Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Inspiration

Can a single piece of needlework change your life? Or set you on a different path?

Today, I pay homage to a piece of needlework and to a woman who altered my needlework path forever.

When I began Crazy Quilting around the year 2000 or so, the biggest inspiration on the scene for me at that time was Judith Baker Montano. I loved all her books, couldn't get enough of them...but it was this book...Floral Stitches...which spoke to my soul.

I kept it by my bed. I studied all of the components she used in her work. I loved the way she "saved" glorious old vintage bits of wonderful textiles and transformed them into new art -- to be preserved and enjoyed anew. It was the most beautiful way I had seen of giving new life to someone else's handiwork -- and it gripped me and has never let me go.

I've never taken a class with Ms. Montano nor have I ever met her in person. I have, however, written to her, spoken to her over the phone and purchased this piece of her needlework "Study in Pastels" ...

When I left that corporate job that I told you about last post, I had made a little money. After discussing it with my husband, we decided to purchase our first piece of textile art. It's not very common or popular to purchase textile art -- and I think Ms. Montano was a bit astonished and, yes, even overjoyed that someone actually wanted to pay her money for her art. I worried over the decision... it seemed so frivolous...but my need for retail therapy was high and when my husband knew how much it meant to me, he encouraged me to write the check.

I have not regretted it one day.

To me, it wasn't just any piece of art. It was the piece that was showcased in photos all throughout her Floral Stitches book. It was the piece that had been changing my life as I embraced the art of crazy quilting.

And it's a piece that means as much to me as any Picasso, or Rembrandt or yes, even, Mary Cassat.

I am honored to have it in my home and count it among our family treasure.

Here is what Judith says about the piece in her own words:

No other piece, or person or book has inspired me as much. Except for this one...which I've written about in a previous post.

So, how about you?

Can a single piece of needlework change your life? Or set you on a different path?

And Judith, should you happen upon this post, and be delighted to "meet" your old piece again...know that it is loved and treasured and continues to sing to my soul...and now, just maybe, to the souls of others.

My hat is off, my head is bowed, in deep gratitude...thank you.


Carol said...

My lips said Wow! Yes the piece is wonderful. You are very lucky to own it. However, the piece with the origin of some of the components makes it even more amazing. Unbelieveable actually that Judith could part with it. I love her too and have all of her books except for the one you mention. I love flowers, but somehow I am not too big on floral embellishment.

Can a piece of needlework change your But it can enhance your life. Inspire you to try new things and excel in the art of that which has inspired you.

Your husband is a GOOD man.

Ingrid Mida said...

What a glorious piece of textile art. Thanks for sharing it and the story behind it.
I think every artist hopes to have their work with someone like you who appreciates and loves it.
What a gift you've given her to share this with everyone!

konnykards .. Musings of a Senior Citizen said...

Wonderful to read this and to admire the exquisite embroidery you have.
Some years ago I came upon the book Floral Stitches at a craft show in Birmingham UK.
I was thrilled by it and started to do ribbon embroidery - now, in my seventies, I have several of Judith's books and have been inspired by her work many, many times! Connie.

Lisa said...

Beautiful piece! I loved reading about it's influence on you and also reading Judith's comments about it. How blessed you are to own such a piece!

I don't know if a single piece of needlework has changed my life ~ but I do know that over and over again, needlework has been a touchstone in my life and often, the people who have taught me have been inspirational in my life.

The sampler I'm working on right now is growing into a sampler of all the types of needlework I've done and I am incorporating samples of work from so many of these inspiring people. I loved seeing how Judith took many similar pieces and used them in her work, binding them together beautifully.

Jane said...

What a lovely piece of art, I am not surprised that you have enjoyed it for so long. A great story as well.

For me the piece that changed my life was the JEC pansies. the colour, the shine, the perfection of the stitching, it was these that started me on my journey of Japanese embroidery. It has changed my life, my focus, my sense of self and has brought me new friends who share my love of embroidery. Amongst these friends I am proud to include the lovely Susan, author of this blog.

FredaB said...

