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Rereading the map

50 States pictorial map illustrated and hand-lettered by Chandler O'Leary
I finished this map before the airwaves were inundated with red and blue election maps—and today it’s a good reminder that America is more than its electoral divisions. That there is good in every state, and that there is so much to love and celebrate in every nook and cranny of our nation. This is why I started the 50 States project three years ago, and I’m taking the fact that I happened to finish the series right before the most divisive election in living memory as a sign that I need to remember this fact going forward. After all, the real work of our country involves all of us.
Those of you who read my travel blog know that I express my love for every state—blue, red, purple, whatever—through my drawings. I will continue to do so, to feature the beauty and wonder and hilarity and kooky humor of every state. That is what will get me through the fear and sadness and anger I’m feeling now—and I hope it will help you in some small measure, as well. So the break I took from blogging to focus on our book is over; Drawn the Road Again starts back up again tomorrow.
In the meantime, you can celebrate all 50 States with me tonight at the Ted Sanford Gallery at Charles Wright Academy in University Place, WA, where the entire series is on display through November 29. From 5:30 to 6:30 tonight I’ll have a gallery reception and small pop-up shop. Let’s talk about the good that’s out there—from Paul Bunyan to Elvis to the World’s Largest Frying Pan, and everything in between, from sea to shining sea.
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Seattle stitches

Pacific Fabrics "Evergreen State" fabric panel illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

I’ve been sitting on this announcement for a little while, because I wanted to wait until the project went “live” for my client and their customers, too. Now that it has, I can show you the new fabric I designed. That’s right, fabric! This has been a bit of an illustration dream-come-true for me; I’ve always wanted to design for fabric, and it feels so good to feel the finished product in hand.

This all started when Pacific Fabrics contacted me to ask if they could license the Washington illustration from my (still in-progress) 50 States Series for use on a fabric panel. They wanted to create a Block of the Month pattern for their stores, and design a quilt pattern around my illustration. Both the Tailor and I have been customers of Pacific Fabrics since we moved here, so they got a big fat “yes” from me.

Pacific Fabrics "Evergreen State" fabric panel illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

To round out the quilt design, I created four more illustrations of local highlights, done in the same style as the state map. Then I finished off the fabric panel with a “ditsy” (tiny) tree pattern repeat.

Pacific Fabrics "Evergreen State" fabric panel illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

Then Pacific Fabrics had the panel manufactured at In the Beginning Fabrics. What I love best about all of this is how hyper local it is. Pacific Fabrics has been a small Seattle business for over a hundred years (they actually began as an ironworking company), and In the Beginning is also a Seattle company. Add me to the mix, and the whole project has taken place over about a thirty-mile radius.

Pacific Fabrics "Evergreen State" fabric panel illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

I popped by the Pacific Fabrics store in Seattle to snap a couple of photos (and drop off some prints and cards, which they’ll also be carrying in their stores!), and it felt good to see that everyone in the cutting line was buying fabric for the Washington quilt.

Pacific Fabrics "Evergreen State" quilt pattern, featuring fabric illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

And here’s the quilt block that the lovely Anna-Beth at Pacific Fabrics designed for the Block of the Month program. I love how she created so many Washington icons from geometric shapes, and incorporated my illustrations into the design. I also loved being able to help develop the color scheme of the quilt blocks, based on the palette of my illustrations. I have never made a quilt myself (though I have dabbled a bit…), but I think I just found a good reason to start.

If you’re a quilter, or you’d like to try your hand at a Block of the Month program, you can find everything you need at the Pacific Fabrics website. You can have the patterns and materials mailed to you if you’re far from the Evergreen State, or if you’re local, club meetings centered around each block are starting this month at store locations.

To Anna-Beth and Debbie T. at Pacific Fabrics: thank you so much for bringing me on board, and for giving me such a great crash course in the quilting industry. To everyone else: happy sewing!


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Thanksgiving state of mind

Thanksgiving photo by Chandler O'Leary

Thanksgiving photo by Chandler O'LearyThanksgiving photo by Chandler O'LearyThanksgiving photo by Chandler O'LearyThanksgiving photo by Chandler O'LearyThanksgiving photo by Chandler O'LearyThanksgiving photo by Chandler O'Leary

We’re celebrating the holiday at a friend’s house this year—one who, I’m happy to say, was the perfect partner in crime when it came to hatching our crazy state-souvenir table settings idea.

Whatever state you’re in this year (whether literal or metaphorical), wishing you a happy, safe and delicious Thanksgiving!

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One down, 49 to go

Washington state cards by Chandler O'Leary

Well, I know I have a lot more prints to add to my 50 States series, but I couldn’t resist starting a card series to go with it. Eventually I’ll have all 50 in my collection, but for now I’m starting right here at home with a little Washington souvenir. You can find these cards in the shop—or if you’re local, catch me this weekend at Tacoma is for Lovers, our beloved, weirdly-named holiday craft fair.

Tacoma is for Lovers craft fair
Saturday and Sunday, November 22 and 23
11 am to 4 pm, free!
King’s Books, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, WA

See you there!