Solar Eclipse Day!

Corona II: Solar Eclipse by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Port Townsend, WA was named one of the 100 Best American Quilts of the 20th Century. I had the good fortune to see this amazing quilt in a display at Houston in which those top quilts were featured and again in Paducah. The rich colors and composition are fantastic. It is now center stage at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY,  which is located in the path of totality for the national solar eclipse. At 1:22PM tomorrow, August 21st, Paducah will experience over two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day as the shadow of the moon passes across the sun.

Here in Western Washington, we will have 92% of totality around 10 a.m. I’m planning on observing it from the top of a mountain ridge in the Olympic Mountains and have my viewing glasses ready to go. Wherever you are, I hope that if you are experiencing this natural wonder, you will wear safety glasses to view it and enjoy it. If you aren’t in the appropriate geographical zone, you can at least appreciate Caryl’s spectacular quilt!

Summer colors

I’ve just returned home after a vacation in Italy and UK. In Italy, where the weather was sunny every day, the colors were so rich and vibrant with heavy saturation. In Tuscany we stopped by this beautiful field of sunflowers to take photos. I love the yellow against the the blue-blue sky and the way the sun shines through the upper petals of the flowers.

I stayed with friends in Northwestern Italy in the Piedmont area. We visited the nearest market town, Aqui Terme, and enjoyed the abundance in the local farmers’ market. The produce was so fresh and delicious. These colorful peppers are very inviting and when looking at the composition of the photo, I like the contrast of the striped coverings over the stalls.

In the UK, the hydrangeas were in full bloom and spectacular in the West Country. This one was at my niece’s farm in Dorset. Look at all the different shades in a continuum from blue to pink.

As a quilter, I feel inspired by array of natural colors in these flowers and vegetables, and I’m sure that this adds to the store on which I draw when designing my quilts.

AQS Quilt Show Des Moines (5)

These Double Wedding Ring quilts were exhibited in the judged AQS show at Des Moines. I was drawn to the unusual use of color in these two quilts and to how the changing background colors and the placement of different values refresh this traditional pattern.

Double Wedding Ring 2016, 88″ x 88″, made by Susan Haslett-Schoflield of Canton, MI. From a distance what strikes me is the color transition across the quilt and how the white ovals between the arcs of the Double Wedding Ring stand out. The arcs themselves, recede into the background, but the dark arc intersections are much more distinctive. Closer up, the subtle shades in the arcs are visible.

From This Day Forward, 102″ x 102″, was made by Carol Duffy and Sara Velder of Plymouth, MA. Their design source was Wedding Star by Judy and Bradley Niemeyer. The use of gradual value changes in the arcs against the medallion-style arrangement of background colors is stunning. I love the addition of purple points in the large background pieces in the center of each block, giving a diagonal effect radiating out from the center of the quilt. The wide purple border is a great backdrop for the beautiful center field.

One of the aspects that I love about quilting, is how even the simplest of quilting patterns may be presented in so many different ways just by changing the colors and the value placement.

Bainbridge Island Quilt Festival 2016 (3)

Here on Bainbridge Island, we recently celebrated our 4th Annual Quilt Festival with 190 quilts hanging outdoors for the day, colorfully adorning our main street. This event is sponsored by the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild and Esther’s Fabrics. See my previous two blogs for more pictures. These two quilts were hanging next to each other and I was immediately struck by the difference it makes using a light or a dark background. The same fabrics are used in both quilts, but they are highlighted in different ways. My personal preference is for the one on the left with the white sashing. I think that this features the variety of fabrics best. The one with blue sashing is too blue for me. I always advise my students to include either white or black if they are using a monochromatic fabric selection. In this case, there is enough white in the fabric rectangles that the quilt is still successful.

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They were both made by Jo King and quilted by Sue Lohse. The one with the white sashing is called Under the Sea, and the other is Deeper Under the Sea. Jo made these quilts for her grandsons and included many underwater, sea life and boating fabrics. The quilt shown below, with black and white sashing is stunning.


Checkers Anyone, was made by Stan Green and quilted by Krista Moser. The lovely batik fabrics are well presented with the black and white sashing keeping them separated. The colors are intensified. Without this sashing the batiks would merge and the quilt would not be nearly so rich-looking. The checkers form their own interesting pattern too and help to produce the woven effect on the quilt.




