In early December, I had the opportunity to teach a pincushion workshop to a group of quilters from the Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild. I have wanted to teach a workshop for a long time.
It is important to me to have each class participant leave with a finished product. I determined that a lot of prep was necessary in order for a maker to take a completed pincushion home. One of the challenges of making a finished pincushion is the long drying time for glue. In order to accommodate that, I offered colored ceramic vessels that could be prepped prior to class. Additionally, working with a vessel that is a little larger than a traditional salt cellar is helpful when learning how to make pincushions. And as a bonus, the variety of colored ceramic dishes made matching fabrics an enjoyable process.
As participants worked through the process, I was able to help them troubleshoot a variety of issues. I enjoy teaching and was happy to have an opportunity to share tips that I have learned over the years. I am looking forward to teaching again! Thank you Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild for inviting me to be a part of your group for the day.
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.
Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. creates beautiful art! The combination of salt cellars, antique glass and other unique vessels combined with Anna’s fabric created a colorful batch of pincushions to enjoy while sewing.
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.
Do you remember ever having a misperception about something? An experience or a phrase? My uncle thought “chest of drawers” was “chester drawers”. Or misheard lyrics – some of those are really funny! I enjoy having conversations with family and friends and discussing things we have all misunderstood at times. The Jet Trails quilt is about childhood and a misperception.
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.
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.
Q: Favorite Color?
A: Green (but orange is my secret favorite – I’ve just loved green so long that it’s hard to know if it’s replaceable)
Q: Name you favorite quilt?
A: Hmmmm…depends on the project or season
Q: Name the quilt that gives you the most utility?
A: Easy…a yellow and white quilt my mom gave me 15-20 years ago. It’s lives on my bed or the chair in my room. It was perfect for covering kids when they “stopped by” for the night or to take in the car. This yellow and white quilt has been washed repeatedly and is snuggly and soft. It was never intended to be my favorite, but it just might be because of all the use I have gotten out of it. This quilt was pieced from leftovers and given to me by my mom because she did not need another quilt hanging around. I adore this quilt! I love the connection it gives me to my mom and the utility it provides.
Yellow and White Quilt with a camera shy Benson
After many years of using the yellow and white quilt, I decided to make a pattern so that I could make this quilt for friends and family. One aspect of the quilt that I really like is the size and how it is accommodating for so many different uses. It measures approximately 47″ x 56″.
Adored quilt with Kona Tiger Lily, Carolyn Friedlander Snake in Ash and a variety of Denyse Schmidt prints.
The pattern is available in the November/December 2018 edition of Modern Patchwork.
Mille definition — “thousand” Fiori definition — “flowered”
When I was first exposed to the Millefiori Quilt pattern by Willyne Hammerstein, I was amazed by the process and outcome. I had never heard the word millefiori and did not take time to stop and think about it’s meaning. I was too captivated by the quilts and all of the possibilities.
Blocks made by Lesley Storts
This past spring I visited the Chicago Art Institute and walked into the glass paperweight exhibit. I was amazed and awestruck. And then I saw that word again – Millefiore…that was the beginning of my quest to understand what it meant.
Glass paperweight from exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The word millefiore, which translates to thousand flowered, originates with glass making in Italy from the 18th century. On their website, millefioribeads.org, the authors state that mosaic beads date back much further than that to the 7th or 8th century. A quick Pinterest search of the word millefiori will show quilts, jewelry and paperweights. So many mediums with which to experience this beautiful art – glass, clay, and fabric! As I was touring the paperweight exhibit, it dawned on me that Kaffe Fassett’s fabric, Paperweight, is inspired by this beautiful art.
Paperweight Fabric by Kaffe Fassett
As a bonus to learning all of this information, I recently found out that a friend of mine is associated with a local glass studio, Glass Axis. He invited me on a tour of the studio to see various methods of creating with glass. The day we went, there happened to be an artist working on blowing glass. It was an intriguing process to watch. The entire studio was full of inspiration! I went home to research the process a little more. The following 5 minute YouTube video of glass making shows this intricate and mesmerizing process.
I now have a better understanding of the inspiration behind the the millefiori quilts. As a quilter, I believe that inspiration can be found everywhere and learning about the millefiori glass paperweights once again confirms this belief. The plan for my millefiori quilt is to make each rosette focused on one color so that when they are all joined together, they feel distinct. I see paperweights with multi colors but I also see them restrained to smaller color palettes. The variance of options creates endless ideas for quilts.
I enjoy looking for paperweights when I antique. I found this beauty for $3 which is a bargain!