Tuesday, June 15, 2010

it's time to finish the quilts

OK--I confess that normally I am pretty good about finishing orders. As you may know, I do like to buy more fabric. In addition, I love the feeling of completion--after all that work, I want to see what the quilt looks like. The possibilities of new pieces dance before me. New colors that I have been dreaming about. 

However, every once in a while something happens and work ends up hanging over me. Such is the case with the quilts for the Springfield District Courthouse. Let me tell you a bit about this project. A new federal district courthouse was being built in downtown Springfield. A gorgeous building designed by Moshe Safdie--an internationally renowned architect. Indeed the building itself has won awards. It was built around two ancient and magnificent trees. An absolutely glorious light building. The other artist was Sol Lewitt.  There were to be four court rooms--each one named for one of the four counties in western Massachusetts. Each court room had a wall designed to hold fiber art. I was honored to be asked to make these quilts through the GSA's Art in Architecture program.

Now this was a HUGE order and of course I was brought in at the last minute--that is frequently what happens with architectural commissions as you may know. I chose a simple rolling design with each quilt reflecting just slightly specifics of the county for the room for which it was designed. For instance in the Hampden Courtroom--which is the county for Springfield, I represented the two large trees. One a copper beech and one a magnificent oak. Hampshire County is known for its fields and meadows while Berkshire County of course has the  Berkshire Mountains.

Each courtroom had three quilts--while the size varied--they were all about 4 feet by 10 feet. A lot of sewing in very little time. Indeed I learned afterwards the only question the persons in charge had was whether I could finish the work in time. Of course I had to prove them wrong.

So I sewed. I went in on my days off--I stayed at work late. I learned every way I could to save time. Since finishing the quilts requires a lot of hand work which I couldn't do all at once without developing carpal tunnel I would finish the bindings while starting a new piece. And I had a secret bit of knowledge--they were not going to build out the last court room--the one for Franklin County for a while. I only had nine quilts to make.

The quilts were all hanging when the building was opened with great ceremony and many dignitaries. I was exhausted. Don't they look great though?

And I was SO ready to move on to other designs that I put the Franklin County quilts aside. I would get around to them later while I enjoyed working in all of the wonderful colors and designs that did not fit into the court house project. I'm sure you can understand.

Finally this winter I got the last of the Franklin County quilts pieced. Again I left the bindings for later. Gradually I sewed on the Velcro for hanging. Almost done. But always just a little bit more to do. After all even if you think of it as just three quilts, there still is a lot of work to do. Three quilts to press and thread pick. Three quilts to sew on the labels. But it is time. They are almost done. And I have heard they are planning to build out the last court room soon.

Do I wish that I had finished these quilts earlier? Sure. I have other quilts to make. Will I be a bit sad when this order is done? Of course.  Maybe that is why it took me so long to finish the last three quilts. I have enjoyed working on it even though the only people who can really see the quilts are the judge, the jury and the defendants.  Will I ever get such a great order again? I don't know--my next opportunity may be something entirely different. Life works that way. But it is time and I will get those quilts photographed and down to their new home.

What do you think? Am I the only one who can sometimes find it hard to finish an order?


  1. Gorgeous! they look three dimensional!

  2. Thanks Michelle. They are meant to look three dimensional. I am always glad when people see this.

  3. As always, you did a wonderful job. I like the 3 d effect, too.