Monday, November 29, 2010


Snow Squall
by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2010)
20" x 16.5"
Baby, it’s cold outside! Here near Charlotte, North Carolina, where I live, it is starting to get chilly, just in time for December. So I thought it the perfect time to share with you my latest piece, Snow Squall. This piece is featured in the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine (the December 2010/January 2011 issue).

We don’t get much snow here, just about 5" a year. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., where we got a lot of snow, and I miss it. This year I’ve been writing a series of articles on thread sketching for Quilting Arts magazine, and when I needed to make a piece about creating movement with thread, I stitched myself up a flurry!

I started with a dark blue batik fabric that was mottled all over, and used a mechanical chalk pencil to trace some snowflake designs and swirls onto it. I pinned the fabric to interfacing (Pellon 910), and thread sketched the swirls using varigated blue Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 thread, and for the snowflakes, the same weight thread in solid white. Then I highlighted a few areas with a bit of metallic acrylic paint. Doesn’t this look frosty?

Snow Squall (detail)
After adding batting and backing fabric, I quilted around the swirls and snowflakes to make them come forward, and quilted the background to accentuate the sensation of movement. 

If you want to stitch your own snowflake, you can download the design for one of these snowflakes on the Quilting Arts community website (go to Free Stuff, and then Online Extras). If you want my snowflakes instead, this piece is for sale. You can find all the details on my website.

Snow Squall (detail)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Quilting Arts!

Happy Birthday postcard by Susan Brubaker Knapp
Did you know that Quilting Arts magazine is 10 years old this month? Hooray! 

My fabric postcard (above) commemorating their birthday is featured in the current issue (December 2010/January 2011) on page 7. I made this piece by first painting the design on white Pimatex cotton fabric, then free-motion quilting it very simply by outlining the candles, flames and the number 10, and doing a bit of quilting on the cake. I finished it with satin stitching around the outside edge.

For a chance to have your work featured in an upcoming issue or on the Quilting Arts website, simply create a 4" x 6" fabric postcard with the number 10 prominently featured or stitched, and mail it to: 

Quilting Arts @ 10
P.O. Box 685
Stow, MA 01775

Happy Birthday, Quilting Arts! Here’s to many wonderful years ahead!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Website revisions: What do YOU think?

My new Gallery main page
In the last few days, I have been working on revising a few sections of my website. I created my website myself, and I am not a web designer. (Well, I guess technically I am, since I designed my website, but I’ve never designed anyone else’s, and I’ve never taken a class in web design.) What I know I taught myself, so there are a lot of things I’ve been wanting to do, but have no idea how. Little bit by little bit, I am figuring some things out. 

About a month ago at our Fiber Art Options (a group of Charlotte-area fiber artists) meeting, I asked the other members if they’d critique my website. I was particularly interested in their thoughts about my Gallery section, where I show my fiber art, because I was unhappy with it.

My old Gallery main page
At the time, the main Gallery page looked like the shot above. It had small images of each full piece, with the name underneath, and if you clicked on it, you went to a page with a larger image of the quilt and information, including materials, techniques, size, date, and availability or price. Then you had to click a “back” button, which took you back to the main Gallery page, to see the next page. To put it mildly, the Fiber Art Options members did not like this.

We agreed on the primary faults of the original Gallery page: 
  • The quilts were all of different sizes, so the images on this page were all different proportions, and there was no way to fit them into a clean grid. It looked cluttered and disorganized.
  • It was not convenient to keep having to go back and forth between the main Gallery page and the individual pages for each piece. 
  • This process also interrupted the “flow” of viewing my work and made it difficult and somewhat stressful, when it should invite the viewer to linger.
My fellow FAO members first suggested that I put my work into separate “folders,” divided by theme, series or year created. I have never been a fan of this approach, because it means that you have to go back to the main page when you are done with one folder in order to see the next. Deciding what goes in which folders can also seem somewhat arbitrary. And dividing work up into these kinds of folders means that you can’t quickly scan all the work at once.

