Monthly Archives: August 2020

Now For Something Completely Different

I sometimes advise fellow quilters to take classes in other media to develop composition and design skills. Finally I took my own advice. I just finished up Jane Davies’ Sketchbook Practice downloadable class, which I took with a friend.

Working in tandem with someone else was a great idea. We exchanged photos of our responses to the numerous assignments and commented on each others’ work. It was amazing to see how differently we approached the prompts. I like to think we learned from each other. I know I did.

Jane described the goal of the class exercises as “inquiry. These are all studies, all experiments. Put them out there like question marks: What happens if I do this? Or that? These questions do not require answers. It’s enough to just put them out there.” The class is meant as play, to push you off balance. Finished compositions aren’t its goal.

That said, I’d like to share with you our joint output over six lessons. Because each lesson has several parts, I’ll save some of our work until my next post.

We began with line exercises to explore how different materials act and how line can express different emotions and feelings. I won’t make you look at our lines, but move onto the circles, which began with black and white and finished with color.

The first piece is P’s. The last are mine.

Again, the first is P’s. The last are mine.

Moving on, we did black and white scribble paintings and then chose interesting bits to cut out. We then pasted those bits on blank paper and extended the bits to fill up the blanks.

Top, P’s work, then mine.

In the paint-collage-line activity we were to combine a collage shape, a line shape, and a painted shape in small studies of the relationships of the shapes to each other and to the paper’s edges.

My pieces are on the left; P’s are on the right.

I’ll conclude this week with a piece by P, a narrative (airy, claustrophobic, etc., circles) that was part of the circles lesson. Mine are too basic to show you, just black circles on white paper, but P went beyond the brief into full color.

Maybe you can see the differences in our work – color palettes, compositions, lines, lightness, heaviness, etc. You can also see who was going for extra credit. Just kidding, P.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Techniques


UPDATE: All the supplies have found new homes.

I wasn’t kidding about hanging up my dyeing rags. MX Procion dyes and assorted supplies are available for free. You pick them all up (Akron, Ohio) and they’re yours. Contact Joanna at snarkyquilter(at) if you’re interested.

ProChem and Dharma powdered dyes: basic blue, mixing blue, turquoise (lots), boysenberry, grape, jet black, sun yellow, golden yellow, strongest red, mixing red, strong orange, periwinkle.

Supplies: synthrapol, urea, sodium alginate, print paste mix, soda ash, assorted measuring and mixing utensils.

The dyes and supplies have been opened, but my guess is I’m giving away at least $35 worth of stuff. They will go to the first person who is willing to pick them up at my house. Sorry, I won’t be giving away items piecemeal.


Filed under dyeing

My Last Dyeing Session

Like many quilters, I started dyeing my own fabric to expand my choices and develop one-of-a-kind material. Ever since I took a Craftsy course from Jane Dunnewold about seven or eight years ago I’ve tried to have at least one fabric coloring session every year. Lately that has taken the form of sun printing or some other form of fabric painting because it’s a pain to haul out the dyeing supplies and messy to do in my less than optimal dyeing space – my garage.

I’ve done shibori dyeing, thickened dye paste painting, ice dyeing, trash can lid dyeing, gradated dyeing, and some other types I don’t recall. I’ve taken classes and worked on my own or with friends. Many of the techniques aren’t new to me, but this week it seemed like I had forgotten most of what I had learned.

Using too much dye powder – check, overfilling containers – check, confusing strong orange with strong red – check, not wearing a glove on my dominant hand (I had only a right hand glove) and then picking up a dye soaked rag – check. You get the picture.

All told I dyed about three yards and pretty much wiped out my stash of to be dyed cloth. I made a blue-violet eight color gradation with pimatex cotton, overdyed white on white printed fabric, overdyed four stained damask napkins, and dyed a thrift store scarf.

I think the label translates as hand made.

I wish I could say the results were worth it. They’re okay, but show rookie mistakes like putting the blue violet cloth in the same rinsing bucket as the purple cloth. And then there are my hands that look like I’ve been squeezing blueberries.

