Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easterly quilts

We've always had a soft spot for Easter, bunnies, and eggs. Judging from the fantastic variety of quilts we've found this spring, we're not alone!

Egg cups quilt, ~ 20 x 30, by Jean Loken

We came across the beautiful quilt, above, and were impressed not only by the 18 different Delft style egg cups, but also by the colorful, three-dimensional lattice work. The quilt was made by Jean Loken, who generously shared the story with us: "It was from a Dutch company, and friends of mine imported some of their fabulous fabrics and wondered if anyone they knew would tackle a quilt with instructions in Dutch... I found a Dutch lady who translated it for me. Then I had to change the centimeters into inches that I could cut with a rotary cutter. The diamond intersections were harder than I thought they would be, but we love the quilt." (And so do we!)

Garden Bunnies, 66 x 77, by Darcy Ashton

Darcy Ashton has created a series of wildly popular bunny patterns and quilts. The marvelous quilt above features ten hand-appliquéd bunnies set among log cabin blocks, done in the colors of spring. The patterns for all of the bunnies - and for eleven different quilts featuring them - are in Bunnies & More, a book by Ashton Publications.

Baltimore Bunnies,64 x 79, by Anne Sutton for Bunny Hill Designs

The beautiful Baltimore Bunnies Quilt by Bunny Hill Designs has twelve different appliquéd blocks, in the style of an heirloom Baltimore album quilt. Two of the ornate blocks, which feature bunnies framed by flower wreaths, are shown above. Also check out these classic Bunny Hill patterns: Garden Bunny, Sugar Bunnies, The Bunny Run, The French Rabbits, and Rabbits Prefer Chocolate.

Snuggly Bunnies, 33 x 43, as seen at Pipers Girls

These bunnies are all dressed up! The original design is by Bonnie Sullivan for All Through the Night. The quilt shown above was done in wool, with button and embroidery details. The pattern also contemplates cottons (we can imagine each bunny wearing a little plaid coat). The pattern is out of print, but a few hard-to-find copies are available at Pipers Quilt Shop. (If you happen to be in Salt Lake City, visit the real Pipers Quilts & Comforts).

Bunny Medallion Quilt, by Darcy Ashton

The bright pink cabbage roses, above, provide the perfect backdrop for the little white bunny. The bunny is from Darcy Ashton's original Grandma's Bunnies book. Although the book itself is out of print, the loose-leaf collection of 30 rabbit patterns is still available. To order, see Ashton Publications' patterns page.

Bunnies & Egg, 18 x 19.5, by Castilleja Cotton

Three bunnies and an egg: do the math. In this whimsical mini quilt, the white bunnies peer out from behind a giant egg, while pink and red butterflies... flutter by. The pattern is available at Castilleja Cotton. The design group at Castilleja Cotton has created nearly a dozen charming bunny and Easter patterns, so it was hard to pick a favorite. The Bargello Bunny with Butterflies quilt pattern was a close second.

Image credits and additional links:

Snuggly Bunnies, courtesy of Pipers Girls

Egg cup quilt, courtesy of Jean Loken

Baltimore Bunny, courtesy of Bunny Hill Designs.

Garden Bunnies and Bunny Medallion quilts, courtesy of Darcy Ashton and Ashton Publications

Bunnies & Egg, courtesy of Diane McGregor and Castilleja Cotton

Monday, March 29, 2010

Delicate Intricacies: The Wholecloth Quilts of Cindy Needham

Cindy Needham is a renowned quilter, designer, writer, and teacher from California whose special interest is creating magnificent patterns on vintage linen (and occasionally on silk, as shown below). Quilting became Cindy's passion when her family was stationed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, and she has now been quilting for over 38 years. The first 25 years of her quilting career were dedicated to hand quilting, but for the past 13 years she has focused on machine quilting.

Feathered Crystals

Feathered Crystals is an updated version of a wholecloth quilt, which was one of the earliest forms of quilting in the American colonies. This is not a patchwork, but one single piece of fabric covered with thousands of tiny, amazingly precise stitches, which create the raised pattern of interlocking rings. Our colonial ancestors often created quilted bed coverings from one large piece of woven flax and wool, known as "linsey-woolsy". However, Cindy's quilting, above, was done on a whole piece of green dupioni silk. We're dazzled by the design and by the exquisite luminescence of the silk. You can read about the creation of this quilt on Cindy's blog, here and here.

