Saturday, July 31, 2021

Paper Needlebooks

 I used to collect these post-World-War-II needlebooks when I spent my spare time in thrift stores, paying a quarter or even more. The graphics were weird and entertaining.

Often depicting sewing as a social event:
A mid-20-century Japanese view of the American customer.

They are a lot more expensive now buy I still collect the pictures from online auctions.

And still weird.

There are also German versions

Sewing as Fun, fun, fun!

The strangest graphics connect sewing with the atomic age.

Space travel

And supersonic aircraft

Hah! If technology is so great how come needles don't have eyes
big enough that I can thread them?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Sunny Yellow Dyes in QuiltMania


Quilt with Mineral Yellow Dye (Chrome Orange)
from my collection.

I have an article in the current QuiltMania (#144-July & August)

It's always a pleasure to work for editor and publisher Carol Veillon who has revamped the
look with plenty of large photos of quilts old and new. (Speaking of new---isn't that a great
background choice for the appliqued cover quilt by Barbie Mitchell?)

Carol looking very summery as does issue #144

where I wrote about the chrome colors orange and yellow.

Most of the photos are Carol's  with some from my files.

Like a detail from this late 19th /early 20th century quilt
 Sarah Schmidt's family in Alabama.

Here are more detail photos that didn't make the cut.
They illustrate some of the points in the article.

"The true yellow shade was sometimes called canary but the mills that relied upon it called the dye chrome yellow."

Chrome orange (we call it cheddar) loses color from
"acids which can draw out the orange leaving a pale yellow-green or white area."

"Mills did create a fashion for yellow-orange printed in fine lines on a white ground, which the eye reads as a pastel, like a butterscotch candy if we are going to continue to compare shades to food. ... The butterscotch yellow print is a good clue to the 1840-1890 era."

"Yellow-oranges also might turn brown, a chemical reaction to air pollution perhaps. Cabins heated with burning coal fires and city smogs seem to have had their effect."

See more about subscribing to QuiltMania or ordering this issue here:

Friday, July 23, 2021

Flora Delanica Posts 2020-21 Free Patterns


Heidi Kapszukiewicz's blocks
Flora Delanica block of the month

In October, 2021 we began a 12-block applique series inspired by the paper collages of 18th-century artist Mary Granville Delany. Free patterns are posted on the 15th of each month.

Link to the introduction with set and fabric suggestions:
#2 Rock Rose
Tong is setting hers on point

#3 Christmas Rose
Denniele Bohannon is using one large rectangle of
striped cotton for her background.

#4 Spanish Iris
Ilyse Moore is appliqueing wool to
a linen stripe.

#5 Sunflower
Christine Romero is using batik print cottons to great advantage.

#6 Purple Raspberry
Becky Brown is using hand dyed fabrics with accents of fussy-cut prints

#7 Summer Lily
Nancy Phillips, raw edge wools

#8 Calendula
Barbara Brackman---rather free form

#9 Corn Poppy
Deanna Street

#10 Cornflower by Becky Brown

Two more to go in August & September.

Our Facebook Group: MaryDelanyQuilt

We have our own Instagram page

And do post your pictures on the general Mrs D Instagram page #MaryDelany. They hardly post ANY needlework.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Remembering Barb Adams of Blackbird Designs

Barb Adams (1951-2021) 
by a Kansas City Star artist

Very sad to see that old friend Barb Adams left us in a blaze of fireworks on
this past Fourth of July---as long-time design partner Alma Allen noted.

From Celebration of American Life

Barb was one of the cleverest quilt designers of the past quarter century. She and Alma met in a quilt class Alma taught. 

Barb and Alma

Besides both wearing size 11 shoes they had much in common and formed a seamless partnership, establishing Blackbird Designs in the year 2000.

It's hard to tell who drew what. Barb's florals and colors seemed to me to have a more gothic garden ambience but....

They had much in common---including a rare way of combining
tradition and creativity.

They ALWAYS won "Best Booth" at Quilt Market

Barb's obituary tell us she and Alma designed 32 lines of fabric for Moda.
The Blackbird fabrics and books were extremely successful, creating a style. 

Both enjoyed cross stitch and were as successful in that area as in quilt design offering both traditional patterns...

And updates.

She's a woman who will be sorely missed.