My personal cost benefit analysis says it’s time to give away the dyeing supplies. All the bending down to reach the low garage water spigots (we have no utility sink) and the emptying of rinse buckets was hard on my back. Clean up was messy. I can get better results with a few mouse clicks and my credit card.

I still have lots of fabric paint and some lovely silk awaiting my brush.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under dyeing

Fabric Collage

One of this year’s experiments has finally come together into a finished piece I’ve named “Suspended,” which I hesitate to call a quilt. I think fabric collage is a more descriptive term. More and more I’m using this big piece approach as lots of cutting and pressing cause problems with tendonitis in my dominant arm.

It began with chunks of cloth I had done some form of surface design on. Here’s my first mock-up, which is much wispier than where the piece ended up.

I had originally planned diagonal thin strips.

I sewed blocks of silk and cotton I had painted and printed to a piece of cotton drill cloth with no regard for finished edges. A lot of trimming and shaping went on as I wrestled with a layout. I realize it may not look that way, but trust me on this.

On top of that I sewed down chunks of silk organza I had monoprinted, plus a bit of an old curtain. Finally, I glued random strips and squares of cotton fabric over it all.

“Suspended” after sewing down the fabric chunks, with some organza. I ended up cutting off at least 6 inches horizontally and some 3 inches vertically to reach proportions that worked for me.
Computer drawing of possible overlays.
First try with actual overlays. It definitely needed more.
Completed top

I quilted it with off kilter lines, following the Marcia Derse backing fabric. I emphasized the thin strips with 30 weight thread and a jeans stitch. I’m still debating whether “Suspended” should have a vertical or horizontal orientation. It’s roughly 22 by 26 inches. Let me know your opinion.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

The Quilting World Has Lost An Advocate

In late July I learned that a longtime quilting friend had succumbed to cancer. While I hadn’t seen Peg Bingham for over a year, I followed the state of her health from afar. She had recovered from cancer many years ago, but it recurred.

I worked with Peg for many years in our local quilting community. She organized quilt shows, taught classes, judged quilt shows, ran a quilt camp, plus held a variety of jobs IRL. In everything she did her enthusiasm was infectious, and she was always ready to help fellow quilters solve problems. She loved to teach others, and had a deep knowledge of quilting’s nuts and bolts. I can hear her now, saying “ya know, you could do this…” With Peg around you didn’t have time to wallow in your mistake. She would be working to solve it.

Some years ago I wrote a profile of Peg for the National Quilting Association’s Quilting Quarterly (Fall 2014), titled “Plant the Seed, Pass It On.” The article focused on Peg’s fiber arts seminar at the University of Akron, in which she involved a new generation in many aspects of quilting beyond making quilts, though they did that as well. I enjoyed the time I spent interviewing Peg about the class, and was impressed with her dedication to education.

Peg also designed quilt patterns, especially celtic knots.

One of Peg’s patterns.

Peg, thanks for encouraging us to quilt more and for reminding us that quilting is meant to be fun.


Filed under Commentary

And The Winners Are…

The Random Raffle Generator selected the following entrants to receive my pieces:

  1. Arch – Chris Wheeler
  2. Art – Kay Welch
  3. Eyes – Karen M
  4. Ferny – MaryJo K
  5. Geese – No one
  6. Opening Up – Jane Herbst
  7. Openings – Doris Miller
  8. Silk – Penny Bruce
  9. Spring – Doreen Kuster

Congratulations! Please email me (snarkyquilter[at] with your mailing address within 7 days so I can ship you your prize. If I don’t hear back from you I will select another winner.

If you live within easy reach of Akron, Ohio, I’d appreciate it if we can arrange a porch or doorstep handoff rather than rely on USPS. Let me know if this works for you.

It took me a while to warm up to podcasts, but now I listen as I sew/paint/collage/print. Here’s one devoted to quilting from the Quilt Alliance. I also love Jill Lepore’s The Last Archive, which has nothing to do with quilting.

Finally, because every post needs a picture, here are four of my latest hand stitched, needle felted wool circles. So far I’ve done 17 of 25.


Filed under Completed Projects, Everything Else