I am a proud member of the Baltimore Applique Society. I know I've mentioned it before but last night's meeting was one of the best I have attended. BAS is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013 and the program chair is doing a terrific job of securing speakers that could turn even the biggest applique cynic into an applique lover. Elly Sienkiewicz was the program speaker and she was fantastic. She wove her own history working with album quilts into the history of quilting generally and the Baltimore Album genre specifically. Along with that were musings on what draws us to these quilts and she finished up with members of the audience sharing what is so appealing about album quilts to them. For me, it's difficult to pick a precise reason. On some days, I see one of those quilts and just want to drink in the riot of color (and touch all the quilting). Other days, I am enamored by the control of a red and green quilt. Still others, I find peace in stitching my own blocks or relief that, with so many things out of control, I am master of my own needle and thread.
Above is a photo of Elly with seven current and past BAS presidents. These women have been very brave taking on leadership of that organization. I've been a member through at least four of their terms and each has her own style and ideas but all have done the job well.
If you ever took a Baltimore Album quilt class you likely used one or more of Elly's books as a text or source of designs. I took my class with Mimi Dietrich in 2000 and I confess to not finishing my quilt. But I learned many skills and acquired nearly all of Elly's books. Yesterday, I took some time to browse through them and reveled in the history and eye candy they contain. If you aren't familiar with them, visit your guild library and see if they have copies of Baltimore Beauties and Beyond: Studies in Classic Album Quilt Applique, Vol. 1 and 2, and Papercuts and Plenty (Baltimore Beauties and Beyond: Studies in Classic Album Quilt Applique, Vol. 3) for a place to start. The photo at the top of this post is Elly with her quilt from Papercuts and Plenty.
This block, above, is from one of Elly's quilts. It's the one I blame for me not completing my quilt started in the applique class I took. Everyone has their favorites among the variety of blocks used in Baltimore Album quilts. Mine turned out to be roses, eagles and ships. Once I completed my own rose block I decided I wanted to pitch all the rest.
This block (above) has all those funky flower petals done in reverse applique. Most of the time when I am with people who see something complicated done in reverse they will ooh and ahhh. But, really that shape is a little easier done in that method. Still, I think it looks cool.
This is Elly's copy of Dena Katzenberg's Baltimore Album Quilts which is the exhibit catalog from the Baltimore Album quilt exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1981. I loved seeing her book which had post-its all through its pages and had been taped and re-taped to hold it together. I can't tell you how gingerly I open my own copy because the book is so hard to find now and, if you do, the price is dear. Oh, and under that book? It is Elly's original Spoken Without a Word. She has a new edition coming out in fall 2013.
Well, thanks for sharing my musings about BAS and the album quilt revival. I've switched from doing a Baltimore Album reproduction to the Mary Mannakee (not Baltimore, but a Maryland quilt from the same county where I grew up). Yes, I went straight home after the meeting and started appliqueing. I should have a finished block to show by this weekend.