Chicago Botanical Gardens

In May, I visited IL and taught at the Village Quilters Guild in Lake Bluff/Lake Forest. After my workshop, one of my students took me to the Chicago Botanical Gardens. What a fabulous place on a par with other world class gardens I have visited, such as Kew in London and Kirstenbosch in Cape Town. I never quite know where my inspiration comes from for quilting, but I love flowers and it seems that in gardens and nature, the colors never clash. I think that my observations of many color combinations in these places has made me more adventurous in my choice of fabrics. It’s not only the colors, there are so many differing textures and shapes. Look at these magnificent jewel towers.


As you can see, it was a beautiful clear sunny day. The late afternoon light made the colors brilliant as well creating gorgeous shadows. Look at all the shades of green from the fresh chartreuse of the leaves on the tree, to the darker evergreen and the dusty green of jewel tower leaves. The brick wall provides a nice backdrop.

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The formal Japanese gardens were immaculately manicured and the trees and shrubs were scaled to ideal proportions so that all the components fit together in perfect harmony. Then there was this lovely meadow of red and yellow poppies and all shades in between with a few white ones thrown in too. If you are in Chicago and have time to venture north a little way, I can highly recommend these gardens. We only saw about half of them in an hour and a half. You could easily spend all day there.

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Yarn Bombs in Franklin, PA

I spent the first week of this month in PA where I taught at two quilt guilds in the Pittsburgh area. In between, I went to stay with a friend in her cabin in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains. We stopped in the attractive town of Franklin for lunch and to meet the quilters collecting me. Right in the center of town outside the Court House was a green strip with cherry trees adorned in colorful crotchet and knitting. These yarn bombs were sponsored by the Wooly Wonders Knitting Guild and Diane’s Yarn Shoppe both based in Franklin.

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What fun! I loved these vibrant tree wraps. Clearly there were many contributors and their work was all pieced together in an inspiring way to make a bright and cheerful display. Here are some closer shots including some Granny-squares, and don’t you just love the bee!

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Colorful Rugs in Oaxaca

Continuing the theme of vibrant colors in Mexico, here are some examples of the many beautiful woven rugs. The colors are often rich and heavily saturated. The Zapotec people use natural dyes including plants, minerals and insects. Inspiration comes from their colorful surroundings of lush vegetation, exotic flowering plants, birds, majestic mountains and local folk-law. Like pieced quilts, geometric shapes are repeated to produce wonderful patterns. The scenes with popular themes such as the tree of life filled with birds remind me of applique. In all forms of art, the color wheel works!

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Colorful Oaxaca

I’ve just returned from an amazing two weeks in Oaxaca and the surrounding countryside in southern Mexico. We began the trip with a couple of days in the city of Oaxaca, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s easy to walk around the heart of the city and my room mate and I explored the streets near our hotel on our before breakfast walks. My immediate impression coming from the grey of a Pacific Northwest winter, was the vibrancy of color everywhere.The buildings are in good shape and many are freshly painted in gorgeous hues and bright combinations. Here’s a sampling.

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I’m sure at some subliminal level my exposure to these delights will influence and inspire my quilt making in the future. Enjoy these pictures. Don’t the rugs look fantastic against the bright blue walls!

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!

Cruising in Alaska – Garden Tours

Many quilters are gardeners. If they aren’t gardeners, they usually have a deep appreciation for botanical geometry and patterns in nature. The color combinations used in formal gardens are often inspiring to quilters and we become aware of the many shades of green and the way that natural colors don’t appear to clash. Many quilters have qualms about choosing colors and values for their quilts. These gardens demonstrate that we can actually get away with putting all kinds of colors together. We just need to move away from the notion of whether or not we would wear these colors together or use them to paint the walls of our houses.

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Our final cruise stop was Victoria, B.C., where I took a trip out to the world famous Butchart Gardens. As you can see, the density of color was intense and the carefully planned areas of the gardens could support this. It looked dazzling.

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The star-shaped pond was stunning outlined by the green and the mass of pink begonias. An added element with water features are the beautiful reflections. Here is spectacular sunken garden made in an old quarry, with the fountain at the far end.

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In Skagway, I had a delicious lunch, including fresh local produce, at the Jewell Gardens. This is a gem of a place about a mile and a half from downtown Skagway. The vegetation is lush and they grow giant vegetables and rhubarb. The growing season is short but the hours of daylight are long. We had a delightful tour enjoying not only the gardens, but their glorious setting with the backdrop of mountains.

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There were some glass sculptures tastfully lurking among the flowers and some nice creative touches like this blue barrow of nasturtiums.

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Next time you visit some gardens, take note of all the colors and the light and dark shading. As our experience increases, so our quilts become more sophisticated.