Fascinating Story Quilts

This week I received an envelope from my first quilting teacher, and very dear friend, Sharon Grieve Grinyer. In it was a newspaper clipping from the Wisconsin State Journal that took me back to 1989. The article was entitled:

And begins with:

“There’s a good story behind Rumi O’Brien’s quilt called “Hiding Under Shrubs – I’m Too Famous.” There’s a story, in fact, behind every Rumi O’Brien quilt.” Made from tiny scraps of cloth and laced with thousands of minute stitches, O’Brien’s handiwork is consistently clever, always unexpected, and often very funny.”

To read the entire article, go to:  http://host.madison.com/wsj/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/the-whimsy-of-rumi/article_c9885798-72cb-5f90-8825-b43b25ea9c6b.html

Rumi is a quilter I met early in my quilt journey, while taking part in my first quilt challenge. This all brought to mind a story I think you’ll find quite interesting and I’d like to present it in two parts.

Part 1 begins with a multi-country quilt challenge. I still have a photo of the original challenge exhibit sign and this is what it said:

“In early Autumn, 1989, Georgellen Mikkelson was contacted about orgainizing the Madison, WI, end of a quilt challenge between quilters in Freiberg, Germany (Madison’s Sister City), Berne, Switzerland, and Madison, WI. She gathered a varied group of 21 quilters, and anxiously awaited the arrival of the “Challenge Fabric” from West Germany.

The participating quilters were each given a 12″ square of each of the fabrics. Five additional fabrics of the quilter’s choice could be used. The finished quilts were to be no larger than 24″ x 24″.

In January of 1990, the Madison quilts were shipped to Europe. They were on display, along with the Freiburg and Berne quilts, in both European cities. The entire group of quilts – all 65 of them – will be on display here in the Madison Civic Center until July 1990.”

I found these leftover pieces of the challenge fabric stuffed in a page of the photo album with the challenge pictures. Maybe I had a premonition I’d need them for a blog someday :-)!

I enjoyed making my challenge quilt (to see it, you’ll need to read next week’s post for part 2 🙂 ).

When it was time to get together and see all the Madison quilts, there was one that really caught my attention. It was Rumi’s. Her quilt told the story of the challenge in hand appliqué!

Amazing! And hand quilted too. I was so impressed, I signed up to take a class from her at a local quilt shop. The class was called “Making Babies” and we made 2 little dolls. Rumi was a wonderful teacher and the stories she shared of her life in Japan were delightful. I lost touch with her after that class.

A few weeks ago Sommer found those dolls in a toy bin and began playing with them in her doll house.

After reading the article about Rumi in the paper, I had to dig out the old photo album and revisit my memories of the challenge and Rumi.

I can’t wait to make the trip to Madison and see the exhibit of her quilts. The exhibit is entitled: “Crossing Mountains and Other Adventures – Story Quilts by Rumi O’Brien”. For all the information go to:  https://sohe.wisc.edu/research-development/design-gallery/2016-17/crossing-mountains-and-other-adventures-story-quilts-by-rumi-obrien/.

Next week: part 2 of the Sister City Challenge!

 


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