Monday, December 28, 2009

Work in Progress

This will be a stylized kimono shape in the the end of 2009 I'm reflecting (still). This time about family.

This shape became one of my personal motifs some years ago to honor my connection to Japan where I spent my teen years, where my youngest son has lived since 1990 and where my sister Masako was born.

The first time I used this shape was for "Family Treasures".

Both the new piece, tentatively titled "Family Roots" and "Family Treasures" are small, roughly 30" x 30". ("Masako Goes to Africa" posted on October 9 is too.) "Yukata Blues", however, is huge: 58" X 60".

Back to the reason for the post: end of the year work and reflecting about the the same I'm time looking to the future and contemplating goals and resolutions. Of course, part of the reflecting is looking at this year's goals and resolutions and assessing how that went. Hard to believe that "website", "getting better organized" AND "keeping better records" are STILL on the list...for year three. Yikes!

By the way, I'm ALWAYS open to constructive criticism and would welcome comments regarding my work in progress. Honestly!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hot off the press

"Reflecting on Friendships" is my newest piece and probably the last of 2009.

I'm still, after several years, reflecting on age and maturity. This time an old campfire song kept me company: "Make new friends but keep the old, some are silver and the other gold". Using my personal metaphors of the barren tree and fallen leaves, I've looked back at years of cherished friends and how much or little they are included in my present life.

This 23" x 22" piece includes ink printing, oil stick rubbings, hand-dyed and commercial fabrics, machine and hand quilting, embroidery, and metal "hands".

I'll leave with this photo that I shot this morning after our first BIG snowstorm of the year. Actually, I don't think we've had this much snow accumulate in more than a decade. The parents and kids we share our home with are, of course, out sledding while older more mature and experienced folk (and dog) enjoy the day from the warmth of my studio.

Interestingly, our old dog loved the snow but then she was one quarter St. Bernard. Our five year old Australian Shepherd/Standard Poodle (aka hypo-allergenic Aussie-Doodle) mix prefers dry least dry sidewalks;^)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Analyze This

This is my blog analyzed by Typealyzer ( whose motto is "What personality is that blog?"

I read about this on Sandy Donabed's blog Waiting for the Muse ( I thought I'd give it a go and was surprised that our personalities had so much in common. So, it's not my personality that's holding back my art....hmmmmmm.

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

I can say that the analysis is spot on with respect to planning ahead and management positions....unforturnately. e.g. I STILL have "creating a website" and "getting organized" as New Year's resolutions for TWO years. And now it's time to mull my 2010 resolutions and those two are still on the list. As a rationalization: I DID start a blog this year. Does that count?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Saturday: a big ol' "two-fer" day

Actually, it was really a "three-fer" day! Led by our fearless SAQA regional rep, Kate Themal just under forty SAQA members from all over, braved cold rain to meet at the Guilford Free Library (Guilford CT).

First: SAQA Executive Director Martha Sielman gave a slide presentation about the making of the Art Quilt Masters book that she curated. In fact, many of the artists represented have work in the current New England Quilt Museum's exhibit. (I feel a road trip to Lowell MA coming on.)

Second: Kate had also arranged for the SAQA Trunk Show B to be available for the meeting. After the delicious box lunch arranged for by Sisters in Cloth member Barb Adams, all were able to study the Trunk Show and the Sisters' Photo Challenge exhibit that was mounted in the room.

Of course, it wouldn't be an art quilt (or traditional quilt meeting for that matter) without Show and Tell.....and it was a particularly wonderful Show and Tell at that. Pictured here is Barb McKie with one of her magnificent pieces. Incidentally her's is also on the cover of the current Quilting Arts magazine.

Two Marthas: Pictured here is my buddy Martha Wolfe, who probably should have been given an award from journeying the farthest for the meeting: Indiatlantic, FL! She's getting Martha Sielman's autograph on her copy.

Pictured here is Norma Schlager and Barbara Somebody-who-I-can't-remember-because-of-dead-grey-cells, both from CT discussing one of the Trunk Show pieces. Oh, and that's Sister member Carol Ludington on the far right.

As the time drew near to the end of our meeting, we had a drawing of items and gift certificates donated by local merchants who we support and we wanted to share. Shops like Chroma Gallery, CT Wool, Evergreen Crafts, Blue Moon Artisans.

THEN after all this, with maps in hand, we adjourned to carpool over to the Guilford Art Center where we all enjoyed seeing the incredible SAQA Transformation: Reflections exhibit. One of the artists included in the exhibit, Debbie Bein had traveled from Poughkeepsie NY for the meeting and was on hand to talk about her work.

