Friday, May 31, 2024

Underfoot the Earth Divine / Overhead the Sun a two-sided quilt

Underfoot The Earth Divine was completed in 2020 and first exhibited in 2021 in a two-person exhibition with Penny Berens entitled In the Middle of the World.

The quilt is two sided. Both sides are made from linen damask table linens that have been dyed with local plants.  Underfoot (above) is dyed with sumac leaves and a bit of iron.

Overhead (below) is dyed with golden rod wild flowers.

For the quilt top above, Judy cut several dyed table cloths into long strips and sewed them together again using a sewing machine.  They took up her whole design wall.  The finished size of this piece is 89 x 89 inches.

Once the strips were sewn together, the artist cut into the sewn strips to make holes and then filled the holes with velvet that had been sewn together in strips.  So when you come across those velvet areas with your hand, you can feel the softness and the richness.

The second side is made up of only 4 large pieces of linen damask which can be seen in the photo above.  The circle that appears on this side is made with thread that was stitched into the first side of the quilt and is received on the second side like a gift.  The thread is a fine black wool.

In the lower part of the circle is the square that is the reverse of the taffeta square in the front.  This square was not stitched with black thread but with fine red thread, and very densely.  See the detail below.

 Underfoot the Earth Divine / Overhead the Sun has been exhibited widely since 2021.

In 2022 it travelled to England to be part of the Fine Art Textiles Award Shortlist exhibition at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.  It received the award of "highly commended".

In 2023 it went to Kenora Ontario as part of In the Middle of the World exhibition.  This two-person exhibition has a free lance curator, Miranda Bouchard, who travelled to Kenora with Penny and Judy in order to make some presentations.  Judy Martin lived in Kenora for 10 years between 1982 and 1992 and her two younger children were born there.

Later in 2023, Underfoot the Earth Divine was part of Quilts=Art=Quilts, an annual exhibition of art quilts that occurs at the Schweinfurth Art Centre in  Auburn New York, USA.  It won the Schweinfurth award. 

In 2024, this quilt will show one more time as part of In the Middle of the World, this time in Nova Scotia in the Annapolis Royal Art Centre.  The show opens September 7 2024, and Judy and Penny and Miranda will attend the opening and will speak.

Quilt number 111   2020

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Dear Earth / help me to balance

Dear Earth   2018, cotton flannel dyed with tannins, cotton broadcloth, machine pieced, hand quilted with red button thread, batting is a flannel sheet, 90 x 66 inches.

 help me to balance   2018, old cotton towels and old flannel sheets, batting is a flannel sheet, machine pieced and hand quilted with red cotton button thread, some mends, 90 x 66 inches.

Both sides of this quilt are the right side.  Both have an earthy minimalist aesthetic.

Dear Earth was written about by Sarah Gagnon in 2023 in her instagram account @pelicanquilts .  

The following text is quoted directly: 

Dear earth.  dear mother.  This poem of a quilt with its repetitions, with its six verses, each connected but each rambling down its own highway of thought.  This nine-patch that harkens toward the ground.  The dirt is everywhere in this piece.  No afterthought even though I wiped the dirt off my feet.  Or I tried to. Judith collected a piece of dirt from each corner and built this world for us.

These six breasts.  Mother Earth.  Each one muddled with its own story and history.  Reminds me of my own young breasts that later became women's..  Later became fountains.  Reminds me of J. Hopestein's poem 'a newborn rests her head on the earth of mother.  Everything else is outer space."

The quilt and the breast always seem so connected to me.  It's our first separation from our mother.  The quilt is the first planet we visit after her earthy body.  

This quilt struck me immediately with a quality of unearthliness.  A quality of the divine. So I was surprised and delighted when I read the name.  Like a tether it pulled me back again to set my feet on the ground.  Kant painted a picture of the world where contradiction could exist together with reason.  The divine and the finite.  But for him there is always an impermeable membrane between the two.  When we encounter a contradiction we have touched a point of transcendence that we can't not enter.  Like Moses on the mountain - a touch and then we have to step back.  NO access.

I've chased the tail of God my whole life.  Sometimes in the most na├»ve ways and others with maturity.  Others frozen and unable to progress.  I found the ideas from Hegel helpful here  He believed there was no barrier that holds us back but instead that contradiction is just part of the experience and fabric of the universe.  It's not a wall outside.  It's the surface of the life we live in.  For him, we aren't thinking at all till we reach these moments of contradiction.

The quilt and it's transcendent earthiness.  That's what it makes me think of.  The mundane miracle.  

Sarah Gagnon posted this text on instagram February 11, 2023.  Sarah also has a new Pelican Quilts blog.  Click here.

number 110     2018

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Sunshine and Shadow

Sunshine and Shadow, a scrap quilt made from family clothing and sewing projects, 72" x 64"

Made in 1987 and then mended in 2021 by replacing worn patches with new fabrics, some of them velvet. 

