Storts Market

by Lesley Storts


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Pincushion Pal

While on the constant hunt for glass through thrifting and antiquing, I find all kinds of interesting and unique pieces. At times, I do not even know the intended purpose of a piece. I buy unusual pieces with the thought that I may use it eventually. The ceramic glass that inspired the pincushion pal was purchased within the last couple of years and I had it for many months before deciding what to do with it.

Lucy and I thought it might be fun to create a little caddy that could be used for handwork. I mocked one up with the original glass.

After creating the pincushion and many discussions, Lucy and I thought this was a great addition to the pincushions we make so I started hunting for more glass pieces like this. While searching, I finally discovered the origin of the piece. The three holed ceramic dish is the base of a condiment set for a jelly jar and salt & pepper. I searched and found some whole sets on Ebay. I bought one but the base broke during shipping so I only have the jelly jar and salt & pepper.

The antique ceramic pieces have “Made in Japan” or “Made in Occupied Japan” stamped on the bottom. The history behind that stamp and its meaning can be found in this article by The Mercury News. I found another one that is similar but not exactly like the base we had. I realized while searching Ebay, that it was going to be difficult and financially unreasonable to buy the sets and only use the bases.

I started wondering if I could have a ceramic mold made similar to the original. Over the years I have taken my kids to ceramic shops to paint their own ceramic pieces and then have them fired to a finish. I knew that the pieces were made in a mold. I started calling around and after many calls ended up talking with the owner of a local ceramic shop who told me he works with an artist who crafts the molds by hand. Once the mold was completed, the team in the ceramics shop made the pincushion pal using the mold and various glazes picked out by us. It has been a lot of fun to learn about ceramics, see the mold get created then used to make many pincushion bases. This process took months!

When I brought the pincushion pal bases home, I let them sit around for a while. I enjoyed picking them up, feeling the smooth finish and admiring the intense glaze colors Lucy and I had picked out for them. When I started pulling fabric it was a little overwhelming but exciting! As a long time quilting fabric collector and enthusiast, I started contemplating exactly what I wanted for each of the pieces. Match the fabric to the glass? Look for a small element of color in a particular fabric and use it to highlight the glass? So many choices!

One important aspect of the glass was making sure the secondary holes were big enough to seat a large Aurifil spool. I use Gutterman for a lot of my hand piecing and I knew that spool would fit. However, a lot of sewers use Aurifil and making sure that the larger spool would fit was an important element. The ceramic shop employees (I’m pretty sure it’s just Christine ;-)) specifically finish the bases by hand so the Aurifil thread spool will fit.

I am excited to continue making these pincushions and have them available for quilters, sewers, and crafters.

Happy quilting and sewing! ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎


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Pincushions and Hiking – What they have in common

My family and I went hiking and camping this past weekend. We decided to visit, for the first time, Brandywine Falls, then drive south and camp at Mohican state park. I’ve camped and hiked in Ohio many times. After so many hikes, I sometimes wonder if there really is something new to see here where I live. We were delighted with the beauty of the hike, campground and the surrounding area. It was good to get away and have a new experience.

I was thinking about our camping trip and comparing it to making pincushions. There is joy in the familiar as well as excitement in the new and undiscovered. In hiking, that can be an interesting bridge, a scenic view of a river, or a waterfall.

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»Collecting Buttons«

Buttons. A necessary sewing and clothing accessory but probably not something most people think about. As a quilter, I rarely made anything with buttons prior to making pincushions. Once Lucy and I started making pincushions, we became very interested in buttons. We have built our button stash buying at big box craft and sewing stores, antiquing, thrifting, garage sales, and eBay.

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»Patty Young Fabric and Pincushions«

My latest batch of pincushions was made using Patty Young‘s fabric line, Lucy’s Garden, by Riley Blake Designs. In an Instagram post, Patty talked about her inspiration for this colorful line. I realized after reading about Patty’s inspiration, that there is a definite ‘art deco’ feel to the prints in this fabric. That element is so appealing to me and probably one reason I really like this line. In addition, I have a daughter named Lucy who was named after 2 grandmothers – so I really like that name.

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»Robin Pickens Fabric and Pincushions«

Fabric designer and quilt pattern maker Robin Pickens has created several lines of fabric with Moda Fabrics. I used fabric from Painted Meadow, Dandi Annie, and Dear Mum to create this batch of pincushions.

