Monthly Archives: May 2015

Three Little Birds

I like to have a well defined project on the go to balance all my “where am I going with this” efforts. A project where most of the decisions have already been made gives my brain a rest. For me, this is often paper piecing.

As I browsed photos from QuiltCon my eye was caught by a group quilt that featured paper pieced birds. The pattern is from McCall’s Quilting and is pretty simple for paper piecing.

paper pieced birdsI like the different sizes of birds, the way they face different directions, and the gaps in the lineups.

I decided to begin with birds of the same size, but facing different directions. Later I may enlarge some and shrink others. And maybe I’ll embroider a worm or a twig in some of the beaks.

After a fling through my scraps I began to piece. Here are the three little birds I’ve made so far. The Bob Marley song keeps running through my head, so here’s a link to it to keep you company.

three little birdsI’m undecided about whether to make long, skinny pillows from my birds with a single row on a branch, or turn them into a child’s quilt with lots of branches. I just ordered a feathers backing fabric for it, whatever “it” turns out to be.


Filed under In Process, Project Ideas

Based On The Book

Occasionally the Snarky Quilter wanders off topic. This post is one of those times. It’s inspired by  Art Made From Books, by Laura Heyenga.

As someone who used to work around books I know the pain of discarding old, outdated, in bad condition books. Heyenga’s book shows how old books can become raw material for artists. I suppose just about anything can become an artistic medium. Here are photos of creations that caught my eye.

Anonymous @beathhigh for publication of "The Impossible Dead" by Ian Rankin

Anonymous @beathhigh for publication of “The Impossible Dead” by Ian Rankin

Arian Dylan "The Order and the Chaos)

Arian Dylan “The Order and the Chaos”

Pablo Lehmann "Baroque Letters (E)"

Pablo Lehmann “Baroque Letters (E)”

Nicholas Jones "Greek Art"

Nicholas Jones “Greek Art”

I think this one, made from a book about guess what, looks like prairie points gone rogue.

Pablo Lehmann "Cut Out Screen 1"

Pablo Lehmann “Cut Out Screen 1”

The text used in the above is from a work by Jacques Derrida, father of deconstructionism. I assume that’s the artist’s little joke.

Su Blackwell "Alice - A Mad Tea Party"

Su Blackwell “Alice – A Mad Tea Party”

Su Blackwell "The Snow Queen"

Su Blackwell “The Snow Queen”

Su Blackwell"Red Riding Hood"

Su Blackwell”Red Riding Hood”

Lisa Kokin "Panacea Plus"

Lisa Kokin “Panacea Plus”

The flowers are made from the spines of self-help books.

If you want to look at more book art, try these websites:




Filed under Books

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Voting Is Now Open

Voting in thirteen categories is open here until May 29. Choose the category you want and click through to the entries. Each entry links to a blog or Flickr post, so you can read what the artists have to say about their creations.

Of course I hope you’ll vote for my entry in art quilts, but even if you don’t vote at all I think you’ll enjoy browsing the entries.


Filed under Art quilts

Will Work For Fabric

Recently I started helping with the costumes for a community theater production of Oklahoma. So far I’ve been trusted with some hemming and pressing, though I have hopes of a promotion to serging soon. But the busy work is fine by me as I get to watch the costume designer work magic with the unlikeliest of fabrics. His attention to detail shames me.

My reward for hand hemming skirts with six gores (think a 3/4 circle) was to rummage through fabric donation boxes and carry off whatever took my fancy. So here’s my haul.

I have no idea what disordered mind combined leopard skin print and sequins, but here’s the result, and I have over 2 yards. The silvery side looks like chain mail.

leopard skin with sequinsContinuing with the sparkly theme, I also brought home some turquoise knit covered with sequins in a meander pattern.

turquoise knit with sequinsAnd still more synthetics, this time lots of organza.

synthetic organzaMy favorite is this dark green velvet that is so pettable. My camera refuses to get the color right.

green velvetI also got some lime green flannel and black wool suiting material. I may felt the latter.

