Monthly Archives: July 2015

Clouds of the West

While everyone else I encountered on my 4700 mile road trip was taking selfies, I concentrated on clouds. The western skies are so expansive that the cloud formations can be dramatic. I may look into digital fabric printing of some of my clouds.

Starting in Chadron, Nebraska, I took up my point and shoot camera in this cause.

Chadron Nebraska sky 3Chadron Nebraska sky 5

Next up, Montana. These are from the road and Many Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Then the Badlands of South Dakota.

Badlands 12

Our Car in the Badlands

Our Car in the Badlands

Entering The Badlands

Entering The Badlands

What’s with all those selfies anyway? I took a 1.5 mile cave tour (Wind Cave) and followed a mother and son who stopped every 10 feet for picture taking – of themselves.


Filed under Commentary

A Quilter’s Pilgrimage

Living in Akron, Ohio, I’ve become used to the annual pilgrimages AA members make to Dr. Bob’s house.  I’m not above making pilgrimages of my own. When my husband and I decided to take a road trip to Montana I lobbied for a stop in Lincoln, Nebraska, to visit the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

My husband, being supportive of my obsession, went along with this, and dropped me off at the museum’s doors just as it opened. Since we were there on a Saturday I couldn’t wheedle my way into a behind the scenes tour of the archives. Instead I’ll have to make do with the videos. I hope you look at the quilt index to see the breadth of the museum’s collection. However, Michael James’ latest work was featured in one of the exhibitions, so I was content.

Michael James sparked my interest in quilting long ago when I got hold of his The Quiltmaker’s Handbook and realized that quilting could combine craft and art. His work has changed considerably since that book. The 2015 piece below shows he’s returned to his printmaking roots via digital printing. The piecing is extremely simple, but each piece of fabric contains worlds.

International Quilt Museum Each Of These Leaves Michael James 2015Covering the War featured quilts honoring soldiers individually and collectively. This jacket by an unknown seamstress caught my eye. I believe the Morse Code underneath the V stands for SOS.

International Quilt Museum Victory Jacket 1942-45 maker unknownStill other exhibits featured quilts from many world cultures, a small collection of circle themed art quilts by local artists, and toy sewing machines.

For reasons I never discovered, Lincoln is dotted with giant light bulb sculptures that feature themes related to nearby landmarks. Here’s the one in front of the museum.

Sculpture International Quilt MuseumOf course I couldn’t leave without visiting the gift shop. I came away with the catalogs for the Michael James exhibition and the 2001-2 European Art Quilts II show. No tee shirts this time.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Inspiration

The Past Is Still Relevant

As a comment on my post about painting fabric reminded me, lots of the tools used in art quilts have been around for a while. In fact, art quilts have been around for decades, and much excellent work done more than ten years ago seems to get overlooked now.

I was reintroduced to some older work in a book called Quilting Masterclass by Katharine Guerrier, published in 2000. A longtime fellow guild member gave this to me, with the notion that I was one of the few quilters she knew who might appreciate it.

Quilting Masterclass 2000Subtitled Inspirations and Techniques From The Experts, this book features one work each by 50 contemporary quilters, with discussions of techniques used in each quilt.

Here are the pieces that appealed to me especially.

30 Circles by Carol Schepps

30 Circles by Carol Schepps

All those randomly cut circles are fused, then quilted. Sound familiar?

Bird Study #4 by Joan Colvin

Bird Study #4 by Joan Colvin

The nest is collaged with all sorts of fibers. The rock fabrics were folded and pressed to suggest fissures.

Ginkgo Biloba by Ruth McDowell

Ginkgo Biloba by Ruth McDowell

Ruth makes full sized templates and stitches the seams together. I believe she uses only commercial fabric.

Veiled by Pam Winsen

Veiled by Pam Winsen

The artist made a collage from a picture of her mother’s wedding dress and photo transferred the collage onto tea dyed silk georgette. The pleats, folds, and embroidery enhance the fragile quality. Again, photo transfer techniques are still being used, though usually with more photo editing, thanks to wider availability of  photo editing software home versions.

Umbrella Thorn Tree by Maurine Noble

Umbrella Thorn Tree by Maurine Noble

This textile landscape painting uses a frame on three sides to define and extend the landscape into the distance.

Whirligig by Jane Lloyd

Whirligig by Jane Lloyd

I’m including this (poorly photographed by me) piece because its wedge piecing approach is used by some modern quilters, such as Sherri Lynn Wood. A work by her is below. Created fabric, check; random curved strips, check; irregular edges, check.

a2-daintytime-quilts-1 Sherri Lynn WoodI know many of the artists featured in Guerrier’s book still create. When I looked them up I found some continue to work in the same style while others have developed different approaches. And some, like Maurine Noble, are no longer with us.

Joan Colvin’s work continues to focus on nature. I can’t find any reliable information about Pam Winsen, who may now be a painter. Jane Lloyd has a piece in the 2015 Quilt National show. Carol Schepps still does circles, but works in many other series as well. And Ruth McDowell continues to use and teach her piecing technique, and use only commercial fabrics.

So, if you’re stuck for inspiration do yourself a favor and look to the past for some new ideas and approaches.


Filed under Art quilts, Books, Commentary

My Problem Project

A project I began at my Empty Spools workshop on translucent fabric is giving me fits. Once I finally settled on the arrangement of many circles of painted silk organza and got them all fused down, I decided it needed something more. What that something was was unclear. I just knew it needed more subtlety, a quality not often present in my work.

Bubbles fusedAs a temporizing measure I chose and cut out a backing fabric, cut out my batting, and decided to stiffen the piece with a crinoline layer. I machine quilted the edges of the organza pieces and added a few extra circle outlines. That done, I had to face the music. What now?

