Monthly Archives: December 2020

My Grand Finales for 2020

In 2020 I started and finished (with the help of longarm quilter Joanna Marsh) my last ever large project, “Calliope.” I also finished a piece I began in 2011 at an intensive five day workshop with Rosalie Dace. It’s a relief to have that project out of the closet and ready to display.

In early 2020, before the C word was everywhere, I developed a large quilt I call “Calliope.” It is based on stained glass windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and ended up measuring 42 inches wide by 72 inches long. I knew there was no way my quilting could do it justice, given its size. Yes, I could have simply done straight line quilting on my machine, but I wanted something more given the effort I had put into the fabric, design and piecing. Thanks to Instagram I looked at work done by several longarm quilters, and chose Joanna Marsh of Kustom Kwilts for her modern aesthetic. It didn’t hurt that we have the same first name.

Since I got Calliope back I’ve added facings and a hanging sleeve. She still needs a good photo, but these will do for now.


“Ode On A Macedonian Urn” began as a large single piece and is now two long, narrow ones. It is based on a photo my husband took during his time in Macedonia, hence the name. (Note: that country is now called North Macedonia, thanks to Greek objections.) Back in 2011 I was new to original art quilt design and didn’t realize that a large piece wasn’t a prudent choice, given my inexperience. I did a sketch from the photo, then designed on the wall for the first time. Rosalie Dace guided me gently as I blundered through it. Once it was sewn together with some improvisational piecing, I put it in the closet until my free motion skills improved.

“Ode On A Macedonian Urn” diptych

Finally I realized that my skills were about as good as they were going to get, and I put the piece back on the design wall. I saw that the large red shape in the middle was too blobby, and I didn’t like what was on the lower right. With a “what’s the worst that could happen” shrug I cut it into two pieces and trimmed off about eight inches from the bottom right. I decided the two piece version worked better, and used a combination of walking foot and free motion quilting to complete my oldest unfinished work.

Of course, I’ve painted myself into a corner as the pieces need to be displayed together to have any impact, but I’m glad that my 2021 quilting to-do list will NOT include this UFO.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Last Week I Was So Bored I …

Made a postcard for the local art museum.

Parted my hair on the other side.

Started quilting a nine year old UFO after I cut it in two.

Ode on a Macedonian Urn

Watched lots of vintage screwball comedies – My Man Godfrey, Nothing Sacred, To Be Or Not To Be, Ball of Fire, and counting.

Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper in Ball of Fire

Colored wallpaper.

Black and white wallpaper and Posca pens

Deleted unwanted photos from Google Photos, spurred by a notice that free storage would be capped in June 2021.

The tally after clean up

What has boredom inspired you to do?

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Commentary

Holiday Crafting

My hope that I will create cute and charming crafted items springs eternal at this time of year, Covid or no Covid. Over the years I have learned that simpler is better, I should double any time estimate for creation, and I shouldn’t buy special supplies.

Recently I found my sweet spot with two holiday projects – owl ornaments and snowflake printed cards. The owls are from a pattern by Ann Wood, which a friend sent me. The snowflakes are courtesy of a thermofax screen, fabric and paper scraps, and blank greeting cards from my card printing days. (Remember those CDs from Print Shop and the like? I found that Print Shop is still in business.)

I printed on a mixture of silk and hand painted/printed fabrics, backed them with Mistyfuse, and ironed them to the cards. I also used wallpaper samples given to me by a friend. The wallpaper is great for printing and cuts nicely.

So, this year I sent actual cards rather than e-cards, and probably helped bog down USPS even further. I’ve had some touch and go moments with mailed packages this month, but so far everything has reached its intended destinations.

The owls were more labor intensive, with cutting, gluing, and stitching. My pile of felted wool scraps came in handy. I thought I had tons of buttons to choose from, but I discovered that most of mine are too big.

These avian ornaments now hang from my kitchen light fixture, with the seasonal quilt you can see part of on the table beneath it.

Would I have made these crafts in a “normal” year? Probably not, but right now any distraction is welcome.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Completed Projects

A Virtual Quilt Show

As I wrote earlier, I had two quilts accepted to this year’s virtual Houston International Quilt Festival, so I decided I should attend virtually. I bought the cheapskates’ package, which was admission and one free lecture. There were many class offerings and demo groups, but nothing really grabbed me.

How was it, you ask? I spent most of my time at the show looking at quilts, which is standard show behavior for me. Usually I cruise the vendors’ area and make a few purchases from purveyors of thread and unusual fabrics. I steer clear of booths chock-a-block with kitted patterns and novelty fabrics. I found the vendor interface at virtual IQF to be clunky. It took a few clicks to get to what was actually being sold, usually on the vendor’s website. Maybe there were show specials on offer, but I didn’t find them. It seemed to me that there were fewer small niche sellers.

So, let’s talk about the exhibits. I was relieved that the quality of quilts shown didn’t seem to be lower. I don’t know if there were fewer quilts, but at least in some areas very different sculptural quilts were included that might not have made it to an in-person show. I was amused at the judges’ choices for best quilts, especially for art and modern quilts. The quilt below won in the art quilt category. It’s a perfectly fine medallion quilt, and its maker stresses the number of pieces and crystals it has. But, I think it’s in the wrong category, and doesn’t say art quilt to me.

Here are others in the art quilt category that I found more representative of the genre.


Overall, the art quilt entries were heavily weighted to the pictorial – landscapes, portraits, and animals.

Moving on to the modern quilt category, again the judges chose a “safe” quilt for the best of category award. I see this as a contemporary, rather than a modern quilt, at least as defined by the Modern Quilt Guild. “Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.” (from the Modern Quilt Guild website)

Here are others I found more interesting in this category that I think are closer to the MQG definition of modern.

Asymmetry, check.
Lots of white space, with quilting used to further the story.
Spare with lots of depth, great use of ombre fabric.

If you attended IQF this year I’d love to hear your opinion of the show.


Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

Artistic Endeavors Roundup

This edition of Artistic Endeavors features lots of videos, not surprising in our time of virtual exhibits. Most of the work is fiber, though I’ve ventured into another medium. Warning: this is a picture heavy post.

I wasn’t aware of the work of Leslie Gabrielse, even though it is featured in “Art Quilts Unfolding,” until I came across a video showing an extremely speeded up creation of his art quilt, “Ocean Life.” To make this large (93″ by 48″) piece Gabrielse roughly cut and laid down chunks of diverse fabric, including a man’s shirt, following a cartoon he overlaid on gauze backing and batting. He flipped the cartoon up and down as he worked at a design wall. The pieces were held together with rough hand stitching. His fabric choices seem culled from thrift store bins. No designer fabric is in sight. Then he added details with acrylic paint and stencils. You can see photos of his process at the bottom of this page. (I hope the links work as they weren’t on December 4.)

“Ocean Life” Leslie Gabrielse

For a glimpse of interesting work in fiber I suggest the Surface Design Association’s Mandatory Color show. I was taken with Barrie Mason’s “Skin Deep” in thread and wire.

I was amused by “Hedge Your Bets” (by Kim Ritter and Kay Hendricks) in the midst of much Covid-19 related work in the show.

Thanks to Sue Benner, who has a piece in the show, I learned of “Expanded Dimensions,” now on view at the Riffe Center in Columbus, Ohio. The center, with the show’s curator, Tracy Rieger, has made the show available virtually in three forms: a room by room video, a slideshow, and a curator’s tour. I dipped in and out of all of them. Because almost all the pieces are somewhat sculptural, the video and tour help you appreciate how the pieces look in person. For example, Myers’ piece is huge, over 110″ long; and McCavour’s work is thread painted and each bit floats separately, suspended from the ceiling.

Andrea Myers “Under The Hill Over The Moon”
Amanda McMavour “Stand In for Home”

Yet another online fiber show that just started is Excellence in Fibers VI at the New Bedford Art Museum. The website helpfully presents accepted work by type – installation, sculptural, vessels, wall and floor, and wearables. Here are some works that struck me; many involve lighting.

“Repair” Kevan Lunney
“Lotic Sea” Mary Babcock
“Red Flaring Algae BS” Gabriele Meyer (this is crocheted)
“The Docent” Wendy Bucey (also in IQF)

You can also take a virtual tour of the Quilts=Art=Quilts exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center. This annual exhibit features work by many prominent art quilters. I will warn you that the tour swoops around and I found it a bit difficult to control. The list of artists juried into this show contains many familiar names, and I thought little of the work broke new ground. My reaction may be a result of how hard I found it to look at the work head-on in the video tour.

In another medium, because I love her photographs, I’m linking to Dorothea Lange’s digital archive at the Oakland Museum of California.

“White Angel Breadline” 1933

Finally, if you’re a SAQA member I recommend Jane Dunnewold’s recent critique session available as a video. The way she expresses comments and thoughts on the work of three artists is masterful. She draws the artists into the process and makes it plain that it’s their artistic vision that counts, whether or not anyone else shares it.


Filed under Quilt Shows, Commentary, Art quilts

Material Collaboration

My latest mixed media creation is built with materials supplied by friends. I just arranged them, added a few leaves and did some sewing.

“With Little Help From My Friends” began with a monoprint swap with a friend. The leaf print set the theme, and I created more leaves from parts of other swapped monoprints. Two organza leaves I had left over from an old project joined them.

I kept machine sewing to a minimum as I didn’t want the paper to come apart. Most of the leaves have just one seam, though the center cluster has more stitching as it is heavy paper. I used colored pencils and markers to alter some of the colors and add leaf veins. I couldn’t resist trying out my new gold Posca marker.

“With A Little Help From My Friends” 14.5″ square

The base is scrap felt from another friend, and the loosely woven gray-brown strip came from my costume designer friend. He had set aside this hand dyed remnant for me. I used some of the raveled thread from it for embroidery. To cap it all, the backing is woven tailor’s interfacing that came from my mother’s sewing supplies. I held onto it for years, thinking I’d return to tailoring, but I’m happy it’s found a place in my art.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects