Blog break

Unfortunately, I need to take a break from writing my weekly blog. I’ve been sick for the last four weeks since the beginning of June, and have been diagnosed with Stage III peritoneal cancer. The next 4-5 months will be spent in treatment. I’ll have 9 weeks of chemotherapy, surgery, and then another 9 weeks of chemotherapy. The prognosis for full recovery is good and I hope to be in remission by Christmas.

I have canceled all of my teaching engagements for the rest of the year and am hoping to reschedule these in 2020.

Unfortunately, I am unable to go to Mongolia next month for the Third International Mongolian Quilt Show celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the Mongolian Quilting Center. However, my two travel companions are still making the trip. They will assist at the show and distribute the baby quilts to newborn Mongolian babies.

I hope to be writing again by the end of the year once I’ve kicked this cancer. In the meantime, happy quilting. I’ve set up a Caring Bridge site so if you’d like to check on my progress, click here.

Students’ work: Gateway to Mongolia

I’ve had a busy schedule of teaching over the last couple of months. Here are photos of the beautiful Mongolian Ölzii blocks which some of my students made during my Gateway to Mongolia classes at the North Central Washington Quilt Guild in Wenatchee and at the Baltimore Heritage Quilt Guild, MD. The pattern is available at my on-line store. Students are always excited when they complete the block and we display it on the background fabric where it comes to life. I love the variety from all the different fabrics. Some really pop and others are soft and subtle.

Cowslip Workshops, Launceston, Cornwall, UK (2)

Last week’s blog introduced you to Cowslip Workshops, a wonderful quilting destination near Launceston in Cornwall, UK. There is a delightful quilting store and a cafe (see last blog). Here I highlight the classroom and the beautiful quilt hanging on the classroom wall. A variety of classes are offered throughout the year including patchwork and quilting, felting, knitting, embroidery, and willow animal sculptures. Usually the maximum number of students is eight to allow enough space for everyone and plenty of individual attention. Jo Colwill, the store owner, teaches many of the patchwork classes and also brings in regional and national teachers. Jo is on the right in the photo in a second, smaller classroom with a student. Here she demos the Bernina sewing machines that she sells.

The beautiful quilt hanging on the back wall of the classroom was made by Jo and she regards it as one of her best works. The applique and hand quilting are exquisite on this gorgeous piece. Here’s a full frontal and a couple of close-ups.




Teaching in Torrington, WY: Bargello Quilts with a Twist

In late April, I taught at the Goshen County Quilt Guild in Torrington, WY. This is a small farming community with a population of under 6,000, but the quilt group is thriving and active. I had a huge class of 22 students for my Bargello Quilts with a Twist class. I was concerned about teaching such a big group, but they were wonderful and all did really well. I loved teaching this as a two day class and snowy weather didn’t deter anyone from showing up on the second day. Having the second day allowed everyone enough time to complete a good number of blocks and to play with the orientation to design their quilt tops. There were so many options and a great variety of different fabrics. Here’s a sampling.

For the purple one, the large squares in the blocks were cut separately so that the little mountain scenes and trees could be fussy-cut and their orientation manipulated to the right way up. The striped fabric in the other one adds to the secondary patterns created when the blocks are put together. Both of these have 16 blocks.

The elongated pattern made from 16 blocks is an interesting design. On the right, this lady made 32 blocks and this was her first ever quilt!

These last two are made from the larger 9-1/2″ block size. On the left, we were auditioning different sashing fabrics to see which ones worked best. On the right, the large squares were cut separately, creating a lovey kaleidoscope design in the center.

Amish Quilts in Shipshewana, IN

In May, I enjoyed a day in Shipshewana, IN and my two previous blog posts feature a couple of stores in that Amish town. In this blog I’m sharing more beautiful quilts that I saw during the day. These were displayed at The Lang Store adjacent to Lolly’s Fabric Store, the Little Helpers Quilt Shop and in the hallway of the building which houses Yoder Department Store and other vendors. The Amish quilters tend to make traditional pieced quilts and all of these are hand-quilted with small and even stitches. The workmanship is outstanding and if I was ever considering buying a high quality quilt with hand-quilting, Shipshewana would be a great place to go. Since I’m not in market for buying one, I simply looked and appreciated them.

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The Lone Star was particularly beautiful with gorgeous hand-quilted feathers and arcs enhancing the design. It was inspiring to see all these wonderful quilts in so many locations.

Bobbini bobbin holders

When I was teaching for the Sew Broke Quilters in Mars, PA, one of my students had these nifty bobbin holders. They are made from squashy rubber and are a very handy way to keep a bobbin with the corresponding spool of thread. I think they are ingenious and am ordering some. Once again, I was introduced to an awesome new gadget during a workshop.

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Here’s a YouTube video from the makers, Smartneedle Inc. These bobbin holders are available on Amazon and cost $9.99 for a pack of 12, (no shipping charge if you have Amazon Prime).

Sew Expo Puyallup III – Decorative Embroidery

Another feast for the eyes at the Puyallup Sew Expo was a booth adorned with incredible machine embroidery. The beauty and intricacy of the designs enthralled me. Machine embroidery is not something I’m interested in doing myself. In fact, I sold the embroidery unit that attaches to my Viking Designer 1 machine because I never used it and a friend wanted to buy one. However, when I see these fantastic designs, I can certainly appreciate and admire them. Momo Dini Embroidery Art, a company based in Texas, creates these elaborate designs and digitizes them for machine embroiderers with computer guided embroidery machines.

