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Fabric of Time


In 1976, eight thousand people converged on Ithaca, New York, where I live, for a huge Bicentennial quilt exposition, with workshops and lectures by the most prominent quilt artists in the country. Grandmothers and new mothers came. Working women came and women like me, who were about to shed the role of stay-at-home mom. Many men came. We were all lovers of fabric, and many of us had accumulated a pile of cloth scraps that seemed to cry out to be used creatively. This singular event opened a new world for me. I plunged into it, and for the last thirty-six years it has been a source of incomparable pleasure.

Much of my life experience has found its way into my hand-quilted narratives. My economist husband and I have lived around the world—in London, Rome, Lima, Caracas, Mexico City, and Santiago—and I am a voracious reader of history and literature. Among my creations are quilts celebrating Venezuelan and Mexican life, The Last of the Mohicans, American heroes, and the works of Shakespeare (those quilts are the subject of my book The Bard in Stitchery).

The quilts you see here were inspired by subjects close to home. To Throw a Firebrand (above) is one that I felt compelled to design after reading the diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whose Declaration of Sentiments was signed by early women’s-rights supporters at Seneca Falls, New York. Night Shift at Morse Chain, 1944 is a glimpse into wartime Ithaca, where women went to work manufacturing drive chains. Both quilts appear in my book Twice-Told Tales.

Upstate New York is a wonderful place to live, and not just because its rich history fires my imagination. Our long, long winters are ideal for creative quilt making.

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