yourselfer!  As indigo is one of my most favorite dyes, and I really love the historic relevence of the “color that seduced the world”, I would like to try that next!  But first, to fully explore this style of fabric dying.

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I am One Lucky Girl!

Let me start by saying that I am most certainly, One Lucky Girl!!  This whole, “Put yourself out there on a website” business is a little disarming to me.  I used to be this crazy, out-there girl, who spoke before she thought.  Writing and being expressive was EASY!  But as I have gotten older, I have become more introspective, and choose more carefully what comes out of my mouth.  While that definitely has its advantages, it can also be a little boring and safe.  So here we go.  My mission?  To let it all out again, and share with you all the way my customers share with me!  Since I don’t really know where to start (because while this website is new, my crafting is NOT and I have years and years worth of pictures to add to my galleries) I will begin with a simple cape project I did for a good friend.  She gave this to a pair of new big sisters!  How sweet she  was to do this.  I have the best customers in the world!  From a friend who wants to buy a cape for her (adult) friend who is battling cancer, to crazy rocker chicks who want to buy capes for their boyfriend, to Moms to be who are organizing a super hero family photo shoot for their birth announcements, I get ALL SORTS of folks, and each story intruigues me.  Each story is unique and special, and I am one lucky girl that people share those stories with me!
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