Thursday, October 13, 2011

Secret Crush: Part 2

I have already admitted my secret crush for Dear Jane on this blog, and I have another crush confession.

This time, it's for Baltimore Album quilts.

This photo is from the Maryland Historical Society
There is just something about the intense, pretty detail that I really, really respond to.

It doesn't surprise me. I've always loved things like this. It's become even more clear to me that I really love stuff like this when I consider things I have saved from various stages in my life. 

When I was a kid, my grandmother had a house at the beach. She sold it when I was 10 or 11, and I was heartbroken because I loved going to the beach. Given that she lived in Iowa, I can understand why she sold her Oregon beach house, but the younger me didn't quite understand it.

She let the family pick things they wanted from the house, and the thing I wanted most was two set of identical card decks. I wanted them because I loved the illustrations.

You'll notice that all of the spade cards have an evil feel to them. I used to use these cards like dolls, and had elaborate stories that went along with them. The king of clubs or diamonds was usually the "dad" in these scenarios.

The queen of spades was obviously evil. The queen of diamonds was the mom, and the queen of hearts was the princess. 

The jacks where a little problematic, because none of them where really the sort of beefcake prince that Disney lead me to expect. The jack of clubs would do in a pinch, but I wasn't really into the mustache. 

The cards themselves where from a German company called Altenburg-Stralsunder, which somehow turns into the unfortunate (in english) abbreviation of ASS.  As a kid, the 10 of clubs with ASS written on it was the height of comedy.

These cards don't really have much to do with Baltimore Album quilts, but I put them in sort of the same category of detailed prettiness. 

I've been looking at a lot of Baltimore Album quilts lately, because I want to make one of my own. I've never done any serious applique before, but I'm ready for the challenge.  

I've started sketching blocks that I want to use, and some are more original than others.

It started with a basic quick sketch.

Which I then refined.

And then refined them some more.

From here, I started to put the pieces of one of the blocks together in Illustrator, and got this:

I don't hate it, but I like the sketch much better. I don't like the shapes of the leaves, and I think the strict geometry of the flowers makes them lose a little bit of the charm of the sketches. What I think I'm going to do next is go back to pencil and paper, and make a more detailed sketch with better leaves, and then recreate that, rather than trying to put everything together with copy/paste in Illustrator. It will be more work overall, but I think it will look nicer if the blocks have a more "hand-drawn" quality, rather than a more stylized computer look to them.


smazoochie said...

There is some sort of something about those old applique patterns, isn't there? I saw a blog (be*mused, I think) that showed Ohio album blocks -- a little less refined than the Baltimore ones.
The cards are gorgeous. My Mom collected postcards & lots of them were German. I think the artist of your Kings and Queens may be Schmucker.

Suz said...

Lovely, lovely blocks. I agree that the computer version doesn't quite capture the organicness of your hand sketches. If you decide to do a "baltimore-along" I'm keen. That whole one block a month thing makes it much more achieveable. And would this be a solid or a prints type of project?