A StoryQuilter and A Magical Kiss Under A Moonlit Magnolia Tree

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

I don’t know if I’m a story-teller who quilts or a quilter who tells stories. I do know that I can’t make a quilt unless it tells a story. There’s just got to be a good story involved.

My friend, Sarah, says I’m a “StoryQuilter.” I like that description. And, although I’m not a traditional quilter I think I’ve finally found my home as a fabric artist. I just discovered SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates. SAQA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development, documentation, and publications. SAQA defines an art quilt as “a creative visual work that is layered and stitched.” I’m pretty sure that’s the direction my work is headed. I may be joining SAQA soon.

I’m working more on art quilts these days; quilts that are framed and hang on a wall. I completed the first in the next old window series, “Southern Magic.”  This first quilt is called “The Midnight Kiss” and it features a full moon, a magnolia tree, southern magic, and true love.  Here’s the story that goes with it:

A Magical Kiss Under a Moonlit Magnolia Tree

I’d just moved into my dream home; a lovingly restored Craftsman-styled bungalow overlooking an exquisite little park near Pensacola Bay. Exhausted from unpacking, I plopped down on the couch, cup of coffee in hand, to read the card left for me by the home’s previous owners.

“Enjoy your new home; it brought us years of joyful living. We hope it does the same for you. Leaving was not easy for us; we’ll never find another home filled with such strong southern magic. Take advantage of the short walk to the water’s edge as often as you can. A walk along Pensacola Bay will always sooth a troubled soul. And when you need a reminder that true love lasts forever be sure to stay up until midnight during the full moon.  The best view of the midnight kiss under the old magnolia tree in the center of the park is from the attic window. Oh how we will miss that magic.”

 I looked out the window and there it was; a bold golden full moon. I sipped my coffee and wondered what I’d see from the attic window at midnight.

What I saw was southern magic in its rarest form…

It began in 1942. America was still mourning the attack of Pearl Harbor. He was a sailor with orders to join the USS      Pensacola, a heavy cruiser later nicknamed the “Grey Ghost” by Tokyo Rose.  She was a nurse, selected to be one of the first women to serve as a Navy Wave.  They were young and in love, and before he left to join his ship he asked her to meet him under the old magnolia tree at midnight. It was a full moon when he got down on one knee and presented her with a ring and his intention to marry her when he returned. She said yes and they kissed, at midnight, under the full moon, under the magnolia tree.  Leaning on his southern heritage, he’d selected that precise place and time to propose because he knew southern magic promised that a kiss under a magnolia tree under a full moon would seal eternal love.

He joined the crew of the USS Pensacola where just a few months later he was counted among the 125 brave men killed in the Battle of Tassafaronga, 30 November 1942.

She never stopped loving him. She never married. She dedicated herself to nursing. She rose through the ranks retiring as an officer with a distinguished career as a Navy Wave, then building a second career caring for veterans in the VA hospital. She lived her final years alone in a cottage near the park, visiting the old magnolia tree often.

It was after her death that the neighbors began to whisper of the ghostly figures kissing under the magnolia tree. All these years later, during the full moon, they still meet at midnight under the magnolia tree for a kiss confirming their eternal love.

At midnight during every full moon I climb the stairs to peek out my attic window, and I know that a magnolia tree touched with a little southern magic really can make true love last forever.

About the Artist: Quilt-maker and storyteller, Gina Maddox, was born with sand between her toes. She resides in Gulf Breeze, FL with a water view from every window of her home. Her quilts always tell a story and reflect the beauty of the Northern Gulf Coast.

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com 

 

 

The Story of the Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Story of the Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail - The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail – The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail - The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail – The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail - The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

Detail – The Midnight Kiss by gulfcoastquilts.com

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Something New: The Day of the Dead

Mexican Folk Art - gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – gulfcoastquilts.com

I never believed I’d be so excited about skulls. Yes, skulls.

One of my longtime favorite shopping haunts is Pottery and Garden Alley where you never know what you’ll find. Owner, Lee, makes multiple trips a year deep into Mexico rummaging through old warehouses and throughout the countryside to find treasures overlooked by others. Lee has an amazing eye for finding precious gems under a seeming pile of junk. She hauls her finds back to the store where her flair for displays delights countless loyal customers. I’ve spent a fair share of my decorating dollars in her store.

Here’s the exciting part. I’ve joined the team as Pottery & Garden Alley‘s lone quilt artist. The first challenge Lee issued to me was, “Make something for our Day of the Dead display.  Make something with skulls; Sugar Skulls are popular.” I realized this wasn’t going to be easy.

