Thursday, July 9, 2015

Old Red Door

“Old Red Door” copyright 2015 by Susan Brubaker Knapp (40" x 40")
My new piece, “Old Red Door,” has been selected by curators Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison to appear in the Dinner at Eight Artists’ exhibition, “Affinity.” The exhibit will debut at the International Quilt Market (Oct. 24-26, 2015) and Festival (Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2015) in Houston. It is a juried invitational exhibition sponsored by Havel’s Sewing.

This is a wholecloth painted piece, which means that I painted the image on white fabric with acrylic textile paints, and then stitched it. For more information on this technique, please see this blog post.

Here is the curators’ explanation of the theme, “Affinity”:

I am the garden that I plant.

I have… a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, or idea.

I am all the books that I have read.

I have… a close resemblance or connection to someone or some thing.

I am the places that I have been

I have… an agreement with someone.

I am the people that I love to be near

I have… a relationship or ties to another individual.

I am the sum of my life experiences.

Here are the 40 selected pieces and artists:

Black Cat, Red Flower, Green Leaf - Frances Holliday Alford
Beneath the Surface - Linda C. Anderson
Tutti Frutti City Street - Sue Bleiweiss
The Patriots of Boston - Loris Bogue
Green Bowl - Deborah Boschert
Spring Comes Late - Cindy Cooksey
Undaunted - Lauretta K. Crites
Paint the Town Red - Diane R. Doran
Color Play - Jane E. Dunnewold
Sprocket 2 Me - Robbi Joy Eklow
Raised on Bluebonnets - Suzan Engler
That's Amore - Barb Forrister
Essence - Lyric M. Kinard
Jacob's Treasures - Susan Fletcher King
Fiberarts Complusion - Karol Kusmaul
Napa Valley Vineyard with Red Barn - Cathie I. Hoover
Ms. Stella O'Houligan - Stacy Hurt
Old Red Door - Susan Brubaker Knapp
3 "CANS" - Sandra E. Lauterbach
Peas n'Honey - Linda Teddlie Minton
Focal Point - Jeannie P. Moore
Agave - Susie Monday
Charleston on My Mind - Rachel K. Parris
We are Stardust - Andi Perejda
Crepuscular Flash - Judy Coates Perez
Paris Avant-Garde - Yvonne Porcella
Magnetic Attraction (Tuning Fork #25) - Heather Pregger
The Sweet Press of Remembered Moments - Wen Redmond
Who Has Seen the Wind? - Cynthia St. Charles
Universal - Julie Schlueter
Horloge Musee d'Orsay - Gayle Simpson
Descended from the Stars - Sarah Ann Smith
Rock - Virginia A. Spiegel
Seeking Red - Terri Stegmiller
Martie Learns to Read - Ann E. Turley
The Rest from their Labors - Larkin Jean Van Horn
Sweet, Sweet, Bliss - Valerie C. White
Dot - Kathy York

Jamie Fingal - Rama Lama Ding Dong
Leslie Tucker Jenison - Affinity for Improv

“Old Red Door” (detail)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Orange Gerbera

“Orange Gerbera”
Copyright 2015 by Susan Brubaker Knapp
approximately 24 x 34"
Here’s my latest piece. It is based on a photo I took of an orange Gerbera Daisy (you can see the photo at the bottom of this post). I took the photo on one of my morning walks through my neighborhood earlier this spring. This piece is wholecloth painted, then quilted. I haven’t faced it yet, but it will probably end up to be about 24 x 34".

Here’s a detail shot:

“Orange Gerbera” (detail)
Photo (by me) on which the fiber art is based.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quilting Arts TV Series 1600 is here!

“Quilting Arts TV” Series 1600 is here! We have some terrific guests in this series; if you’d like to see and read more about them, you can get the inside scoop on my previous post here. These shows will start airing on about 400 Public Television stations in the U.S. soon. Not all stations carry the new shows at the same time, so depending on where you live, you might see the new shows in July, or you might see them later this year.

The DVD of this series, and the digital download is available here for $39.99. (The DVD is now available for pre-order and should ship later this month; the download is available now.)

A note about the projects on QATV: Through series 1400, most of the projects featured on QATV were offered as free downloads. For Series 1500, the projects were available in a booklet for $14.99. For Series 1600, in response to customer comments, F+W Media, the parent company of Quilting Arts, will be offering some of the projects for free, some in Quilting Arts magazine, and some as more affordable individual downloads ($4 each). The company made the change toward charging for this content in an attempt to offset the rising costs of producing the show, which is available free to consumers (without the advertising on regular TV) on public television.

If you are interested in seeing a particular episode, you can now stream individual episodes of QATV on here. (The 1600 episodes will be available here soon.)

1601: Design and Stitch - Join Pat Pauly as she shows you how to add a linear quality to quilt designs with pieced thin lines. Then, explore how to design a double-sided quilt with two different points of view with Nysha Oren Nelson.

