Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pink Poppy

“Pink Poppy” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
8.75" square (Copyright 2015)
White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton thread, cotton batting.
Wholecloth painted and free-motion machine quilted.
I finished this small piece, “Pink Poppy,” this past weekend. It is wholecloth painted, then quilted. Here is the painting in progress:

My favorite brush by Loew-Cornell has been discontinued, so I’m working with brushes by Tulip. They are not quite as stiff as the Loew-Cornell ones, but I’m pretty happy with them. I purchase several hundred brushes a year for my wholecloth painting classes, so I needed to find some good replacements. 

In the photo below, I haven’t finished painting (the flower center and the background aren’t done) and you can see that I still don’t have the values right. The darks need to get darker, and the lights need to get lighter. This is often the case when I get to this point in the painting. We are all more comfortable in the middle value zone. It takes some courage to add the darkest values. I often take photos of my painted pieces in progress so that I can see if I have the values correct. I’m not sure exactly why this works, but it does.

Now the center is roughed in, and the values are looking better, so it’s more dimensional:

Here it is finished, before stitching:

And now it goes under the needle of my trusted Bernina. I free-motion quilted using colors in the piece: hot pink, pale pink, dark purple, and chartreuse. The stitching adds dimension and detail. On many of my small pieces (this piece is only 8.75" square), I do a pillowcase turn before I quilt. First I baste the batting and a layer of interfacing to the wrong side of the backing fabric, then I sew the front to the back, leaving a small opening. Then I clip the corners, turn it inside out and quilt.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

QATV Series 1800 available now

It’s here! You can get the digital download of “Quilting Arts TV” Series 1800 now, and preorder the DVD. (And through June 26, 2016, if you order the DVD, you get the download for free! Use promo code 1800BOGO and order here.) Here’s the great lineup:

1801: Cathy Wiggins creates wholecloth quilts with leather • Susan Carlson tells how she made a life-size image of a 20-foot long crocodile • Jane Dávila creates large-scale printed fabric and repeats

1802: Longarm quilter Renae Haddadin makes a statement with a trendy quilted bag • Artist Melissa Averinos works in 3-D to create charming accessories

1803: Quilter Victoria Findlay Wolfe creates dynamic floral designs as she shows how to accurately piece Y-seams • Fiber artist Lea McComas evaluates and chooses colors based on value

1804: Longarm quilter Nancy Wick combines fabrics and fibers with a straight stitch to make wearable textiles • Art quilter Laura Wasilowski turns a simple sketch into colorful, textured embroidery • Susan Brubaker Knapp shows how to achieve even machine stitches

1805: Textile artist Esterita Austin designs beautiful portraits with fabric and paint • Vivika DeNegre incorporates her love of friends and family into her portrait quilts • Susan Brubaker Knapp shares tips for adjusting tension on your machine

1806: Quilter Victoria Findlay Wolfe creates shapes with die cuts from her ample fabric collection • Cathy Wiggins uses scraps of leather to make amazing wall art • Esterita Austin makes colorful still-life designs with sheer fabrics

1807: Artist Wendy Butler Berns captures the world in photographs and transforms them into brilliant quits • Using a simple spiral shape, Susan Carlson combines unusual fabrics to create a dynamic design

1808: Artist Joanne Sharpe embellishes quilts with whimsical painting and colorful stitch • Esterita Austin uses still-life artistry to create with sheer organza paint transfers • Mixed-media artist Jane Dávila prints with dye using sunlight

1809: Grace Errea shares how to make raw-edge appliqué that doesn't fray • Renae Haddadin adds binding to quilts on the longarm • Artist Melissa Averinos creates abstract designs with raw-edge appliqué.

1810: Grace Errea shares innovative techniques for randomly piecing backgrounds • Frieda Anderson shows how she designs patterns • Vivika DeNegre shares tips for blocking quilts

1811: Wendy Butler Berns builds an unconventional textured nest with fibers and threads • Susan Edmonson makes a charming nest filled with felted eggs

1812: Cathy Wiggins creates richly textured garments and accessories from leather • Nancy Wick makes a thread-painted bowl on the longarm machine

1813: Artist Joanne Sharpe transforms white fabric with bold paints • Lisa Chin captures the bright sunlight to create lush prints • Susan Brubaker Knapp shows how to select paints to create colors and effects

Saturday, June 18, 2016


“Crystalline” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
40" x 40"
(Copyright 2016)
White fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton thread, cotton fabric (backing), wool/polyester batting.
Wholecloth painted and free-motion quilted.
If you are feeling a bit toasty this summer (and I am; the temps in the Charlotte, NC, area were above 90˚F six days last week, and the humidity was higher than 95% most of the time), then here’s a quilt to cool you down! It’s my latest piece, “Crystalline.” 

“Crystalline” (detail) by Susan Brubaker Knapp (Copyright 2016)
I painted the snowflakes in white and silver blue paint by ProChemical & Dye, then painted the background in shades of royal blue, before quilting it with an overall motif of a crystal at different sizes. 

I adore snow and snowflakes; I’ve made several pieces featuring them.

This piece was just juried in to the Dinner at Eight Artists’ exhibition, “Pattern,” which will be at 2016 International Quilt Market (Oct. 28-31) and International Quilt Festival (Nov. 2-6) in Houston. It is sponsored by Mistyfuse. Dinner at Eight Artists’ exhibitions are curated by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal.