The original backing was pink cotton, almost all the quilting stitches had worn away but not the cloth.  In the spring of 2021, I finished the mending of this quilt by beginning from the outside edge and going around the rectangle working my way towards the middle with a running stitch and big thread.     
The above photo is closer to the  original quilt, but there have been quite a few replacements already.  I'll try to find an earlier photo.  The quilt was much loved by my father since 1993.  I think that it took me nearly 10 years to piece (1977- 1987) by machine.  I recognize the floral skirts I used to wear in the 70's.   

A forgotten quilt, it is just getting into the list now.  

109        1987   mended 2021

Monday, May 02, 2022

pauline's diamond cover up

I made a lot of small quilts in the 80's as baby gifts for my friends.

This is a small quilt that I made for my mother, Pauline.  The colours were chosen to go with her living room furniture, I thought she could use it as a sofa throw in the house I grew up in.

My parents moved a couple of years later to a condominium and my mother's rhumatoid arthritis began acting up.  She used this quilt every day and night of her final years as a cover up in her wheel chair and also her bed.  I am so glad that I made it.  It was a gift of love and touch.  She took it with her to the hospital on her several visits, and when nurses complimented her, she said that they should google my name.  

cotton blends, 50 x 36", hand pieced and hand quilted

number 108    1984

sea gulls

Sea gulls  

When we moved from Thunder Bay to Kenora the children and I (4 and 2 years) drove past the landfill site and we were all amazed at the murmurations of sea gulls that flocked there.  I went home and created this small quilt from fabrics dyed with rit kitchen dye.  I remember hanging the small amounts of cotton on the line.  The seagulls were painted on afterwards using white acrylic paint.  

I was very excited by my discovery of art quilts and how I could fit the hand piecing and hand quilting into my busy life as a young mom. 

I just found this quilt and am adding it to the list.  

cotton, rit dye, acrylic paint, hand pieced and hand quilted  37 x 21 inches 1984

this is number 107   

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Each Stitch is a Prayer

Each Stitch is a Prayer  95" square
Hand dyed rayon, machine pieced and hand quilted in 2002 - 2003.
The first of the Protection Blankets I made in response to September 11, 2001. 

Embroidered spirals and the word peace interrupt the dense hand quilting. 

The traditional diamond in square design is an obvious reference to the Amish people, known to be pacifists.    I quilted it in my lap during the build up to the Iraq war.  The war about weapons of mass destruction that came after 9/11.  

This piece has shown three times in public.   The first time at three person exhibition Family Matters in 2003 in WKP Kennedy Gallery in North Bay, the curator Dennis Geden put three mother-artists together.   Lise Melhorn-Boe (who makes artist books and assemblages) and Cheryl Paguerk, a photographer.   Like me, these two continue to exhibit.

The second time was in a solo exhibition in Guelph at the Greenwood quiltery, a textile art and quilting supply store with an attached gallery.  I am sorry that this gallery is no longer.  I also used this large simple quilt during the trunk shows I presented to Ontario quilt guilds through the early 2000's. 

In 2006,  I was given a show with the Cambridge Library / Art gallery system, at the Preston branch.
I showed twelve quilts and called the exhibition Protection Blankets.  This was the last time that this beauty was shown in public. It's a large soft piece, really gentle.  

We began to use it as a bed quilt.  It is the perfect summer quilt, and in the winter, we layer two more quilts on top and feel like turtles in our shell. 
A couple of years ago, I began to have my early work professionally photographed with digital camera.
Most of my early pieces were documented with slide and then when I started this blog, I would pin up older pieces to my wall and photograph them myself.  

Nick Dubecki in Sudbury is helping me with this project and he photographs both front and back of each quilt for me.  These quilts are my legacy.

This past Christmas, I passed the quilt onto my oldest daughter and her husband to use as a bed quilt.

quilt number 46  2003

Saturday, September 22, 2018


completed in 2017 for the solo exhibition at the David Kaye gallery in Toronto
I was so pleased to be asked to show at David's gallery.  He exhibits the most important of Canadian fine craft artists.  Dorothy Caldwell and Sandra Brownlee show in his gallery.  Barbara Klunder does too.
I made the murmuration of French knots without knowing how I would use it.
I saw blackbirds flying over me as I drove my gravel country road on Manitoulin.
They looked like moving cross stitches to me, in the sky.
The rest of the quilt came together from a reverse applique sampler I had made when my grandson was born in 2009, and some earth coloured linen, and some white space.