I have no particular project in mind for this stuff, but it’s great to have fabric to play with that I won’t worry about wasting, as it cost me nothing. (Yes, I realize I did actually work for it, but it was an unexpected bonus.)



Filed under Commentary

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Art Quilt Entry

I can’t believe it’s time for the 2015 Blogger’s Quilt Festival, an annual explosion of quilty creativity organized by Amy’s Creative Side. Many thanks to Amy Ellis for doing this again.

My entry in Art Quilts is Hazy Shade of Winter. I finished it in late 2014, inspired by the bare trees and bittersweet I saw on my regular walks along an old towpath near my home.

Hazy Shade of Winter 2I used commercial (both sides) and hand dyed fabrics. The trees were improvisationally pieced. Quilting was done with a walking foot using Aurifil thread and Sulky 12 weight thread. I quilted a tree outline with the heavier thread.

Hazy detail 1Hazy detail 2


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Words In Pictures

Since I was without the internet this past weekend, most likely thanks to incompetent road crews, I had plenty of time to work on a small challenge quilt.

An art quilt group I belong to will have a fall exhibit at a Cleveland bookstore. We plan to show challenge quilts made for this exhibit. Our theme is words. We thought this was apt, given our venue.

My literal mind devised exactly that – words. On Pinterest I found a poster  that said “Make Do.” I loved the letters and asked Paul Garbett, the Australian designer if I could use his poster. He graciously said yes and I adapted his design to fit the challenge’s size limitations. And of course I used fabric.

Make Do Poster [1x1.5M]2of10

Once I drew out my letters, I decided to make do and use only re-purposed fabrics – my husband’s old dress shirts, a thrift store Hawaiian shirt, and a painted drop cloth. I made 1/4 inch bias tape from a striped shirt for the E and D. I used the 6 minute circle technique for the O.

Make Do detail 1 Make Do detail 2 I still like the poster better, but am proud that the only new components of this piece are the thread and batting. By the by, pinpoint oxford cloth is tough to sew through.

Make Do finished2


Filed under In Process

Quilt Value and Price

Blog discussion about the value of a quilt has ranged from the economic – how to price a quilt for sale, to the emotional – what the gift of a quilt means to its maker and recipient.

The general consensus seems to be that often quilters don’t recoup their costs if they sell their quilts. However, many get enough satisfaction from making quilts for gifts they believe costs are beside the point. For more on this see the Catbird Quilt Studio’s series of posts and an earlier post of mine.

The Mooreapproved blog weighed in on this discussion with a lengthy post on the real cost of quilts. You may have seen this as I gather it was all over Facebook. I found it a helpful summary of several perspectives on valuing quilts based on interviews with quilters.

Given all of the above commentaries, why am I beating this exhausted horse? There are two reasons.

I made and donated two quilts offered at the recent National Quilt Museum online quilt auction. While my quilts made money for the museum, the online bids barely covered my costs, though I don’t know if bids increased at the live auction.

This cartoon I found on Pinterest, pinned by Sew’n Wild Oaks, illustrates how different the quilter’s perspective is from the rest of the world’s.

quilt donation cartoonThe second impetus for this post is the Mutton Hill Quilt Show coming up in October in Akron, Ohio. The organizers, friends of mine, will be soliciting donations for a quilt auction. I’ve been thinking which quilts to donate. I have some small pieces suitable for a silent auction, but even winning bids of $50 each won’t reflect the true costs of my original designs.

The show organizers also hope to get larger quilts donated for raffles. I have at least one larger original design quilt that I may offer. It’s won blue ribbons at local shows and has beautiful quilting (not done by me.) However, will it appeal enough to potential raffle ticket buyers to raise lots of money for the quilt show’s nonprofit sponsor? I’ll have to think about that, and solicit outside opinion. I have enough invested in this quilt to want it to bring a respectable amount of money. And let’s not talk about my fear of the quilting equivalent of throwing a party no one shows up for.

