Before we ever started designing and creating products, we started our website to chronicle our attempt a “seasonal living”. To us this meant taking the time to acknowledge what makes each season beautiful, important, and astounding. We soon realized that developing a keen sense of appreciation necessarily meant taking the time in each season to make note of what we DIDN’T have. Feeling the absence later enables you to rejoice in the presence.
There’s a lot of work to be done managing a farm and a business, but we do indeed find the time to sit on the back porch of the Beekman and marvel as the months march through the valley.
This is what inspired our new Back Porch Collection. Along with the candles, soaps, and other products we developed, we wanted to see how some of the artists in our B 1802 Rural Artist Collective would interpret the seasons at Beekman Farm, too.
We worked with two of our artisans to design a set of 4 pillows, each using their master techniques to capture the essence of a year in the country.
How long you have been quilting?
I consider myself an embroiderer, rather than a quilter. Although, I most definitely am a crazy quilter. But, that involves embroidery! I taught myself embroidery when I was 8. I’ll turn 48 next week. So, 40 years! I’ve done nearly every technique with needle and thread – embroidery like silk and metal, silk ribbon, surface embroidery, quilting, Brazilian embroidery, Hedebo, drawn-thread work, pulled-thread work, Hardanger, needle lace, needle painting, or nue, needlepoint, beadwork, sampler making, art quilts, etc. I also crochet.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve created?
I have nothing from when I was a small child. I think I still have the first afghan I crocheted when I was 14 or so. In 1996, I was asked by the White House to create a needlepoint ornament for the Blue Room Christmas tree. I designed and stitched a stocking ornament based on The Nutcracker Suite.
What do you love about what you do? What do you hate about it?
I love embroidery because it allows an outlet for my creative ideas. For me, creating a piece is both meditative and energizing. I easily slip “into the zone” and revel in the art taking shape from an idea in my head. Each piece always fosters more ideas for more pieces. I think if I didn’t have an outlet for those ideas, my head would fairly burst open!
I hate my rheumatoid arthritis that sometimes limits my embroidery ability.
Why do you think quilting and embroidery is an important craft?
All handwork is important. Especially when more and more things beckon to instant gratification, a craft that takes time and thought appeals on a spiritual level. Whether that craft is embroidery or garden work, I find my center and am quite content there.
A new member of the B. 1802 Rural Artist Collective is master quilter, Ellen Marks. Here is the charming wool pin cushion she uses when creating some of her incredible works of art.
When did you start quilting?
I have been quilting for about 20 Years. I rarely use a pattern for cotton quilts as I like to invent them as my creativity inspires me. I started wool quilting about 5 years ago and combined a pattern and my own design to complete a queen size handmade 100% wool quilt. I entered it in the Vermont Quilt Show just for fun and was overwhelmed when I won third place. That lead me to making wool pillows and also wool wall art. I use both of applique and needle-felting and incorporate antique buttons, crystals, semi-precious stones,etc. It has become my passion and I can do anything from whimsical to formal.
What do you love most about what you do?
This art form allows me to actually create things of beauty that I see in my head. There is never a shortage of ideas. It is very satisfying. There is absolutely nothing I hate about it, but I do sometimes find myself impatient, wanting to start another great vision before I’ve fully executed a previous one.