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Around the World Blog Hop

around the world blog hop logo

I’ve been following along in reading the blog posts of many of my fellow art quilters in the Around the World Blog Hop that’s been going on for the past several weeks. My good friend Elena Stokes invited me to join in the party by posting this week and answering some of the same questions about artistic process that the others have been answering. I feel honored to be asked, especially since I have not been actively making art for about a year now! More on that in just a bit.

Elena, on the other hand, has been really productive and has been getting her work out far and wide in the past couple of years. Including being accepted into Quilt National 2015 – on her first try! She also has two pieces travelling with SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) exhibits. “Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris” has been travelling in the Seasonal Palette show. And more recently the SAQA exhibit, Celebrating Silver, opened at the International Quilt Festival 2014 in Houston. Elena’s piece for Celebrating Silver, “Moonshine”, is absolutely stunning and, not surprisingly, sold before Festival closed. Click HERE to see a video of Elena talking about her quilt and process at the Houston show.

And if you click HERE you can read Elena’s post in the Around the World Blog Hop and also link back to previous posts on the “hop”. I hope you will check out some of the other bloggers by clicking back through all the links.

Now for my turn….. 

I’m supposed to start by telling you what I’ve been working on lately. And what I’ve been working on lately is moving from a large house to a much smaller house. And that process has completely sidelined me from my studio work. As a matter of fact I can hardly even enter my studio these days, it’s so packed to the brim with moving boxes! Not an ideal situation.

Studio 2

Studio 3

Studio 1


 You might not think that a simple move could be so distracting and all-consuming, but I have been reminded that moving is not so “simple” after all and IS all-consuming, especially when you are forced to divest of more than half your possessions. Well…..  I said I wanted to streamline and downsize!

My last major project before embarking on the move was my piece “Chloros”, created especially for the SAQA travelling exhibit, “Radical Elements”. For this exhibit each artist was assigned an element from the periodic table and we were asked to “move quilting beyond the usual materials of fabric and thread, exploring the function and decorative properties of different surfaces and stitching materials”.

When the call for entries came out for Radical Elements it felt like a good fit for me, as I had been using alternative materials in my art quilts for a while, specifically credit cards and other plastic cards, like gift cards, hotel “keys”, etc. I had also been creating some things with craft wire using the technique of “looping” or knotless netting. I used both of those materials to create “Chloros” depicting my element of chlorine. You can click here and here and here to see some of my process in creating “Chloros”. I’ve done some other work using the plastic cards and it is a material that really grabbed my imagination and sent my mind into overdrive. Now that the Radical Elements exhibit has opened, as of last spring, I can show you an image of the finished piece.

Chloros blog
"Chloros" ©2013 Martha C. Hall, 36" X 22"

Here are a couple of other quilts that I've made utilizing credit cards.

Hall M HouseOfCards 1
"House of Cards" ©2009 Martha C. Hall, 29" X 40"

Hall M HouseofKings 2
"House of Kings" ©2012 Martha C. Hall, 18" X 18"

I collect some on my own cards, but at this point really rely on friends to supply me with enough raw materials! I know there are other artists out there using credit cards in their art, too. I don’t think the idea to use these alternative materials is exclusive to any one person, but I do think that every artist has their own unique version of HOW they use the material. I still embrace the use of fabric because it is what I have always loved doing, but I also embrace looking forward and trying out new and different ideas and materials.

I am getting “antsy” to get back in the studio and make art. With most of our day-to-day living spaces in the new house pretty well organized and livable I think I will be tackling the studio soon. In some ways I think the studio hiatus has allowed me time to think about what I want to do next, artistically. I’m not sure exactly where my art will head, but I think I’ve been given an opportunity to go in a new direction. Because I have been away from my art for so long, in a way it takes the pressure off and lets me start anew.

Wish me luck because I think I’m going to need it! If for nothing else than making sense out of that mess of boxes in the studio.

Remember to check out Elena's blog and to click back through the series to see how others work!

Until next time  ~  MCH

Child's Alphabet Quilt

There sure is a lot of traditional type stuff on my blog lately. I haven’t really been in the “art studio” for several months. Initially that was due to the holidays and low-light blah winter months.