That brings me to pricing in the world of art quilts, where I aspire to hang out. I think how art quilt prices are set is different than for functional quilts because a work of art is different from a craft. This post on pricing works of art offers sensible advice that I think applies to fiber art. I don’t discount the role aesthetics play in the appeal and pricing of bed quilts, though I think it’s often a different aesthetic. And sometimes functional quilts transcend their function and are art. Conversely, sometimes quilts labeled as art may not be art.

I don’t mean to write a tutorial on pricing art quilts, but I do want to point out that quilters of any type are often their own worst enemies when it comes to valuing their work. Some commenters on the Mooreapproved post said they wouldn’t feel right charging for time spent sewing on binding when they were taking care of their children at the same time. Sadly, many quilters would probably agree. Oh, what about business people who bill for time they spend eating lunch, plus bill for the cost of the lunch?

By undervaluing a quilt’s worth we do ourselves and our fellow quilters a disservice. We drag down the market for quilts and we shortchange the work and thought that go into a gift quilt.

What’s the solution? Wiser heads than mine haven’t yet reached one. Possibly education, of ourselves and the potential audience for our quilts. Why? Because our quilts are worth it and deserve recognition of their value.



Filed under Commentary

I Just Closed My Eyes

And came up with an idea for a quilt – the streaks of color you see when you rub your eyes hard. The internet tells me they are called phosphenes. If you meditate a lot, you might know them as nimitta. I had thought of calling this one Scintillations, but maybe I should go with Phosphene Forest.

I pulled out small leftover strips (more scraps,) sewed them together, and set them into a navy ombre fabric. I just love ombres as they give luminosity to a quilt, and color gradations without the bother of sewing a bunch of pieces together.

ombre2After trying and rejecting various yarns and ribbons to stitch on top of the blocks, I decided to do scattered hand stab stitching in undulating columns. I’ve ironed fusible fleece to the back in columns to give stability to my stitches and a bit of dimension.

Phosphene backvariegated Valdani perle cotton

The hand stitching is done. I used variegated Valdani perle cotton We’ll see how well the fleece works out once I add batting to the whole piece. I’m now puzzling over how to quilt this.

Phosphene ForestMy husband, the scientist, says the design is too geometric to represent phosphenes. He really doesn’t grasp the concept of artistic license.



Filed under In Process, Project Ideas

Art Speak

I’m not called the Snarky Quilter for nothing. And nothing sets off my BS meter like art speak – that self-important, pretentious twaddle so beloved of art marketers and performance/installation artists. You know, those folks who have a truckload of dirt dumped on a gallery floor and call it art.

Here’s an example I came across on Kathy Loomis’ blog, Art With A Needle, on The Mending Project installation by Lee Mingwei:

“…installing the thread was a serious production; “We were very intentional about making it look unintentional,” said Marcus Siu, the art handler who got to do all the hard work. “It’s a very Zen process,” Lee agreed.

Oooh, I’ll have to remember “intentional about making it look unintentional” when someone dares to suggest one of my creations looks like a hot mess.

9_2013_dyeing2Like this fabric I dyed, which to me epitomizes a lurid and throbbing hot mess. I think I put this on the back of one of my more arty quilts.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, dyeing, Snark

Leafing Out

All that project completion stuff just got to be too boring (I’ll fess up to four tops in need of quilting,) so I had to play around with some fabric printing. In April I put a bunch of fabric that I thought might go together up on my design wall. One of the pieces was printed with ginkgo leaves, so I made that my theme.

First, I created a stamp out of adhesive foam sheets. Then, I coated the stamp with silk screen paint and went to work.

Stamp and paintHere are the results I think work. The first is printed on black silk organza. The second is on previously dyed fabric. The third is on a painting rag. The fourth is on cotton velveteen that had been treated previously with a chemical discharge. The fifth is on commercial batik. I found that overprinting with light paint on a darker surface gives a translucent effect.

Here are the ones that are meh or worse. Either the color contrast wasn’t strong enough or the colors didn’t play well together. They’ll go back into my raw materials pile.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques