I’m a Traveler…

Silk Road Quilt by Melissa Sobotka
‘Silk Road Sampler’ by Melissa Sobotka

When I first began blogging the goal was to challenge my creative skills while sharing my fascination with the world around me with anyone who visited this site. Fast forward a few years and a few hundred posts later to now, where inspiration and content creation are challenges I’ve struggled to overcome since covid changed our lives. After reading Austin Kleon’s ‘15 years of blogging (and 3 reasons I keep going) I am, once again, enthusiastic about posting on a more regular basis, beginning with a topic which always gets me excited – travel.

The road dog in me was thrilled by having to drive cross-country TWICE this summer. Even more exciting was the prospect of traveling with two of the people I care most about: my sister and my son. Big Sis joined me for Road Trip #1 to retrieve a cherished family dog from Denver.  Our trip started in Tennessee, then led us north and west through Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado, after which we headed back east to New Jersey before I made the rest of the drive solo through Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, finally  ending up back in the Volunteer State.  It took 8 days to make the drive but we only made it 140 miles before we stopped for our first adventure…

More Carrots, Please Quilt by Jean Biddick
More Carrots, Please’ by Jean Biddick

My sister wanted to see the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky and that was good enough reason for me to want to see it too. I’ve written about my love of quilts before (here) so being able to explore the workmanship, creativity, and beauty of these pieces up close was incredibly inspiring…

‘San Antonio on my Mind’ by Carolyn I. Skei

One of the first quilts we saw was a piece I nicknamed Guitars before I read about the inspiration behind San Antonio on My Mind.  Carolyn Skei took a picture of a guitar display while visiting – wait for it – San Antonio and then manipulated the image on her iPad to arrive at an abstract image which she then made real through a clever collage of commercial and hand-dyed cotton appliqués.  I loved this quilt for its deceptively simple design AND my love for guitars and guitar players (see some beautiful axes here).

‘Majestic Flight’ by Joanne Baeth

The museum is unique in that visitors can get very close to each quilt to better examine the design and execution of the work.  Whether it is the hand painted fabrics, minuscule appliqués, unique embroidery, or countless meticulously even stitches incorporated into each work Big Sis and I were left marveling at the vision and inventiveness of each maker.  

While there were many beautiful examples of traditional quilt patterns on display I was surprised by the large number of quilts with an almost photographic quality to them.  Mr. Jim Crow, part of the topical ‘OURStory Quilts: Human Rights Stories in Fabric‘ exhibit, is one example of this.

Mr. Jim Crow on my Shoulder
‘Mr. Jim Crow on My Shoulder’ by Bonnie D. Askowitz

You can also forget any gossipy quilting bee stereotype you may have. These quilters, most of whom work solo, are also skilled photographers, painters, and sculptors who incorporate their many talents into these very personal pieces. 

Dance of the Twirly Girls by Andrea Brockenshire
‘Dance of the Twirly Girls’ by Andrea Brockenshire
Dance of the Twirly Girls by Andrea Brokenshire
‘Dance of the Twirly Girls’ details

I still cannot get over the stunning quilts we saw, some of which left me gasping in admiration and envy.  It’s hard to picture these pieces used for warmth since they really are pieces of ‘art’. 

Retro Store Signage

If I were younger I’d consider relocating to Paducah since it seems like a city ripe for revival as an arts scene.  There’s a definiate slower-paced relaxed ambience and lots of old architecture begging for renovation.  It was evident some sort of renaissance was happening  but everything was frozen in the moment, lending mood to our experience of walking city streets so eerily-quiet it felt almost post-apocalyptic.

Imagine this building restored to its former glory

We stopped in at The Antique Galleria, which held the expected assortment of military memorabilia, old china, and Victorian furniture.  The surprising discovery was an epic collection of vinyl albums overlooking the selling floor. Unfortunately for us two music mavens nothing was for sale or, at least for us, browsing.  We did have a good laugh when we were hustled about the price of a ‘rare’ Grateful Dead show poster which we had both purchased from Mr. Tickle (the 70’s equivalent of Hot Topic) way back in the day.

A floodwall mural from ‘Paducah Wall to Wall’ riverfront

Not much was open when we visited the city but we did manage to stumble upon Kirchoff’s Deli & Bakery, where we stocked up on treats for the road which gave us delicious sugar rushes – and fond memories of our Paducah trip – all the way through Kansas. Shout out to their green porcelain tiles too – it was really a very cool, relaxing place to grab a cuppa and a sandwich before getting back on the road again. 

If you are a fellow traveller and you haven’t made it to Kentucky I recommend adding it to your Must Visit list.  There are tons of things to see and do across the state, from horse racing to bourbon tours to fishing and even quilting!

*Traveller – Chris Stapleton





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