Friday, February 5, 2016

Modern Merritt

Inspiration for our 2016 MQG charity quilt comes from something we hold dear in Connecticut. It all started  in the 1930ś when the state bigwigs decided that a new parkway was needed to alleviate the traffic congestion on the main travelling road in and out of the state.  Out of this was born the Merritt Parkway, a unique roadway created in the countryside of Connecticut. Travelling down this road, one is struck by the singular beauty of each art-deco bridge against lush natural backdrop.

For those of us living in Connecticut, the Merritt is more than an aesthetically pleasing parkway. We travel under, over, and through the bridges of this roadway on a weekly if not a daily basis. These bridges connect us to work, to schools, to visits with friends, to shopping, and even to our Saturday morning quilt meetings. They help us get where we need to go and are an intrinsic part of the fabric of life in CT. So what better symbol of inspiration for a modern improv quilt than bridges that connect us, and that push us forward(in this case, in our quilting)? This is where the intent for our ¨Modern Merritt" quilt was born.
1.  VIEW OF BURR STREET BRIDGE FROM EMBANKMENT. - Merritt Parkway, Burr Street Bridge, Spanning Merritt Parkway, Fairfield, Fairfield County, CT
Burr Road Bridge from the Library of Congress archives
Now that we had our inspiration, we could begin to think about what Improv with Intent would look like. It was the first time for several of us to try our hand at Improv and our member Lori Hashizume showed us her process and what she made based on one of her favorite bridges. This intro gave us the impetus and understanding to go forward with our own process within certain guidelines. Our guild decided to stick with the red, yellow, blue, white and black solids. Two prints were introduced but each individual could only pick one to incorporate into her block. Lastly, rotary cutters were banned and scissors were to be our new best friend.
Getting schooled in improv with intent with Lori
Using these guidelines, we were to pick one or two bridges to become our inspiration. We could try to depict the whole bridge or certain architectual details.  Many picked the bridges they used the most, while others picked the ones their eyes fancied. Our members sketched their ideas or used photos for their blocks. They all held special meaning for one reason or another.
The bridge our member Jennifer Greely traveled over for 2 1/2 years to take her daughter to school. 
In October, everyone returned with the colorful snapshots of their favorite bridges.  Our next step was to decide how to organize them in a modern improvised way.

Because of time constraints, two additional meetings were added to the calendar to arrange the blocks and sew them together. Thanks to Jennifer Greely for the use of her home and sewing room!  From the first gathering came these two early iterations of the blocks against neutral backgrounds.

These iterations just didn´t have the feel we wanted. Then Fate stepped in, in the form of a visit to a museum by Lori, and brought further inspiration. This Stuart Davis painting immediately caught her eye and made her think of our art-deco modern bridge quilt. Instead of using a neutral background, red would prevail. Now the sewing could begin!

Christine and Maybeth putting blocks together
In December, the finished top and back were revealed to the guild. It was then off to our very own in-house SCQMG long armer Cheryl Kirk.  

We couldn´t be more pleased with how our Modern Merritt has turned out. We will decide which charity to donate it to when it returns to us. We are also pretty sure we will have to travel down the Merritt Parkway to deposit it to the lucky charity whose home is in Connecticut. We will cross that bridge when the time comes.