Sunday, July 31, 2011

Win a copy of my new book… but hurry!

Amy Marson, publisher at C&T Publishing, is giving away a copy of my book, Point, Click, Quilt! on the C&T blog. In the post, Amy talks about how she used the book, and shows examples of how it inspired her. Leave a comment there before 6 p.m. Pacific Time today, Sunday, July 31, for a chance to win. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Books are here!

They're here! The shipment of my new book has arrived. I am popping the champagne right now… although I can’t drink too much, as I have a ton of mailers to stuff, label and get ready to go to the post office tomorrow morning. 


Monday, July 18, 2011

Hanging an art quilt from a single nail

Here is “Fall Farm Stand,” my latest piece, hanging on the wall, nice and flat, and from a single nail. To do this, I used a technique I developed while working on pieces for last year’s Fiber Art Options’ exhibition, “Orchids: Sensuality Stitched.” Several members of our group used this technique, which we had seen others use, and we all did it slightly differently. Here’s how I do it.

First, I measured my finished piece; it was 31-1/2" wide by 23" long.  I cut a piece of black fabric the same as the width and about 2/3 of the length: 31-1/2" x 15".  Then I finished all the edges by folding under 1/4", then 1/4" again, and stitching. This shows the back of the sleeve:

And this shows the right side of the back and the front:

I positioned this piece of fabric, finished side up, to the top of my finished quilt, about 1/2" from the sides and the top, and pinned it in place. Then I measured about 1/3" of the way down from the top of the finished quilt, and made two chalk marks about an inch apart on both the left and right sides. (You can see them right under the pin at the top of this photo.)

This is where the wire attached to the foam core will come out, so there needs to be an opening. I stitched the fabric sleeve down to the finished quilt, sewing up the side, across the top, and down the other side, leaving the openings on the left and right sides open:

I cut a piece of foam core to the correct size, slightly smaller in width than the width of the sleeve, and nearly the length of the finished quilt, minus a few inches. (Check to make sure that your foam core fits snugly, but does not stretch the quilt or the sleeve. If it is too tight, cut it down a bit more.) Next, I used Artists' Tape (which is acid free, and white) to finish all the edges cleanly, for a nicer presentation:

I then inserted the foam core into the sleeve, and marked the sides with a dot, right in the middle of the openings on both sides:

After pulling the foam core out of the sleeve, I marked the same spot on top of the foam core:

I used a heavy needle (you could also use a nail or an awl) to punch a hole through the foam core: 

I reinforced both sides of the foam core with more Artist's Tape, and re-did the hole:

I measured two lengths of wire about the same width as the piece. On each side, I drew it through the hole about 1/3 of the length of the wire, knotted it, and then twisted the rest along the length of the rest of the wire:  

Next, I inserted the foam core into the sleeve, and pulled the wires through the gaps in the sleeve. I pulled the wires from both sides into the center and knotted them, leaving a little “give” and not pulling it too tight, then twisted the rest of the loose wire along the other wire. Here’s how the back looks:

Now it is wired just like a nicely framed piece of art, and can hang on a single nail! Sometimes, people who are looking to purchase fiber art are a bit put off because they don’t know how to hang it. Traditional quilters use a long tube-like sleeve at the top of the piece, but this requires a rod, and two nails or other hangers. It can be hard to hang straight. The method I described in this post works well for small and medium-sized pieces, and is extremely easy to hang.

If you are going to be showing your work in traditional quilting venues, it is easy to create the 4" sleeve necessary for them. Just add about 4" extra to the length of the fabric piece, and after finishing all the edges, fold under the 4" at the top, and stitch it down from left to right. Then sew on the sleeve in the same manner I described. This way, it can hang either from a nail or from a rod.

I also think that hanging a piece in this manner helps it to look more like art, and less like a quilt, if that is what it is.

“Fall Farm Stand” finished!