1602: Take it Slow - Watch as Lynn Krawczyk explores artful wool felt color studies with hand stitching. Then, let Mark Lipinski explain the philosophy of the Slow Stitching Movement.

1603: Beads and Sequins - First, Catherine Redford demonstrates a fancy beaded edge technique. Then, Jane LaFazio uses beads and sequins to make small works of art. And Susan Brubaker Knapp shows us how to use the sewing machine to attach strings of beads onto quilts to give them a little something extra.

1604: Color it Beautifully - Learn how to highlight the dimension of designs after stitching by applying color with Nysha Oren Nelson. Watch and learn as Desiree Habicht blends and layers colors with colored pencils. Then, see how Julia C. Wood prepares hexagon motifs for hand and machine appliqué.

1605: The Artistic Touch - First, see how Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum creates reusable silkscreens with organza and iron-on vinyl. Next, Cecile Whatman demonstrates a multitude of techniques while making background fabric for an art quilt with non-traditional media.

1606: Fabric and Fabrication - Watch Lesley Riley as she infuses her personality into fragment fabric collages. Then, Pat Pauly shares ways to design compositions for fiber art, including small-scale sketches, collage, and montage.

1607: Make it Special - Mark Lipinski shares a variety of legacy quilts, along with his own, to show how to leave a bit of yourself behind. See how Tammie Bowser makes fusible appliqué “Jazz Quilts” from photos. Then, learn how to take your quilts beyond the ordinary when Susan Brubaker Knapp offers tips for machine stitching tiny motifs.

1608: Paint it! Cecile Whatman explains the ins and outs of building a painted surface with depth and movement. Then, Desiree Habicht shows how versatile acrylic paint on fiber can be by improving and accentuating details with paint.

1609: Grab Bag - Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum shows how to use stickers and textile paint to add text to her quilts. Next, Rebekah Meier shares her Confetti Zipper Bag which is a great way to use up special threads, yarns, and fabric bits. Finally, Jane LaFazio makes hand-felted soaps for lovely and useful gifts.

1610: Hot Stuff - Joan Shay shows how to make a gorgeous 3-D butterfly using fusible appliqué. Then, learn how to create fabulous textural effects using heat shrinking thread with Liz Kettle and bold metallic designs using iron-on foils with Susan Brubaker Knapp.

1611: Appliqué Three Ways - First, watch as Sue Spargo appliqués wool and embroiders it to make a beautiful needle case. Then, Becky Campbell demonstrates an innovative method for fusible appliqué. And finally, Susan Brubaker Knapp gives tips for making bias strips for stems and vines.

1612: Repurposing - Learn how to recycle old quilt blocks using surface design techniques with Lynn Krawczyk. See how Trish Bowman creates a beautiful memory quilt with vintage silk neckties. Then, watch as Nysha Oren Nelson alters a wooden box and uses it to display intricately quilted pieces.

1613: Inspired by a Photo - In this episode, discover how two artists use photographs to inspire their artwork. First, Jane LaFazio shows how a photo of a unique plant inspires a series of quilts. Then, Pat Pauly shares ways she uses photos to help jumpstart her abstract designs.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More from Jane’s class

Here are more of the drawings/watercolors I’ve been doing in Jane LaFazio’s online course, Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs from Life. If you’d like to learn more about drawing or watercolor, I highly suggest taking a class from Jane. I’ve really enjoyed this class, and both Jane and my fellow students were very positive and supportive, while offering great constructive criticism to help each student learn.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Our family had two important milestones last week. My father turned 80 years old. And our eldest daughter, Lea, graduated from high school.

I made two handmade graduation gifts for Lea. The first was a water-colored quote (at the very top of this post). All her life, Lea has drawn cards for family and friends, and so I wanted to make one for her this time. The second gift was a quilt for her college dorm room. It is mostly purples taken from my mother’s quilting stash. Lea shared a love of the color purple with my mom.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exploring taking (and teaching) online courses

My latest class assignment
I have just started an online class with the fabulous Jane LaFazio. It’s called “Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs from Life,” and even though it’s only the first week, I’ve learned a lot and had so much fun! The photos in this post are some of the work I’ve done for the class. 

Here is Jane’s description of the class: “Working in a sketchbook, you’ll draw and paint in watercolor from real life subjects. Then from your own drawings, you'll create original designs that could be used in surface design and mixed media.”

Jane is a mixed media artist who works in paper, fabric and fiber. She’s been on “Quilting Arts TV” numerous times, and I took a class from her in person several years ago when she taught in North Carolina. You can learn more about Jane's online courses on her blog here.

another page

The class is delivered in bits, once a week, in the form of videos and PDFs with photos and text. There are exercises and assignments. It is six weeks long, and all the information is available for several weeks after the class officially ends. The cost for the six-week class is $99. 