Boy, it was quite a day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Photo Challenge in new venue

Our art quilt group Sisters in Cloth has just mounted the Photo Challenge again. It will be on exhibit at the Guilford Free Library, Town Green, Guilford CT through December.

Pictured here are three photo groupings: " Kyoto Summer Palace", "Gaudi Barcelona" and "The Gates NYC".

We are very happy to be asked to exhibit annually at the library and, right from the beginning, we thought this challenge would be a perfect candidate for its audiences.

To add to the fun, we are hosting our regional SAQA group (http://SAQA/ meeting this next Saturday. Like "Topsy" our meeting has grown. The executive director of SAQA, Martha Sielman is giving a presentation about her new book "Art Quilt Masters"; we will preview SAQA's Traveling Trunk Show B; we will enjoy a box lunch; have (surprise) drawings from local retailers; view attending members' Show and Tell; AND, journey to the nearby Guilford Art Center to catch the fabulous SAQA Tranformations: Reflections exhibit. Phew!

If you haven't done so, check out the SAQA/CT blog for information. The meeting begins at 11 a.m. Join us. The more the merrier! For box lunch information and reservations email Barb Adams:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

SAQA Transformations/Reflections 09

Saturday Artist's Talk at Guilford Art Center (

In support of Studio Art Quilt Associates' fabulous exhibit Reflections, we (in the person of Linda Zimmerman: invited exhibiting artists to come to the Art Center to talk about their work. We were very lucky: Debbie Bein ( and Judith Plotner ( came last week, staying over after attending the Opening Reception. This week Andrea Limmer from VA generously accepted our invitation to chat with viewers all afternoon about her work "A Walk in the Woods".

The exhibit is generating a lot of buzz about art quilts. Fingers crossed that the feet in the door is so great that we will be asked to mount more exhibits!

Thanks to all who made this possible...and there are many!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Studio Art Quilt Associates' Reflections 09

Viewing (but not touching, honest) Denise Linet's "Squam Lake-Early Autumn" is Aurelle Locke, Yvette Howard and Judy Ross. Behind Aurelle and Yvette, peeking out, is a partial of Pat Kroth's gossamer "Bits of Gold". Two of the pieces in the fabulous SAQA Transformation 2009 Reflections traveling exhibition now on display at the Guilford Art Center, 411 Church Street, Guilford CT ( Aurelle and Judy drove down from the Hartford area today to join Yvette and me to see the exhibit and...of course...lunch. In fact, we ran into another CT/SAQA member, Mickey Lawler, who also had driven down from the Hartford area today to see the exhibit.

With a ton of help from my trusted team of exhibit installers (Linda Zimmerman, Robin Wolek, Barb and Roger Adams, and David Wright) this exhibit opened last Friday.

Why am I only now posting? Good question. My husband sometimes tells me that I keep trying to fill a five pound bag with ten pounds of stuff....okay, that's a paraphrase. But, he's right.

The good news is that the opening was a huge success! And the steady stream of folk through the exhibit since then, with all their compliments, is very satisfying.

The exhibit will be at this venue until January 3 when we take it down and pack it up. Ours is its first venue in the US (it previewed at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England) and it's only venue on the East Coast! How lucky we are! Next it travels to Alaska, Oregon and San Diego.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back from Ghana

We have returned from an amazing three week cultural exchange trip to Ghana, the home of the most hospitable folk on the planet!

Everywhere we went curious children asked for their photos to be taken...and we accommodated! Irresistible!

We were hosted the first week by a young family in Akosombo, a town created by the Volta River Authority when the dam forming the Lake Volta (the second biggest man-made dam in the world) was constructed. We were taken into their hearts and home like long lost members of their family.

The last week we were hosted by a vibrant family in Cape Coast, the ancient capital and early slave-trade port operated in turn by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Their early forts make for grizzly, sobering visits. It's important for tourists to visit and take home the memory of those horrors...along with the memories of the warm welcomes offered by our hosts and the beautiful beaches.

In between there were Durbars (chiefs' celebrations) in Ashanti territory, tasty spicy food with wonderful new aromas and textures, dancing with drumming at the drop of a "hello", and the markets and streets filled with vendors selling everything imaginable.

We were in country when Ghana's Under 20 Soccer Team won the World Cup!!! (Our host town erupted!!) And the MVP, the goalie hailed from the little town of Offinso in the Central Region where we were hosted for the second week.

The women pictured wearing those incredible fabrics were two of the celebrants at the Durbar performed for us at the Cedi Bead Factory near Kumasi in the Central Region.