"Feathered Crystals" was recently displayed at the nationally renowned Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar, California, where Cindy taught Stepping Stones to Beautiful Quilting. To read about the Asilomar experience and see some wonderful photos of the beach - and the workshop - visit Cindy's blog. Also check out the schedule of Cindy's popular classes and upcoming retreats.

Quilting Stencils

For her fellow quilters, Cindy has created an extensive line of original quilting patterns for stencils (these are copyrighted). The patterns range from simple to ornate, and small to very large (very handy!) Her many charming designs include medallions, feathers, fans, circles, butterflies, and other motifs. To view the complete line, see Quilting Creations. We're showing a few of them, above: Butterfly Wreath, Whirligig, Feather & Lines Circles.

Wholecloth Linen Quilts

Cindy is also the author of the book, Wholecloth Linen Quilts: Patterns and Designs, which is available from the American Quilters Society. You can ogle the wholecloth quilts here, and read about designing and creating them. The pieces are often in miniature sizes and are frequently embellished with small pearls, transforming the quilts into bejeweled treasures.

Images are courtesy of Cindy Needham. For more information and to view a gallery of her work, please visit Cindy's website. For information on next year's Empty Spools Seminars, see the 2011 schedule here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beautiful in black and white

If you have a a black and white fabric stash and have been looking for ideas, or have always wanted to make or own a black and white quilt, we have some inspiration to share.

Winter Aspens, 26 x 34, by Jayme Crow

We love the sumptuous Winter Aspens quilt, above, with its clever use of dotted fabrics to portray a stand of trees in a wintry landscape. Thanks to Jayme Crow for supplying us with this gorgeous photo of the original quilt in a natural setting. The pattern can be obtained from the Bella Nonna Design Studio. Jayme's design studio also has some very cool designer Japanese fabrics in heavy cotton.

Duet in Black and White, 39 x 39, by Connie Kauffman, at Kauffman Designs

The very elegant "Duet" pattern by Connie Kauffman, above, is also easy. The shading of the quarter triangles gives a three-dimensional appearance to the center medallion. The solid black and white appliques are fusible; buttons add sparkle to the quilt. The pattern makes good use of fat quarters in black and white. The pattern can be obtained from Quilters Warehouse.

Stormy Evolution, 90 x 90, by Susan Varanka

Do you believe in evolution? "Stormy Evolution" by Susan Varanka takes the Storm At Sea pattern to a new level. Notice that the individual stars surrounding the center are reverse images of the star design embedded within the Storm at Sea blocks, and that the pieced border is made up of the points of the blocks. The repeating patterns in the stars and border unify the design. The quilt can be made with fabrics planned in advance, but is also perfect for scrap usage. For more information, and to purchase the pattern, visit Susan's Quilt Creations.

Midwinter garden, 48 x 48, by Ellen Crimi-Trent for Clothworks

Midwinter garden is one of our favorite black-and-white fabric lines, with 12 different fabrics designed by Ellen Crimi-Trent (we're showing four of them, above). The quilt above incorporates the fabrics in a barn raising pattern, giving a subtle shadowy effect. For a free download of the pattern and to see the other fabrics, visit Clothworks.

Mod Quads, 48 x 60, by Janine Burke at Blue Underground Studios

The "Mod Quads" design by Janine Burke at Blue Underground Studios can be made with many different fabrics. The skinny "quads" add just a hint of color for visual interest. For those who desire a speedy project, a complete quilt kit is available at The Quilters Garden.

Spinning Nine Patch Notes, 39.5 x 39.5, by Connie Kauffman, at Kauffman Designs

We love this modern and musical wall hanging by Connie Kauffman. Black and white notes radiate out from the nine-patch blocks, which are set on point, such that the blocks appear to be spinning like whirlygigs. The brightly colored center blocks stand out nicely from the background. The pattern can be obtained online from the Quilters Warehouse.