The white space is important in this piece.
It is emptiness.
I put loops and swirls of wind into the white space, but it is still emptiness.
cotton, hand embroidered, hand pieced, hand reverse applique, hand quilted, 66.5 x 63"  2017

number 106 

Monday, February 19, 2018

basic goodness

basic goodness  2017
procion dyed cotton,, silk and cotton threads
hand stitch with french knots
part of the Cloud In Me Exhibition
at David Kaye gallery in Toronto October 2017
sold  - now in UK

number 105

Friday, February 05, 2016

All My Life

This quilt's subject is that I have "lived in North Western Ontario" for all my life.  North Western Ontario is a very large area of land with beautiful rocks, trees, lakes and very few people. I made this quilt when I was 38 and studying print-making every other weekend through distance education from Lakehead University.  We used the high school art room.  The self portrait in the middle is ink etching on silk (sugar lift technique).

The white space represents the long winters of northern Ontario and the distance and thus isolation that I felt living far from urban centers.  It takes two days to drive to Toronto from Kenora, Winnipeg is much closer (2 hours away)  Embroidered in the snowy spaces are the names I had lived up until then.  Fort Frances.  Kenora.  Rainy River.  Thunder Bay.  We didn't move to Manitoulin island until 1993.
The black and white fabric in the border was chosen because to me it looked like a nest.  I felt safe in Northern Ontario, but also trapped.  The blue sky is quilted with Emily Carr lines.  The brilliantly coloured floral border refers to the beauty of nature.

80 inches square
number 9

Monday, December 07, 2015

don't worry

a small quilt, this is really just a picture
I made it because I needed a personal break.
12" h x 17' w
pieced and embroidered with stem stitch, then quilted


In 2017 I sewed it onto a velvet pillow for my grand daughter's big girl bed when she became a big sister - It became something soft for her to touch and something happy for her to look at.

quilt number 104

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

the white quilt

I was excited about the 'quilt as you go' technique when I made this quilt in 1987.  I made two other pieces using the same technique during that year.  (The same year our youngest child was born)
For this piece, I used scraps left over from sewing and a few of my own embroidered blouses.  I wanted a light palette with very few accents of dark.  The technique of creating one-step blocks (construction and quilting at the same time) with sewing machine stitch and flip was in vogue. Georgia Bonesteel's book Lap Quilting (1982) was influential.
I thought that this quilt was lost, but just yesterday I found it.  It is in one of our museums here on Manitoulin, the curator had purchased it at a farm auction in the late 90's.  If you look carefully, you can glimpse it folded up on the end of this museum bed.

Number 103

Friday, June 26, 2015

metaphysical thinking

Artist/curator  Lise Melhorn Boe invited me to participate in A Book Arts Mosaic, a collection of 38 Canadian book artists.  Each artist was to create an original edition of 25 books so that boxes of books could then go into libraries and collections across the country.  There were 25 such boxes, each containing 26 books.

I made 30 scrolls so that I could keep five for myself.  (I have now given all but one of those away.)

Transferred text asking questions such as 'who am I?', 'what is real?' or phrases such as 'the idea of self' , and 'think'...accompany images of thoughtful women gleaned from magazines that year.  The most important marks however are the hand stitches in the flannel fabric.

I regret that I don't have better photos of this series.


number 102

Thursday, June 25, 2015


The Blessing of Mary upon this house
Ever upon it

velvet, found fabrics, wool, cotton threads, hand stitched
 detail of the blessing of Mary
The blessing of the SPIRIT upon this house, on man and woman
velvet, wool, found cloth, cotton threads, hand stitched

All the blessings measure about 8 inches wide, 22 inches long
All are in private collection

There are eight in the series.
They were made in 2004.
I had an exhibit  that year in Guelph Ontario at the Greenwood Quiltery where they were shown.  The gallery part of Greenwood changed into workshop space for the amazing fabric and yarn store donstairs.  The shop closed early 2017.

I will never forget the date of the exhibition because it was shortly after my father in law died.  Many family members were in Toronto for the funeral, and came with me to the opening of the exhibition the following day.

The text is from the Hogmany Blessing
A celtic new year's eve traditional prayer.

number 101

Saturday, April 11, 2015

snow quilt

The fabric for this piece was purchased in Thunder Bay and I remember working on it before we moved to Kenora in 1982.
 It's a whole cloth quilt - these figures and the circles snowing down on them were pre-printed.  I thought that the colour and design was magical and did not change anything.  This is the only time that I have ever worked from a pre-printed piece of cloth.   The embroidered signature and date say J Martin 1983.
This is the 100th quilt!!  But I have several more I am sure.  To see the pieces in chronological order, click on the date in the side bar.  Thank you for visiting. xx

number 100

Sunday, March 22, 2015

red hands

This is a small quilt that was made as a gift for Martha.
It\s sari silk piecwork and cotton embroidery.

Several of us made small pieces that were to be put into a book.  I wonder what that book looks like? Maybe I will see it some day hint hint.

I believe the date was around 1999.  I'll check and make an edit if this is incorrect.

number 99