Good morning, my friends. Finally...it's the reveal for the quilt generated from the "Maps" prompt. I call my quilt "Full Circle," and here it is:
I've adjusted the brightness and contrast a little to make the thread drawings visible. It won't make a lot of sense until you read my rather lengthy quilt tour below. I suggest filling your cup with whatever you’re drinking, and then we'll get started.
This prompt had me going off in all directions (maybe there's a pun there). I considered road maps, star maps, weather maps, and more. In my online wandering, I came across a term I'd not heard before: "Mind mapping." You can click on that link for more information, but in a nutshell...
"Mind maps provide a structured way to capture and organize ideas and information. They help users to understand concepts by breaking them down into their component parts. The technique is used to develop new ideas, or to break down and better understand existing information. Mind mapping is a powerful technique to help you visually develop and organize ideas and information."
Here is an example in visual form:
It was left over from a quilt back I made at the request of a Marine Corps veteran friend. It reminded me of a theme central to my self-identity: that of being a Marine Corps brat. From that starting place, the ideas flowed, and I got very excited about making this quilt. (You know you're onto something when you get that feeling.)
You can think of this quilt as an autobiography in six chapters. Actually, it is an autobiography in six quilt blocks. I'll admit to being a little sheepish about writing this long post about my growing-up years. No hard feelings if you don't feel like reading it, but it's the only way I have to make sense of the quilt. If you'd rather skip the "fluff," you can read the abridged version of my post (without family pictures and accompanying stories) on The Endeavourers website right here.
Still with me? Okay. It was a simple concept: Put the Marine Corps fabric in the quilt's center, and then surround it with blocks from the states where I'd lived while growing up. Taking the idea further, I decided to quilt it with "thread drawings" of some unique personal memories of each place. So, let's talk about the quilt. It started with the center block, which is the main topic of this mind-mapping exercise. I added three borders to bring it to the size I wanted.
The nomadic lifestyle of the military brat means lots of road trips. And I guess that makes it appropriate for the prompt in a different way. A road trip requires a map, and at the time we were traveling, paper maps were the only choice. I loved that part of our life. For the quilting on this block, I added this motif. I suppose it has a name, but to my eye, it looks like tire tracks.
Let's start at the beginning when I was born. The first state represented is my home state of California. The quilt block is called "Road to California." The horse and barn fabric you see there was purchased at a quilt shop in Sonora, California. It was quilted with a simple dot-to-dot motif.
I was only three when we left California for my Dad's next duty station. And here, it seems like a good time to mention that I started putting the finishing touches on the quilt…the thread drawings…in April, which is, coincidentally, The Month of the Military Brat.
Without prompting, I'd already quilted the first thread drawing of a dandelion, the official flower of the military brat.
Just after drafting this post, I found this one on one of the military brat Facebook pages that I follow.
From California, we headed to my dad's next duty station at Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the state quilt block for New Mexico. The petroglyph fabric you see was purchased at a quilt shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
We lived in New Mexico for only a short time, and I have almost no memories of our life there. My mother had severe asthma, and she couldn't tolerate the wind and the dust in Albuquerque. It was the one duty station from which my dad requested a transfer for medical reasons. I've been back to Albuquerque several times as an adult. My thread drawings include Kokopelli representing our visit to nearby Petroglyph National Monument and a hot air balloon representing Albuquerque’s annual balloon festival.
From Albuquerque, we traveled all the way to the Atlantic coast for our next home at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. We did all our traveling in this tiny trailer. My mom was a trooper. It couldn't have been easy traveling all over the country with two kids in this tiny camper, and I have very positive memories of those days.
This is North Carolina's state block:
The blue crab fabric you see there in the middle was some I purchased at a quilt shop in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.
It reminded me of the fun we had tying raw chicken pieces with twine, lowering them into the water, and then waiting for the blue crabs to arrive. We simply scooped them from the water with a net.
Here's a friend of the family showing off, holding one by the pinchers. Yeah, that’s me behind him. My mom probably made that shirt I’m wearing.
My memories of North Carolina are these: Behind our house there was some kind of drainage ditch. There, we could catch polliwogs (or tadpoles, if you like). We'd keep them in mason jars or large bowls until they sprouted legs and turned into tiny frogs, no larger than a kidney bean. (Occasionally, they got loose in the house.) Also, we survived a bad hurricane, Hurricane Donna, in 1960.
It was the first time I was given a kitten. He was a tuxedo cat, and we named him "Boots" for his four white paws. I remember having him in bed with me the night of the hurricane. Sadly, he disappeared the very next day. I walked around the neighborhood for hours calling his name, but I never saw Boots again. Here are my thread drawings for North Carolina memories.
After North Carolina, my dad's next post was at The Pentagon. For that, we packed up and moved to Groveton, Virginia. Here is Virginia's state block, the Virginia Reel. I like this block so much, I want to make a whole quilt from it sometime.
The ladybug fabric was purchased at a quilt shop in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was a banner year for ladybugs that year and we had a small infestation in our RV at the time.
Virginia was an interesting and historic place to live. Our family made many visits to our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. It was the first time we lived in a place where I awakened to the enchantment of a landscape covered in freshly fallen snow. And it was the one place we lived where I saw fireflies (or lightning bugs, if you prefer).
Here's an image of my brother and me yucking it up in front of The Capitol.
From Virginia, we drove back across country to San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, where we boarded a military ship (the USS Patrick) and sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to my dad's next duty station at Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii.
This photo was taken shortly after casting off. After sailing for about an hour, I can recall my mom pointing out land's end. When we awakened the next morning, we could see nothing but the Pacific Ocean in every direction.
When we arrived in Hawaii, we were greeted with alohas and leis made from native blossoms, including plumeria.
While Hawaii has a state block, I liked this "Pineapple Star" better. I quilted it with plumeria in the corners. I don't have any fabric purchased in Hawaii, so I let the palm trees do the heavy lifting for this block.
My mother loved this place. She could reach out the window of our house in Kailua and pick a ripe papaya right from the tree. We also had a banana tree and lots of plumeria trees. It was fun stringing plumeria blossoms into leis when friends or family came to visit.
I learned to dance the hula and to play the ukelele.
My mother made that "grass" skirt from ti leaves.
Among my fondest memories was seeing the pineapple fields during a visit with my aunt and uncle. The pineapples had been harvested, and they were doing some "grooming" work in the fields when they came across a pineapple they'd missed. A worker handed it to me, and I'm telling you, it remains to this very day the sweetest, best-tasting pineapple I've ever eaten. It made me a life-long lover of fresh pineapple. I'm still searching for one that tastes as sweet.
And that brings me full circle back to California, where I lived out the remainder of my "brat years."
My brother and I were very fortunate among our brat brethren in that we both were able to start and finish high school in the same place. My brother, Richard, was a 1965 graduate of Kailua High School. My dad arranged an extension to stay in Hawaii long enough for Richard to graduate with his class. Immediately following the ceremony, we boarded a ship to return to the mainland and my dad's next post at Camp Pendleton, California. There, I attended the remainder of my school years in the Vista Unified School District, while my dad did three tours in Vietnam, always returning to Camp Pendleton.
There, I learned to play the clarinet, and I was a member of our high school band. I count the band years among some of the best years of my life, and I have many friendships from the band that exist to this day.
I graduated from Vista High School where I met Mike. We exchanged marriage vows in Vista, California, and then moved to Arizona shortly thereafter, bringing my life as a military brat to a close. My dad retired one year later, after serving in the United States Marine Corps for 32 years.
My quilt was finished with some simple stippling around the open areas where the thread drawings are. I used the same "tire track" motif in the outer border.
Putting it all in context, here is my finished mind-mapped quilt:
Here's how it looks from the back:
It's a little too large to qualify as an "art” quilt. At 48 x 48 inches, it's more lap-sized than wall-sized. I had so much fun making it. My mind-mapping exercise brought back memories of things I hadn't thought of since leaving the place where they occurred.
So, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down the memory lane of my life as a Marine Corps brat. And I can’t finish this off without showing you one last timely image I saw on Facebook. It fits for this quilt:
And if you read this far and suffered through all that family stuff, then thank you. You're a good sport, and a true friend. To see more "Maps" quilts, please visit The Endeavourers blog, right here.