Saturday, December 27, 2008

My first quilt

This is the very first quilt I ever made. It is a one patch, made with scraps, mostly from clothing my mother made for me in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I made it with my mom when I was about 10, I think. It is not bound, just turned, pillowcase style, and then tied with yarn. It’s not bed sized, but it is perfect for snuggling under with the girls while I am reading to them at bedtime.

My mother gave it to me this Thanksgiving, on the condition that I not use it as bedding for the cats or the dog. She said I might need it one day if I become a famous quilter and a magazine wants to do one of those “first quilt/latest quilt” features on me. “Ha!" I told her, but I promised I wouldn't use it to line the dog’s crate. I came home and set it down, folded, on our bed. I left the room, came back in and found this:

Max is very photogenic, and he has a knack for finding just the right spot to sit or lie so that you absolutely must take his photograph. Sorry, Mom.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I’m in Quilt magazine!

“Harbinger’s Hope” is featured in the February/March 2009 issue of Quilt magazine, which is on newsstands now! The editor, Debbie Hearn, saw it at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall, and called to ask if they could use it for their feature called “the last stitch,” on the last page. Of course I said yes... you know I love being in print! There’s a little blurb about the quilt, and a photo of me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lushorn’s “Four Pieces Project”

Yesterday was the reveal for Lushorn’s “Four Pieces Project.” This project, as you will remember if you’ve been reading along, has been undertaken by the Pandoras, a group of four art quilters dedicated to working outside of the box. Each person took a photo, blew it up to 16x24" and cut it into four fairly equal sized pieces. The cut could be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or other. Then each person in our group got a piece and was charged with recreating it and giving it back to the owner. Each time, we were supposed to try new techniques and challenge ourselves. The photo above shows the enlarged photo (top) and my panel below it.

Lushorn used a photo I had taken in Nassau on the infamous Dave Matthews Band Cruise a few years ago. She cut it into long horizontal strips. Here is a photo of the photo:

And here’s a detail photo of the original photo (enlarged) and the piece I created below it. I used black tulle to create the shadows on the water in the lower right and upper left corners, and ripped up drier sheets for the white foam!

None of us has put all of our pieces together yet; I'll take photos and post them when we do. This has been an interesting project for us and we have all learned a lot. It is very fun to see how different the pieces come back, and how cool they all look together.

Monday, December 8, 2008

“Art of Quilting” at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

“Harbinger’s Hope” will be part of an exhibition at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden called “The Art of Quilting.” All the quilts will reflect a nature theme, and are the work of members of the Charlotte Quilters Guild. The exhibition will run Feb. 14 through March 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Members of the guild – including me – will demonstrate techniques and talk to visitors during the dates of the exhibition; the schedule will be available closer to the event date. A special reception for DSBG members will be held the evening of Feb. 13.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a spectacular garden located just west of Charlotte at the North Carolina/South Carolina state line in Belmont.

Here's information on the exhibition in The Garden Path, DSBG’s magazine:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nancy’s solo show opens!

I drove to Raleigh last night to attend the opening reception for my friend Nancy G. Cook’s solo show at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Her latest work is exhibited from Dec. 5 through the end of January in the Nature Art Gallery, located in a loft area above the museum’s gift shop.

It is a lovely, intimate space. In the photo above, you can see the area where Nancy's work is hung, and in the foreground, a display of ceramics. To the right of the wooden railing, you can see the gift shop below.

The area was very nicely lit with track lighting to show off Nancy’s nine newest pieces, which all feature trees from this part of the country, including beech, magnolia, sweet gum and dogwood. Nancy worked from specimens, many found in her own yard, while creating these pieces.

One of Nancy's older works, “Pelton's Rose Gentian,” (50x45") hangs in the stairwell down to the Museum's Gift Shop. Nancy made this piece after reading about a new species of gentian discovered by John Pelton, an amateur botanist in his seventies.

I got there at about 6:40 p.m. and stayed until 8; there was a steady stream of people eager to look at Nancy’s work and talk with her about her inspiration and techniques. The woman on the left is examining works from Nancy's winter series: “Reclamation,” “Winter Confection I” and “Winter Confection II.”

Three of Nancy's pieces from the past few years draw visitors upstairs. (From left:) “Fall Confection,” “Sourwood Festoons” and “Mimosa Dancing.”

Until fairly recently, Nancy's work was primarily pieced. The series of nine tree pieces that are the focus of this exhibit show her going in a new direction. She starts with hand-dyed cotton sateens from German artist Heide Stoll-Weber, then inks in areas to emphasize. The backgrounds are then heavily quilted with lines that make the whole piece seem to vibrate with energy. Light filters through and radiates from the pieces in this series. The colors are magical and the surfaces luminuous, due in part to the cotton sateen.

“Spring Rhapsody” (28x37") shows the delicate seeds of the maple dancing in the breeze.

Detail from “Spring Rhapsody”

“Winter Fruit” (28x38") features chilly persimmons.

“Renewal” (38x29") has leaves and ruby seeds of the dogwood.

Detail from “Renewal”

“Southern Hospitality" (38x28") captures the beauty of the seed pod of the southern magnolia just before the scarlet seeds appear and the dusty rose pod begins to turn hard and brown.

All the pieces have some delicate hand stitching. Here, the neck of the magnolia’s seed pod is flecked with hand stitches to emphasize its amazing texture.

The title of this piece, “Ankle Twister,” (28x36") made several people laugh out loud last night. The reference is to the beautiful spiky seeds of the Sweet Gum tree, which drive homeowners crazy when they cover lawns in the fall. The cool colors in this piece are spectacular.

Detail from "Ankle Twister" shows more hand embroidery.

The subject of “Parallels” (27x35") is delicate beech leaves and seed pods.

I love the insect-eaten holes in the beech leaves of “Summer Split,” (27x35") showing the pods just about to split open and drop their seeds.

Detail from “Summer Split”

Friday, December 5, 2008

A fun thing, and a give-away!

Have you seen these Ricky Tims playing cards? I bought some at Quilters Loft Company, my local quilt shop, where they retail for about $7.

Ricky Tims is well known in the quilting community for his spectacular award-winning quilts, his bigger-than-life personality, and his music. These pretty playing cards feature one of his quilts on the front of each card. The Ace, King, Queen and Jack cards of each suit feature different detail shots of his quilts. Tims, of course, is on the Joker cards, wearing his trademark Stetson.

They'd make a great fun gift or stocking stuffer for your favorite quilter. What quilting-related items do you have on your Christmas/Hanukkah/Al Hijra/Kwanzaa/other holiday wish list this year, quilters? Leave me your response in the comments section for this post. On Dec. 15, I'll pull one name out of a hat, and send the winner the playing cards.

AND THE WINNER IS... MOMID5!!! Please send me your street address, and I'll put the cards in the mail to you. Thanks to everyone for playing! Susan

Monday, December 1, 2008

Twelve by Twelve

The art quilt group Twelve by Twelve has just started revealing the pieces they have created for their latest challenge, which has the theme of mathematics. You can see their work on their blog,

While working on this challenge, the artists ventured into string theory, binary code, tally marks, the history of the abacus, Pythagoras' table, fractals, Fourier Series, phasor vectors, geometry, the Golden Ratio, Fibonacci numbers, Escher, numeral systems, and even "transidental mathamatics and the non-Newtonian nature of ketchup" (Nikki Wheeler)

They also have a website,, which shows some of their past challenges on the themes of dandelion, chocolate, community, water, illumination and shelter. You can read profiles of the artists here, too.

Every few months, this group chooses a theme (they take turns picking) and then everyone sets to work. The quality of their art, and the range of styles and interpretations of their themes are amazing. Make sure you check them out!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The “Bacon Bracelet”

I made this bracelet a while ago for my online class on Tyvek that I am in the middle of teaching on, but forgot to post it. I made it from Tyvek beads embossed with a rubber stamp, and because of the colors, my husband refers to it as “the bacon bracelet.” (And, truth be told, he has a bit of a bacon obsession, too…)

It has a magnetic toggle closure, so it is really easy to put on and take off. And of course, it is super light because Tyvek weighs next to nothing.

So thankful!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am so thankful for all that I have been given. One of the things for which I am grateful is the quilting community… the people I have met through guild meetings, through presentations I've given to quilting groups, and through online groups and online classes and teaching. The internet, and blogging, have introduced me to so many interesting, kind and generous people that I have not (yet) met face to face. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the holiday, I am including my recipe for Spicy Pecans. They are easy to make, and are great as an appetizer or sprinkled on a green salad. Or put some in a jar tied with a ribbon for a wonderful holiday hostess gift.

Spicy Pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound pecan halves

Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Melt butter, add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and mix well. Place pecans in mixing bowl and pour the liquid on top, then stir to thoroughly coat. Spread onto a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan in a single layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring and re-spreading every 10 minutes or so. Take out of oven and place on paper towels. When cool, store in an airtight container.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

“Varigated” sold!

The 12"-square quilt I made for the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) One Foot Square Auction sold today to The Schroder Collection! Hooray, and thank you very much.

There are still some gorgeous quilts available, some by very well-known art quilters. The price goes down by $100 each day at 2 p.m., so they are getting more affordable.

The second group of quilts will go up for auction on Tuesday, Nov. 18. The third group goes up Friday, Nov. 28.

To see my quilt, scroll down a bit to my Nov. 6 post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Judy’s Tulip Bag

My friend Judy Whitehead just finished making my Tulip Bag pattern, and her bag is absolutely gorgeous. Judy is a talented fabric dyer, art quilter and longarm quilter, and she used all her talents to make a bag that is completely Judy. WOW! To read more about how she made her bag, check out her blog post here.

Veterans Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae, 1915
Canadian poet and medical officer in the Boer War and World War I

Today I remember and honor my father-in-law, who served in the U.S. Army, and was part of the Normandy invasion of World War II in 1944, and all those who have served and are serving my country. I think of the terrible sacrifices they and their families have made so that we can live our lives as we do. Of my own father's service in the Marine Corps. And of all the young people of all nations whom we send to war.

The poem above has been interpreted as both pro-war and anti-war by different people. I like the ambiguity, and prefer to think that the poet’s reference to “the foe” refers to war itself. Let it end.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Piecing the LNQ donation quilt

Some of the members of Lake Norman Quilters got together today to start piecing our 2009 donation quilt. This quilt will help pay for our 2009 quilt show.

Many thanks to Liz, Eileen, Michele, Judy, Cathy, Lucinda, Jean, Grace, Alisan, Susan D-L, Mary Jo, Joyce and Cheryl, who worked tirelessly and got a lot done in one day! And to Centre Presbyterian Church for giving us a nice place to work.

Here's Susan D-L piecing nine-patches:

Mary Jo looks like she’s having too much fun:

Eileen helped piece the stars:

Grace and Alisan demonstrate beautiful teamwork cutting long strips for the borders:

Cheryl matches up her pieces before stitching:

Cathy models a lovely boa of strip-pieced units:

Jean was focused on her task:

Liz told us (in no uncertain terms) that she doesn’t “do” triangles, so we put her to work lining up the units to be stitched:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

SAQA Auction starts on Monday

A major fundraiser for Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) begins on Monday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. It is the One Foot Square Auction, where you can bid on 12"-square works donated by SAQA members. My piece, “Varigated,” is shown above (and there’s a detail shot at the end of this post).

The pieces are divided into three groups for the auction. The auction for Group I will begin November 10th. My piece is in this group.

Group II will begin November 18th. And Group III will begin November 28th.

This is a reverse auction, with all pieces starting out on the first day at $750. Art quilt collectors usually snap up the pieces by well-known artists very quickly at that price. From there, the price goes down by $100 each day. On Day 2 of each auction (at 2 p.m. Eastern), the price drops to $650. The third day - $550, then $450, $350, $250, $150, and $75 (the lowest bid that will be accepted). Purchase is by credit card only.

So if you want to own a wonderful piece of fiber art and support a great organization at the same time, check it out. Even if you can’t afford to buy, take a look; it is a beautiful gallery of work.

My quilts... at Festival in Houston!

A sweet friend, Sarah Ann Smith, a fabulous art quilter from Camden Maine, just sent me these photos of my quilts hanging at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last week. So nice of her! It is very fun to see how they were hung, who their “neighbors” were. Thanks, Sarah!

Here’s my Journal quilt, “Running Deep,” in the photo below on the left. I can’t make out the artists’ names on the other pieces... if you are reading this and recognize them, write and let me know so I can give them proper credit! (Note: After posting this entry, I got a note from a blog reader who helped me identify the piece to the right of mine. It is by Susan Andrus of Towanda, Pa., and is called "Iris on the Rocks.”)

Here’s my piece “Harbinger’s Hope,” (the bluish one with the nest). To its right is “The Arb House” by Sue Holdaway-Heys of Ann Arbor, Michigan (behind the woman viewer’s head; you can see it better in the next photo), and then “Malian Peace Corps Story” by Charlene Bremer and Patricia Bremer Chell of Champaign, Illinois. I do not have credit information on the pieces to the left of mine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day is here!

The flag looked so pretty against my maple’s gorgeous golden leaves today. I just got back from voting; there was no line at my polling place, but traffic was brisk.