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Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Gentle Giants

I grew up on an acreage across the gravel road from a grain elevator.  That elevator was everything.  It was right out our window.  Silent, still, huge.  I remember passing small towns on the highway.  They all had them.  The town or village name was displayed proudly on these giant icons so you always knew where you were.  My parents were not grain farmers, but there's something terribly nostalgic about these massive silhouettes all over the prairies.  I knew they were becoming a thing of the past, but when I read that out of 3,240 Saskatchewan grain elevators, only SIXTY are left, I got all choked up.  Okay - I actually cried!  You might be laughing at me, but I challenge you to go through photo archives on the internet and not get goosebumps when you look at the haunting photos of these beasts all abandoned and decaying.  I remember when my parents put me up on the kitchen counter one night so I could see out the window.  Our Big Giant was on fire and burning to the ground.  THAT was a huge fire, let me tell you.

Hamlin, Saskatchewan, 1977

You can guess what I'm going to try to do this summer.  I need photos.  Road trips, here I come!  I'm not the only one nostalgic for them.  A Needle Pulling Thread's current magazine has a fabulous article on the Heritage Rug Hookers of Saskatoon along with two dozen photos of their gorgeous works of art, each featuring a grain elevator in a prairie scene.  Yep - rugs as art.  You would have to see it to believe it.  Those women have made some gorgeous pieces!  They are currently on exhibit in galleries.

So what's my point?  Well, remember this piece I made?

It's quilted and finished.  Mom said, "stick a tree in it!".  I had thought it needed an elevator in it.  After looking through all those photos, I did it.  Now, it's done, and just how I want it.  ; )

Prairie Sunrise. 

There.  It's just how I remember it. 

still a work in progress...



Michelle V. Alkerton said...

For you it's grain elevators, for me it's old falling down barns. I've wanted Bill to drive me around so that I could get pictures of them but he's not as enthusiastic about the project as me ;). Love your nostaligic soul :).
Stay inspired!

elle said...

Pass the kleenex! The name gentle giants is SO apt. I'm a city girl who married a farmer. He worked in an elevator the first year. I luv looking for them and I knew their demise was approaching. Sixty! Sniff, sniff. I'm not keen on these new concrete monsters. Nothing gentle about them. They are in your face. A elevator silhouette is on my t0-do list. Yours is stunning. I think my farmer may take me on a photo shoot. Great post, Monika.

Flo @ Butterfly Quilting said...

PERFECT absolutely perfect. I too grew up on the prairies and am saddened by the loss of the gentle giants. I have often thought about trying to quilt one into a project, but just dont have the artistic talent to make it look right. I love yours LOVE it!

Anonymous said...

I found GREAT photos on http://www.verlo.ca
Trains, abandonded schoolhouses, elevators too. I've seen archived photos on another site of grain elevators only, but the photography is not great. Verlo is stocked by photographers.


diane said...

I remember driving across the US as a 10 year old with my parents and the grain elevators was one of the things that intrigued me. This fabric art is a perfect reminder for you.

Verna G said...

Great article about your work in the Sunday Sun today! COngratualtions!
Yes, I miss the elevators as well. The volunteers at the WDM are building a model elevator (23 feet high). It will actually work.


Rebel said...

That's really cool, and is inspiring me to think about doing a landscape type quilt.

quiltmom said...

I have a quilted wall hanging of an elevator that hangs upstairs in my sewing room. There used to be lots of them here in Alberta too but they are rapidly disappearing- My grandparents were farmers so I remember traveling to the farm and always seeing them on my journey. Like you I love them.
I think your wallhanging is gorgeous. There is nothing like prairie sky.
Warmest regards,

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