The FAO members then suggested using something popular with many fiber artists: a line or block with tiny images of each piece, or with tiny chunks of each piece that the viewer could roll her cursor over or click to pop open a new window with a larger view of the piece. I decided against this approach, too, because I dislike websites with images that are really small, or with images that are such a tiny slice of the piece that you can’t get a decent idea of what the piece looks like without opening the second window or page. It seems like such a tease, and a waste of my time.

I decided that the approach that would best solve the problems of this page and still make me happy was to put my pieces in a grid, using large square chunks of each piece (see the photo at the top of this post). I tried to make the chunks big enough that they would be a decent representation of the whole work. If you click on the chunks, you go to a page with a larger image and more information. On each of these pages, there are buttons in the main sidebar you can click to go back to the first piece, to the previous piece, to the next piece, or to the last piece. I’m pretty happy with how it looks and works; it is much cleaner, and it is very easy to keep clicking the “next” button to view the entire gallery fairly seamlessly. 

I have also cleaned up my “In the News” page (and the page called “News Archive” with older news items that links from the In the News page). I’m thinking that I should apply the same sort of grid system to my Patterns page, too.

So… if you have the time and the inclination, please take a look at my website and tell me what you think about the changes I’ve made so far, and about things I need to change … What do you love? hate? think I should change? I’d really like to know. Just be gentle, dear blog readers. Constructive criticism, please. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well, lookee here…

My piece, Lepidoptera, is featured in Quilters Newsletter magazine’s current issue! I didn’t know about it until some of my Facebook quilter friends told me. It is featured in a newsbrief in the eyeQ section about two current Studio Art Quilt Associates’ exhibitions, Art Meets Science and Small Works.
The Art Meets Science exhibition is at the Pfizer headquarters in New York City now through March 16, 2011. After that, it will be at the Visions Art Quilt Gallery in Oceanside, California from Jan. 1 – April 1, 2012. 

I love the quilt on the cover this issue. It is by artist and quilt shop owner Claudia Pfeil of Krefeld, Germany. 

Business card holders: Whip up a quick gift!


Want to whip up a quick and easy handmade gift? Try my stenciled and stitched business card holders! The directions are in today’s Cloth Paper Scissors Today e-mail newsletter. The project will be featured in the upcoming season of Quilting Arts TV (series 700). 

I used metallic textile paint and stencils from Crafter’s Workshop to stencil the designs on batik fabrics, then accentuated the designs with machine free-motion stitching. You can purchase some of these stencils at Embellishment Village and Quilting Arts. Here are some of the results up close:

The 700 series of Quilting Arts TV is now available for pre-order, and is expected to be available at the end of the year, so if your public TV station doesn’t carry it, you can still see all the great episodes by ordering the DVD. I’m featured in three episodes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My last thread sketching article

This month, I am a little bit sad, because this issue (Quilting Arts December 2010/January 2011) has my last thread sketching column in it. I have loved writing these columns throughout 2010, and I have loved being part of such a fabulous magazine. Quilting Arts has really changed my life. 

Did you know that with the current issue, the magazine is 10 years old? I’ve been a subscriber for most of that time. I’ve learned a lot of techniques, and made a lot of projects after reading the articles in it. It has encouraged the Pandoras, my local fiber arts group, to try many new things we would not have ventured into without reading about it in Quilting Arts first. 

I’ve also loved the challenge of creating a project on a specific theme for the Quilting Arts Calendar competitions. (There is a lot to be said for the deadline pressure provided by competitions like this; it can really bring out the best in you, and it can also teach you how to brainstorm and stretch yourself.)

My last thread sketching column focuses on creating movement with thread. One of the pieces I did for this column is Windswept (below). It is only 13-1/2" x 10-1/4".