I’m taking the class partly to explore the idea of teaching online classes. I wanted to check out the platform Jane uses (Ruzuku), and to see what I like, or don’t like, about it. So far, it seems very easy to navigate and to connect with Jane and the other students taking the class.

If I offered online classes, what would you want to take from me?
Here are some ideas I’m considering:
  • Tyvek, Mylar, Lutradur: Explore versatile materials for art quilting
  • Wholecloth painting: Paint on fabric from your original photo
  • Thread sketching: Add detail, texture, and interest to your work with thread
  • Fusible applique: Build a composition from your original photo
  • Needleturn appliqué 101: Get started with this heirloom technique
  • Machine quilting 101: Gain confidence and skill in free-motion machine quilting
  • Photo inspiration: Learn how to use basic design and composition principles to take better photos with a point-and-shoot photo or your smart phone

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My work in the June/July issue of Quilting Arts

My work is featured in the June/July 2015 issue of Quilting Arts magazine, which will be going out to subscribers, and on newsstands, soon! You can buy it online here right now. It focuses on using acrylic inks to do lettering on cloth for art quilts.

This is my piece “The Mind is not a Vessel” (10.5" x 28"):

Monday, May 11, 2015

“Thermofax 101” review and giveaway

Lyric Kinard’s new DVD workshop is here! “Thermofax 101: Screen Printing Made Easy” is a great way to learn about how to start working with thermofax screens. Thermofax are an easy way to screen print your own imagery onto fabric.

The 65-minute-long workshop is divided into chapters. In the first chapter, Lyric discusses what a thermofax screen is, and how it is made. She explains the old way of making silkscreens, and then the way to make them using a thermofax machine. I don’t have a machine, but it was very interesting to understand how it worked, and to see it in action. If you don’t have a thermofax machine, you can send images to Lyric and have her make them into screens for you. The guidelines and pricing are here. She also has some screens of her designs for purchase. 

I had only worked with thermofax screens once before, and I learned so much from this workshop. Then I put what I had learned into action, using a thermofax of one of my fish drawings that Lyric made for me. First, I used ProChemical & Dye’s ProFab Transparent Textile Paint and screened onto Robert Kaufman Pimatex PFD (top), and onto white cotton canvas fabric (bottom):

Even though the printing was not as clear as on the Pimatex, I think I liked it better, with all its imperfections and texture, on the canvas:

I still need to practice a bit to get the right amount of paint going through the screen, so that I don’t lose too much detail. But I wasn’t aiming for perfection, but more of an arty look. I love how the fish look printed on a canvas apron I’d “dyed” with paint, then stenciled before printing:

The second chapter focuses on finding imagery, from using online resources for copyright-free art such as Dover Publications and the Library of Congress, to developing your own personal imagery. Lyric’s expertise in understanding and explaining basic principles of art shows clearly here. 

The third chapter covers printing techniques and materials, including the ideal printing surface (with just a bit of padding for a good print), supplies such as paint and scrapers, and advice about cleaning your screens so they will have a long life. She also covers techniques beyond printing with paint, such as using a bleach-based detergent for discharging dye from fabric, and printing with adhesives, so that you can foil. I tested out the foiling process (basically printing through the screen with an adhesive, allowing the fabric and glue to dry, and ironing on special foils), and loved the effect:

In the fourth chapter, Lyric offers great tips for how to use your thermofax screen images to design your own cloth. This was my favorite part of the DVD, and I think it will be helpful for anyone who wants to use thermofax screens in an artful way. Again, Lyric’s ability to explain and demonstrate basic design principles shines through here. You’ll feel confident about your ability to use thermofax screens to create dynamic fabric after watching.

Here’s a little video preview of the workshop:

Lyric is a gifted teacher (she was the 2011 International Association of Professional Quilters Teacher of the Year!), and she’s teaching with me this fall at my Once in a Blue Moon Fiber Art Retreat, October 1-3, 2015 in Black Mountain, NC. We only have room for four more students, so if you are interested, please send in your registration form soon. We are going to have so much fun!

If you want to get started using thermofax screens right away, you can purchase a copy of the DVD for $19.95 on Lyric’s website.
For more chances to win a copy, check out all of the links below, and leave comments on each blog. Lyric is giving away a DVD for each of the stops on this blog hop!

