Friday, October 30, 2009

And that’s the way it goes.

So. Yesterday I won Best of Show. This morning I woke up to find out that ArtQuilt Elements 2010 had rejected me. Next to my name on the electronic entry form were three big red Xs.

And that’s the way it goes. You win some and you lose some.

I’m mentioning this not to publicly humiliate myself (I could have just kept quiet and not told anyone that I had entered, right?), but to point out something very important. Something I remind my kids of, and myself of, very often. You don’t always win. You don’t always get in. And that’s okay.

I know people who never enter their work in quilt shows. Some of them have confided to me that they are fearful of what the judges might say. Or that attendees at the quilt show will say nasty things (and I have heard some very rude people say amazing things at quilt shows!). I always tell them this story:

When I was a fairly new quilter, and showed my quilts to my mother, a former home economics teacher, she always had lots of nice things to say. In fact, she’s my biggest fan. But she always pointed out that my bindings were, well, crappy. She didn’t say it like that, she was very polite, and her criticism was always constructive.

But of course, since she was my mother, I ignored her.

The first quilt show I entered, I noticed on the judge’s forms that I had mostly plus marks, but my bindings got bad grades. I started thinking that I might have won a ribbon, or a better ribbon, if I had paid attention to what my mother said. (Okay, Mom, here’s where you get to say “I told you so!”) I went home, and that very day, I read books on how to properly bind a quilt. I practiced. I even (gasp!) asked my mother’s advice. I got better. And the next time I entered shows, I got good marks on my bindings.

That’s one reason for entering quilt shows. I enter my small local guild’s show, I enter the Charlotte guild’s show, I enter some big national shows, and I am starting to feel brave enough to enter some high-end art quilt shows, like Elements. With every judge’s form, I am learning what I need to improve. Or at least what that one particular judge on one particular day thinks I need to improve. (And it’s my prerogative to disagree, of course.)

The other reason I enter is that it brings me joy to be part of the event – the fellowship and camaraderie, the laughs, the rejoicing in others’ accomplishments, and our own.

But here’s the biggest reason I enter: Trying counts. Persistance counts. Keep on truckin’.

Life. You must be present to win.

So I leave you today with a few photos of friends with their winning quilts, taken at the setup last night. More tomorrow.

Greta McCrea pins a blue ribbon on her version of my quilt, “Bohemian Bouquet,” called “Susan’s Mystery,” since she did it one block at a time, finished quilt unknown. Greta is a dear friend from my hometown of Pittsburgh. I’ve known her and her family since I was 16, and now we are in the same quilt group! She is a spectacular hand appliquér, and I just love her color choices in this quilt, so different from my version.

DeLane Rosenau started this quilt, “Cold Feet,” in one of our Pandoras meetings more than a year ago. She struggled mightily with it, but persevered and created this amazing work of art. She was especially tickled that she beat me out of the blue ribbon. (“Lepidoptera” took second place in this category, Art/Pictoral.) Hooray for her!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pink Petal Party wins Best of Show!

My quilt “Pink Petal Party,” which is the focus of my new book, Appliqué Petal Party, just won Best of Show at the Lake Norman Quilters’ 2009 show. Wish I'd worn a different shirt tonight; it is hard to tell where the quilt stops and I start in this photo.

We hung the show tonight and it is going to be fabulous. Please come if you are in the Charlotte area!

Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
East Mooresville Intermediate School
1711 Landis Highway, Mooresville NC 28115

If you need directions to the show or want more information, please go to the webpage for our group. It contains a down-loadable PDF with a map and general information. Here are some photos from setup tonight:

A husband lends a hand on a very high ladder!

DeLane carries a panel of small quilts to its stand.

It takes a lot of sweat and muscle to put up a quilt show!

Setting up the doll display.

A local doll group displays their beautiful creations.

Hand-made ribbons await the awards ceremony. That's our raffle quilt in the background. It's my design, and beautifully quilted by Judy Whitehead. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.

Jean Newman made these teeny-tiny ribbons with baby yo-yos and grosgrain ribbon, mounted on paper clips, for ribbon winners to clip onto their nametags. That way, attendees will know the people who win ribbons, and can ask them about their quilts. What a great way to make the winners feel great, and to help encourage interaction between our group’s members attendees, and education about quilts.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weeks Dye Works

Let me introduce you to a great North Carolina company, Weeks Dye Works. If you embellish quilts, embroider, needlepoint, punchneedle, rug hook, or make wool appliqué projects or penny rugs, you are going to want to know them.

I met Miranda Weeks McGahey (below) and her husband John at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, where I was drooling over their spectacular varigated embroidery threads and perle cottons. (Some of the ones that came home with me are shown above, and now I want more! more! more!) must... have... more...

Miranda started dyeing fabric and thread in her apartment bathtub in 1992, after graduating from the School of Design at North Carolina State University. Today, her company has 10 full time and 9 part time employees. They have a 6,000-square-foot facility in Garner, N.C., and do 13,000 dye baths a day!

Weeks makes a bunch of wonderful products: over-dyed, 6-stranded cotton embroidery floss; hand-dyed wool fabric; size 40 sewing thread; and perle cotton (sizes #3, #5 and #8). And as you can see from my photo at the top, the colors are rich, with subtle color variations. I’ve used them in some recent free-style embroidery work, and in punch-needle embroidery, and I absolutely love them!

Weeks does not sell to individual customers on their website; they only sell wholesale. But you can find retailers across the U.S. and around the world on their “Find a Retailer” webpage. If you go to some of the bigger quilt shows, you can often find their products in booths selling punch-needle or embroidery designs and threads.

Another chance to win my book!

Here’s an opportunity to get a copy of my new book, Applique Petal Party, for free! Appliqué artist extraordinaire Kay Mackenzie is giving away an autographed copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment on her blog post before the ghouls come out to play on Halloween evening.

If you’ve never visited Kay’s blog, All About Appliqué, you are in for a treat. Great tips for appliqué; beautiful quilts; and links to quilt organizations, appliqué designers and pattern companies. Kay is the author of a bunch of books (most recently, Easy Appliqué Blocks by That Patchwork Place/Martingale) and produces patterns through her company, Quilt Puppy.

And she is a very sweet person to boot!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Judging day for the Lake Norman Quilters’ show

Today was judging day for the Lake Norman Quilters’ show, which is this Friday and Saturday in Mooresville, NC. It is going to be a beautiful show, with more than 230 quilts. If you are in the area, I do hope you’ll come!

Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
East Mooresville Intermediate School
1711 Landis Highway, Mooresville NC 28115

If you’ve never participated in the judging process, here’s a little peek at what goes on. First, all the quilts are grouped together by category (with all the large pieced bed-size quilts in one pile, the appliquéd wall hangings in another pile, etc.). They all have little tags on them with their numbers:

Each pile is placed on a large table in front of the judge, with each quilt opened out flat. Each is held up for the judge (here’s my friend DeLane holding one up) so he or she can get an overall look at the design:

The quilts, sorted by category, were stacked on tables at the edge of the room:

They ranged in style from contemporary to traditional:

The judges carefully consider the overall design, use of color and fabrics, techniques, quilting, finishing and binding, and give each a score, which typically ranges from a check minus (meaning it needs work) to a plus-plus (exceptional). Here, certified quilt judge Carol Larimer examines the back of a pieced quilt:

A scribe (someone from the quilting group) records the scores on a special form, and also writes down the judge’s comments. Here, certified quilt judge Scott Murkin (left) judges a quilt while Jean Newman scribes. It looks like Scott’s just said something funny (which he does a lot):

Scott pinches the binding to see that it is filled with batting, neatly stitched, and firmly attached to the quilt:

The judge then either releases a quilt (meaning that it is not in the running for a ribbon) or asks that the quilt be held. After judging all the quilts in the category, the held quilts are examined one more time, and the judge names the first, second, third places and honorable mention. He or she may also ask that a quilt be set aside for one of the special ribbons (Best of Show, Best Use of Color, Best Hand Quilting, Judge’s Choice, etc.) that the quilt group has decided to issue.

At the very end, the judges work together to assess quilts set aside for consideration for special ribbons and decide the winners:

It was a fun day. Here are some of the people left at the very end of the judging (from left:) Grace Howes, DeLane Rosenau, Joyce Mullis, Susan Dunne-Lederhaas, Cindy Magee, Cheryl Campbell, Barbara Barrier, Michele Sheets. There were a lot more people who volunteered for the day, but I only got photos of this group. It takes a lot of people to produce a quilt show!

If you need directions to the show or want more information, please go to the webpage for our group. It contains a down-loadable PDF with a map and general information.

Monday, October 26, 2009

ATCs from International Quilt Festival

As promised, here is a shot showing all the ATCs I traded for at International Quilt Festival a few weeks ago. What fun! The swap was hosted by Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines, and took place in the Make It University/Open Studios area on the convention center floor.

In this shot, Michele Muska talks about her work as part of Open Studios, and you can see the ATC trade wall in the background:

Lots of the cards I traded for came from people in Texas, but a few came from farther away. This is the first time I’ve ever participated in an ATC swap. I only met a handful of the people whose cards came home with me. Here’s some of the information on the back of the cards about the artists:

First column (far left):
1. Stalker by Ruth Steinhagen
2. Yellow Flower by Linn Shimek
3. Go raibh maith agat by Colette in the UK (Gaelic for thank you)
4. Secret Agent by Kim DeCosto

Second column:
1. "Wishing for Fall Foliage" by Lou Castaneda of Austin, Texas
2. Love flower by Katie of Flying Woman Studio, Austin, Texas
3. "Paris for Jesse" (7 of 36) by Colleen Bouchard
4. "Vintage Garden" by Ann Mays

Third column:
1. Cake by Kaye Martindale
2. Moth by Jennifer L of Waller, Texas
3. Yellow flower by Katie of Flying Woman Studio, Austin, Texas
4. Green by Lyric Kinard of Raleigh, NC

Fourth column:
1. Fish by Madalyn Sibley, 10 years old ("I love art!")
2. "Cassy Zinnia" by Lynn Shimek of Sebring, Florida
3. Green by Ann Buzzalino of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
4. Red and gold by Nicole Rivera of Fresno, Texas
5. Witch by Deb Morley of Hockley, Texas
6. "35 and Counting" by Dorothy Cochran of Lufkin, Texas

Fifth column:
1. Men on moon by Ruth Swinhagen
2. 35 Years at the Big Dance" by Sherry BOram
3. Bee by Lori Bedo of Jacksonville, Florida
4. Butterfly by Lori Bedo of Jacksonville, Florida
5. Gold on gold by Nicole Rivera of Fresno, Texas
6. Boo by Lynn Shimek of Sebring, Florida

Sixth column:
1. "Paris for Jesse" (28 of 36) by Colleen Bouchard
2. Black stalks by Kate Kline of Tulsa, Oklahoma
3. Yukon Sam by Ruth Swinhagen
4. Space girl by Sharon of Houston, Texas

Here are the cards I made and traded:

Sharon, the artist who created the last card on my list, got one of my ATCs, and posted about it on her blog, E14Studio. Cool.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Citra Solv photo transfer

Today I experimented with a photo transfer process I'd heard about that uses Citra Solv, a citrus-based cleaning solvent. The Citra Solv website has information about this and several other applications for artists here. I had trouble finding this product in my local grocery stores, but finally located it in an upscale Harris Teeter supermarket near me.

Let me walk you through what I did. First, I took this old 1940s photo of my dad (on the right) and my uncle, and flipped it horizontally (mirror image) in Photoshop, and printed it out about 4" wide on my laser printer.

Then I photocopied this image, using a photocopier with toner (inkjet and laser don't work) on the “photo” setting. I pinned it face down to some Pimatex (tightly woven 100% cotton fabric by Robert Kaufman), and then placed it on top of a fairly thick layer of old newspaper:

I brushed on the Citra Solv. The image starts to appear on the wrong side of the paper because the solvent makes it more translucent:

Once it was saturated, I burnished it with a spoon to transfer the toner (made liquid by the Citra Solv) onto the fabric. The newspapers are a good surface because they are not too firm, so the spoon can sink in a bit as you rub:

Here’s the finished result. It’s a bit light. Perhaps I didn’t burnish it enough? Or use enough solvent?

Hmmm.... let’s try again. I started with a photo that has lots more dark areas (yep, that’s me, younger and wrinkle-free!). This photo was taken by Patrick Schneider (the same photographer who took the fun photos of me wrapped up in my quilts):

I did the same thing as before, but applied more solvent and burnished harder and longer. Much better results!

After this, you are supposed to iron the piece. The directions in the link from the Citra Solv website say that it is then machine washable (and won’t even come off with bleach).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leaves … and a poem

I’ve been obsessing a bit about leaves lately. I'm planning a series of pieces all based on extreme closeups of leaves, so I’ve been aiming my camera at every leaf I can find. This morning I swooned over these beauties on my doorstep after a hard rain last night. They made me think of this poem, one of my favorites by Robert Frost. It seems to perfectly capture the melancholy nature of the season:

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A chance to win my new book!

C&T Publishing is giving away a copy of my book, Appliqué Petal Party, on their blog. Leave a comment at the end of the post, and you might win! You must leave your comment before 9 a.m. Pacific Standard time on Monday, Oct. 26 to be eligible for the drawing.

The post also includes a little interview of me (or as C&T calls it “ the low-down on [Susan] and her new release.”)

This is “Pink Petal Party,” the quilt featured in the book:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My favorite season

Fall is my favorite time of year, and Halloween is my favorite day (it’s also my birthday, which is probably part of the reason why). Today I went out in search of autumn color and texture at my local farm stand, Carrigan Farms in Mooresville, NC.

Vivid oranges, blues, yellows, purples and reds in pumpkins and gourds to make your soul sing:

I take a lot of photos year round. These photo shoots provide fodder for my work. A shot of mini-pumpkins I took several years ago was the idea behind this piece, “Autumn’s Bounty,” which won a spot in the 2010 Quilting Arts Calendar (they used it for October, of course!):

And this piece, “Indian Corn,” is also based on a photo:

Now’s the perfect time to shoot pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, gourds, leaves, cute kids in Halloween costumes, and fall foliage, so don’t miss this opportunity to snap photos to inspire projects in the months ahead!

Upcoming events at The Mint Museum locations

If you live in the Charlotte area, don't miss these upcoming events listed below. They are being held in conjunction with American Quilt Classics, 1800-1980: The Bresler Collection, showing at The Mint Museum of Craft + Design now through February 6, 2010. The collection includes spectacular examples of Baltimore Album quilts, crazy quilts, Chintz pictorial quilts, Amish quilts and log cabin quilts.

Quilting Demonstration
Local quilt artists Claudia Reynolds (pictured above), Patti Cline and Cindy Page will demonstrate various techniques found in the extraordinary examples in American Quilt Classics, 1800-1980: The Bresler Collection.
Tuesday, October 27, 12:00–1:30 pm
at The Mint Museum of Craft + Design (uptown Charlotte)

Curator’s Tours with Annie Carlano, Director of Craft + Design, Allie Farlowe, Assistant Curator of Craft + Design, and Michelle Mickey, Curatorial Assistant of Craft + Design
Space is limited, registration requested with Karen Vidamo 704-337-2098 or
Free for Mint members, or after admission
at The Mint Museum of Craft + Design (uptown Charlotte)
Select Thursdays, 2:00-2:45 pm, and November 5

Artists’ Forum: Susan Brubaker Knapp and Janet A. Lasher
Artists’ Forums are designed to give area artists a platform to discuss their work as well as current issues and activities in their artistic fields.
Tuesday, Dec. 1
7 to 8:30 p.m.
at The Mint Museum of Art
2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte NC

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My door organizer featured in Quilt Scene magazine

International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine came out last Tuesday. This magazine is a collaboration between Pokey Bolton, editor of Quilting Arts magazine, and Karey Bresenhan, director and founder of International Quilt Festival and president of Quilts, Inc. It is a special commemorative issue to celebrate 35 years of International Quilt Festival.

Karey tells how she started the festival, and how its popularity expanded to include a summer show in Long Beach, Cal., and a spring show in Chicago, Ill. Pokey shares how she changed course from teaching and attending graduate school to start a fledgling publication for art quilters.

It is packed full of wonderful photos of the history of Quilt Festival, profiles and photos of this year's top award-winning quilters and their quilts, a bunch of patchwork and stitched projects you can make, and articles from top quilters offering tips and techniques on setting up your studio and learning to be a better free-motion quilter. You can order a copy for $14.99 on the Interweave website.

My project included in the magazine is this nifty door organizer you can use to organize your stuff and leave it on the door so you won’t forget it on the way out:

There are pockets to hold your phone, keys, mail, pens, sunglasses, iPod … anything you don't want to forget on your way out the door. I think it would be a great organizer for a teenager. Or pack it with crayons, paper and colored pencils, and tie it to the back of your headrest on your car’s seat, to keep a kid happy on a long car ride.

It stitches up in a jiffy, and would also make a great holiday gift for someone special.