“Fall Farm Stand” by Susan Brubaker Knapp (2011)
31-1/2" x 23"
I finished “Fall Farm Stand” this morning! My clients took a look yesterday, and they prefer it in a horizontal position, so I am ready to construct and stitch on the hanging sleeve. I’ll take photos and share that with you in my next post. The photos here were taken in the early morning sun, so they are more dimensional than the ones in my last post.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fall Farm Stand, Part 6

I am almost done with “Fall Farm Stand!” Yes, it has been months. But no, I have not been procrastinating; I’ve been extremely busy. And there was something about this piece that I didn’t quite like. After a few months of it looking down on me from my design wall, it finally told me what it needed: more shading on the edges of some of the gourds, to make them more dimensional. I am much happier with it now.

Here it is in a horizontal orientation. I am working today on facing it. Once my clients decide which orientation they like best, and which will fit best in their space, I will add a sleeve that will hold a piece of foam core with wires attached for hanging. This way, it can hang on a single nail. I’ll take photos so I can share this technique with you. 

This piece is approximately 24" x 36". Which orientation do you like best, and why? I asked this question when I showed the inspiration photo, and the answers were interesting. I like it best in the vertical orientation. 

Here are some detail shots. I shot this piece this morning, and it is very overcast. So there is not much detail on the stitching, as there are no shadows, just even, diffused lighting. I will need to re-shoot it on a sunnier day, in the early morning or late afternoon, when the shadows are long.

I am very pleased with this piece; it is equally intriguing from a distance and up close, as there is a lot of stitching, and the Tyvek pieces look very cool. I hope my clients will feel the same!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sneak a peek at “The Space Between”

If you can’t get to International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California July 29-31, but would like to see “The Space Between” exhibition, here’s a way.

Loris Bogue, together with Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison, have created an exhibition catalog. It’s available to view and buy at Blurb.com The price is $22.95. It features full-page photos of each piece in the exhibition, as well as a photo of the artist, and her statement about the piece.

I was tremendously honored to find my piece, “Hope is the Thing,” featured on the cover. And even more honored to have my piece included with the work of such amazing artists. 

Books will arrive here on July 20!

Me with no makeup and still in my jammies, holding my advance copy of my book
I just got news that the big box of my new books is on its way from C&T Publishing in California, and will arrive next Wednesday, July 20. I’ll start shipping them out either that afternoon, or the next morning. If you want to get one of the first copies available – with an autograph! – you can purchase one here:

Friday, July 8, 2011

See my episode of The Quilt Show for free next week!

I have a special offer to share with all my blog readers and people who have signed up for my e-newsletter! From July 11 – this Monday – to July 17, you can watch my episode of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims for free! The Quilt Show is a subscription-based, fully produced online television show. I joined a while back, and I have been so impressed. If you loved Alex on her old TV show, “Simply Quilts,” (which ran for many years on HGTV) you know how well-produced and informative her show was. Ricky adds his knowledge, energy and personality to this new show, and the website is very meaty – there is an amazing amount of information and entertainment here.

My episode, the season premiere, is number 901. Starting Monday, you can click here to watch it for free. Wooo-hoooo!

If you haven't joined “The Quilt Show” yet, this is the perfect time to try it out, and see all the great things on the website. If you want to join, I have a promotional code you can use July 11-17 to receive a 20% discount. The magic number is:

On the show, I share my secrets for making great bias vines, and sharp concave and convex corners when you do needleturn appliqué. Then I demonstrate my technique of taking a photo and translating it into a work of art. Both projects I demonstrated on the show are nests. Members can download free patterns for both projects I demonstrated on the show.

You can also watch a slideshow of behind-the-scenes photos from the day I taped the show, or get a sneak peek by watching the trailer.

Aurifil’s July Designer of the Month, and a give-away

Allow me to introduce you to the Aurifil Designer(s) of the Month for July: Barb Persing and Mary Hoover from the design team Fourth & Sixth Designs. The name of their company comes from the fact that they are sisters, the fourth and sixth children of a close-knit family  from southern New Jersey.

You can read and in-depth interview with the two sisters on the Aurifil news page, and download the free project they designed. Isn’t it lovely? 

Remember, if you make any project from the design team, load a photo to our Aurifil Flickr group. This puts you in the running to win an Aurifil thread prize!