Zebra Fandango, 73 x 73, by Elizabeth Bren

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a Fandango is "a lively Spanish or Spanish-American dance in triple time that is usually performed by a man and a woman to the accompaniment of guitar and castanets." O-kay! The Zebra Fandango quilt features intricate foundation pieced blocks set at a slight angle to create the lively design. The pattern was published by Down Under Quilts in November, 2004.  A version of "Zebra Fandango", by Ana Buzzalino, can also be seen at American Quilter.

Red Eye, 30 x 30, by Shirley Ament-Bergey

In 2006 the Rising Star Quilters Guild of Lexington, MA, held a quilt challenge: Black and white with one accent color. Shirley Ament-Bergey won second prize for her fabulous cathedral windows quilt, above. The wall hanging was made for Shirley's son, who is a devotee of contemporary design. The red "eyes" make an outstanding contrast amidst the black and white, and the variation of prints - some nearly all black, and some nearly all white - creates a lively design. You can see Shirley's quilt and 30 other black-and-white challenge quilts on the RSQG website, here (A-J) and here (K-Z).

Books and patterns by Kay M. Capps Cross

As you may know, Kay M. Capps Cross wrote the books on black-and-white quilts (literally). Kay says: "I use black and white (with the ever-present dash of vivid color) because it challenges me and seems to work the best for expressing my ideas and spirit. Some have called me “the black and white lady,” and I just love that!" Kay's books, shown above, are available at Amazon, at local quilt stores, and many other places. Kay's patterns, including "Hello, Heliconia" (above, 21.5 x 38.5) are available at the Quilters Warehouse. For more information, visit Kay's site at Cross Cuts Quilting.

For even more black-and-white inspiration

See the Winter 2008 issue of Fabric Trends for Quilters. You may also be interested in the recent black and white quilt challenge (the challenge group's photos are on Flickr). If you know of other black-and-white challenges or exhibits - we'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monet's Garden: Impressionism and Quilting

Claude Monet was one of the best loved Impressionist painters of the late 19th-early 20th century. He painted many scenes of his gardens at Giverny, in the northwest of France, which is shown in the photo below.

Monet was fascinated with the way that bright light fell from the sky and diffused upon the trees, grasses, and water surrounding him. He painted the effects of light in nature with rapid, deft, brushstrokes and broken patches of vivid color. Today, we are featuring four landscape quilts which celebrate Monet's garden and his brilliant "plein-air" style of painting.

Monet, by Darlene Sweetwood

Darlene Sweetwood has created a beautiful quilt, awash in light and shadow. This work focuses on the water, bridge, and sunlight that Monet saw as he painted. Darlene used diamond piecing to portray the quick, energetic brushstrokes of Impressionism. The lilypad and dragonfly perched on the border draw the viewer's eye into the gently rippling azure pond. For more information on Darlene Sweetwood's quilts, visit Quilters Fabric.

Serenity Bridge, 48 x 48, by Marinda Stewart for Michael Miller Fabrics

"Serenity Bridge" was designed by Marinda Stewart for Michael Miller fabrics, using a solid fabric panel in the center to portray the graceful bridge over the lake. The quilt is constructed by using watercolor piecing techniques around the lake and background trees. The shimmering blue, green and white prints lend a light-dappled warmth to this cheerful scene.

Monet's Garden Walk, by Lenore Crawford

"Monet's Garden Walk" beckons us to wander up a flower bedecked path to experience a rainbow of floral color. Lenore Crawford has used precise fabric painting, so that the Impressionist tradition of using both warm and cool hues of nature takes full effect. One of Lenore's passions is painting the landscapes of France. She has captured the garden as Monet himself must have seen it in springtime, burgeoning with fresh grasses and blossoms.

For more information on Lenore Crawford's award-winning artwork, visit her website and blog. Lenore also teaches workshops on her fusing and fabric painting techniques.

Monet's Garden, Giverny, France, 48 x 60, by Joan Jamieson

Joan Jamieson was commissioned to create this quilt by a couple who had just returned from Giverny and who wanted a reminder of their wonderful vacation. She used an endless number of tiny pieces of blue and green fabric to construct this delightful scene. In order to add contrast, she created delicate pink flowers for the lily pads on the lake and added beautiful pink clouds to the sky. The graceful willow tree provides an intricate focal point, as she has lavished it with thousands of perfectly placed stitches to give it added texture. You can see a close-up of Joan's beautiful applique and quilting in the image below.

For more information about the creation of the above quilt, visit this webpage; and to see more of Joan Jamieson's quilts, visit her online galleries at Quilted Views.

Photo Credit: Photo of Monet's Garden, by Michael Scaduto at Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cubic construction

One of the beauties of tumbling blocks patterns is the seemingly infinite, and interesting, variations that are possible. Today we're showing several of our favorite contemporary quilts that incorporate tumbling blocks in some form: small or large, hollow or solid, floating or tessellated.

Hollow Cube, by Carol Capshaw

In Hollow Cube, the faces of the large tumbling blocks have been cut out, leaving a frame around the openings. The openings are filled with triangles, which are shaded to represent the back, floor, and sides of the cubes. The olive green and dark blue background has been rendered in textured batiks, giving it the quality of a landscape. We love the quilt, and the name of Carol's blog, To Be Fearless. We hope that Carol's workshops at OQSO include tips on fearlessness!

Blue Cubes, 65 x 76, by Martha Borders

In Blue Cubes, Martha has separated the tumbling blocks from each other so that they appear to be floating. The beauty of this elegant quilt comes in no small part from the hand-marbled cottons, which are arrayed in colors ranging from forest green to teal and turquoise blue. The swirled marbling reminds us of the deep blue sea.

Note added on December 22, 2010:  the website at has closed.  See a profile of Martha Borders at

Twin Towers, 32 by 24, by BJ Reed

The two large blocks in the quilt above are a remembrance of the Twin Towers in New York City. The blocks are constructed with crazy patch piecing, using fabrics in shades of rust and blue with red accents. BJ combined hand-dyed and painted fabrics, commercial batiks and geometric prints, satins and lames. The linear quilting on the building surfaces adds shading and dimension. The pattern for this wonderful quilt can be obtained at Piecemaking, LLC.

Hexagonal Rhythm, 1 meter square, by Jane Wilson at Jane's Quilts

In this original wall hanging, Jane has combined hexagons with tumbling blocks and elongated cubes, all in muted primary colors. The juxtaposition of shapes, and the angled arrangement of the houses, gives this piece a lively sense of movement or "rhythm". For more information and detailed views, visit Jane's Quilts.

All images are courtesy of the artists.

The hollow cube pattern is from Sara Nephew's Big Book of Building Block Quilts, available at Soft Expressions.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Arizona Quilt Show

We attended the 'Sol y Sombra' (Sun and Shade) quilt show last weekend, and had a fantastic time. The show is an annual production of the Arizona Quilters Guild, and this one was a whopper. A total of 333 quilts were on display for two and a half days, and thousands of quilt lovers were in attendance. Awards were given in an array of categories, for large/medium/small quilts that were pieced, appliqued, or mixed techniques; as well as art quilts, pictorial, miniature quilts, and other categories.

Today, we're showing a sampling of the quilts we liked (there were so many wonderful ones, it was a bit hard to choose). Which of these are your favorites?

Canyon Walls, 46(w) x 40(h), by Sheila Groman

The inspiration for this beautiful landscape wall hanging was the quilter's six-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon. In designing the quilt, Sheila made use of photos from the trip, capturing the red rock of the canyon walls and the brilliant blue of the river.

Desert Geckos, 29(w) x 26(h), by Elisa Lawrance

The panel, completed by stitched and appliqué techniques, is a day/night desert scene of scampering geckos escaping the scorching "sol" and into the cool night "sombra." The piping and crystals, along with the leafy batiks, add energy to the piece. The quilter was inspired by classes taught by Susan Vassallo and Sarah Vedeler.

Tropical Blend, 44 x 44, by Sharon Brooks

This stunning quilt won a blue ribbon. It is a pieced wall quilt that was professionally machine quilted. Sharon says that this quilt was started in a Carol Doak class several years ago. "It was completed within a few months then got tucked away in a drawer. Upon finding it recently, I decided it was time to quilt it…finally!" The quilt was embellished with crystals which enhanced the intricate quilting design (see detail above).

Joy Too, 58 x 58, by Dorothy Alliss

Dorothy Alliss says: "A few years ago I saw this ("Joy") quilt in a magazine and fell in love with it." The quilt design was by Jacqueline deJonge (see link at the end of the post).

