Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Most of us have no trouble finding lots of inspiration for our quilting.  There are so many magazines, books and patterns, we can hardly keep up with all the good ideas. However, as we grow in skills and confidence, it's fun to look around at a wider variety of sources for inspiration.
I've just returned home from my first trip to New York City.  When friend and I discovered we have been avoiding NYC for the same reasons (fear of it's bigness), we joined a Road Scholar tour, Five Boroughs in Five Days.  The tour leaders were all long time NYC residents and we had a wonderful overview of the city and learned how to get around like a local (walking and using the subways). 
Usually I look to nature for quilt inspiration, especially in terms of color. 
But during my visit to NYC, I found some inspiration in the buildings which far outnumber nature.
The first examples that caught my eye were the mosaics in the subway stations.  This is just one of the dozens that I saw -- most date to the early 1900's and all had some extra embellishment reflecting the skill and artistry of the long forgotten workman.
That won't be the case with this new installation on the ceiling of the newest subway station in NYC which opened just last week as the east/west line through midtown Manhattan moved further west towards the Hudson River.  This artist created two large pieces that won't escape notice. 
(And people think we are nuts when we chop yards of fabric up -- these tiles are 1/2" squares.)
There is a great deal of stone work scattered around the city from the early 1900's -- this motif on a grand arch in Brooklyn caught my eye -- applique would be a perfect way to render it's beautiful organic symmetry.
Trinity Church sits at the end of Wall Street and as we passed through it . . . .
I had to pause (and backed up the line behind me) to grab a quick picture of this geometric tile floor (pardon the feet).
And when we turned the corner into another area, there was another one!!  I could do this!! The current building was completed in 1846 but there have been many upgrades and additions to the interior over the years and I would guess these floors date to the turn of the 20th century.
I also found inspiration in the ceiling at St. Patrick's Cathedral which is all spic and span for the visit of Pope Francis this week.  Look at those 8 pointed stars in grid -- it was a tough picture to take -- such a high space.
And there in some of the intersections were these lovely morning glory inspired motifs! 
One of our walking tours passed through a housing development from the early 1900's in Harlem.  The area is experiencing a renaissance and rediscovering the beauty of it's architecture.  This building had these delightful cornices on all the street level windows -- lots of quilting inspiration for sure. 
One of the last places we visited was Wave Hill, a NYC park centered at an estate along the Hudson River in the Bronx.  This unusual water plant is the mosaic plant (ludwigia sedioides) and is native to the northern part of South American.  This doesn't just inspire my quilting juices, I think I want this plant in my little pond next summer (not hardy this far north)!  A Google search for images of this plant produced some stunning close-up photos.
 I've printed out these pictures and pinned them up on the bulletin board in the studio -- it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of all this inspiration in my future work.
How about you?  Do you find inspiration for your quilting outside of the fabric shop!

Mary Huey


  1. Indeed I do too, finding beauty and inspiration nearly anywhere. It must have been refreshing in a different way to visit NYC with its culture, history, urban landscapes and people.

  2. Thanks for sharing your photos. Each time I visit NY and ride the subway I see those tiles and many more. They really are different depending on where you go in the city.
    I ran into the same inspiration with the tile floors in churches in Italy. Creative people. Glad it was a good trip.

  3. Great inspiration! And looks like a fun way to visit NYC.

  4. Thanks for the unique tour of NYC! I love what you found. I do find inspiration in similar ways; unfortunately, most of it stays at the appreciation stage and in my computer photo albums--not as much as I would like ends up in my quilts.