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Posts Tagged ‘rhode island’

Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Detail showing Abraham Lincoln’s signature in an autograph quilt created by a seventeen-year-old Rhode Island girl in 1856.

To boldly go where no one has gone before (Star Trek)

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I like to think of myself as occasionally creative, but when I read a story like this one about a 19th century Rhode Island girl, I’m humbled. See how she took a traditional idea and expanded on it.

According to Public Domain Review, “In 1856, a seventeen-year-old girl from Rhode Island embarked on a unique and brilliant quiltmaking project.

“The girl’s name was Adeline Harris and her project was to make a quilt incorporating hundreds of celebrity autographs. While signature quilts were nothing new, the contributions were typically sourced from within a small community, such as a church, and functioned to commemorate a single event, such as a birth or marriage.

“Adeline, however, had bigger ideas, her community as the notable figures of her day, her event the phenomenon of nineteenth-century celebrity. …

“She sent a small diamond of white silk in the post with an explanation of her project and a request that they send it back to her signed. The returned and now autographed fragments were then worked into the quilt as the ‘top’ planes in a wonderful trompe l’oeil tumbling block design.

“The response she got to her unusual request was nothing short of phenomenal — she ended up incorporating 360 signed pieces in total, including those from such luminaries as Jacob Grimm, Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Abraham Lincoln (one of eight American presidents represented). …

“One of the people Adeline contacted in 1864 was Sarah Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, who, as well as providing her signature, also promptly wrote up ‘the very beautiful idea’ in her magazine. Hale explains how it is not only the signed pieces which tell a story:

Each autograph is written, with common black ink, on a diamond shaped piece of white silk (placed over a diagram of white paper and basted at the edges), each piece the centre of a group of colored diamonds, formed in many instances, from ‘storied’ fragments of dresses which were worn in the olden days of our country. For instance, there are pieces of a pink satin dress which flaunted at one of President Washington’s dinner parties …

“As for the process, conservator Elena Philips explains that, after examining the seams along the quilt top, it can be seen that ‘first she stitched the individual diamonds into blocks, then connected the blocks into columns, and finally seamed the columns together across the entire width. In total, she cut and stitched 1,840 individual silk pieces to create the quilt … [and used] more than one hundred and fifty different silk fabrics.’

“This is just one example from the Metropolitan Museum’s superb collection of 151 American quilts and coverlets, more about which you can read in curator Amelia Peck’s American Quilts and Coverlets in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009).”

More at Public Domain Review.

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Photo: John Ydstie/NPR
Apprentice industrial clerk Henrik Tillmann assembles a valve for a commercial aircraft galley kitchen at Hebmuller Aerospace near Dusseldorf, Germany.

The old-time way of learning a trade — by working as a low-fee apprentice for a few years — never completely died out and remains the reason Germany is a manufacturing powerhouse.

In the second of three reports at National Public Radio (NPR), John Ydstie explains.

“Manufacturing accounts for nearly a quarter of Germany’s economy. In the U.S., it’s about half that. A key element of that success is Germany’s apprenticeship training program.

“Every year, about half a million young Germans enter the workforce through these programs. They provide a steady stream of highly qualified industrial workers that helps Germany maintain a reputation for producing top-quality products.

“Henrik Tillmann is among the current crop of young apprentices. The 19-year-old is training at Hebmuller Aerospace to be an industrial clerk, which qualifies him to do a variety of jobs from materials purchasing to marketing. Each week he spends three-and-a-half days at the company’s production center, and a day and a half at a government-funded school. Before he can become a clerk, though, Tillmann must first learn how to build the valves Hebmuller sells to aerospace companies.

“He will be a better clerk, says his boss, Axel Hebmuller, because he’ll know the valves inside out when he describes them for customers. …

“Hebmuller says only 3 of the 16 people who work for his company went to university. …

“Felix Rauner, a professor at the University of Bremen, says … the U.S. approach to vocational education has been ineffective partly because it’s often not directly connected to specific jobs at real companies.

“Also, says Rauner, U.S. society has stigmatized vocational education, so most American parents see college as the only path to status and a good career for their children. Rauner says there’s a troubling trend in that direction in Germany, too. But, in Germany there’s still lots of prestige attached when someone, trained through apprenticeship, achieves master status.”

In the US, entrepreneur and philanthropist Gerald Chertavian had to pretty much reinvent the wheel for his nonprofit Year Up, building partnerships with companies to give his organization’s young adults serious internships. The internships are not quite apprenticeships but they lead to real skills and real jobs. Year Up’s expansion around the nation is proof of the pudding.

I’m also familiar with a genuine US apprenticeship effort in Rhode Island. Led by Andrew Cortés, founder of Building Futures and Apprenticeship Rhode Island, it produces the skilled construction workers that employers look for.

For more on Germany’s approach, click here.

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Under gray skies or sunny skies, I never tire of the beauty of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Most of the photos are mine, but three were courtesy of Bo Zhao, Suzanne, and my husband.

We start off with the boathouse that is near the Old Manse and the famed North Bridge in Concord. You can see that the grasses at Minuteman National Park are changing into autumn attire.

On a morning walk, I saw a happy little snake where the bike path meets Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I think it was a garter snake.

The Kindness Garden was on Blackstone Boulevard in Providence. The last time I walked by, I saw that people had taken whatever they needed of kind words, and there were only a couple left.

