Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am on a break from working on that jacket - it is going great - but I stitched a line that I shouldn't have. So, I am taking it out - the kind of task I like least.

There has been a lot of commenting on the Quilt Art email group this past week about the Quilting Arts magazine. It happens to be the one quilting magazine that I subscribe too. The thread of discussion has been long and has branched out in many directions not really related to the original post. That is the way most discussions evolve on the web it seems. The discussion of the magazine has sort of galvanized at this point into those that like the magazine as it is and those that wish it were different, perhaps more advanced, more relevant to their interests.

Since I am subscribing to it and intend to keep subscribing, I guess I fall into the group of those that appreciate the magazine. I see some interesting parallels between Quilting Arts another magazine that I receive - Runner's World - a magazine for distance runners. Some of you know that I am marathon runner. When my monthly copy of Runners' World arrives, I quickly scan through it. Some of the articles are always directed at new runners and how to run a 5k (3.2 miles and relatively short in the world of distance running). Sometimes there will be a feature on other length races like a 10K, a marathon or a really long distance run of 50 miles or more. Other articles deal with diet, supplemental training of interest to all runners like stretching, strength building exercises, equipment and usually there is a feature on an athlete.

Naturally, some of these articles are of more interest to me than others. I may pick up a few tips on diet or some stretches that I can use. I might just enjoy reading about another runner or some of the latest equipment or clothing that is available. I don't need to really know at this point about running a 5K or how to train for your first marathon (a popular topic) since I have already run quite a few. Still, it has never dawned on me to lament the fact that Runners' World has material in it that is way too basic or off topic for me. I just don't read those articles. I appreciate the fact that that material is helpful for others and quite honestly, I am not sure the magazine could survive financially if it focused only upon what interests a 63-year-old female marathoner.

Viewing Quilting Arts in the same vein, I am not surprised that not every article interests me. I do always enjoy the colors and design of the magazine. I often pick up tips and am intrigued by the many techniques that they share a glimpse of. I can't say that I am prone to actually doing a project that they offer but I usually read the directions to understand the process and see if there are any ideas that might be useful for me. I actually save the magazines as references on basic techniques for a quick review if I am going to use a process I haven't worked with in a while.  

I suspect the frustration with the content of Quilting Arts surfacing in the current Quiltarts discussion may come from those who want more support as 'advanced' quilt artists and wish Quilting Arts was a better source of that for them.  I wonder if a better discussion might have emerged if the emphasis had been on how to find better support for quilt artists who are not new to the field rather than debating a magazine which seems to be doing a good job at what it says is its mission.

Now I haven't said anything particularly profound or earth-shattering in this post. Just a thought that we all should keep in mind in discussing a topic online. In conflict resolution, there is a phrase, Hard on the issue, soft on the people. Discussions that focus more on what particular needs are and how they can be met, rather than focusing on why one particular vehicle is not meeting needs, create fewer hurt feelings and more solutions.

Just a thought. Now back to tearing out those seams!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts

By chance, a friend sent me a clipping on an exhibit presented by the American Folk Art Museum in New York City a few days before a scheduled trip to Manhattan. It sounded intriguing - 650 red and white quilts hung in the Park Ave Armory. The exhibit, "Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts," was amazing.

The quilts were hung in levels from the Armory ceiling. All were from the collection of Joanna S Rose and were exhibited free of charge to the public. Her husband sponsored the exhibit as an 80th birthday present for Joanna.

View of a portion of the quilts
I loved the exhibit from the start as Joanna described them as follows:

These six hundred and fifty American quilts from three centuries are not the prizewinners at fairs nor ones that have been passed down in families, cherished by several generations. They are, rather, ordinary coverings, their creators largely anonymous, their provence obscure, not meant for company beds or "best use."
The quilts were absolutely stunning.

More views of the quilts

I was fascinated by how the quilts were hung. The layout was designed by the New York City firm Thinc Design. The quilts hang in layers from circular metal frames suspended from the ceiling. Each quilt is mounted by clips to a circular cardboard tube. The mounting clips are covered by a second cardboard tube cut in half. The quilts are hung in pairs, matched in size. 

The quilts are hung back to back from cardboard tubing.
There were countless designs represented in the exhibit. Here are a few of my favorite quilts.

Hand embroidered leaf
The exhibit is only on display for six days and ends on March 30. If you are in the New York area for any reason, it is definitely worth visiting.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fun in the Sun

Last weekend my husband and I took a trip out to visit his mother. She lives just south of Sedona, Arizona. Of course, this meant that I was able to visit one of my favorite fabric stores - Quilter's Store Sedona and Gallery.
That's my husband with the sign.
The owners don't allow photos inside the store but it has a most wonderful collection of batiks. I was delighted to find some rayon batik fabric and a pattern for a jacket that I really liked. There was even a sample made in the store that I could try on. Here is a peek at the fabric. The pattern is really simple and despite some heavy traveling and other commitments, I can't wait to start sewing it.

There is a gallery associated with the store and they had an exhibit by Margaret Anderson which is still on display until March 31.  I really enjoyed seeing Margaret's works which are explained as dyed fabric that is cut and then pieced into a composition. Here is a photo from the store's website of two of Margaret's works.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Fun Bernina Club Day!

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to find time to attend not one, but two Bernina Club meetings hosted at our local Bernina dealer, the Bobbin Case, owned by Linda Fellows. The Bobbin Case has been hosting these meetings as long as I have owned Berninas, but my work/volunteer schedules have always precluded my participation. But, this year I made a resolution to really learn more about my Bernina and to create time in my schedule.

The first meeting was a 'non-embroidery' event. We made small purses from odds and ends. I loved it.  First, we put laid out whatever threads, bits of fabric, embellishments we wished on a piece of fabric.

We then laid some netting over our creations and stitched to our hearts content. Next we cut out the shape of a bag, added a lining and stitched up our purses. Here is mine  and one by another club member, Marilyn:
It was all great fun. The project is adaptable to any size bag you wished to make. And, of course, the odds and ends you choose totally change the design. What I loved about the project, and the following embroidery club meeting, was the fun approach to learning.

In embroidery club we learned to alter designs in the Bernina software on our computers. We all laughed our way through the exercise while Linda ran about answering our questions. It didn't seem to matter if you were a total newbie to embroidery (like me) or more experienced, everyone furthered their understanding of this incredible software that we own.

I can't wait for next month!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting Antsy for Spring

We are having some warmer days here. I am ready for Spring! I just signed up to be part of a local CSA (Commnity Supported Agriculture) - Mud Creek Farm. The thought of a summer of fresh organic vegetables is really exciting me. Not only does Mud Creek offer vegetables but herbs and flowers! I can't wait.

As I wait patiently for the warmer weather, here are some more photos of those lazy summer days from last summer.
Bronzed sculture in Rochester, NY - Let's Have Tea - Susan B Anthony and Frederick Douglass

Fruit blossoms outside Spokane, WA

Wildflower in Finger Lakes, NY

Colorado columbine

Aspen, CO backyard

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kumihimo Braiding

I am always into discovery and am always finding new techniques/ideas when I have the time to surf the web. A few days ago I was checking out many of the fiber blogs that I love to follow.  Judy Wedemeyer had a really cheerful post on some flower quilts that she had designed. The day was dreary and the flowers were so cheerful.

Judy wrote a good deal in her post about the techniques she used to create the pieces and mentioned Kumihimo braiding that she used in a border. I was hooked. She referenced a previous blog on the braiding and showed some pieces that she had made.

Of course, I started googling Kumihimo braiding to learn more. I found a great 4 minute video on youtube.

 It looks fairly simple, doesn't it?

Next, I found a website that advertised Everything Kuminimo and browsed a bit.

The end result of all this is that I have an order for some basic supplies so I can play with some braiding. I am always searching for things relating to my art that I can do while I am traveling. I am optimistic that this may just turn into one of those crafts that will be very portable and even easily done in a plane. And, the result will be some beautiful braiding for a future project.

Will keep you posted!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Progress Report

My art work on the Scents of India continues to evolve. I am now in the process of adding the beadwork. You may recognize the seed pod design from my earlier post on the star anise. The actual star anise pods will be set into the map of India part of the quilt. I have found some glue that seems to work quite well for anchoring the pods.

I now have a name for this other work - Winter Greens. You may not believe it but the inspiration came from a photo I took in Paris in January at an open market. I definitely seem to be moving in the direction of abstracting from photos that I take to play with the colors and shapes in fiber.  Here are the original photos -

The more I work on Winter Greens, the more I like it. Ever have that experience? For me it is refreshing. My internal critic is usually pretty active while I am creating a piece. I am glad that I have learned to persist no matter what.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Winter is over at the Dahmen Barn!

