Monthly Archives: March 2016

Occasional Wednesday Salon

Today I want to focus on the negative, space that is. Within a few days of each other I read a post on the use of negative space category at QuiltCon West from the Plaid Portico and one on Spanish graphic designer and illustrator Jesus Perea. I was struck by many similarities between the modern quilts and Perea’s work. Let me know if you think I’m onto something or simply on something.

First, Perea’s work, which is flat out abstract and uses large blocks of color. The only information I have on him is date of birth and school degree. He sometimes works in collage, though I don’t know which of the following are collages.


JesusPereaAbstractComposition578JesusPereaAbstractComposition689JesusPereaAbstractComposition724I’d love to make these up as quilts. He’s done tons more abstracts, which you can see on his website.

Next, a few quilts from the use of negative space category at QuiltCon West.

Sunset on the Bay by Julie Smith

Sunset on the Bay by Julie Smith

Echoes by Leanne Chahley

Echoes by Leanne Chahley

Activating Space Medallion by Jacquie Gering

Activating Space Medallion by Jacquie Gering

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

The quilts above are similar to modern quilts made at the beginning of that movement – solid colors, large areas of negative space, and fairly basic quilting. I really like them.

Editorial carping, feel free to skip this: I find it odd that quilts with such characteristics have been bundled into their own category, while other categories such as modern traditionalism and handwork have been added. I realize that quilt shows like to spread around ribbon winning opportunities, but modern has become vastly diluted, in my opinion.



Filed under Commentary, Modern Quilting, Quilt Shows

Next In Line

I hope you didn’t think I forgot about my circus tent. I worked on that as well, but find my body is getting in the way of that project, too.

Here’s the drawing.

MARCH JMM sketch 3a resized

Here’s what I submitted for the blocking after I made a few modifications. Yes, that’s an ant in the upper left corner. I have no idea where it came from.

JMM MARCH Blocked 2 resized

My aim was to do mirror images of the tent, with one being a ghost of the other. I cut out 2 copies of my drawing on freezer paper with an Xacto knife. One I ironed to the fabric and the other I ironed to red felt with fusible attached. Then I cut out the spaces. I’m sure that didn’t help my hands and arms.

I had planned to do the ghost image with Paintstiks, using the freezer paper cutout as a mask. Elizabeth had other thoughts, however. Here are her exact words and spellings. I think she’s turned off spellcheck.

“These are amazaing I really like these cut outs.  I think what I would do is a row of three of them…all the same way up – could be marquues one way, footed vessels the other way doesnt matter.
I don’t think I’d make ghost images either…these are beautiful in and of themselves…but a row of three would be more of a statement than two together like this.  I’m glad they’re not fused down because I find the back ground a little wimpy…Try three bold saturated colors….think of Andy Warhol’s Marilyns …..and once you have these shapes fused onto the backgrounds – I don’t think you need to do anything more.  don’t fuss with them…they’re strong enough to stand alone – place them on squares by the way – 3 brilliant squares in a row…you could go with 3 neon colors, or with red and white  (red behind white and v.v.) or one deep rich color – say a midnight blue – behind all three.
Bold clear elegant simple!”

I went ahead and made the ghost image separately just because I wanted to see how it would come out.


Then I tried out the red felt cut out on top of several pieces of bright silk I had. Despite the reflection off the silk, the deep purple really sets off the red.

RedBigTentJust to refresh your memory, here’s one version of Warhol’s Marilyns.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

All Lined Up

I had begun to piece my March master class assignment when my tendinitis struck, so I can show you my work so far, but the end product will be delayed. Which project did I choose? Let’s begin with the drunkards path idea.

Here’s my drawing.

MARCH JMM sketch 1 resized

Here’s the blocking with the bias tape sewn onto pieces. My hope is to smooth out the joins once the pieces are sewn together.

JMM MARCH Blocked1 resized

I had always planned to use bias tape for the curves so I could could get relatively narrow lines. I made 1/2 inch tape as I thought 1/4 inch might not have enough impact.

I love black and pink together as I think it’s sophisticated. I used a combination of solid black fabric and Grunge in a periwinkle/black combination for the ground. The only pink fabric I had was silk – an overdyed silk crepe and a naturally dyed raw silk from southeast Asia.

PinkSilkCrepe PinkSlubbedSilk

I found that silk crepe slithers about when you try to make bias tape with it and doesn’t make nice straight tape. I ended up cutting my strips a bit wider than 1 inch for 1/2 inch tape which resulted in straighter but wider tape. The other silk was a breeze to work with, by comparison.

Elizabeth’s comments were:

“Love your drunken elephants [I call the piece Do Drunkards Dream of Pink Elephants] – this one came out really well…and it’s great because you did take a traditional pattern and work with it…I don’t think you really need to connect the lines with quilting [I had said I planned to do that]…let the viewer’s eye do that…and sometimes that’s going to give them two options – which is always good, something that makes them think: hmm,,,this…or that..?  is always good.”