See her obituary with a clever theme of her favorite Beatles songs:

I did a post about her a few years ago:

Alma now lives in Colorado. Read her tribute here:

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Flora Botanica #10: Cornflower

Flora Delanica #10: Blue Bottle Cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus) by
Becky Brown

We could use a little blue vegetation in our sampler.

Friend Horace Walpole described Mary Delany  at 74 as the inventor of "the art of paper mosaic". He highlights her use of colored material, which may be what amazed her peers about the Flora Delanica. The pictures were not the black and white of the popular paper art silhouettes or "shades". (She was only 72 when she began using colored papers.  Horace, man about town and gossip, was wrong there.)

The Royal Collection owns this silhouette of Mary Delany
by Thomas Wheeler, pictured in The Connoisseur in July, 1932.
Silhouettes often featured additional chalk, paint and here gum arabic.

To put Mary Delany's career in context one has to view her own interest and skill in cutting silhouettes. This double portrait attributed to her is in the collection of Longleat House where she spent time before her first marriage. She was obviously quite talented with her knife and scissors.

 A late silhouette of Mary Delany from an 1820 edition of
her letters. This copy once belonged to Lytton Strachey.

 Blue Bottle Cornflower by Barbara Brackman
I took a lot of shortcuts.

Silhouettes increased in popularity in the early 19th century as black paper and sharp scissors became more available. In Mary's time some cutters used a knife like a scalpel and everyone had to create handmade black papers by mixing paint of lampblack, soot or charred bone. Mary was said to blacken her paper for the Flora Delanica by painting with India ink.

An 1820 article on her letters in the Scots Magazine described her as "perfectly mistress of her scissors."
"The plant or flower which she proposed to imitate she cut out; that is, she cut out its various leaves and parts in such coloured Chinese paper as suited her subject, and, when she could not meet with a colour to correspond with the one she wanted, she dyed her paper to answer her wishes. She used a black ground, as best calculated to throw out her flower; and not the least astonishing part of her art was, that, though she never employed her pencil to trace out the form or shape of her plant, yet, when she had applied all the [?] which composed it, it hung so loosey and gracefully, that every one was persuaded it must previously have been drawn out and corrected by a most judicious hand. The effect was superior to what painting could have produced ; and so imposing was her art, that she would sometimes put a real leaf of a plant by the side of one of her own creation, which the eye could not detect, even when she herself pointed it out."
The six daughters of King George III & Queen Charlotte parading
behind their parents.
Royal Collection, attributed to William Rought

Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840) at about 12 in 1782 by
Thomas Gainsborough

One of the princesses was also a dedicated paper snipper. Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840) grew up with Mary Delany as a guest during family evenings dedicated to reading, sewing, games and crafts. Mary described the royals sitting "around a large table on which are books, [needle]work, pencils and paper" with the younger children drawing and stitching. Elizabeth's earliest surviving silhouette is thought to have been cut when she was ten. She could not have had a better teacher than Mary.

 Royal Collection Trust

Henry Edridge painted this portrait of Princess Elizabeth 
with her scissors and a white paper shape in 1804.

The Princess cut this silhouette and placed it
in an album she made for Dorothea Banks, wife of the naturalist
Joseph Banks whom we discussed last month.
In 1930 Queen Mary bought the album, now in the
Royal Collection.

 Blue Bottle Cornflower by Nancy Phillips

Mary did not "invent" the paper mosaic, she adapted a common art form to colored paper with the same careful observation and skilled handwork at which she'd been working much of her life.

Blue Bottle Cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus) by Mary Delany

Inverted to show the layers

The Block
#10 Cornflower

Applique on the diagonal to a square cut 10-1/2" or on the vertical center of a rectangle cut 9-1/2" x 12-1/2".

One Way to Print the Pattern:

Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". Note the inch square block for reference.
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.

A Little More Mary Delany

Poinciana Pulcherrima 
 Barbados (Peacock Flower)

Wool details by Nancy Phillips

And Ilyse Moore

Further Reading & Viewing

George III & Charlotte's daughters were a resilient group of women who lived under rather insufferable parentage where Princess Elizabeth described their lives as vegetating. Read Flora Fraser's Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III.

Read much, much more about British silhouette art at this website Profiles of the Past.