The picture of the sidewalk poem in Cambridge was taken by Bo. I wrote about that initiative here.

The photo of the beautiful message on New Shoreham’s Painted Rock was taken by Suzanne. And my husband snapped the funny Help Wanted sign at Summer Shack. I sent it to my cabaret-artist pal Lynn, who wrote back

Another [clam] openin’
Another show
My hand is bleeding
Please stanch the flow
The tips are fine
But my nails don’t grow
Another openin’ of
Another show

The purple flower is called Blazing Star, and it’s native to New Shoreham.

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People I know are feeling wistful now that kids are heading back to school and the most beautiful days of the year have a strong hint of autumn in them.

But it’s still summer, and we should enjoy it (while also sending good vibes and more tangible support to hurricane victims in Texas).

The first of today’s photos is a Narrowleaf Evening Primrose. It took quite a Google search to find the name of this wildflower/weed. It usually blooms in our area toward the end of summer.

Again this year I tried to capture the progress of the exotic lotus blooms in a neighbor’s pond, but for some reason the full flowers I saw just hung their heads in a dispirited way, and I never got a good shot of the final glory.

I have been in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts as usual. I got to the Public Garden in downtown Boston, as you can see from the photo of Mrs. Mallard and the kids — and the shot of the swan boats at rest.

Other than that, lots of tempting shadows indoors and out. And a new fish-identification sign in Galilee promoting fish from Rhode Island fishermen.

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I had a kooky friend in high school who claimed she could analyze you from your description of your favorite scene. At first, I described something sunny with flowers and little brooks and birds singing in trees. Her analysis: I was conventional, appreciated safety.

I was offended and said I had other favorite scenes. I described a stormy ocean with huge waves and dark clouds racing above, driftwood tossed on a rocky shore. She didn’t want to accept that one. She didn’t believe it. Added that I sounded like I had a split personality.

All of which is to say that I do like both kinds of scenes but that for taking pictures, I really prefer sunlight. Here are a few recent photos. Mostly sunny, mostly Rhode Island.

I have a favorite here. It is not perfect by photographer standards, but I love it. Can you guess?

http://www.haroldlopeznussa.com/

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Aren’t these bouquets splendid? They’re from a stand at the farmers market. In addition to flowers, Amy sells a wide array of produce — one of the few vendors who do, as the farmers at the market have gradually been outnumbered by New Shoreham artisans and bakers.

The porch photo was, I fear, an unsuccessful attempt to capture the full magnificence of two Rose of Sharon bushes in Providence.

The grandchildren don’t put a price on their lemonade. It turns out that when you just ask for donations, you make out like a bandit. More money for toys and for your donation to conservation.

Next are photos of the weed mullein, which looks so pretty when it blooms, and Queen Anne’s Lace growing alongside the corn at the Spring House. The long shots are from the Narrangansett Hotel on New Harbor and the Spring House.

Conserfest (Music on a Mission) was held at the former on August 5, and what a great concert and conservation fest it is! Organized by music lovers and performers who are part of the next generation of conservationists, it encourages you to “Embrace Your Place” wherever you live and take care of the natural envionment. It’s really the young who are going to save the planet, I think. Follow this group on Facebook, here.

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Providence resident Stewart Martin’s passion for science and art have informed his work to promote urban gardening and composting.

My husband and I have a compost pile in Massachusetts (with a naughty mystery squash reaching out to strangle our neighbor’s lilac), but we are not brave enough to compost food scraps as there are too many animals around. I think if I lived in Providence though, I’d try a food-composting service and reduce my contribution to landfills.

In a recent edition of ecoRI News, Abby Bora interviewed Stewart Martin, a Providence entrepreneur who has perfected the art of urban composting and now offers his skills to others through Providence GardenWorks.

“Martin and his wife, Adrienne Morris, moved to Providence 15 years ago from New York City.

They were looking for a yard and fresh air, along with the bustle of a city. Providence was the perfect place. …

“Martin and Morris decided to replace their shrubs and perennials with veggies. To grow his skills, Martin trained through multiple gardening and composting programs. He has earned numerous certifications, including becoming a tree steward with the Rhode Island Tree Council and a University of Rhode Island master gardener.

“Martin said that in the past 14 years, his family hasn’t contributed even a cup’s worth of food scrap to landfills.

“ ‘We’re throwing away gold,’ he said, when food scrap is casually discarded.

“Compost — recycled food scrap, among other organic ingredients — contains many necessary soil nutrients that are valuable in fighting soil depletion. When not composted, organic matter rots in landfills, creating heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as methane. …

“Providence GardenWorks provides installation and training to urban gardeners and composters. For his composting clients, Martin installs an outdoor, animal-proof compost machine, and teaches them how to use it. He also provides a stainless-steel food-scrap pail, carbon filters, aerator, and a full bag of shredded leaves to begin the composting process. After installation, he offers technical support over the phone, via e-mail and on-site for six months. …

“While local organizations are working toward better food-scrap management, Martin wishes the city of Providence would commit to initiatives like the food-scrap collection program run by the city of Berkeley, Calif. … ‘The myriad benefits are well documented and it’s not rocket science. No one has to reinvent the wheel here.’ ”

More at ecoRI News, here.

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