As for the other possibilities, wait and see.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process


Robby Burns was so right about the best laid plans of mice and men. About mid March I noticed I was having some pains in my forearms, which I ignored, of course. Then I noticed tingling and numbness in my fingers. Uh-oh. Not good. Looks like my tendinitis is back, and the only “cure” is to stop using my hands so much.

So, I’m on a regimen of naproxin and wrist braces and NO SEWING for a few weeks. Instead I’ll be doing lots of designing, maybe some printing and painting, and general cleanup. My husband the enforcer is breathing down my neck to make sure I don’t cheat.

Luckily, The Quilt Show offered free access to all but the most current shows the weekend of March 19.  I find it painful to watch most quilting shows, but Alex and Ricky are breezier than many hosts and make the doings seem a bit more spontaneous. And I’ve learned to skip those Bernina commercials that show skinny models writhing on piles of appliqued pillows and caressing them. Are we to believe those ladies actually did the sewing?

But I digress. So far I’ve enjoyed sessions with Sheila Frampton Cooper (everyone in the crew sported bits of blue hair in her honor), Melody Crust, Louisa Smith, Andrea Brokenshire, and Jane Dunnewold. I so want to go to San Antonio and take a class with Jane. Digital fabric printing may be my salvation if my issues don’t clear up.

I’ve learned that Ricky hand bastes his quilts with water soluble thread which dissolves when he washes his quilts to block them. And he has a cool way to run the thread through the quilt sandwich that involves a spoon. After seeing the variety of techniques the guests use to make their quilts I’m more convinced than ever there’s no one right way to do anything; there’s YOUR way.

I hope I get back to my way soon. If you want a detailed description of what can go wrong with your hands/arms here’s a doctor’s power point presentation. Finally, here’s a breath of spring from my brother’s camera.



Filed under Commentary

Get In Line

March madness is upon me with my master class project. This month it’s all about the line. We were to reimagine quilts we had already made as lines rather than shapes. Well, that was my understanding of the assignment, though some of the other students did their own thing.

From my photos I pulled two of my quilts I thought had possibilities and added a crayon drawing I had made in kindergarten. Here are the inspirations, my drawings, and parts of Elizabeth’s comments.

MARCH JMM sketch 1 origin MARCH JMM sketch 1 resized

“[I]t’s a lot more intriguing and sophisticated than the quilt . . . – which is fun, bright and cheerful…but not mysterious!  I think the idea . . . might work better if it’s bigger . . . . it almost looks like it’s a new alphabet and that there is a message encoded in the different swirls.”
MARCH JMM sketch 2 origin resized MARCH JMM sketch 2 resized

“I like the delicacy of the linear sketch, but I don’t think this one is as interesting as the other two . . . however you’ve developed a couple of interesting ideas here which don’t appear in the quilt above.  There’s a 3D effect that is completely lost in the solidity of the triangles above..created by the illusion of diagonal blocks – and that’s very nice. Also the contrast of broken and solid lines is good and interesting…and brings out the beauty of the Stitch, sometimes forgotten in art quilts these days.”

MARCH JMM sketch 3 origin resized MARCH JMM sketch 3a resized

“I very much like what you’ve done with the marquee . . .the lines have a lovely wood cut look to them … I’d work a little more with this idea…it is very elegant and I think definitely the most interesting.”

Which one did I choose? You’ll just have to wait.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Signs of Spring

I haven’t seen freshly cut branches of pussy willow for years, but to me they mean spring is just around the corner. When I was young my aunt would always fill large vases with the branches and I loved to stroke the soft catkins.

When we decided to use the word March for an art quilt group challenge, I immediately thought of those catkins. Then I remembered a small table cloth with matching napkins I had saved from my parents’ house. They were embroidered with pussy willows.

When I unearthed them I recalled why I never used them. The fabric is an unpleasant synthetic. I have no idea what it is, but the set was a wedding gift to my parents circa the late 1940s. I think the embroidery thread is rayon, but the golden yellow cloth doesn’t feel like rayon, and I don’t want to try a burn test on it while the house is closed up.

I’m sure vintage linens collectors will be horrified, but I cut out the embroidered motifs, fused them to gray fabric and stitched them down.  Since that looked bare, I added branches and the outline of a bird’s nest.  Then, the branches needed adornment so I painted catkins and embroidered the brown bits at the stem with perle cotton. I topped off my efforts with yellow dots on the catkins to represent pollen.

Now it’s a new pillow, backed with some Martha Negley fabric I love but could never figure out how to use.

Pussy Willow Pillow

Pussywillow Pillow Back


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

The Annual Farm Park Pilgrimage

Each February and March the Lake County, Ohio, parks system hosts a quilt show at its farm park location. Quilts of all types are hung next to the milking room and there are lots of workshops.