Macabre at first glance, the Day of the Dead is actually a charming celebration in Mexico and in other cultures around the world. The holiday focuses on honoring loved ones who have died. Family gatherings, special foods, and cleaning up cemeteries are all part of the festivities. In Mexico, candy treats, extravagantly decorated Sugar Skulls, are offered to the living and the dead. The skull is a common symbol of the holiday. 

There are many collectors of Sugar Skull themed items and Mexican Folk Art. Many shop in Pottery & Garden Alley. My challenge was to study the styles of Mexican Folk Art, add my own touch, and create some tabletop items for the Day of the Dead display. It was a fun challenge and I’m excited to learn more. Below are photos of place mats and a table runner made using applique and thread sketching and featuring Sugar Skulls and the Day of the Dead. Stop by and visit Pottery & Garden Alley if you’re in the Pensacola area!

Mexican Folk Art  - Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

Mexican Folk Art - Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art - Day of the Dead and Tree of Life by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Day of the Dead and Tree of Life by gulfcoastquilts.com

 

 

Mexican Folk Art - Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Mexican Folk Art – Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls by gulfcoastquilts.com

Pink Circles – A Commissioned Baby Quilt

For some reason I keep getting pulled back to one of my first abstract quilt projects, crazy circles. Recently I was commissioned to do one in pink. These are fun and easy to make quilts and you can use up some of your fabric scraps!

Pink Circles - a commissioned baby quilt by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Pink Circles – a commissioned baby quilt by GulfCoastQuilts.com

Celtic Faire 2014

A charity quilt - Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

A charity quilt – Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

I have a dear friend who asked me to make a “Celtic quilt” for a fundraising event. I had no idea what a “Celtic quilt” was so I Googled it. Not much to go on there. I went back and asked her what she had in mind. Her reply: “Maybe some Celtic knots? Celtic crosses?” I loved her answer because it pretty much meant I could do anything I wanted to do. I LOVE that freedom.

I jumped on Pinterest, did a few image searches on my favorite online sources, and concluded there was nothing to “copy” so I’d just have to make it up on my own. I decided to collide two worlds; Celtic knots and crosses with batik fabric. It was an odd combination but when I added the third piece, a black background, I discovered a beautiful stained glass effect.

My friend should receive “Celtic Faire 2014” in the mail tomorrow. We named the quilt after the fundraising event it will support, I hope they fetch a good price for it.

As I worked I was inspired by cold, gray rainy days, hot tea, and a steady supply of Celtic music; Enya, the Chieftains, Celtic Thunder and more. Although the photos don’t clearly show the detail, I quilted the center section with a zillion little spirals, a common Celtic design. I hope to make another Celtic-themed quilt because I learned some valuable lessons on this one.

My biggest regret was using variegated thread on a solid black background. I should have stuck with black thread but it was really hard to see black on black. Sadly, I just don’t like the final look of the variegated thread but I was too far into the quilting to stop by the time I decided I didn’t like it. It looks great up close but not so great from a distance.  New rule for me: Only use variegated thread on patterned fabric. Second new rule: Work more with batiks! I love the batiks. I need to find a good, low cost supplier for batiks. I’d love to hear where YOU get your batik fabric, please?

So, Celtic Faire 2014 is done and I’m onto my next project, a “Mexican Folk Art Tree of Life” design for a friend with a fabulous little Mexican pottery store. Yes, it’s back to Pinterest and image searches for me! Happy quilting to you!

A charity quilt - Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

I used scraps to create the Celtic Cross. A charity quilt – Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

Here are some more photos and details:

A charity quilt - Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

A charity quilt – Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

A charity quilt - Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

A charity quilt – Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

A charity quilt - Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

A charity quilt – Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

Celtic Knot Block - A charity quilt - Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

Celtic Knot Block – A charity quilt – Celtic Faire 2014 by gulfcoastquilts.com

The Tran-Quilt-ity Series

Living along the Gulf Coast provides ample opportunity for a peaceful walk along the sugar white beaches of NW Florida or a serene stroll through nature at any one of our Gulf Islands National Seashore Parks. Tranquility is easy to find here for most of us.

But then there’s my best friend.

Last week she was celebrating a birthday and I wanted to find the perfect gift for her. I thought about what she needed and concluded she simply needed more tranquility in her life.  She’s a first class worrier but I just couldn’t find a gift that would help her stop worrying. I wanted her next year to be filled with tranquility but I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.

Tranquility:  a disposition free from stress or emotion, an untroubled state, a state of peace and quiet, serenity, placidity, repose, quiet, calm, calmness, composure, peace of mind, an absence of agitation or excitement, an absence of tension or worry.

Because I couldn’t give my friend the gift of actual tranquility I opted to make a special quilt for her that might, at least, inspire more tranquility in her life. I created a new word and a new series of quilts.

Tran-Quilt-ity: the state of peaceful napping, sleeping or relaxing under a handmade quilt made by someone who cares for you, values you, and has only well wishes for you.

I rummaged through my stash for fabric that matched the earthy colors in her home and her self-described decorating style of “contemporary with an Asian influence.” It took three tries before I finally created the quilt I wanted just for her. I call these three quilts “The Tran-Quilt-ity Series.”

The first one is named, “Seeking Peace.”

The TranQuilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

The TranQuilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

tranq7

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted for my friend so I kept trying.

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by gulfcoastquilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by gulfcoastquilts.com

The second try started to look more like I wanted it to look but the message just wasn’t working. I had to be more direct with my words. Below are photos of the final version and my friend loved it. I think I’ll make a few more in this series.

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

tranq12 tranq14

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

From the Tran-Quilt-ity Series by GulfCoastQuilts.com

The Pink Heart Series

So, I found this great deal on some bright pink decorator fabric. I brought the rolls of fabric home and wondered what to do with it. Pink! It just screamed PINK HEARTS! So, I bring you the “Pink Heart Series” of quilts named, “Blended Hearts,” “Mended Hearts” and “Pink & Perky.” The quilt tops are done. Next step…press them, put them together and quilt them! I’ll post the final projects when I’m done! (The finished quilts are pictured below!)

Found these great leftover designer fabrics!

Found these great leftover designer fabrics!

Three Pink Heart Quilts named, "Blended Hearts," "Mended Hearts," and "Pink & Perky."

Three Pink Heart Quilts named, “Blended Hearts,” “Mended Hearts,” and “Pink & Perky.”

The first one is done! Here is “Mended Hearts.”

"Mended Hearts" is the smallest of the Pink Heart series of quilts measuring 35" wide by 47" high. This quilt is very thick with double batting. Very warm and good to throw on the floor for a baby quilt, too.

“Mended Hearts” is the smallest of the Pink Heart series of quilts measuring 35″ wide by 47″ high. This quilt is very thick with double batting. Very warm and good to throw on the floor for a baby quilt, too.

Mended Hearts - 35" x 47" with dbl batting for extra thickness.

Mended Hearts – 35″ x 47″ with dbl batting for extra thickness.

"Blended Hearts" quilt by GulfCoastQuilts.com 41" x 53" For Sale $145

“Blended Hearts” quilt by GulfCoastQuilts.com 41″ x 53″ For Sale $145

"Pink & Perky" from the Pink Hearts series by GulfCoastQuilts.com  40" x 52" For Sale: $150

“Pink & Perky” from the Pink Hearts series by GulfCoastQuilts.com
40″ x 52″ For Sale: $150

Fabulous Fabric & An Unbelievable Deal!

I found a bin of unloved fabric and fell in love with some of it. I got a great deal – two bucks a yard – on the decorator fabric if I bought the entire remains of the role. Here is what I bought:

Designer fabric for two bucks a yard!

Designer fabric for two bucks a yard!

Then, I dug through my scraps to see what matched.

Rummaged through the scraps to find a match.

Rummaged through the scraps to find a match.

Then, I started sewing circles and making quilts. I have the first of three ready to be quilted – that’s tomorrow’s project. I wonder if I can sell them? I’ve never sold a quilt before; I’ve always given them to family and friends, or donated them to charities for fund-raising events.

Appliqued blue and turquoise circles.

Appliqued blue and turquoise circles.

Quartered and rearranged.

Quartered and rearranged.

I made a few crazy abstract circles.

I made a few crazy abstract circles.

Blue circles ready for quilting.

Blue circles ready for quilting.

I have three quilt tops ready to go. Inspired by the beautiful blues and turquoises of the Gulf of Mexico they are named Coastal Curls, Surf Circles, and Ripples in the Gulf.

Finished the first of a series of three quilts - this one is named "Surf Circles."

Finished the first of a series of three quilts – this one is named “Surf Circles.”

"Surf Circles" quilt by Gulf Coast Quilts

“Surf Circles” quilt by Gulf Coast Quilts

Next to be quilted, "Ripples in the Gulf."

Next to be quilted, “Ripples in the Gulf.”

The next project will be from the other fabric I nabbed at two bucks a yard! I wonder what I’ll do with it? Here it is:

Found these great leftover designer fabrics!

Found these great leftover designer fabrics!