I have always loved reading about old building restorations or watching TV shows that follow the process, and I especially enjoy it when beautiful architectural details are discovered that have been hidden away for years under ugly remodels or modern facades. So I was intrigued by an article that appeared in the Lansing (Michigan) State Journal on July 22, 2005 that told the story of the Ranney building in downtown Lansing that had been designed by a prominent Lansing architect (Darius Moon) and built in 1891. In 1927, the top two floors were sealed off (I have no idea why), preserving beautiful wood work and tiling as well as the medical offices that had been there until they were uncovered during a major restoration project in 2005.
There was a particular tile pattern in a picture of some of the flooring that caught my eye, and I knew that one day I would make a quilt of that pattern. So when my sister-in-law asked if I would make her a wall quilt for her living room, I was ready to transform that pattern into fabric.
This picture is grainy, but it's a scan of the newspaper clipping that I amazingly still have in my file cabinet. This was apparently the floor of a dentist's office, but those gorgeous tiles are also in other parts of the building.
Here's the finished quilt:
And a detail:
I used marble-y patterns to try to reproduce the look of the tile. I remember that I tried to stencil the little leaf details with fabric paint before piecing but wasn't happy with the way they came out, so I embroidered them instead with variegated floss to give a feel of the designs on the tile. I was pretty much guessing at the motifs because they weren't really clear in the pictures I had, but they looked like oak leaves to me.
The back of the quilt is a little peachy/off white vine print:
From the sketchy notes I found on a piece of graph paper with my old newspaper clipping, I think the quilt is about 40 inches square. I remember that planning it was a challenge because I had to figure out how to make the center medallion, outer triangles and borders fit together without too many crazy measurements. I pieced it by machine and hand quilted it with off-white cotton thread, probably with Mountain Mist polyester batting (maybe Quilt Light) because that was what I usually used at the time.
I finished the quilt in April, 2006. So there you go. My first TBT quilt post. I have enough pre-blog projects to fill many future Thursdays.
If you'd like to read more about the Ranney building, here is a blog post with the link to the original article in the State Journal in 2005. It's fascinating. There used to be pictures online of the tile floors and other details, but I can't find them in the archives. There are also current pictures of some of the rooms and hallways on a rental site here.
I'm linking up with Quiltin' Jenny today, with gratitude to her for setting up a link party that meets my need to
share overshare about my past projects.