Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lea’s flowerpot

My daughter Lea made this flowerpot at Campology Science Camp this past week. She is a very talented budding artist. I just love how she did the eyes. And, boy, does grass ever grow quickly, especially when watered regularly. Something my husband, who mows the yard, probably already realized.

Great quotes

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
– Gandhi

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
– George Orwell

We can do no great things – only small things with great love.
– Mother Teresa

There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience.
– Archibald McLeish

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… do not…seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will… gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand, instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail.
– Henry David Thoreau

Try? There is no try. There is only do or do not do. – Yoda

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
– Theodore Roosevelt

All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.”
– Anna Quindlen

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein

Whoever degrades another degrades me/And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
– Walt Whitman

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things; knows not the livid loneliness of fear, Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings.
– Amelia Earhart Putnam

“Love is the whole, and more than all.”
– e.e.cummings

Appliqué Academy graduates

Today was the last meeting in a six-month needleturn appliqué class called Appliqué Academy that I've been teaching at the Quilters Loft Company in Mooresville.

Six students came to this meeting to show off their marvelous work and get their highly coveted Certificates of Completion. It was fun to see how different - and wonderful! - their quilts looked in their individual fabric and color choices. Most of these students had never done needleturn appliqué before, and by the end of a few classes, they were turning out absolutely beautiful work. We used a pattern in Piece O' Cake's latest book on needleturn appliqué, The New Appliqué Sampler: Learn to Appliqué the Piece O’ Cake Way, which I highly recommend. It has great photos to walk you through every step. A few students had not finished their samplers, but brought in other projects to share. This was a wonderful, friendly group to teach. Thanks, everyone, for making it so fun!

Old silk quilt tops

A friend, Meg Kimmel, just gave me these quilt tops. The first is made entirely of silk neckties pieced by hand and then beautifully embroidered on the top.
The second is a crazy quilt that looks like it was done early in the 1900s (there are two dates, 1900 and 1901 sewn onto it) and then had additional, more modern, fabrics sewn on top to cover deteriorating fabrics. It is sewn onto a muslin foundation. I love the silk necktie one, but many of its fabrics are deteriorating as well. Meg thinks they were made by her father's grandmother. They were found in an old trunk when handling the estate after her parents died. I am not sure what I am going to do with these, but they sure are neat. Ideas, anyone?

Friday, June 29, 2007

SAQA conference challenge

Before the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) conference last month, participants were asked to bring with them "studio droppings," snippets of fabric, threads, embellishments and other detritus from a recent project. They were to be sealed in a small plastic bag with two copies of your business card. At the conference, they were swapped and redistributed. We were to go home and create a small piece using these materials. My bag came from Mary Stardt, whom I do not know. Inside were embellishments, cottons, rayons and silks. SILK! This was one fabric I had wanted to try working with, but had been afraid to try. This was the perfect opportunity.

"Pauses Between the Notes" (13" x 16") is the result. All the fabrics at the center of this piece (the hot pinks and royal blues) come from Mary. I added additional silks around the center. A quote by Austrian composer and pianist Arthur Schnabel (1882-1951), included in Mary's bag, provides the name of the piece, and the theme I had in mind when I created it:

"The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes — ah, that is where the art resides!"

Although I was skeptical about participating in this challenge, I'm glad that I did. Not only did I lose my fear of working with silk, I also discovered that working with materials I do not preselect and carefully choose can boost my creativity and push me into a more improvisational zone. I can't wait to see what someone else did with my bag of scraps!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Grace’s sunflowers

My friend Grace Howes made this little quilt from one of my designs and it turned out beautifully! I just love the colors she chose, and the border setting. This is one of 16 flower blocks I have designed for a new quilt I am doing entirely in shades of pink and green. I expect to have the patterns for the whole quilt available by early next year. You can see more of what Grace is up to at her blog,

Melinda Schwakhofer

I spent this morning with a new friend, fiber artist Melinda Schwakhofer, who is visiting the Mooresville area this summer. Melinda is an American currently living in England. She is very generous with her time, her ideas and her knowledge. Melinda aims to provide an "inspiraculum," a word she coined which means "a place to breathe, dream, explore, be inspired, find your self."

This is Melinda with a recent work. You can see more on her website ( and her blog: ( Bonnie McCaffery has also done a VidCast with Melinda ( that is very interesting.

This morning, Melinda showed me how to make a vessel from Angelina fibers. Angelina is fluffy stuff like fairy hair, and light makes it glow with irridescence. You pull it apart loosely, place it on a piece of parchment paper, cover it with more parchment, and iron it. It becomes stiff and melds together. To create this vessel, we made a sheet from different colors of Angelina fibers, and then molded it around a glass bottle and ironed it again. A wire aperature inside the fibers provides some support, and a way to embellish the vessel with beads.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A quilt for Vic

I made this quilt, "Ducks in a Row," for my neighbor and friend, Victor Marquis. Vic is a very talented wood carver, and about a year ago, he agreed to make some folk art style carvings -- for me to give to my parents as a Christmas gift -- in exchange for a quilt. He came through on time, and my parents loved their gift. I was not quite as speedy. He got his quilt this week, more than six months later. Here we are standing on his front porch with the quilt, which features duck decoys like the ones he makes. He surprised me with another gift, two more carved plaques, for me this time! I love them. Thanks, Vic!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pandoras dye day

A group I belong to, the Pandoras, a group of creative quilters interested in thinking outside the box, dyed fabric today. We had great fun. First, we dyed several pieces simultaneously in a jar (photo 1). Results are shown in photo 2.