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»Sharon Holland Floral Print in Reclaimed Glass Pincushion«

Reclaim – to retrieve or recover

When Lucy and I first started making pincushions, we frequented many antique shops hunting for just the right salt cellars. Over time, we started noticing other small dishes and finally ventured into different pieces to test if they would work. Ashtrays are a very common find. Some of the ashtrays we have found are made in beautiful patterns with interesting glass. Reclaiming and repurposing the glass spurs our imaginations and provides inspiration for creating.

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»Pincushions in Salt Cellars«

My adventure into making pincushions was not planned. I entered a quilt in the National Quilting Association’s (NQA) quilt show several years ago. While there, I was browsing through the vendors and came upon salt cellar pincushions. I was smitten. I bought 3, one for me and each of my daughters. The little salt cellar dishes are unique and charming. I wanted to make them and told my daughter, Lucy, that we should try to make them together. We live in the midwest and there is an abundance of antique stores here giving us ample opportunity to look for old glass. The following summer, after collecting some glass salt cellars, Lucy set out to make the pincushions. She had recently had ankle surgery and was non-weight bearing and looking for something to do because she was bored. She did an amazing job troubleshooting the pincushions. I had a basic idea of how to make them, but she perfected it! Several years and a thousand+ pincushions later, we still love making them – it’s so much fun! I’m a quilter, but now I feel like I’m a pincushion artist too. We have expanded the pincushion containers beyond the salt cellars, but salt cellars are how we started and still my favorite base to use in making the pincushions.

The books pictured above, The Open Salt Compendium and 5,000 Open Salts, A Collector’s Guide, catalog a large variety of salts and include the manufacturer and date of production. Another reference is Salty Comments which was written from 1984-2005 by Ed and Kay Berg. Their early newsletters were written on a typewriter and pictures of salt cellars were hand drawn.

Our process of sewing on a button with matching thread and creating a custom crystal and glass beaded pin gives each pincushion their own personality and appeal. My pincushion journey includes hunting for glass and looking for just the right fabric, or cut of fabric, to make the pincushions. I have met a lot of interesting people and learned so much along the way. I am sure I will continue enjoying the whole process.

Happy Crafting and Quilting! ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎


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»Suzy Ultman Salt Cellar Pincushions«

The hunt for fabric to make salt cellar pincushions is always fun! When I spotted Suzy’s fabric at my LQS, Sew to Speak, I knew it would probably be a favorite.
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Suzy Ultman’s has such a fun style with her art and creations! The prints from Suzy’s Minis 2 are perfect for salt cellar pincushions because of their petite scale.

Another enjoyable part of the process was picking out accessories including buttons and creating the custom crystal bead pins. These little popsicles needed a very small button! I call it a micro button. I’ve had these in my stash for a long time and never really thought I’d use them.
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The term “cuteness overload”  is not an exaggeration with these prints!

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If you are interested in a pincushion, visit my Etsy shop! And keep up to date with pincushion progress on my IG @lesleystorts.

Happy Quilting! ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎


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»Pins and Needles Craft Swap«

A couple of months ago I saw a swap on Instagram for pincushions and it did not take me long – about 3 minutes – to make the decision to participate. My pincushion pal and daughter, Lucy @sew.lucy, decided to join too. What a great decision! We both made pincushions that were totally new to us and had a great time doing it.

Living with a person who loves fabric and quilting crafts as much as I do is a huge bonus! She gave me a lot of feedback about my pincushion and made the saltcellar pincushion that I gave to my recipient. I helped her make her pincushion and we both learned a lot along the way.

Lucy made the carry-all pincushion by Anna Graham of @noodlehead. Her instructions were clearly written, easy to follow and allowed us to successfully create a beautiful pincushion for Lucy’s partner.

I have been cleaning out and organizing all different parts of my house since the late winter. In combing through the quilting supplies, I stumbled upon a pattern by Carrie Nelson that I bought some time ago and decided to use it for my pincushion. I had so much fun that I now have a favorite new quilt block – the log cabin.

Both of our partners stated that they love a lot of color. Tula Pink fabric provided a great palette for making our creations. Lucy made a special pincushion from the blue Swim Team Winham fabric since her partner is a swimmer. Packages were mailed off today! Hopefully our partners love their gifts as much as we did creating them 🙂

Happy Quilting ▶︎ ▶︎ ▶︎