I also have just made a purchase that I am very excited about. You may be aware of Jo in NZ If you are not please go to her blog and observe her work. She is young with 3 school age children and does just fantastic stitching. She has a giveaway where she sends out postcards of her stitching. I have received 3 of them as gifts and they are wonderful to have.

Back in a post dated Dec. 21st 2008 she showed a card she made for an art gallery showing and it was for sale. It did not sell to her disappointment I am sure but she just recently put it on her etsy and I saw it and thought that is a lot for a postcard but it looks magnificent. Jo says she figures she spent about 29 hours on it and it is in the mail now and I can hardly wait to get it and smile. I decided to treat myself and will have it framed.

I will try and get a picture that will do it justice and post it on my blog.

I have taken classes from JBM and went to her first cq retreat in Colorado 2 years ago. The pink quilt I made from there is just sitting waiting for the binding and will then be finished.

Your pansies that were on your heading were gorgeous. I just discovered they were your own needlework. Beautiful



Judy S. said...

Thanks for sharing the story and details of this beautiful piece, Susan. I recently attended a museum exhibit of quilts from the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, which included a lovely old crazy quilt. Photos weren't allowed but I sure would have liked to study its details as I did yours. CQ offers a special opportunity for creativity and freedom that I don't find in other kinds of needlework.

Mary Timme said...

I love her work too. At one time in my life I lived "in" Castle Rock, CO at a time when she did as well. I met her at a book signing in that little (at the time) town and had a wonderful chat with her. Then I discovered beads and forgot about regular and irregular embroidery. It is so wonderful to see a photo of her work and know she is still producing. I enjoyed hearing all of this. I hope she does read your blog. Wouldn't that be wonderful.

Bear said...

what a beautiful treasured piece of Art you have to admire and allow it to sing to your soul if you will!
I too admire and respect Judith I have all of her books including the one this piece of work is from. This piece of art will be cared for and loved within your family for many years to come now .I know you will allow it to sing to your soul and you will gain much inspiration every day you look at it.
Congratulations on purchasing such a wonderful piece of Textile Artwork
love n hugs Bear xoxoxoxo

Chris said...

I'm drooling! What a wonderful treasure you have. I too have been inspired by Judith's work. Thanks for sharing this beautiful work of art.

Allison Ann Aller said...

This was a great tribute to JBM and a lovely way to bring this piece close to us....

Elmsley Rose said...




It's a beautiful stitched piece. Art is worth paying for if it bring's you this much pleasure!

Balwearie said...

What a wonderful post -- I can see why this piece has been so inspirational and your photos of it are absolutely grand! And if it makes any difference, I find your work to be very inspirational as well!

Wanda said...

Such a tribute. Your words always seem to come out right. The piece is wonderful..the colors can be so many things and everything all at once. I do believe that anything at all can touch and change your yes, why not a piece of needlework! The important thing is to be OPEN to it

Olenka's Stitches said...

An incredible piece of art and a wonderful story behind it; both are very inspiring.

Ati. Norway. said...

Oh, Susan, my mouth felt open when I saw this piece of CQ. I LOVE it! it is so beautiful with so many variations, amazing. I can imagine you will enjoy it every day when you look at it.
I don't think that a piece of needlework can change your life , but it can enrich it because it gives so much joy.

Lelia said...

This is just beautiful -- enjoy this stunning piece!

Pink Bunny said...

Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful piece with us! Last year I hosted a Victorian Stitchery Retreat and Judith came as one of the three featured teachers! I am hosting the retreat again and she is coming back. The piece is beautiful and I am glad your husband let you purchase it!

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Evelyn and Lise said...

I took a class from Judith Baker Montano about 9 years ago and it also changed my needlework. I loved her work and I started making memory crazy quilt pictures for a family of 11 children who had lost their mother and had just small pieces of her jewelry, prayer beads, etc. I chose a theme for each of the children, example Christmas for one of the girls who loves Christmas, another animals, etc. They loved them and have the memories of their mother in each one. I also make crazy quilt landscapes. Judith was such a nice lady and a great teacher. I just got her latest book (have all of them) and think everyone should have this one as it is a beautiful book!!!! Would I ever love to own one of her pieces. Good for you. Love your work also. Every piece of your art has enhanced my life and look forward to seeing more. Lise

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