We also did shibori. First we folded fabric and wrapped it around a piece of 3" diameter PVC pipe. In photo 3 you can see Grace wrapping string around her fabric on the pipe.

Photo 4 shows Grace pushing down on the fabric to create small pleats. Then she applied the dyes (photo 5), poured a soda ash solution over the whole thing and took off the string (photo 6).

Here are the results of one of my shibori experiments.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lumiere fabric paint

Ooooh! This is Lumiere fabric paint on black fabric. It is so wonderful. I just bought some today, "Metallic Silver" and the one shown here, "Halo Blue-Gold" (which actually looks green-gold to me). I am eager to try this product with stamps, or on objects like leaves. I tried it on white fabric, which was nice, but it is much more dramatic on black. The fabric is still nice and soft after it dries, and it would be wonderful on wearables (after it is heat set). One of my New Year's resolutions was to try new surface design materials and techniques this year. So far, I've tried beading, Shiva Paintstiks and Lumiere paints.

Beading experiment

I love the look of beading, and started this piece as an experiment, but really have no idea what the heck I am doing! I am using a book that is very helpful, called "Beaded Embellishment" by Amy C. Clarke and Robin Atkins. I made the moon face with Sculpy clay in a mold. A friend, Nancy Cook, also advised me on this piece. I am going to keep working on it, trying some new designs and trying to learn as I go.

Cool bead earrings

Just made these cool bead earrings this afternoon. I started with two felted beads I'd made earlier from wool roving, then added beads, silk thread, some other fibers I had in my embellishments box, and earwires. Really fun and easy. Now I want a whole necklace of these!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Beach Vacation

“Beach Vacation” is one of my new patterns, made to celebrate the wonderful summer vacations we have enjoyed with my extended family at North Carolina beaches. It is distributed through Moda/United Notions. It is needleturn applique, and the size is 36 x 57".

Friday, June 8, 2007

Ducks in a Row

I made this quilt, “Ducks in a Row,” for my friend and neighbor, Vic Marquis, who does wonderful duck decoys and other folk-art-style wood carvings. The pattern is available through Moda/United Notions. The size is 64" square. The center is pieced and the ducks are needleturn applique.

Barnful of Quilts 2007

The 2007 Barnful of Quilts will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, at Fox Farms in Waxhaw, NC. This is a quilt and fiber arts show to benefit Waxhaw Presbyterian Women’s Group. Members of an art quilt group to which I belong, Charlotte’s Fiber Art Options, will have work exhibited and for sale. For more information, go to Fulvia Luciano is the featured artist this year. Find out more about her at

“The Bluest Eye”

The quilt I created for Quilting Arts magazine’s 2008 calendar competition didn’t get into the calendar, but I just learned from the editor that it is a “judge’s choice” winner and will appear in an issue of the magazine sometime soon. The competition had the theme “A Novel Idea,” and artists were asked to create quilts about their favorite books. Mine is based on Toni Morrison’s novel about an African-American girl growing up in horrible violence, her descent into madness, and her dream to have blue eyes like Shirley Temple so she would be accepted and loved.

"Harbinger’s Hope"

“Harbinger’s Hope” is a piece I started this spring after a prolonged battle with Duke Power, who threatened to cut the 70-year-old sugar maples in our front yard back to the trunk to provide clearance for power lines. The quilt celebrates the renewal of spring and some of the magical things that go on in trees’ branches. When I finished it, I was reminded of this poem by Emily Dickinson:

HOPE is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I ’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickinson

"Teach Me to Hear Mermaids Singing"

My quilt “Teach Me to Hear Mermaids Singing,” part of Husqvarna-Viking’s 2006 Gallery of Quilt Art exhibit “Masterpieces: Imagine That!” will be at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England, in August. The quilt was first displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in fall 2006, then at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago in April. From England, it goes to Sweden and then Australia, Denmark and Finland, returning home in 2009.

This is my first art quilt. I took a class with Bonnie McCaffery in the fall of 2005, and learned to paint a face on fabric. I came home and started creating the story behind the face. Goes to show how a class with a great teacher can change your work ... and sometimes even the course of your life! Thanks, Bonnie!

This quilt is really about my daughter, who at 10 remains convinced that she is actually a mermaid, and will some day transform and swim out to sea.

The name comes from this poem by John Donne:


Go, and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'est born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet,
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

“Goodmorning, Sunshine!”

“Goodmorning, Sunshine!” is my modern interpretation of the traditional snowball quilt block. This quilt uses April Cornell’s “Sunshine” fabric line by Moda, and measures 78" square. Moda/United Notions is distributing the pattern.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lake Norman Quilters and "Sail into Quilting"

Lake Norman Quilters will hold its first quilt show, "Sail into Quilting," Nov. 2-3 at East Mooresville Intermediate School. For more information, go to and click the logo at the bottom of the page. This webpage will be updated with more details and directions as we get closer to the show.