The piece is based on a photo I took this summer at Bald Head Island, a spectacular barrier island at the south-eastern edge of North Carolina: 

This is an island I feel so fortunate to have visited many summers with my extended family. It is almost pristine, protected by conservationists from excessive development, and is a prime nesting spot for loggerhead sea turtles. 

Here is a detail shot of Windswept:

In a future post, I’ll share the other piece I created for this issue. It also deals with something in motion because of wind, but it is wintery, rather than summery! Can you guess what it is?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A chance to win

Just a head’s up: You could win my new Quilting Arts Workshop DVD, Master Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics

Kelly Jackson, who has a very fun blog and an online store called I Have a Notion, (and isn’t that such a clever name?) is giving away a copy of my DVD on her blog. Just follow the instructions in her post, and leave a comment to be entered in her drawing. 

Kelly watched my first DVD, too, and then did a little thread sketching on a cool piece of fabric, enhancing the design. What a great idea!

If you are in the mood to do a little holiday gift shopping for yourself, check out all the wonderful fabrics, tools, thread and notions in her online store

And don’t miss all of Kelly’s wonderful posts from Quilt Market a bit farther back on her blog. She gets people to do the silliest stuff. Kelly gives away a TON of great stuff, so do yourself a favor and follow her blog so you’ll be in the know! ;-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mom’s Mistletoe

Look what my mom just whipped up! She made it from my  “Magical Mistletoe” pattern featured in Quilting Arts Gifts 2010.

 Isn’t my mom talented? (And you wondered where I got it from.)

The special issue is packed with great ideas for wonderful, whimsical hand-made gifts for the holidays. It is available through Quilting Arts, and on  newsstands.

Looking for the little felted wool balls to make this project? Ask at your local quilt or craft shop, or shop online at Handbehg Felts. And if you are planning to make some of these as gifts, hurry; Christmas is coming sooner than we’d all like!

You can see my version in a previous blog post here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Autumn burning brightly

Autumn burned brightly,
a running flame through the mountains,
a torch flung to the trees.

— Faith Baldwin

I have two large sugar maples in my front yard that are a constant source of inspiration. You may remember that I based a piece on them (Harbinger’s Hope, shown below) after fighting with my power company to keep them from hacking the trees’ branches back to the trunk (to provide clearance for the power lines) a few years ago. 

The trees are estimated to be more than 80 years old, and are in decline, and every fall I wonder if it will be their last. It makes me notice them more, appreciate them more. They are certainly the most spectacular autumn foliage on my street. Yesterday I went out and took these photos. The light was wonderful, and the leaves were luminous, in shades of gold and chartreuse, orange and bronze.

I love the contrast between the dark trunk and branches and the colorful leaves. 

One of the tree’s leaves are greeny-gold, and the other (above and below) is going more orange. 

High up on one tree, the branches have been swept nearly bare by the wind, with only a few leaves still hanging on:

I would love to do three more pieces the same size and format as Harbinger’s Hope, each a different season, with a different creature to symbolize each season. Wouldn’t they look wonderful hanging together? I hope I live as long as these maples, and have the time to make half the quilts that are in my head!

November Pandoras meeting

At our Pandoras meeting on Monday, we worked on these cute recipe folders made from altered brown paper grocery bags. This project is based on one by Jane Bradley that my friend Michele had seen at the Believe in Yourself Retreat. You can see Jane’s finished recipe folder on her flicker site. Mine (above) is still in progress.

This is the front of mine (so far). We took the brown paper grocery bags, cut them apart at the seam, and then spritzed them with Glimmer Mist by Tattered Angels to create a bit of texture. You can purchase it online at Fiber Art on a Whim. Then we folded up the bottom to make pockets on one side, folded them accordion style, and stitched the pockets up on a sewing machine. After that, it was time to decorate! I used some of the white paper spritzed with the Glimmer Mist; I always go for bright colors, so I wanted to cover up some of that dull brown paper.