The Path Not Taken, 42(w) x 45(h), by Sherryl Buchler

Sherryl Buchler is a fan of Shibori and hand-dyed fabrics, and she created the original design of "The Path Not Taken". Sherryl says that she stared at the fabrics for 8 months before the pattern "spoke" to her. The graceful, elongated figures are perfectly composed as they stroll along the path.

What's In Your Box? 62(w) x 51(h), by Elisa Lawrance

Elisa Lawrance chose brilliant Southwest batiks for this open tumbling block pattern. Thanks to the selection of bright batiks, along with a dramatic black background, the boxes appear to be lit from within. Minimal quilting in the boxes helped to define and accentuate the cubes (see detail view). The "Think Inside the Box" pattern inspired this quilt; see the links at the end of this post.

The Wright Stuff, 58" x 34", by Wanda Seale

"The Wright Stuff" was made for the AQG's 2009 President's Challenge. The pattern is from Jackie Robinson's book of Frank Lloyd Wright window designs (for the link, see below). The quilting was done by Jessica Brunnemer.

Audacious Hearts, 56" x 56", by Jeanne Copeland

This beautiful quilt was based on a 1995 pattern by Monica Calvert. The clamshell shapes form layers of hearts in red and black, giving the appearance of loops of ribbons. Jeanne Copeland says that she purchased the pattern in 1995, and finally decided to take the plunge in 2009. The quilting was done by Sherry Jack.

Spring in my Step, 70 x 70, by Ann Petersen

"Spring in my Step", above, won third prize in the Master's division (for quilters who have previously won a major award.) Ann Peterson started with a traditional sunflower block, then designed three very different approaches to making it. Spring" refers to the spring-like colors, and "step" refers to the sashing, which reminded Ann of stepping stones. The quilt was machine-pieced, machine-appliqued, and quilted by Ann on a regular sewing machine.

Am I Blue, 90" x 90", by Patricia "Pat" Ballantine

This fabulous quilt was based on an Irene Berry pattern in the May 2007 Quilter's Newsletter. The quilt was paper-pieced, and each 6 inch block (196 in the quilt) has 24 seams! The photo shows a detail view of the blocks. The quilting was done by Donna Reed.

Pickled, 83"(w) x 59"(h) by Ann Slater

The quilt was based on a class taught by Mary Lewkowitz of the Bernina Connection, using the "Christmas Pickle" design by Nancy Smith and Lynda Milligan. Ann Slater says: "I thought this would be a good way to learn paper piecing, not exactly a small project. Many times I felt like I was "in a pickle" or that I needed to "get pickled" to finish this." The photo shows a portion of this bed-sized quilt.

Variations on a Theme by Klimt, 66"(w) x 34"(h), by Linda Schoenfeld

This stunning art quilt won a blue ribbon in the wall quilts category. A detail view is shown above. The piece is a tapestry, incorporating a variety of fabrics - including taffeta and chiffon - along together with the gold tapestry borders, which are embellished with jeweled buttons. Linda Schoenfeld says that the geometric motifs, scrolls and curlicues of Gustave Klimt (1862-1918) have always inspired her.

Quilt show photos are by Quilt Inspiration.

The 'Sol y Sombra' quilt show is an annual production of the Arizona Quilters Guild, Phoenix, AZ. See their site to view more quilts, and to purchase a CD collection of all the quilts in the show.

For quilt patterns that are referenced above, see your local quilt store and the following online resources:

For the Christmas Pickle pattern by Nancy Smith and Lynda Milligan, see the Great American Quilt Factory

For Quilts in the Tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright, see Jackie Robinson's book

For the Color Me Blue pattern by Irene Barry, see the foundation piecing diagram here

For the Joy pattern and other designs by Jacqueline deJonge, see Be Colourful. For an online distributor, see Everything Quilts

For the "Think Inside the Box" pattern by Cathy Wierzbicki, see Time to Quilt

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Into, Through, and Beyond : Attic Windows Quilts

The Attic Windows pattern is one of the most popular and best loved of all three dimensional quilt patterns. It is captivating because it draws the eye into a "shadow box" effect that leads us to believe that we are peering either into or out of a window frame.