Lately it is more due to the fact that I am concentrating almost all my efforts on clearing out and staging our current house and searching for somewhere smaller to live.

6H is for House blog
Maybe a house like this is the right size for me

Yes, we are planning a move and it’s an overwhelming and time consuming process, to say the least. I’ve been trying to stay a little secretive so I don’t jinx anything, but when someone wants to know what’s going on in my life, well…… this is it right now.

Yesterday I was going through the master closet where there was a pile of old quilts stacked in the corner. I pulled them all out and will have to make decisions on what to do with them. They are old family quilts and I have them because I seem to be the archivist of the family.

Of course I wanted all these quilts and coverlets when we cleaned out various elderly relatives’ homes, but they really do no good sitting in the back corner of a closet. And they are not in fantastic condition either, so probably no one beyond me is going to want them.

1Full quilt 75x80 blog
Alphabet Quilt 80" x 75" made in 1930 in Massachusetts

Among the pile I found this gem – it was made for my father by his grandmother. I did a little research and discovered that the alphabet blocks are made from Nancy Page designs. The block patterns would have been printed one at a time, in “serial” fashion, in the newspaper for the public to use and make. In my search I also found many similar quilts made using the Nancy Page patterns. It is very fun and interesting to see quilts similar to mine from various parts of the country!

2XYZ by AFHC blog
Made for my father by his grandmother, Annie Florence Hill Clapp, in 1930

I think I’ve decided what to do with this old, worn quilt. It is not useable as is, but it is such a treasure that I’d like to remake it somehow to prolong its life. The alphabet blocks themselves are in fairly decent condition – some wear on some of the fabrics and some of the embroidery has disintegrated also. The green background fabric is browned and aged, but most areas are actually in fairly good condition as well.

3Number 30 blog
Nancy Page's pattern uses the number "37" and the quilts I've seen also use "37". I believe my great-grandmother used the number "30" for the year she made the quilt - 1930.

My thought is to take it apart and salvage the blocks and probably re-do the missing embroidery. You can see the stitching marks where the embroidery used to be.  The quilt, or perhaps ‘coverlet’ is a better description, was tied, not quilted, so taking it apart would be easy. I would also need to wash it (gently by hand, of course!) and I’d rather only wash the parts I want to use. I especially don’t want to wash a heavy batting if I’m not going to use it.

5Damage at top blog 4Torn D block and top blog
The top edge is especially torn and stained

I could probably re-use the current green print as a sashing. I would put a new stronger backing fabric on and a new cotton batting. And, although I haven’t hand quilted for years, I’d be willing to hand quilt this piece. My thought is to make it as a wall hanging because I don’t think the blocks would stand up to use without getting too damaged.

This is all just an idea at the moment because I don’t have time to take it on as a project. (Remember that part earlier about moving?) But if I make the decision to disassemble the quilt, then I can wash the blocks and fabric and condense the size for packing up to move. That’s really my motivation at the moment.

Of course, none of this deals with the 8 – 10 other quilts in that pile! If you're interested in seeing more, just Google "Nancy Page alphabet patterns".

When I put the question out on Facebook – whether or not to take it apart or leave it as is – I got nine responses to take it apart and remake it so it could continue its life as a family heirloom. Two respondents strongly felt I should leave it as is.

What do you think? 

Until next time -


Pocket Full of Posies

Thanks to all the encouragement from last week's blog comments and from Facebook friends I finished my submission for the 25th Anniversary SAQA Trunk Show.

Last week I was gathering all the components. You can see that here.

Here's how the whole piece came together. Click on images for larger pictures.

Background quilted blog

 With my layers together, I first quilt the background.


Quilted detail blog

Quilting detail 


Outlines and stems blog

 After I've auditioned where the flowers will be placed, I satin stitch flower outlines and stems.


Leaves stitched down blog

Leaves are attached with a line of stitching down the center. 


Flowers attached blog

Now I attach the flowers by hand with invisible monofilament thread. 


Pocket Posies back stitchesblog

 Here's a look at the back with all the stitching - before I cover it with a false back. I know people like to see quilt backs, but I like to cover up that mess! To me -- it's not about the back. So here's your last peak.