Michele starts gluing embellishments on her folder.

Here you can see some of the chipboard embellishments (spritzed with a purple Glimmer Mist) on top of the brown paper bag, which has the outlines of other embellishments that were placed on top before brown mist was applied.

DeLane peruses some of the ephemera Michele had gathered for us to use.

She used some of it on her folder. 

Grace cuts a shape out of paper out for her folder.

Looks like she is searching for a little time to cook!

As always, we were surprised to see how different our projects turned out, even though we were all working with the same raw materials. We each brought a dish to share for lunch, and recipe cards for our contributions to put inside our folders. 

This was a fun project. I think it would be great to make these folders for your children or grandchildren and put important family recipes inside. You could embellish them with copies of old family photos, and even photocopy old recipe cards in the family members’ own handwriting, if you have them.

It is always such a pleasure to be creative with friends. I am so fortunate to have good friends that enjoy trying new art techniques together!

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 International Quilt Festival, Part 5

“Cookie? Pleeeze Cookie” by Sarah Ann Smith
Okay, with this post, I think I’ve exhausted all of the photos I had time to take at International Quilt Market (while the exhibitions were set up for International Quilt Festival). I hope you are enjoying them. I have a give-away at the end of this post, and more to come this week.

The piece above is by my friend Sarah Ann Smith, and I just love the pop art colors, and the way she captured her dog’s expression. It’s a good example of how value, rather than color, does the work in capturing realism. Sarah and I met in person at last year’s fall Quilt Market, when her wonderful book Threadwork Unraveled, came out.

“Sheer Whim” by Maria Elkins won third place in the Art-Miniature category
Maria is well known for her portrait quilts (and she has a Quilting Arts Workshop DVD called  “Making Faces” that teaches her process), but I think the technique she used in this piece is a bit of a different direction for her, as it uses sheer fabrics and gorgeous stitching on top. You can read more about this piece on Maria’s website/blog.

“Color Comes to the Back of Beyond” by Janice Munzberg,
Pam Holland, Pauline McPhaulin, and Jeanette Coombes
won second place in the Group category
I love how the ladies are marching with their cakes (and dogs) into this piece, which shows people hanging a quilt show in what looks like a remote area in Australia.

“Let’s All Spring Forward” by Rosalie Baker
Gotta love those colorful tree frogs!

“Tidepools” by Diane Ricks
“Tidepools” was made by enlarging and printing a photo on fabric, and then adding appliqué (to frame the photo; you can see where the photo ends and the appliqué begins if you look closely) and free motion stitching. 

“Multiple Personalities” by Cynthia Goodwin
Cynthia is wonderfully creative, and stitched portraits of funny faces into this quilt. Here is one:

“Multiple Personalities” by (detail) by Cynthia Goodwin
“The Eye of the Quilter” (below) was another wonderful exhibition, featuring photographs taken by quilters, and haiku written by others. (Sorry, no close ups, as photography was not permitted.) It was neat to read about the photographers’ thoughts while they were taking these photos, and how they influenced their quilt making.

“Eastern Elements” by Linda Steele
“Eastern Elements” by Linda Steele
Okay, here’s a bit more of the loot I got at Quilt Market (below). I absolutely love Joan Hawley’s Lazy Girl Designs. Her bags are so pretty, and her directions (complete with tons of photos) are amazing, and easy to follow. I also love her Bag-E-Bottoms acrylic bases, which help your bags stay upright, and not tip over. (I recommend them for my own bag designs.)

This is one of her newest patterns, the Margo Handbag:

GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment on this post before noon EST on Tuesday, November 16. Tell me which quilt in this post you liked best and why. I'll pull one name at random and send that person the Margo Handbag pattern.

There’s still a bit more Quilt Market loot to give away in my next few posts, so please come back for a chance to win! 

WE HAVE A WINNER! Rafael’s Mum wins the Lazy Girl pattern.