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Then of course, you can buy every imaginable color and type of thread from Superior Threads.

Thought Patterns exhibit at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

I’m excited to be one of the 15 artists featured in the current group exhibition, “Thought Patterns”, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA). “Thought Patterns” is a group exhibition featuring artists working in diverse media. The common thread is how these regional artists construct their ideas in patterned and repetitive ways. The show includes more traditional forms of fiber art (textiles, quilts and baskets) and expands on the notion of “woven constructions” – combining diverse ideas and materials through drawing, painting, artist’s books, metalsmithing, woodworking, construction, digital prints, and video. Whether tightly loomed or more loosely arranged, each artist weaves their own personal narrative.

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The show opened in mid-October with a patrons preview party attended by 390 people and the next day an afternoon for meeting the artists and an evening party for guests of the artists. About 35 of my friends came to the evening party and we had a wonderful celebration. I’m thrilled to have four of my quilts in this exhibit and to see them hung in a museum setting in combination with the amazing work of the other artists. I really enjoyed meeting some of the other artists and was surprised how similar we are in drawing inspiration from naturally occurring and man-made patterns. Here is a sampling of their artistic works.

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I loved these colorful quilt-like pieces by Julie Haack made from latex paint on salvaged wood. The box is open at the far end and is actually entitled, Quilt Cave. Julie writes, “This is what happens: the geometric patterns distort and invade neighboring planes, the tidy constraints of static rectangles become convex curving forms suggestive of movement. The academic rules that dictate which materials are acceptable in conventional art-making practices are disregarded, instead of canvas, small pieces of wood are assembled in a mosaic and presented formally as a highly crafted object balancing between painting and sculpture.”

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Artist Aaron Levine, makes incredible tessellated patterns from hundreds of tiny sixteenth of an inch thick tiles of wood. These are displayed as table tops. The one on the left is entitled I AM the Center. My picture doesn’t do this beautiful table justice. The I is in the center and is then tessellated into gradually changing patterns that are different on each of the four sides of the table. The right picture shows the detail from another table. These are mind blowing.

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These exquisite, delicate works are made by Aaron McKnight using tiny pieces of birch bark, papyrus, and acrylic paint and sealant. Aaron uses scissors to cut the patterns of dots from the bark. Without any magnification, (he’s young and has good eye-sight), he creates these beautiful sculptures with wonderful radiant symmetry and detail.

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Waterfall, by June Sekiguchi is made from enameled scroll cut engineered wood. This piece is about eight feet tall. The elements are layered and placed on a rod at the top. The order may be reconfigured each time the piece is installed. June is inspired by natural and anthropological sources. She explores by processing, deconstructing, and re-structuring a form and focusing on metaphorical rather than literal interpretation of the source material. The woven piece, from wool and linen, looks very quilt-like to me and I love the bands of gradually changing colors. Suzanne Hubbard wove this and named it Transcendence.

I was delighted how the work of all these artists and others not shown here were displayed in a coherent and attractive exhibit based on repeating elements and patterns. I feel honored to have my work as a part of this. The exhibit runs until mid-February. Do visit if you can!

Fantastic Fibers 2015 – Paducah, KY

During AQS QuiltWeek in Paducah, there are all kinds of exhibits to see in addition to the AQS quilt show. The whole town embraces the expansion of its population by 30,000 as the quilters descend, and many of the downtown shops are decorated with quilts. I’ve already written about the Rotary exhibit of antique quilts, and then there is the National Quilt Museum. The latter is exceptional and worth a visit if you anywhere near Paducah at any time of the year.

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In the heart of this small town there is an old market building which houses a historical museum and the Yeiser Art Center. Here, there was a wonderful international juried exhibit, Fantastic Fibers 2015, sponsored by Fiber Art Now Magazine and two former mayors of Paducah. This display included some quilts and a variety of other fiber media such as 3-d fiber sculptures, felted wool, woven materials and more. As quilters, we take our inspiration from many sources and it can be illuminating to look at other art forms. Here’s a sampling of the works that particularly appealed to me.

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This extraordinary piece occupying a large section of wall, Come Fly With Me, by Paula Bowers of Grand Rapids, MI, was made from hand felted fiber. It made a stunning impact from the other side of the room. Close up, it was a beautiful blend of lush colors.

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Snow Bound, by Betty Busby, Albuquerque, NM was a magnificent fiber vase, hand painted and stitched. It stood about five feet tall.

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This art quilt, Fancy Shawl Dancer, by Linda Anderson, Le Mesa CA, was a beautiful piece really capturing the motion of the dancer and the shadow. The piecing, painting and quilting were so intricate and added great depth.

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Three Caged Birds, by Robin Haller, Greenville, NC, is a handwoven triptych. The quilt-like quality of the pattern appealed to me as well as the color combinations.

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On the left is Fiesta, made by Cuauhtemoc Kish, San Diego, CA. I love the composition of this quilt and the use of silks made it very rich. The pair of quilts, From Here to There, by Shea Wilkinson, Omaha, NE depicts the human and robotic brains. The picture does not do justice to the amazingly intricate quilting.

This exhibit ran for two months, so it is now over. It’s possible that it may travel to other areas of the country. If so, I hope you can take a look at the real thing.