Thursday, April 9, 2009

Unexpected tool for quilting: your digital camera

I love my itty bitty digital camera. It goes with me where ever I go. I especially like to take it with me to quilt shows to take photos of quilts that I really like, or ones with interesting techniques, or composition, or color combinations.
Inspiration photo and finished quilt "Plaid Poppies" But my favorite subject for picture taking is flowers. Sometimes, I take photos of ones that I grow myself, but other times my photos are of ones I see when I visit botanical gardens. A big advantage of being a traveling quilt teacher is that sometimes I get to go early or stay a day or two after my engagement ends to see the sights.
Among the many gardens I've have the privilege of visiting are Reiman Gardens and Butterfly House located on the Iowa State University Campus, New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, Chicago Botanic Gardens, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Winterthur Museum and Country Estates in Delaware, but my all-time favorite Botanical Garden is Longwood Gardens located between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware. Longwood Gardens has the most spectacular Orchid House you could possibly imagine. With nearly 200 different varieties in bloom year-round, the glorious fragrance that greets you as you walk in the door is one of the most amazing things I think I've ever experienced. If you travel to the Philadelphia area, Longwood Gardens is a must-see, in my opinion. There are lots of things going on there year-round, but I think late spring or early fall has got to be the best!
Flowers find their way into my quilts almost without trying. Beside making great applique subjects, flower can provide color scheme ideas, shapes and symmetry ideas. Here are some examples of how I've used flowers in my quilts:
The photo of real tulips was taken in my kitchen. The vase was hand made by my Dad's cousin Bob Reusser from clay taken from the Deer Creek near my home town. The quilt is "Yellow Tulips in Blue" and is made using my string-pieced applique technique.
Sunflowers were the inspiration for my Precision Piecing class sample, "Pride of the Prairie. And then there's "Pots of Flowers".... Well, you get the 'picture'! (Pun intended!)


  1. Hi Elsie
    I saw your show on TQS, and then I read the transcript from the TQS chat. I'm very interested in learning more about your string pieced applique method. I love your plaid poppies and your blue tulips!

  2. I'll be teaching it a 5 different venues this summer. Check out my calendar, maybe you can find one of the shows/guilds that is near enough that you could take the workshop. The book should be released in October.