Each bead is made individually from recycled glass...amazing...even the decorative dots added on each bead are made from a recycled glass slurry and fired again in the kiln.

The two things that peaked my interest the most, with respect to purchasing, were fabric (what a surprise) and beads. There was ample time to fill an extra suitcase with incredible African fabric. I did focus on that which was made in Ghana...with just one beautiful print from Mali. I also tried to focus on fabric made at the textile factory in Akosombo (Akosombo Textile Limited or ATL).
I have to say it was difficult not to buy more fabric...but...that wasn't the focus of the trip.

It was once in a lifetime experience....I hope I get to see our host families again!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm going to Africa!

This quilt is titled "Masako Goes to Africa". In 2008 it was accepted into "Up in Stitches" at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky.

When my family lived in Japan in the 1950's my parents adopted Masako, a beautiful five year old, from an orphanage in Fukuoka, Japan. Our family relocated to Texas when we returned to the States and Masako continues to live, fifty-some years later, within fifty miles. She rarely travels. Oddly, I travel broadly, gathering fabrics from all over like most quilt makers.

I decided to give Masako wonderful, imaginary journeys via my art quilting. This piece is the first. The shape, a kimono, is an obvious reference to her beginnings. The fabrics are all African. While I have never been to Africa, I thought Masako might like to go....I never imagined that I would actually travel there!

On Oct. 13, I am traveling to Ghana, joining a group from Friendship Force International ( to participate in a three week cultural exchange in three cities. Our first home-stay will be in Akosombo!

Perhaps I should consider making Masako another piece to celebrate another place I haven't planned to visit...hmmmm....maybe India!

I'm also linking this to and participating in her Fall 09 Quilt Festival.
What a fun way to kick off my adventure!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tour My Studio!

I was away on family business in Texas and totally missed the virtual quilt studio tour:^(

So I've decided to have my own blog-o-sphere tour.

My work space is in the basement of my house. Pic one shows, descending the stairs, my artwork that I hang, occasionally rotating pieces.

At the bottom of the stairs is one of my favorite paintings. It's "Women's Business" by Australian Aboriginal artist Lillian Nabadnari .

Picture 2: My cluttered design wall illustrating that I really am not working on anything at the moment. Further along is a work surface that in theory I can use to design and get organized. As if.

Photo 3: Light, light, light! Even though my studio is in the basement I have lots of natural light by way of the sliding doors and double hung window that look out over a tranquil side yard: birds, leaves, rock walls and chipmunks. I've set up my machine so that I can have natural light on the work surface. It is buttressed by two tables that offer storage space for thread cases below and ironing, organizing, assembling on their surfaces.

Photo 4: Just out of the light is the end of the room where most of my stash is stored. I have two tables elevated to facilitate cutting and basting (and storing more fabric). The chest on the right is home to beads and various small bits.

Photo 5: Pivoting a bit more to the left is more stash, a half bath (unless I get hungry there is really no reason for me to leave my studio), more bookcases and stacks of quilts stretched on foam core for display.

Photo 6: More of those quilts on foam core and my medium storage closet housing the inks, paints, stencils, stamps et al.

Photo 7: Back to the stairs with more bookcases, my computer and my desk's usual clutter, and rolls of quilts on the floor. Above my desk is another Aboriginal artist's work. "Palm Island" by Errol Possum Roberts.

I feel very lucky to have such a "room of my own"! Like I've said before, with the possible exception of Victoria, Australia, the place I most like to be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Work

29" x 29 1/2"

This work is about renewal of the landscape after bush fires, and, perhaps, renewal on a more personal level after trauma.

I'm particularly pleased with how this came out as it was a product of just plowing on in the face of artist's block.

The central motif is a panel of inked-stamped trees on hand painted cotton. I cut the stamps and completed this bit last winter while Victoria, Australia was suffering from horrific bush fires. We visited there in April and had the opportunity of seeing the bright green leaves practically jumping off the eucalyptus limbs and the trunks themselves in a vigorous affirmation of regeneration.

The strata piecing was created more recently and quite independently in an attempt to move out of a rut. Strata piecing is familiar and satisfying, especially if I don't have a goal in mind. It allows me to play with color and texture rather instinctually.

The two works happened to be pinned to my design wall at the same time. Voila! The strata was reassembled with the panel pieced into it.

The stitching on the strata is free-motion quilting with neon green, signifying new growth, whilst the trees are hand stitched with seed stitches using hand-dyed thread.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My winning bids!

The piece on the top is "Happy Anniversary" by Lutgard Gerber-Billiau ( and the second is "Connections #3" by Deborah Bein (

I was the lucky winning bidder for them in the SAQA Auction's first phase. The second phase is currently up for auction...hurry! ( This is such a wonderful way to collect incredible small pieces of art and support SAQA, and, in so doing, encourage and support all of us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Strange Sun Rite? In Connecticut?

Captured in their natural habitat along the Lieutenant River in Old Lyme CT are two chubby examples of art worshipers paying homage to Patrick Dougherty's sculpture constructed there this summer. The photograph is tentatively titled "Curse of the iPhone".

Patrick Dougherty collects sticks and saplings from the local environment then bends and coaxes them into monumental sculptures. Walking into these magical dwellings is a wonderful, giddy experience.

It takes about three weeks to gather the ingredients and, working with interns, construct...and about a year for it to deconstruct.

It will be available for walking into, photographing, and enjoying through October 18. Go to the Florence Griswold Museum's site: It's worth the trip...and his photo-packed book is available in the museum's shop. (It can also be previewed on his site.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Advocating Professional Photography

OR Preaching to the Choir

Compare these images with those in my last post. Night and day. Right?

Looking through my various postings it's obvious to me which images were shot by my husband and which were taken by me (even when I used his fancy lights). Sad, but true.

Anyone can tell when he is out of town working at his "real" job. Who would ever have guessed that mild-mannered helicopter test pilot by day could morph into professional quality photographer by night? Actually, he's been a photographer a lot longer than he's been a pilot and both date into the decades.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. Getting accepted into exhibits is all about the quality of the photography. And, the curator of my last successful entry actually told me "your work is here because of your images".

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Webinar? Yes. Me! And the world did not end.

While we were in Lowell, MA last month Lisa Chipetine (new SAQA Pres) urged us to jump in and participate in an online crit group. I decided to give it a go, even though I'm not really happy with anonymous criticism and I'm not very computer literate.

I didn't have what I thought was a good candidate at hand so I put this small (about 30" square) piece up for review. It features narrow stripes of text...some Japanese, most English and is titled "Miscommunication".

"Quilt Critique Live Session" occurred this past Monday night and was comprised of five artists with work for review, Sandra Sider and Lisa. Some of the suggestions for my contribution was 1) leave off my dangly bits that distracted, 2) add color to the "faces" blocks, and 3) bind it so that the eye is drawn back in. (

When I started the piece I was pretty unimpressed with it and would have been happy to scrap it. But the critique process changed my mind. I think it might have value now. I am a new proponent of this online crit group. It was very interesting. I learned much from the other participants, both from their comments and from the suggestions offered for their work.

Certainly an interesting exercise and one I will repeat periodically. It's a lovely resource to have at one's fingertips.

I have quilted between the "faces" with script: e.g. "mistranslations", "mistakes were made", "lack of clear and adequate words", etc.

Now for blocking.

All in all a surprise. And I'm not often surprised. (Jaded, maybe.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Stepping into the Baby Pool: TWINS!

Stepping into the Baby Pool, the little strata quilt to the left, was acquired last year by friends who had commissioned a larger piece and decided to include this in their purchase as they were starting their family.

These things sometimes take time. How happy are they, as we are for them, that they are pregnant with TWINS!

This news certainly called for another quilt. This second, Stepping into the Baby Pool II, is my gift to them. It contains much of the fabric from the first and some distinctly it's own. They are similar, definitely related.

Now I'm wondering if two can be called a series?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A quilt for Jingju

Jingju is a sunny six year old girl who knows exactly what she wants ....and her favorite color is green. I met Jingju this past weekend.

I'd promised myself at our last Chinese New Year's party that when she arrived in the arms of her waiting parents I would make her a quilt. I knew that she would not be an infant, but a child who, I imagined, might like to participate in some choices.

She arrived in April and I hadn't had a chance to meet her until now.
She and I went directly to my studio, with her mother following. When I asked her if she had a favorite color, she immediately burst with GREEN! Dark? NO!

Now I knew which box of fabric to select for her to look through. It didn't take her two minutes to find her favorite. It's the border fabric in this strata quilt (it also appears in some of the large squares). An unusual choice for the six year old I thought...but she was certain. And so it is done.

Her mother is hoping that Jingju will want to hang it in her bedroom. I'm thinking Jingju has already decided exactly what she will do. I can hardly wait to find out. Bed? Play tent? Picnic with teddy bears and dolls?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Support Your Local Art Quilter

The New England Quilt Museum annually sponsors a silent auction fund-raiser at The Lowell Quilt Festival. Every year I bid but this is the first year that I returned on Sunday morning before leaving town and upped the ante on two pieces...and I won one! Here is Martha McCarthy's "Leaves #1", a first of a series of five small quilts using the techniques of fabric painting and dye discharge to create a seasonal wallhanging.

I am a collector. No, this isn't an intro to a 12-step program. I have always been a collector. First it was lady bugs and lightening bugs. Then it was baby birds, frogs, kittens, puppies and, later, boys ;^): creatures that I thought needed caring for. I got over the boy thing (saving them, that is) but I never got over the collecting thing.

Of course, the whole quilt/art quilt world thrives on people like me. And my studio proves my point. But that's another post.

Collecting an artist's work is important. Nothing says "I love you" like reaching into your pocket and buying a piece, and hence, support the art(ist). So when at all possible I try to do more than sign the guest book and leave an encouraging note. Even if it's only a small piece that I can afford, like this by Margo Stage that I also purchased in Lowell.

Or the journal by Maxine Farkas.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to the SAQA Silent Auction in September!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quiltscapes at The Whistler

Quiltscapes at The Whistler

Lowell MA has really become one of the hot spots for quilts, and, from my view point art quilts in particular. Not only is there a very respectable turn out of antique,traditional and contemporary quilts for the annual Lowell Quilt Festival, many, many venues throughout the town host exhibits and activities for quiltmakers and artists of all ilks. Most notably, The Whistler House Museum of Art and The Brush Gallery jury wonderful art quilt shows every year. Their artists' receptions are "must attends".

I was thrilled to have a piece juried into The Whistler this year! Mine is the upper left piece in the photograph below. I was particularly pleased to be in such good company! It doesn't get much better than this;^)

(psst: that last one on the right is Laura Wasilowski's)

One of my other favorite stops in Lowell, where I manage to spend many hours, is the Western Avenue Studios. The once empty huge factory is now home studio space to 250 (I think) artists of all media, and coming soon, a cafe. Thank goodness, as next time I'll be able to find sustenance so I can stay longer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Driven to Abstraction

Abstraction I (detail)

In a move of desperation I tidied my studio. This doesn't happen often and I should do it more, especially since I always "discover" or "re-discover" some treasure.

This time I uncovered several pieces that I had created a few years ago. They are abstract pieces I really enjoyed creating and now think that they have held up well with respect to design and composition.
I'm revisiting abstraction.

There is a series in my mind. Pictured here is the first of this "Driven to Abstraction" series. It's titled "Abstraction I" at the moment. There is a back story that I think I'll wait to share until the series has played out a least another one or two pieces.

Abstraction I (23"x23")

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Barking Cloth Quilts: Art by Vivika DeNegre

Socks & His Toys

I've long admired the work of fiber artist Vivika DeNegre. I'm one of her biggest fans and hope I can continue to collect her work.

I commissioned her to re-create from a photo a remembrance of our wonderful old cat Mr. Socks. She captured our little buddy perfectly, incorporating images from the stories she'd heard about him over the years (ad nauseum, no doubt). It was a birthday gift for my husband. He opened it last night and was overjoyed. Thanks, Vivika!

ps. You can catch Vivika on her blog and very soon on her new website. Look for her among my favorites.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

At the risk of boring you....and me

Lily Pond 19"x27"

It has never been easy for me to learn to listen to the advice of others. Let's just say as I've matured I've learned (sometimes the hard way) that it's a fool who doesn't at least consider advice of peers.

This is the last and, I hope, final posting about this piece.

I hope you can see the slight shadowing and highlighting (and beading) in the detail photo. Suggestions from others....with my thanks...did improve it. So, listening and acting on the advice of others has been positively reinforced ;^)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Days and Layers Later

Lily Pond
19"x 27"

My last posting pictured the first layer of thread work on a piece of hand dyed cotton. Today it is finished. Well, as finished as I think it will be. I am open to suggestions, however. I often preview my works-in-progress to others, notably, my art quilt group and, often to my DH. This time was an exception. This is its first viewing and suggestions are always welcomed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Work in progress

This is a really rough photo of my current work: hand dyed wholecloth with stitch and crayon. At this point I think it needs to spend some time on my design wall.

Lately, wholecloth (mostly) and machine stitching seem to be what interests me.

In the meanwhile a big (4' x 6') pieced background languishes on my design wall deciding what it wants to be when it's finished. I'm not sure where I'm going with it no photos.