I’ve been looking forward to the Peter Jackson Hobbit movie for ages, and I saw it yesterday at South Common Cineplex, in the fancy reserved-seats UltraAVX cinema in 3D. I liked it. I must be getting accustomed to Real3D projection, because I basically forgot about it during the movie and almost missed giving the glasses back afterwards. Likewise, I have no opinion about whether the fast frame rate made a difference to the visual presentation. Peter Jackson and company did a good enough job with Tolkien’s source material that I’ll be seeing the sequels as soon as they come out too. They made some changes to the story, some of which I didn’t catch myself and the rest of which didn’t bother me, possibly because I didn’t read The Hobbit until many years after I’d been through our library’s copies of the Lord of the Rings books several times each. In the same way as Lord of the Rings is like a bigger more important version of the quest story in The Hobbit, the movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” had a lot of scenes that were reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings movies. So I didn’t find it breathtaking or thrilling. It was what I expected and I enjoyed it.
I’ve always loved the word pictures Tolkien painted of the hobbits’ dwellings, and I thought that the movie versions almost did them justice. They looked so cozy and comfortable, full of books and food and useful clutter, that I’ve often wished I lived in a place like that. I live in a snug little apartment full of books and colourful clutter that feels like it’s set into the side of a creek ravine, looking out on bike paths and green space, so I sometimes imagine it being part of a smial, Tolkien’s word for a cluster of hobbit-dwellings in one hillside. But of course I don’t have round doors and windows, and I don’t think I’d be successful convincing my neighbours on the condominium board that such an adaptation would be an asset to the neighbourhood. I know there are a couple of buildings with round windows somewhere in Oliver, but I don’t like moving and I otherwise like it here. So a couple of months ago I decided to fake it and make something that would look like a round doorway.
I started by pulling out my stash boxes. For quilters or other textile or fabric artists, a stash doesn’t have illegal drugs in it, but bits of fabric or yarn bought without a specific purpose in mind, or leftovers saved from other projects. I started pulling out bits of fabric that seemed appropriate to the picture in my mind – not so much the bright colours like green and yellow that Tolkien says hobbits loved to wear, but the warm golden-brown palette of natural sunlight and candlelight on adobe walls, books, wood, and pottery tableware. I didn’t have enough, so I paid a visit to Quilter’s Dream and found more prints that fit the picture in my head – especially a paisley print, a print with old books on shelves, and ones with the names of kinds of tea and the names of varieties of red wine. Although the employees are always friendly and interested to hear about the customers’ projects, I didn’t try explaining this one to them, because I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or whether they would have any idea what I was talking about.
At home I washed all the bits of fabric, and looked through my books to get some ideas of what to do with them. In Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr’s book The Modern Quilt Workshop, I found instructions for a block called Treehouse, which used random cutting and bits of an accent colour in between chunks of a main colourway, so that seemed like it would work. I added some rich dark reds, greens, and blues for the accent strips.
I cut and pieced some blocks and assembled them together in the rough shape of my patio doors with a hole in the middle. Preliminary trials hanging the pieced top in front of the doorway showed that it was going to irritate me if the light shining through revealed the seam allowances as uneven dark bits, but that adding quilt batting would make it heavy enough to make it harder to hang, since I couldn’t just clip them or stick them to the plastic pelmet. So off I went to a dollar store, to pick up some hook and loop tape, some bulldog clips, and a couple of cotton-polyester sheets. Sheets are not recommended as quilt backings, and I can say after this project that they were unpleasant to work with, but they served their purpose this time, with a plain dark sheet sandwiched between a plaid-patterned sheet for the backing visible from outside and the piecework top visible from inside.
On the same trip I also scored some ten-cent poster board from a Zellers closing sale, so I taped it together, devised a compass with a measuring tape and some pins, and cut a circular template. Sandwiching the assembly taped down on the floor worked well enough to mark the circle, but wasn’t good enough to let me pin-baste the sandwich without wrinkles. I machine-quilted the sandwich with concentric circles, added a French binding on the circular doorway and around the edges, and sewed the hook and loop tape to the top to hang it up.
And there it is, my Doorway to the Shire. Any day now I expect a band of adventurers to come tramping through the snow looking for a burglar.