April 24 Cheryl Rezendez
April 25  Leslie Tucker Jenison  
April 28  Sue Bleiweiss
April 30  Judy Gula
May 1  Susan Price & Elizabeth Gibson
May 2  Judy Coates Perez
May 4  Linda Stokes
May 6  Jane Davila
May 6 Melanie Testa
May 7  Liz Kettle 
May 8  Carol Sloan
May 9  Kathy York
May 11  Susan Brubaker Knapp
May 12  Desiree Habicht
May 13  Jamie Fingal
May 14  Deborah Boschert
May 15  Sarah Ann Smith

Leave a comment on this post by noon on May 16 for a chance to win a copy of Lyric’s workshop on DVD. Tell me why you want this DVD. I will randomly select a winner and list it after this post on May 16. International entries are also accepted for this giveaway. Please leave an email address if you do not have a blogger profile that lists yours. I'll need a way to get in touch with you to get your address if you win. Please note that your comment may not show up right away, as I am moderating all comments before they post (I had a bunch of Japanese porn spammers leaving comments ... eeeew).
WE HAVE A WINNER! Vicki has won the DVD. Thanks, everyone!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Teaching coast to coast

From Cape Cod…
to the Monterey Peninsula
I’ve recently returned from a coast-to-coast teaching trip. I taught April 21-24 in Cape Cod, MA, and then flew all the way across the country to teach April 26 - May 1 at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in California. I got to see some beautiful places, and I dipped my toes in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean within about 24 hours. Then I rushed back on the red-eye from Los Angeles to Charlotte to get back in time for my daughter’s senior prom.

Here are some shots I took on Cape Cod, where it was chilly but clear and lovely, the water was a million shades of royal blue to teal, and the daffodils were in bloom:

But I also was struggling with an infection in my jaw, which turned out to be caused by a molar gone bad (and required a root canal when I got home). Luckily, I had some help from Ro Morrissey, who was supposed to accompany me to see the Edward Gorey house on Saturday morning, but instead got me to an emergency dentist and the pharmacy before she put me on the bus to Logan airport in Boston. (Thanks, Ro!)

The dentist in Cape Cod couldn’t see anything on the x-ray, but suspected an infection caused by a bad tooth, and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and told me to take 3 Motrin every 5-6 hours.

In my years of teaching, I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s necessary to lean on the folks who are sponsoring you – in ways you did not intend to have to do. That’s when you find out just how kind and accommodating quilters are. And you have some good stories to tell in the end, no matter how unpleasant or embarrassing the actual event was. (Ask me about the time I got a horrific diarrhea bug while teaching in Atlanta. Actually … don’t ask me. You really don’t want to know.)

Here are members of the Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod who took my Wholecloth Painting – Botanicals class. Beautiful work!

I also got the chance to have dinner with the immensely talented Melissa Averinos, (she paints, writes and illustrates craft books, designs quilting fabric, and makes quilts) whom I’d last met years before at Quilt Market. She took me to a local hangout for a wonderful fish dinner and a tasty piece of blueberry pie. 

After taking the bus to Logan airport, I took a whole lot of Motrin and got on a plane for Phoenix, then Monterey. 

Leaving Boston
Western mountains from the air

I arrived in Monterey about 11 p.m., took a dizzying taxi ride up and down and around curvy roads in the dark, with the scent of clean salt air in my nostrils, and arrived at Asilomar by midnight. I took more Motrin and the antibiotics and crashed. When I woke up the next morning, I was still in a lot of pain, but it was early (I was still on East Coast time), and I went out and walked for several hours on the beach before breakfast.


The west coast was experiencing a phenomenon where millions of Velella velella jellyfish were washing up on shore. These jellyfish ride the wind on the surface of the ocean, using their clear sail. When the living part (blue in the photo below) dries up, they leave behind their sail, which look like clear plastic Pringles potato chips with beautiful ridges in them. Very sad, but also incredibly beautiful. 

The Empty Spools Seminars are held at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Asilomar State Park. I had heard that it was spectacular, but I was still stunned at its beauty.
Asilomar was created as a YWCA Leadership Camp in 1913. It is called Monterey peninsula’s “Refuge by the Sea,” and includes 107 acres of state beach and conference grounds. It is known for its restored dune ecosystem and architectural significance. Many of its historic structures were designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan between 1913 and 1928. They have a strong Arts & Crafts/Mission influence, but with a west coast twist.


Two of my students took me to a darling breakfast place in Carmel called the Tuck Box for breakfast one morning:

Empty Spools Seminars  are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year! If you have never taken a class there, I highly recommend it. I know you will find it to be an amazing experience, and will love your time at Asilomar. They’ve just opened registration for next year!

The conference is extremely well organized, the lodging is simple but clean and comfortable, the food was great, and the event has a really great overall vibe. Everyone was friendly and companionable, and you can’t beat the location. I took wonderful walks every morning on beach paths with views that simply left me speechless.

My class covered wholecloth painting, fusible applique, and thread sketching. Students worked from their own photos. Most of my students focused on wholecloth painting. A few got one of their pieces completely thread sketched and quilted! Look at this wonderful work in progress!

Thanks to all my students in both Cape Cod and Asilomar for making this such a memorable teaching experience.

Here’s most of my Empty Spools class on the last day: