Every once in a while, the planets align and my worlds collide. One of my favorite projects, a commission which included so many of my interests, was for the mountain home of Merrill Stewart. I made two story quilt slipcovers for flatscreen televisions. The TVs were mounted to cleverly designed wooden stands on casters. The stands could be covered in place and rolled away, out of sight and out of mind for when the mountain scenery should be the only visual stimulant.
I met Merrill years ago during my involvement with Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. His company, Stewart Perry, built the Nature Center. After the construction of the LEED certified building, I led an effort to develop the campus with a native plant landscaping to match the eco-friendly building. We’ve been friends ever since. I admire that he strives to better his community and that the company’s mission is along those lines as well. They are doing great things in Birmingham, the Magic City.
Tucked back into the Blue Ridge Mountains are box canyons with steep granite walls. Rare plant communities grow in the thin soils on the rock outcrops. Evergreen spruce, fir and hemlocks cover the mountain peaks, and rhododendron and mountain laurel fills in nooks and cranny of the ravines. Seeps, streams, and waterfalls spill into these lands and nourish the environment. Lonesome Valley is a place where all of these ecosystems converge.
To gather my inspiration for the quilts, my husband and I visited Merrill Stewart one weekend on the way to our vacation destination, Lake Lure, and we took pictures from different vantage points. My husband and I are both rock climbers, so the granite walls were an inspiration to both of us. Merrill showed us around the community, the facilities, the trout lake, the bluffs, observation points, the gardens and farm. His home is artfully built and filled with local and regional artistry. I am proud to be included in his vision for a mountain retreat.