You can see a complete list of the artists in the exhibition here: http://DinneratEightArtists.blogspot.com/

Monday, April 18, 2016

Studio tour

Thought you might like a peek inside my studio. I cleaned it up a few weeks ago before starting on two new pieces, so it is tidier than usual! My studio was our guest bedroom until I painted it red and my mom stopped wanting to stay overnight with us (she claimed the red color made her feel “like she was sleeping in hell”) and I took it over about 10 years ago. It is 14' x 14', minus my husband’s closet, which we think was built in the sixties. (Our house is 100 years old this year, so it doesn’t have any closets that are original to the house.) As you will notice, I am not a minimalist. I have lots of little vignettes around my house, and lots of cool old stuff I love, and lots of collections to inspire me.


Sunday, April 17, 2016


This is a new piece, “Resurrection,” in progress. I started this piece in early April, and it was the first time I was back in my studio working since my husband Rob had a seizure, and doctors discovered a meningioma, or calcified mass, in his brain. 

He had the seizure at 6:45 a.m. on Feb. 2, just as he was leaving with our 15-year-old daughter to take her to basketball practice at school, and then heading to work. If they had left five minutes earlier, they would have been driving on the interstate when it happened, and things would have been far worse. It was a severe seizure that lasted at least 4-5 minutes, and I thought he was going to die on the floor in our hall, in my arms, before the paramedics could arrive. He was in the hospital for several days, and is now doing well on medications to prevent future seizures and to shrink the swelling around the mass. Surgery is not recommended because of the delicate place where the mass is located, so we are in a holding pattern for now.

An event like this has a way of changing the way you think about life. I have wanted to do an art quilt based on daffodils for years. This spring, I have taken lots of photos of daffodils. They are my favorite flower, a symbol of rebirth and renewal, a bright yellow ray of sunshine in the snow. 

As my husband and I made our way through his diagnosis, adjusting medications, getting to doctors’ appointments, and lots and lots of driving (for me, since he will not be permitted to drive for at least six months), I became more and more eager to do something creative, and to get back into my studio. After sketching from one of my photos as I flew to the shoot for “Quilting Arts TV” in March, I decided that when I could start a new piece, this would be it. Fitting, especially in light of my husband’s situation. 

This is a different technique for me. It is a collaging method, similar to that used by Bonnie McCaffery, Susan Carlson, and some other art quilters. Except that almost all the pieces, besides those at the flowers’ coronas, are triangles, which gives the piece a faceted appearance. It’s a kind of fabric mosaic. I was striving to create the effect of light coming through the petals, making them glow.

An enlarged copy of the drawing is underneath the base fabric, and then the pieces are tacked down with glue. Wicked (below) is eager to help.

This is a bigger piece than I’ve done in a while; it will probably be about 40x60" when finished. 

The next step is to quilt. I’m not sure yet if I’ll put tulle on top of the piece before quilting. I’m a bit concerned that the pieces will all come loose as I quilt! I’ll post again when I figure out what I’m doing, and have time to work on it.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Quilting Arts TV Series 1800

In mid-March, we shot Quilting Arts TV Series 1800 at KS Productions in Solon, Ohio. It will start airing on about 400 public television stations across the U.S. in July. This is the fifth series I’ve hosted, and we had some fabulous guests. Here’s a sneak peek. (Note that some of these segments will be held until Series 1900, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer to see them.)

Susan Carlson brought along Stevie, the life-sized salt-water crocodile. This piece measures 22 feet long, and it was quite amazing to have on set.

Susan also shot a segment on creating a fabric collage spiral quilt to learn the basics of fabric collage. 

Esterita Austin shared tips for making portrait quilts; on transferring original imagery onto organza using acrylic and Lumiere metallic paints; and on using sheer colored organzas to create still lifes and landscapes.

Melissa Averinos teaches how to make a yo-yo fabric brooch; a small piece of abstract wall art; and a hand-painted panel with fabric medium and Inktense color blocks.

Quilting Arts magazine editor Vivika DeNegre joined me to talk about how to block a quilt so that it lies – or hangs – nice and flat.

Wendy Butler Berns shot three segments: picture image machine appliqué; random pieced borders; and using Texture Magic. Here, she’s getting set up on the Bernina with the help of Andrea Goddard of Bernina:

 Here are some shots of the set and the equipment:

Jane Davila shot segments on SolarFast sun printing with masks and printing with photographic negative designs on transparencies; on block printing; and on Citrasolv image transfers.

Grace Errea’s  segments are on explaining value, and the 8-value scale she uses; on her “heat-set” machine applique technique; and on randomly pieced backgrounds. 

Victoria Findlay Wolfe shot two segments: on how to cut precise pieces with a Sizzix machine, then Y-seam piecing on the Hex Flower; and how to beautifully piece free form curves. 

Here is the Green Room, where guests get their segments organized and wait until it is their turn on set:

Rennae Haddidin used an Innova longarm machine in her two segments on creating a beautiful quilted drawstring bag; and on applying a binding to a quilt on the longarm. 

Joanne Sharpe demonstrates coloring book-style lettering quilts; quilts made from tone-on-tone white printed fabrics painted and colored with Inktense, Caran d'Ache, and Dye-na-Flow; and quilts painted and then free-motion quilted and embellished. 

Here I am with our fabulous make-up artist, Karen, who makes us all look great!

Vivika and assistant editor Kristine Lundblad having a bit of fun on set:

Nancy Wick taught how to thread paint and embellish on an Innova longarm quilting machine while creating a sculptured fabric poppy bowl; and how to make a scarf from fibers such as thread, ribbon, or roving.

Cathy Vandiford Wiggins shot three segments on quilting leather, including how to use  quilted leather panels in sewing projects such as vests, jackets, journal covers and bags; creating scraps of hides for wall art; and how to stabilize a larger piece of leather for quilting.