Maybe another organza layer? I painted a fat quarter of white silk organza with stripes of blue and green, which blended together nicely. I started draping the painted fabric over the piece. Maybe I could partially cover it with another organza layer, following the rays. Nothing too stripey, though. Here’s the pink and aqua layers pinned to the quilted top. It still needs some tweaking.

Overlayers pinnedI liked the uneven edge of paint and wanted that to show, but how to finish the edges? Maybe just fray the edges? A trial showed silk organza will fray nicely.

Painted edgeSo my plan right now is to to hand sew the top organza layer on with silk and metallic thread, following the rays. As for finishing the piece, I’m thinking I’ll do an envelope finish, the infamous “false back” that instantly disqualifies a quilt from many shows. But then I don’t see entering this piece in any show with such rules.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Color Served Straight Up

Sometimes when I get stuck on how to solve a quilting problem I procrastinate by making something ridiculously easy. I’ve been stuck on a project that involves silk organza and how to layer it, so I grabbed some strips from the only fabric jelly roll I’ve ever bought (that Caryl Bryer Fallert fabric I used for Rennie) and went to work. I sketched out a design which I promptly ignored. It occurs to me I use sketches to eliminate ideas.

Color Slide sketchI simply wanted to enjoy the color changes on the strips, so I combined red and green family strips with some McKenna Ryan ombre fabric I found in Ohio’s Amish county ($5.50 a yard!) and added thin strips of a graphite solid. I played around with some cut out squares, probably influenced by my research for Rennie.

Color SlideThe straight line quilting is done in gray, red, light turquoise, dark turquoise, and dark green. Most of the lines are 1/2 inch apart, but I decided to leave one inch spaces between the different color threads. There are two lines of quilting in a light gray down the middle of each gray strip.

I bound it in the graphite fabric. By happy chance one of the quilting lines meshed perfectly with the label on the back. Color Slide measures 24 by 46 inches, and will most likely get used on my dining room table.

Color Slide label

Now I need to get back to that organza.



Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

Architectural Inspiration

Inspiration comes in strange ways. I began with Radiant fabric strips designed by Caryl Bryer Fallert and failed miserably at a design. Then as I pieced squares with the remnants I recalled the Art Nouveau elongated chairs designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his penchant for using cut out squares.

I wrote about this before but wanted to show the completed product, which I call Rennie.

RennieWhile the quilting seems sparse I put a lot of thought into it, and based my design on a gate. I was thrilled to find a simplified version of the Mackintosh rose.

Rennie quilting designI traced the design onto the clear cover of a file folder and adapted that on a black and white photo of my top.

Rennie quilting sketchI added more horizontal quilting lines for stability and did more stitching in the ditch than usual. I used Superior smoke poly invisible thread and Sulky rayon 40 weight thread.

Quilted rose on RennieThis now hangs in my sewing studio.


Filed under Completed Projects, Inspiration

Rust Never Sleeps

For a few posts I plan to feature work that I’ve completed recently. I guess I’d better get cracking so I’m not a one post wonder.

I began Rust Never Sleeps over a year ago with bits of cloth I had dyed, discharged, and tortured in some fashion. Rather than sew the bits together I elected to lay them on fusible batting and a backing, and then press the result once I covered all the batting. I created lots of raw edges, which I stitched down as I quilted. This technique worked to my advantage since I was going for a coarse, worn look inspired by lots of photos of rusty buildings, roofs, iron, etc. If you’re really interested, you can look at my Pinterest board called Rust.

Rust Never SleepsAfter quilting this piece (I won’t talk about the FMQ issues) I slapped on more color with paint sticks, Derwent Inktense pencils, paint and other methods I’ve forgotten.

Rust Never Sleeps detail 2When I showed it to my art quilt critique group a member said the piece was lovely, but it was a background. It needed more. I got her point and went home to ponder what to put over the background.

Back to Pinterest where I found I had pinned a photo of a fire escape. Eureka! There’s lots of rust on old fire escapes.

Rust Never Sleeps inspirationI played with different configurations of a fire escape silhouette, settled on one, put Mistyfuse on black silk organza, cut out strips, arranged and secured them. With a bit more quilting and a zigzagged yarn edge I was done.

Rust Never Sleeps edge




Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

I Won, I Won!

Occasionally I enter quilting blog giveaways; very rarely I win.  Recently I got lucky.

To give some perspective, I’ve begun to use thermofax screens to print on fabric, and I’ve bought some from an Etsy shop called PGfiber2Art. Like most Etsy shops there’s a go-with blog. I decided to follow it for ideas about printing from screens plus other art quilt tidbits.

When a giveaway was featured, I entered, and the rest is history.

Giveaway winningsThe blue fabric is ice dyed, and the sandy fabric is rusted. These will work well in a landscape series I’m planning. The two seashell thermofax screens will get used with discharge paste on other, less attractive hand dyed fabric I have.

Here’s a link to the directions I received for printing from these screens. BTW, this is an unsolicited post. All the shop owners asked me to do was send them any photos I take of how I used these items.



Filed under Fabric Printing

Textile Arts Alliance Exhibit

My last post was all about technique. This post features what textile artists do with all that cloth. To help celebrate the opening of Praxis, Textile Arts Alliance members created an exhibit of some of their work.

The pieces included jewelry, clothing, sculpture, and hangings, in addition to quilts and felted pieces. Here are some that caught my eye.

Diane Bird untitled rust piece Jennifer Liston Balancing Orbits JoAnn Girodano Traces Mary Ann Weber bracelets Melissa Richmond Day by Day Ruta Marino Tumbled Legacy


Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows