Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Edited Life: Seventeen Quilts

Something More Magical than it Ever Was  1991  re-purposed family clothing and silk, traditional dark and light log cabin arrangement quilt, hand quilted,by Judith e Martin  90 inches square
The first quilt, Something More Magical Than It Ever Was (shown above) in this edited life story was completed the same year I turned 40.  It is a memory quilt about the early years of our marriage.  The traditional dark and light arrangement of the log cabin pattern reminds us that we need both darkness and light in order to grow, just like a seed does.

Quilt 2:  In the Centre of the Body is the Soul.  The first quilt that I started after our move to Manitoulin in 1993.  It was on Manitoulin that I learned that hand embroidery adds emotional power to the surfaces of my quilts.   Go here for image.

Quilt 3;  I began a series of Velvet Journals in the late 90's.  The idea behind them was that all of us present ourselves to the world, but that our inner self is more interesting and  true.  These ideas continue to surface in my current work. This particular piece is entitled The Rescuer because art critic Lucy Lippard once wrote that quilt makers rescue a woman's life from oblivian. Click here for the front and here for the back of this quilt.  The piece is English Paper Pieced with hand written journal pages and magazine papers.

With Quilt 4, I marked the turn of the millennium with the Millennium Journal Project.
Millennium Jounral (84 days shown of 850) a record of the turn of the millennium in personal code of symbols, 2001 by Judy Martin
For each day between November 1998 and February 2001 I recorded the weather and what I did each day with a code of personal symbols.  I represented my four children with coloured triangles.  Green for Oona, Blue for Jay, Pink for Grace and Multi-Coloured for April.  Those colours seemed to get truer and truer as the kids get older.

Quilt 5:  I began a series of three Amish -style Diamond in Square quilts during the climate of fear that took over the world after September 11, 2001.  Each Stitch is a Prayer (here) was completed in 2003 and was the first of the Protection Blanket series.  Ned and I currently use it on our bed.
War Diary (detail of volume two shown)  2003, set of two cloth books.  A record of 180 TV headlines days during the build up to the invasion of Iraq by Judith e Martin
Quilt 6 is not a quilt actually, but two cloth books.  War Diaries.  Each book holds 90 days (ten 9-patch pages).  Black paper is stitched to each patch and contains the headline of the daily news during the build up to war and concerns about weapons of mass destruction (detail shown above).  Also in each of the books is personal journal text that shows how normal families had to just keep going on.  Two more details of volume two are on my website here and here.

Quilt 7:  Protection Blanket.  Another of the Amish quilts, this one employs sequins to reflect the bad energy as is done in many world cultures.  See here.

Wrapped Form 2008 by Judith e Martin
Quilt 8:  Not a quilt but two bundles, one of which is shown above.  I began wrapping just after my mother died in 2007 and still continue to explore the feeling of well being that repetitive wrapping gives. Not only the baby or the sore finger or leg being wrapped feels comfort, but also the person who is doing the wrapping.  The second bundle can be seen here.
left: self hug 2015 , right: red  sweater 2008, silk hand embroidery on Vintage linen pillowcase by Judith e Martin
Quilt 9:  shown above.  Not a quilt but two embroidered pillow cases.  Wrapping myself in a favourite garment makes me feel better.
Twenty Four Hour Care  2010  cotton and velvet quilt, hand stitched by Judith e Martin  78 " square
Quilt 10:  Making this traditional quilt was healing for me after the loss of my mother, the title reflects the amount of care that she needed for quite a long time.  Ned and I add this one to our bed in the winter.  Twenty Four Hour Care - shown above.

Quilt 11;  Canadian Pioneer.  With this piece, I look back on what it must have been like for my settler anscestors to come to Canada and make a life.   See here.

Quilt 12;  Lake.  The aesthetic of simplicity occurs in my newer work.  I am consciously trying to reflect the awesome sky and water that is my daily view.  I want to make art that gives the feeling of being alone in nature.   This piece is from 2014 and can be seen here.

Quilt 13:  Turning the Air to Cloth and Above Us , a two sided quilt.  Both sides are the right side. Completed in 2015, this quilt is covered and quilted with hand embroidery.  See here and here.
In progress quilt top made 2015 by Judith e Martin, cotton, silk and light weight wool false starts gathered up  80" x 90"
Quilt 14:  At the end of 2015 I gathered up my life so far and pieced it together into the quilt top shown above. Why? you may ask. It does not follow the ideas of simplicity that I want to put into my new work, but instead used up many unfinished pieces, clearing a way.  I think of this as a break-through piece  that helped me find a path to simplification.
In progress quilt with big stitch quilting, Judith e Martin 2016
I'm quilting it with a gauze batting inbetween the pieced top and a silk back.  I'm using perle cotton to stitch multi coloured running stitches horizontally across everything.
Portfolio of Sketches for 90 inch quilts, (Large Emptiness, Small Marks)  36 sketches in hand stitched folder, 13"x13"x 3"   2016 by Judith e Martin
Quilt 15:   Not a quilt but a Portfolio of Sketches (above).  I want to make large square stitched textiles of pared down imagery that allow for contemplation of space and this portfolio holds 36 ideas.  see here

Quilt 16:  untitled in progress, 120 inch square silk quilt completely hand stitched with embroidery - shown here.
Female Figurine / Moon Cloth  2016 by Judith e Martin  Hand stitched indigo dyed wool, human sized

Quilt 17:  The final piece is also not a quilt`and is shown above.  Moon Cloth.   Worked from the inside, displayed like a vessel or ancient goddess figure - it rotates back and forth with the slightest breeze.

Apologies to regular readers of this blog, all works have appeared on the blog before over the years. I write this entry because on Friday, a women's group came to my home and I showed them these seventeen pieces primarily because they were what are in our cupboard.  Every time I speak about my work, the story becomes more fine tuned.


  1. Thanks for sharing your work with us. It is always so inspiring.

  2. I find your work inspiring and always love having another chance to see the pieces in a different way. I hope you are feeling better.


  3. it's BeautyFull to see them presented this way, to read the words
    Thank you...and yes. You must be on the mend.

  4. Gosh, what a great post (((Judy))) stitching your way through the thicks and thins of life!

  5. Thanks for the trunk show! Even if some of your followers have seen these before it is always a pleasure! I especially like that first photo- log cabin! And applause to you - giving a presentation with your leg trouble!

  6. It didn't seem as if I could cancel out - as these women had planned a visit to Manitoulin as their year end celebration, and I was just part of it. Ned helped me get things ready - they all sat in our sunken living room, and two of them pulled quilts from the cupboard where they had been placed in order and displayed them on the sofa. I sat behind the banister where everyone could see me. It is easy to speak about my work - I know all about it.

    Also Mariana had come over on the Wednesday before and helped to edit the pieces down to just 17. She has a good eye and gave me confidence that everything was going to be fantastic - that there was a lot to see and that it shouldn't be longer than an hour.

    They were here for about an hour and a half. Both ned and I had 3 hour naps afterwards, but it was in all, a good experience.


  7. Seeing it all together is amazing, what a gorgeous body of work ... I am always in awe... thank you... x

  8. Just wanted to say thank you for this and all your posts...I am a fine artist and find them inspiring..I love your work.
    Also wanted to say how much I was saddened by your recent post about being in hospital and disliking your body so really touched me. I'm hoping that you find that your work and your body find Space to feel beautiful together.

  9. i had seen a few of them before, but it was great to Show them collected in one post. wonderful samples of your work!

    i just read about your broken leg - i hope it is on the mend and i´m sending you healing vibrations. take care!

  10. Makes me wish I had learned to quilt with my grandmother as a child. She took out my stitches after I did them, so I didn't continue. (She didn't know it hurt me).
    I am always in awe of your work and glad to see the gathering here. Take good care of yourself..

  11. Judy, thanks for your response/ explanation in the comment section. I think having the group participate and help hold up quilts etc gave then a sense of belonging and it was probably more fun for the group! So it all worked out in the end. Isn't it always the case. One gets worried for nothing because in the end it all falls into place. My new tagline: Be Happy Don't Worry.
    Keep getting better, friend.


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx