Tag Archives: Torii Traces

May Sound More Impressive Than It Actually Is

Occasionally I like to send my creations out into the world of quilt shows. Recently I submitted Torii Traces to a national show, and it was accepted. A few days ago I received emails from the show organizer that encourage me to blow my own horn and, not incidentally, do a bit of marketing for the show.

First, the quilt.

Next, the press release I can share with my local media.

Local Quilter Accepted into Pennsylvania National Quilt Competition

NEW HOPE, Pennsylvania – Quilt artist Joanna Mack from Akron, OH has been selected as a finalist in this year’s Quilt Competition at the 2018 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE). The renowned event, produced by Mancuso Show Management, Inc., will be held at the Great Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, September 13-16.

Following acceptance by the competition’s jury, Mack’s quilt, Torii Traces, will be displayed at the show along with other entries from across the U.S. Winners will be selected at the show, and publicized on the show’s website starting Thursday, September 13, 2018. Quilt and textile art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to view Mack’s quilt among the other magnificent quilts exhibited at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, September 13-16, 2018.”

There’s more, but it’s about Mancuso Show Management, not me. I do love the sound of “quilt artist.”

Finally, I received a button to share on my social media. Please don’t ask what it means to be a finalist, as I don’t know. I think it means simply my quilt was juried into the show.

Now, Mancuso Show Management seems to do a good job with its shows. I’ve had no issues whatsoever with them. I just get depressed at all the efforts put into branding everything and everyone on social media. Maybe my brand should be

I’ve link up to Off The Wall Fridays.



Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

Genesis Of Torii Traces

Thanks to my master class I’ve become better at front end quilt design, sketching out ideas, if only to reject them. However, I begin some quilts with absolutely no idea of what they’ll be. My Torii Traces is a good example.

Here’s the collection of fabrics I began with. Almost all of them were altered with dyeing, painting, stamping, etc.

Ginkgo leaf ideaIn fact, I labeled this photo Ginkgo Leaf Idea. I view it as an embryonic stage where it could easily have taken a totally different direction. Those scraps were up on my design wall for some months before I began to play with them.

Ginkyo startThe blurriness is caused by my lack of photographic skills, not your eyesight. However, you can see  I settled on the gold mottled circle and the bracketing half circles early on. The dragonflies were flitting around and I was determined to use organza I had stamped with leaves.

IMG_6417At this point I realized I wanted to make a torii and spent time looking at photos online. Once I sorted out a symmetrical structure I built the top section and began constructing the lower parts. I layered organza in shades of gold and turquoise.

IMG_6421I decided to curve the outer edges of the lower section and tried a dark purple bottom strip.

IMG_6424I discarded the purple bottom and began to develop a pieced/appliqued bottom with bits of organza laid over.

IMG_6427I decided I needed a heavier turquoise horizontal line at the bottom and foraged through scrap bins for enough of that fabric.

ToriiThe bottom is settled and the dragonflies have flown in. However, once I did the hand stitching I felt the bottom needed more weight to balance the top cross bar.

IMG_7325So, I added water colored fabric and sashiko waves stitching, and called it done.

I constructed the quilt in three sections, sewing false backs on all. I left the bottom of the top and the top of the bottom open so I could slide in the middle section and sew the sections together. All the hand stitching was done before I added the backs, which help conceal all the knots, etc.

This piece is entered in the Akron Art Prize exhibit, which will be on view from September 3 to October 1 at the Summit Art Space in downtown Akron.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Limping To The Finish Line

I had set the end of April as my deadline for Torii Traces, and I hustled to make it. I forgot that April is a 30 day month, though why I thought I could conjure miracles in 24 extra hours is beyond me.

No matter, this piece is complete except for sewing on the hanging sleeve, and that is ready to  install.

Torii Traces FinalCloseups of hand stitching.

Torii Traces dragonflies

Torii Traces bottom

I also worked on Tidal Marsh in Spring, and got that pieced, pressed and trimmed. I even cut backing and facing fabric. I’ll be quilting with my walking foot in hopes of sparing my arms.

Tidal Marsh SpringIt finished at about 16 by 32 inches. I may tweak it a bit with fabric pencils/paints. Once I make the summer version of this scene I’ll have shown it in all four seasons.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, In Process

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

Slow Going

For the first time in years I don’t have a finish to show for January. Even the leaf from my master class is still unfinished as I’m dithering about how to finish the edges. I haven’t stopped sewing and quilting but I have expanded some projects in progress.

In order of inception, I have Winter Fields, Torii Traces, and Topsy underway. It’s hard to say which is closest to being finished as Torii and Topsy already have lots of hand stitching.

I’m still piecing Winter Fields, which is on the large side for me at 50 inches wide. I drew up the templates for it in early 2015 at the same time I made a smaller quilt of the same marsh outside Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia.

Tidal_marshMy grand plan was to show the area in each season. Autumn is done and winter will be, eventually. I may run out of steam before I get to the rest of the year.

WinterFieldsInProgressI’ve sewn  about half the pieces to a foundation made of curtain liner material. The rest are clinging to my design wall. I’m using Vikki Pignatelli’s technique of folding down and sewing the edges that show. Any fabric edges that will be covered by other pieces are left raw.  Construction has to begin at the back (or top) and work down (or forward) to the bottom. The process is straightforward, but it’s easy to mix up all those long skinny pieces. Yes, I numbered them, but I keep seeing better possibilities.

Torii was my hand work in Florida. I thought it was close to done until I decided the piece needed a stronger bottom. I’ve chosen the fabric but I now have to construct and embroider it. Right now the quilt is in three pieces. Each will have a false back. Then I’ll join the pieces along the long horizontal seams.

ToriiBlueBottomThat leaves Topsy. I’ve sewn it to charcoal felt and hand stitched along the curves. I’ll sew it onto a slightly larger piece of red felt and machine quilt it. And it will have no binding and be done!

TopsyInProgressI’m debating whether to hang it horizontally or vertically. The consensus of my art quilt group was to go horizontal. I need to make up my mind before I trim the red felt. All opinions are welcome.



Filed under In Process