Friday, April 28, 2023

First & Last Quilt on Off the Wall Friday

Elizabeth Barton's Solo Show at the Georgia Botanical Gardens, Athens, GA

Okay, a show of hands, who out there had a subscription to Quilter's Newsletter Magazine?  I must have started mine around 1992 and kept it through hmmmm at least 2010.  Honestly, without that magazine, I don't know where I would be as a quilter.  Really, those were pre-internet days when this was my one and only pipeline to the national quilting scene. Besides all the great articles,  I  even managed to do two of their Block of the Month patterns in consecutive years which taught me a ton.  

 Plus I got to meet Bonnie Leman at Quilting by the Lake one year.  I was so young and she was in one of my first classes.  I said, "Bonnie Leman? Oh, just like the editor of Quilter's Newsletter."  She said, "I was the editor of Quilter's Newsletter".  So here the little old lady quietly sitting behind me all week was THE- Bonnie - Leman.  She thought it funny I was so impressed.  I thought it funny that she didn't realize how the magazine she had started in  1969 had changed the lives of so many quilters.

One of my favorite columns in the magazine was the First Quilt....Last Quilt.  It's where nationally known quilters would show one of the first quilts they made and then show their latest creations. I loved seeing how far the quilters had come over the years.  But it was more than that.  Seeing where they started and where they ended up, gave me hope that maybe one day I too, could be that good.  Every time I would read the column I would end up saying "WoW".   It was the first clue, that these were just regular ladies who with patience and persistence and a whole lot of hard work had perfected their art. 

Sadly, QNM was shuttered in 2016.  BUT...I was thinking....wouldn't it be fun to revive my favorite column.  With that, I put the word out to some of my favorite quilters and asked for their first and last quilts.  Happily, I have gotten back a few replies!  

So this week, I thought we would start with Elizabeth Barton.  You can find her very readable blog here and her website here.  She shares some of her earliest pieces....


Elizabeth writes, "My first fiber piece" never had a name! Or if it did I don't remember!!  I made it by appliqueing silk and wool and other fabrics onto a piece of jute - they were sort of like grouped buildings!  I hadn't heard about piecing - yet...I think that was done about 1967"

Strange Beauty, Elizabeth Barton

"I cut the red waves free took me 4 attempts to get it right...I had to dye 4 lots of red and blue fabric!!!!  the image is based on the Hamilton Steel Mill in Hamilton Ontario

The Middle

.Where the Bongo Trees Grow, Elizabeth Barton,  60" by 60"

"It is part of a series of 10 quilts called "Idea of a City" and is inspired by Durham - UK.  On top of a hill that the River Weir winds around is a castle and a cathedral...magical mystical places....As I was making it I was thinking about magical magical lands...that the Owl and the Pussy Cat might have sailed to!!!"

(Note from read that right...Elizabeth did a series of 10 - 60" by 60" Cityscapes ...let that sink in a minute)


This is a section of Elizabeth's spring show at the Georgia Botanical Gardens in Athens, GA.  It featured the pairing of her watercolor landscapes with abstract shibori dyed art quiltsGorgeous right?

A big thank you goes out to Elizabeth for sharing her work and hopefully inspiring some new quilters!  

In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing other artists' "First & Last" (including my own since I  just  found it  this week!)  If anybody would like to be included in this column please just email me.  Remember you never know who you are going to inspire!!

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