Last year I wrote a piece about visiting the Dahmen Barn in Washington State. It is a few hours south of Spokane and a lovely drive in good weather. The barn has been restored and housed exhibits and classes. I just received a note about a new glass exhibit there.

It is called Visual Organics and is an exhibit of glass by local artists Bob and Kathy Kernan. It opens Saturday, March 12 and runs through the 26th. If you are within driving distance, I think you will enjoy it.

And, while you are there, you can snap a few photos of the famous Dahmen wagon wheels that line the property. They are sure to inspire you!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I am constantly coming in contact with fascinating people with wonderful ideas and beautiful artworks. Here are two wonderful examples:

  • Miki Lovett served on the Board of the Franciscan Family Apostolate with me for a number of years. Miki was a weaver (and website designer/programmer) when I met her. More recently she has focused on marbling. She recently redesigned her website to showcase her latest group of silk scarves as well as other pieces she has designed. You can learn more about Miki and her work on her website.

  • Heather Stoltz is a fiber artist in the SAQA Visioning Project with me. She is currently raising funds for a traveling exhibit on New York's homeless. Here is a video about her plans.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Little More on Quilting with Embroidery Modules

I found this post on Susan Brubaker Knapp's blog, Blue Moon River, while web surfing the other day.  She writes about Sarah Vedeler who designs fabulous machine embroidery designs, and recently won first place in that category at International Quilt Festival in Houston. I have been blogging a bit about the experience of being a beginner in the world of quilting with embroidery apparatus. 

Sarah's work is an example of the potential of what I intuitively felt. Her work is amazing. 

 Here is a project that she designed for Aurifil that can be downloaded for free in March from the Aurifil website.

 It is a 'simple' example of the potential. It looks great. Not sure I am up to it quite yet, but it gives me ideas. :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Next step in Anise Quilt

After abandoning my idea of using my Bernina embroidery module to quilt, I went ahead and quilted my Anise Star art quilt freehand. Here is a glimpse of how it is turning out.

I plan to now add the beaded stars that I was playing with a few weeks ago. I also played with gluing some of the actual anise star seed pods to the quilt using some bead glue. That also seems to work .

What is also interesting is that I brought it in to show my friends at the Bobbin Case last week.  As I was paying for some thread I was picking up, I had the piece rolled inwards and laying on the counter.  The owner of the shop, Linda Fellows, and I both simultaneously noticed the backside of the piece. The quilting pattern looked really attractive. I think I will have to recreate my design in another piece using contrasting thread on the front!

Back of piece

Friday, March 4, 2011

Three Sisters Marketplace Open for Business!

The Three Sisters Marketplace is now up and running. It was recently featured on the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. The creator, Wendy Wolf, explains her new marketplace, designed to help artists sell their art work. Click here to view the segment.

I am currently listing some of my quilts, art quilts, and one of my silk scarves. You can click here to view my offerings. 

I hope that you will be able to visit the site and pass it on to family and friends. Wendy has assembled a diverse collection of art works!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Learning the Bernina!

Well, I spent many hours last week and the week before learning how to quilt on my embroidery module. The outcome was progress and a lot of positive feelings about the potential of the tool. Unfortunately, it will take time for me to learn how to use the module well enough to actually use it in a project I would like to turn out well. Fortunately, I realized that before I tried it on my current India art quilt!

I have had to let go of more progress on the Bernina for the moment, due to some upcoming travel and deadlines for shows, etc. But, I can share what I did accomplish. Here is a photo of the quilting on a 'draft'. It is a partial of the entire quilt pattern that I designed. To have done that would have required changing hoops three times and I was having problems with interpreting the necessary registration marks for that process. As was pointed out to me quite lovingly, I began with an advanced project - not at all surprising for me.

As you can see, the larger flowers on the edge of the hoop basting don't match up quite right.

In any event, I am looking forward to playing more with the tool. I suspect my next project will be a design that fits in one hoop for a start. Then one that requires only one hoop shift! And, perhaps by then, I will have figure out the nuances of a PC computer and the various options in the embriodery module on my machine.  Given all I have to learn, this wasn't too bad!