This year’s featured workshop instructor is Pat Pauly, whose abstract painterly quilts are quite different from the traditional quilts that usually win best of show. Here are glimpses of her work on display at the show.

Lake Farmpark 2016 12 Lake Farmpark 2016 18 Lake Farmpark 2016 10As always, the quilts were varied. Some were heartfelt products of many years of hand stitched labor; some were kits and blocks of the month; and some were…something else. The quilts I photographed tended to fall into the last category.

Lake Farmpark 2016 1Lake Farmpark 2016 3 Lake Farmpark 2016 4 Lake Farmpark 2016 8 Wendy Lake Farmpark 2016 9This last quilt was one of the few modern style pieces on exhibit. While it was large, colorful, and contained some difficult piecing it won no ribbons. I think that some sewing issues held it back. For reasons I don’t understand, the maker used white thread for piecing. Guess what showed through? Here’s a tip: cover up that see through thread with dabs of a Sharpie marker in the appropriate color.


Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

By The Book

I’m part of a small group of local quilters who are working through Jane Davila and Elin Waterson’s Art Quilt Workbook. We meet monthly to review a chapter, show our work, share information, and discuss successes and failures. At our last meeting a member talked about Casting Shadows by Colleen Wise and kindly loaned me her copy.  Although it was published in 2005, this book has lots of ideas about creating shadows and dimensions in quilts of all types.

Members vary from experienced art quilters to want-to-try-that-art-stuff quilters. We even have one member who never touched a sewing machine before last November. He was bowled over by the Quilt National exhibit and is eager to make his own artistic statements. You read that right – he. So far he has followed his own muse and has even started free motion quilting. As he is unfettered by any quilting “rules” he tries out whatever comes to mind. I look forward to seeing his first piece for our group.

We are to create a 9 by 12 inch, vertically oriented, quilt for each chapter using a common theme in all our pieces. I chose openings – doors, windows, gates, etc.

The first chapter of the book set out some basic principles of design – value, perspective, etc. I tried to show perspective, but I jumped ahead to a later chapter on thread work and used bobbin stitching for the gate in my piece, shown below. I’m not happy with the shadows in the wall cutout. I should have used a darker fabric for the edges of the ground. Luckily, fabric markers can cover up some of my errors in judgment.

DD Wallgate


Filed under Art quilts

The End Is Near

At least that’s my hope for Torii Traces, which has taken entirely too long. Without a deadline, I keep tweaking my design as new ideas occur to me.

After I sewed together the top band and the main section I thought the piece needed a bottom strip to give it weight. I tried several fabrics but settled on a hand dyed turquoise I won in a giveaway by PG Fiber2Art. I thought a water related color was appropriate as many of the photos I found showed the torii set in water.


Then, I spent at least a month figuring out how to stitch it. I wanted a sashiko inspired design that suggested waves. Some of the patterns I considered were too fussy or wouldn’t work in a narrow band. In the end I developed my own, based on the lower left section of The Collection Quilt by Carolyn Friedlander.


To prove I was totally justified in keeping ancient sewing notions, I dug out some decades old tracing paper and a tracing wheel to transfer my design onto the fabric. It’s faint but enough that I can see to stitch.

Torii waves

There was further delay as I debated which perle cotton to use for the stitching. I’ve begun to stitch with a dusty purple and hope that by April I’ll be done with everything. Maybe a self-imposed deadline will spur me to completion. One good thing about my construction method is once I sew the bottom piece on I’ll be done (except for the pesky hanging sleeve and a label.)


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Molly Upton @ QuiltCon 2016

I’m reblogging Maria Shell’s post on the Molly Upton exhibit at QuiltCon. Amazing quilts are timeless. I have Maria’s permission to do this.

Maria Shell

The best most fabulous thing happened while I was at QuiltCon 2016 in Pasadena, California.

IMG_1637 (1) The Overcoat 1976

I got to spend a bit of time every day standing in front of Molly Upton’s amazing quilts.

IMG_1629 (1) Watchtower 1975

As I wandered though the exhibition I kept thinking-

IMG_1623 (1) Watchtower detail 1975

How did I not know about her work?

IMG_1574 (1) Blades 1974

These quilts are so incredibly modern and visionary, yet most of her work is at least 40 years old.

IMG_1567 (1) Blades Detail 1974

The thing that brought me to tears every time I looked at her art was knowing how it all ended. She took her own life before her 24th birthday.

IMG_1551 Symbol-Self Portrait Without a Mirror 1975

What a tragedy that she did not grow old as a maker and an artist.

IMG_1557 Pine Winter 1974

Here is what I know of the story. Pamela Weeks  is a quilt historian and…

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Filed under Inspiration