Successful Attic Windows quilts employ three aspects of the color scale: value, hue and chroma. The word value is used to describe the lightness or darkness of a color. Hue is used to describe the warmth or coolness of a color. Chroma is used to describe the purity or brilliance of a color.

Attic Windows quilts can be designed to either give the impression of standing outside looking in, or standing inside looking out, depending upon how the fabric palette is used.

The Inundation of Spring, by Lynne Hatwell

Lynne Hatwell, from Devon, England, creates a captivating work in a tribute to poet Emily Dickinson's line: "The inundation of spring enlarges every soul." In this pattern, two trapezoid shapes frame a square block, giving the illusion of a multi-paned window with a scene in the distance. Here, it is easy to imagine that we are outside, with friendly butterflies, looking into an enclosed, private flower garden. The quilter uses two different values of blue fabric, to give the illusion of sunlight illuminating part of the window frames. She employs large scale prints very effectively, providing the impression of real springtime blossoms.

Birds of a Feather, by Alice Kay Arnett

Alice Kay Arnett of Wyoming uses the cool hues hues of white and charcoal gray fabric on her window frames. These wintry tones give the impression of standing inside at dawn, looking out, as the birds awaken and the first rays of sun dispel the night sky. She has added interest by varying the size of the window panes in order to display more of the bird at work in their natural habitat. The traditional feather quilting on the panes adds to the delightful effect of this quilt.

Aquarium, by Jacqueline Johnson

Jacqueline Johnson of the Empire Quilters in New York City explains "For a long time, I owned a cat, but wanted fish. My solution- this fabric aquarium." Jacqueline has effectively created a cat's eye view of tropical fish as they dart and glide through the water. Her quilt makes very effective use of the strong chromatic colors of turquoise and aqua blue. They possess high chroma because they are pure, bright, undiluted colors. Because these blues have not been muted or shaded by adding brown, gray, or black, the viewer sees them as vivid and intense colors. Jacqueline has used this intensity to effectively portray a vibrant world swimming with life and movement. This charming quilt is enhanced by the value contrast of the light green and dark blue window panes, which increases the three-dimensional effect.

Image Credit and Links: The Inundation of Spring, courtesy of Lynne Hatwell at Dove Grey Reader; Bird of a Feather, by Alice Kay Arnett at Alice Kay Quilts; Aquarium by Jacqueline Johnson, courtesy Empire Quilters.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Going green

With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching, we're celebrating quilts that are as green as the Emerald Isle itself. Below, we are featuring works of fiber art in distinctly different styles.

Aspen Series - Green, by Amy Mundinger

Amy Mundinger has created a beautiful 24" x 24" wall hanging of aspen leaves, whose lovely shades are enhanced by the carefully composed, neutral tones of the surrounding blocks.

This quilt has hand-dyed fabric appliqued leaves on a solid background (machine satin-stitched) and a pieced black and white border using various prints. Amy states that she gains inspiration from the Rocky Mountain landscapes and especially micro-landscapes, such as a picture one would take with a telephoto lens of leaves having fallen on the ground. However, her technique in the studio is to draw enlarged leaves in her sketchbook, cut the leaves out of fabric and then spontaneously arrange them on the fabric background. After the border is added, she machine quilts the border, but has left the center panel unquilted for maximum effect of the applique. Her fresh, original designs have made their way into many private collections. To see more of Amy's work, visit her galleries.

Irish Chains Christened, by Renee Healy

Above, we feature a contemporary Double Irish Chain quilt by Renee Healy. The quilt was shown at the 2008 "Voices in Cloth" quilt show, a production of the East Bay Heritage Quilters (California). Renee displays the traditional vibrant lattice patchwork for which Irish Chains are known. She also modernizes her art by the addition of a serene blue stream of water, which gently meanders through the dappled green landscape, giving this lovely scene a dreamy, three-dimensional quality. We love the way that the river of water disappears into the landscape, beckoning us to follow it.

For information on the upcoming "Voices in Cloth" quilt show (April 10-11), click here.

Image credits and links: Aspen series - green, courtesy of Amy Mundinger; Irish Chains Christened, by Renee Healy, East Bay Heritage Quilters.
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