Mary and Barb lecture and teach, and are also the authors of StrataVarious Quilts: 9 Fabulous Strip Quilts from Fat Quarters (C&T Publishing, May 2008):

For more information on Fourth & Sixth Designs:


WE HAVE A WINNER! Geni in The Netherlands has won the Aurifil thread for July.
Each month this year, I’m going to be giving away a pack of Aurifil minispools (like the one shown above) when the new project is announced. Just leave a comment after this post telling me how old you were when you started quilting, I'll pull a name at random on Monday, August 1 at noon EST. The sampler pack includes great colors in different weights.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lots of news today!


One advance copy of my book arrived on my doorstep yesterday! I am so thrilled with the job that C&T’s graphic designers, editors and photographers did with it. The first shipment of books will arrive at C&T’s headquarters in California any day now, and then they will head toward me. I am taking pre-orders now, so if you want an autographed copy, mosey on over to my website! Here’s a sneak peek at one of the spreads:

And here’s a page from the section on taking better photographs that you can use in your work:

There was more good news on my doorstep today: an edition of The Charlotte Observer’s Lake Norman News with a feature article on me! You can read the story here. The reporter, Madeline Will, is a college intern from The University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism, where I got my master’s degree. She did a great job.

This afternoon I was out hunting at one of my favorite local antique shops, and discovered this wonderful raggedy old red-and-white quilt. I think it is a Shoo Fly variation, and it is completely hand stitched. (Anyone know if it has another name?) I paid $25 for it.

It is fraying in places, and some of the cotton batting is peeking through, but I think it is charming. It is pretty big, about twin bed size, and very graphic. I may take down one of my quilts and hang it on the wall.

I also found out that enrollment has begun for International Quilt Festival 2011 in Houston, after I got a few e-mails from potential students with questions. I am teaching the following classes:

#432  Wholecloth Painting – Botanicals, on Thursday, Nov. 3
#521  Start with a Photo, on Friday, Nov. 4
#715  Thread Sketching – Dragonfly Wallhanging, on Saturday, Nov. 5

You can take a look at all the classes and sign up here. I’d love to see you in my classes!

Vacation photos

My husband and children enjoy an early morning swim in a calm sea.
Vacation! That’s why you haven’t seen a post from me lately! Last week, I was on Bald Head Island, near the southern end of the string of North Carolina’s spectacular barrier islands. As it is at the tip of Cape Fear, and very close to South Carolina, Bald Head Island has much more tropical foliage than most of the North Carolina beaches.

The Bald Head Island lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bald Head Island Conservancy is responsible for much of the conservation work that has kept the island so pristine. It also helps educate visitors and residents about the unique ecosystems on the island, including the maritime forest and marsh. Their sea turtle protection program is one of the best in the country. As of today, they have 57 Loggerhead sea turtle nests and one Green sea turtle nest (more rare for Bald Head) on the island. The Green sea turtle laid her eggs right in front of the house we were renting on the first night we were there! (It happened about 2 a.m., so we missed it, of course.) 

I have never been lucky enough to witness a mother turtle laying eggs, or the eggs hatching, but I hope I will have this opportunity at some point in my life.

Since my new book, Point, Click, Quilt!, is about learning to take better photos that you can use in your fiber art, I thought it apropos to share a little vacation photo viewing with you, along with my thoughts about taking photos.

Vacation is a great time to take photographs, and not just the ones of your kids standing in front of landmarks or making funny faces. Take time to document your surroundings, and to explore them. Taking photos in a deliberate, artful way forces you to really see what is there.

People often e-mail me to ask what camera I use. I always start off by telling them that it doesn't really matter. Good photography is much more about the photographer’s eye – and knowledge of design and composition — than it is about the camera. A fabulous, expensive camera with lots of features is a waste if you don’t pay attention to those things, and if you don’t do what I call “learning to see.”

People also ask me what sewing machine I use, and I give them basically the same spiel. It’s not the tool, it’s the operator. (Although I do love my Bernina, and I know that some features, whether on a camera or a sewing machine, do make it possible to do things you couldn’t do otherwise.)

I took a very simple, fairly inexpensive digital camera with me on vacation. It is a Canon PowerShot A590IS (8 megapixels, 4x optical zoom) that I have had for several years. I have a fancier Canon, but I took this one because it was smaller and lighter and cheaper.

I love the texture in this piece of wood, which has been battered and worn down by years of rain and sunshine. And the detailed pattern in the weeds in the lower left corner.

What lovely soft texture and color in the plants; a great way to set off the lines of the driftwood. It is interesting to see how most of my vacation photos fall into the same palette of blue, green and tan.

The berries on this juniper are pale blue-white, and very smooth, which is a nice contrast with the texture and color of the juniper leaves.

Southport is a charming sea town; the ferry to Bald Head leaves from here. It was decked out for the Fourth Of July weekend, with a flag flying from nearly every porch.

The juxtaposition of the sailboat and the lighthouse (nicknamed Old Baldy) give this shot interest.

I’m a sucker for rust, and places near the ocean have it in abundance. This is a shot of a metal covering for a sewer or water line that had originally been painted a pale blue. Interesting lines and texture as well as color. Make sure that you take some detail (or close-up) shots as well as long shots and medium shots.

The silhouette of this palm tree shows off its interesting branching structures. 

Don’t be afraid to get down on your belly and shoot; lots of the really cool stuff is small and you’ll miss it if you don’t get down on the same level. Use the macro feature on your camera to capture small details. Nearly all digital cameras – whatever their pricepoint — have this feature. The button usually has an icon of a tulip on it. Make sure you don’t zoom in at all when using the macro feature, or you’ll be out of focus.

The contrast in shape and texture between the prickly pear cactus and the yucca are what interested me here.

I placed the bloom off center – rather than smack dab in the middle of the frame — to make this composition stronger. I used the macro feature for this shot. It has the added bonus of changing what is called “depth of field;” note how the background is hazy, while the bloom is in focus. This, plus the beautiful red color, helps pull your attention to it.

 The color is dull, but texture and pattern take center stage here. 

Don’t forget to look up! I got this photo by standing very close to the trunk, and shooting straight up. This accentuated the pattern in the palm tree’s trunk and foliage.

Colors of the sea are echoed in this collection of glass bottles arranged on a windowsill. 

I bent down the fronds of this plant to get a better shot of this fascinating structure at its core.

The color variations in the leaves, and the pattern created by the individual green blades against the main vein interested me here. 

The vivid chartreuse and lapis are part of what makes this photo a winner. Strong lines and textures are supporting players.

You can almost feel the heat while looking at this sunset shot. 

Lights hung in this live oak tree by the Maritime Market illuminate the Spannish moss, and cast a lovely glow. There is wonderful texture in this shot.

This shot of the marina at Bald Head Island is stronger because of the diagonal line  between the sea and the boats in the lower half of the photo.

The ruffled edge of this plant’s leaves creates a pleasing pattern.

The tiny air holes in the sand provide and interesting backdrop for this coquina shell, which is purposefully set off-center in the frame.

What I like in this shot is the way the distinct, strong green mass of shrubbery sets off the houses, which appear hazier and less distinct, almost dreamlike. 

Repetition of shapes — the cottages of Captain Charlie’s — pull the eye along from left to right, as does the road.

The color and line in this shot nearly makes me swoon.

The subtle diagonal line where the sea meets the sand pulls the eye from the cannonball jellyfish in the foreground, through the scattered shells on the sand. 

Soft colors and strong texture in sea oats.

The vibrant blue color of the bicycle set it off from the more natural color of the brink wall and the ground. The difference in the mortar in the bricks at the top and the bottom interested me. And there’s something about this photo that makes you want to jump on that bike and take off!

This was the coolest fuzzy grass. The vertical lines in the grass stalks, combined with the horizontal lines in the shutters, is nice.

This juxtapositionof different colors, textures and patterns makes this photo work. 

And of course, I do occasionally take photos of people! This is me with my husband, Rob. I took it by holding the camera at arms’ length aiming it in the general direction of our heads. 

I’d love to know which of these photos you like best, and why. Which ones would you like to see me make into a piece of fiber art? Leave me a comment!