Pocket Posies back blog

Here's the back of the finished piece. I printed it first with the pertinent information. The edge has a narrow 1/4" binding.


Pocket Posies front blog
ocket Full of Posies 10" x 7"  ©2014 Martha C. Hall
Mixed media textile collage

TA DA! The finished piece.

You might notice I don't watermark all my work. Honestly, you have to be insane to make this sh** and I don't think anyone else besides me is going to do it. And if you do, well.... good luck. I'm already on to the next idea.

If you like to Pin, that's cool. Please give me artist's credit and link back to my website. Thanks!

Oh, and it's Off The Wall Friday - so check out all the doings over at Nina Marie's!

Now to pack this up and mail it to SAQA before the deadline!

Until next time -




Be Prepared

I'm trying to finish a small piece in time to send it off to the SAQA Trunk Show. As is often the case, I have gotten a late start. Here's where things stand so far. (click on any of the pictures to enlarge)

Select fabricsSelect fabrics


Create backgroundCreate background


Piles of flowersGood thing I have plenty of flowers made already


Stitch leavesI do need to stitch more leaves, though


Audition-flowers-leavesLoosely auditioning the flowers with some leftover leaves from another project


Be PreparedMy motto........          HA! NOT!!

I'll let you know if I get it done on time. In the meantime check out the other blogs over at Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. I bet some of them have actually finished something!

Until next time -

Nine-Pointed Stars

....... or, what to do with all those scraps.

I haven’t done any “Serious” work in the studio lately. Yes, quite facetiously, “Serious” with a capital “S”!

The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year always seems to be a studio lull for me. The biggest difference this year is that I made a decision not to beat myself up about it. Just go with it as it happens same time, every year. I think it’s some combination of colder weather and shorter days.

I did make a batch of oven mitts that I showed in the previous blog post. It was fun making something just for fun!

The other constant I have over the winter months is some kind of small “making” project. At least it's something creative happening until I can get Serious again. And it keeps my hands busy during the evening and helps keep me awake while watching TV. Otherwise I conk out too early!

In the past my winter makings have been origami stars. This year I started on a different star project. I actually started making these to be part of a grander concept – a quilt series I thought of doing. I don’t think I’m going to implement that idea, at least not for now.

Nine pointed star1

But I did start making the 9-pointed stars. These are made from fabric scraps that I’ve saved for so many years it’s not funny. Some are larger remnants of fabric, most are teeny bitty scraps. And I’ve kept them and moved them around numerous times over 40+ years, which is crazy.

Nine pointed star3

The simple reason for the 9-pointed stars is that I like to be different. The number “9” also related to the concept of my imagined series of quilts.

        Nine pointed star2 Nine pointed star5

I know I should toss this stuff, but by now I figured if I’ve saved it this long there must be a reason. I think it’s sentiment. There are scraps from dresses and garments I made when I was young. There are fabrics that were parts of quilts I’ve made. There are leftovers from curtains I made for all those apartments I lived in. Some fabrics came from clothing that I would cut up for quilts. I would shop at rummage sales and buy old clothing for the fabric. One of the fabrics came from a blouse my mother wore – how can I throw that away? Some came from my sister – she made things too and would give me her leftover scraps because she knew I liked making patchwork.

Nine pointed star4

I decided if I had saved the fabric this long then I should use it. The stars are 4” finished, so each star point is pretty small. So I can cut the points out, get as much out of each piece of fabric that I can, then finally, throw away the even smaller scraps. Don’t you know that I am having a hard time throwing away the tinier scraps? But I am (mostly).( And I'm only using my older, vintage fabrics. The stars don't include the more recent savings in my stash!)

Nine pointed star6

Do you recognize any of the fabrics from your own stash or history of sewing?

Nine pointed star7

I don’t know what I will eventually do with these stars. Maybe I will do the “grander series” at some point…. maybe. For now I’m just making them. And somehow they will put to use all the fabric that I’ve saved and toted around all these years. They are a way of keeping hold of some of those sentimental memories.

Until next time -

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