Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quilting Arts TV Series 900

With Pokey Bolton on the set of Quilting Arts TV
This week, I was in Cleveland, Ohio, to shoot three segments for Quilting Arts TV. It was SO much fun, and it was great to see some old friends and make some new ones. 

My segments will be in episodes 901, 904 and 907, which will air in late 2011 or early 2012 on many public television stations. This is the third August I’ve headed to Cleveland to shoot segments – the previous ones were featured in 2009-10 (series 500) and 2010-11 (series 700). 

I took lot of photos to share with you, since I know how much I like a behind-the-scenes peek at things. 

Here is Karen, a fabulous makeup artist, touching up Pokey Bolton’s makeup:

Karen does Pokey’s makeup before the shoot
Candy Glendening shows off some of her amazing hand-dyed fabrics in the Green Room (where you get organized, and wait to go on set):

Here’s an up-close look at one of her masterpieces (check out lots more at Candied Fabrics and make sure to read her blog, too):

Helen Gregory (below, left) is managing editor for Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines. Helen helps things run smoothly in the Green Room, manages the production of the Quilting Arts DVDs, and is also a calming, positive presence when the artists start to freak out from the stress. She’s great at talking guests down off the ledge. Thanks, Helen!

When you walk onto the set, you are in a big, cavernous room, with the set at one end. Cameras and lights take up most of the space in front:

This is what it looks like when you are sitting at the table about to start shooting. Very bright lights, three or four cameras, and kind of intimidating:

I’ve admired Debra Gabel’s graphic style for years. Now we are both C&T authors; her new book is Quilt Blocks Across America; a world version is coming along later this year. Don’t we look great together in our jewel-tone blouses?

Pokey and I snuggle up with the Bernina 550 QE on set. Bernina is a sponsor of the show, which makes me very happy, since I use a Bernina at home, and love it!

This is a shot I took of the TV in the Green Room, showing Judy Coates Perez and Pokey shooting a segment demonstrating ways to use RIT products. Judy has developed some techniques for using these products in very interesting ways, and you will not believe the amazing results she gets. I was glued to the screen.

This is Jo Leichte, Bernina USA’s Education Department Editor. Jo made sure I had the right machine, the right needle, and was all set up to stitch with ease while on set. Jo and I were excited to get a sneak peek at the new issue of Quilting Arts Gifts.

One wall in the set has been painted the most wonderful peachy color since the last time I saw it:

This sunlit window looks so realistic! But it is actually fake; we were hermetically sealed in that studio!

I found my little birthday cake and candles postcard gift (celebrating Quilting Arts’ 10th birthday) on the bulletin board on the peachy wall. That’s it right in the center.
A wall on one side of the set
The door to the Green Room has lots of little  photos of Pokey in different outfits, and the number of the episodes she will wear them. This helps everyone remember how she should be dressed when she shoots the segments, since they are often shot out of order.

Want to know what Pokey will wear in episodes 905 and 906? Now you do!
Here are some additional photos Judy took and sent to me:

Me with Elin Waterston, Judy Coates-Perez and Candy Glendening, after dinner on Monday night in Cleveland
On set with Pokey (this shot was taken of the TV in the Green Room while I was shooting a segment)
With Helen Gregory in the Green Room
One of the crew arranging my nametag holders on the table before the shoot
Working out the details with Pokey and the crew before the shoot
Talking over a segment with Pokey and the producers
Whew! It was fun, but it is great to be home!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quilting Arts Gifts 2011/2012

Fire and Ice Candle Wraps by Susan Brubaker Knapp
Photo by Quilting Arts/Interweave
I have two projects in the 2011/2012 issue of Quilting Arts Gifts, including the “Fire and Ice Candle Wraps” shown above. They are made from Lutradur that is stenciled, painted and stitched.  
Quilting Arts Gifts is a special issue of Quilting Arts Magazine devoted to the art of gift-giving. The issue features more than 20 seasonal projects that would make terrific gifts. It is available for preorder now on the Interweave Store website, and will ship in September. The price is $14.99.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Win my book!

Kelly Jackson of I Have A Notion is giving away a copy of my book, Point, Click, Quilt: Turn Your Photo into Fabulous Fabric Art, on her blog! So hop on over there and leave a comment on that post by Friday, August 26 for a chance to win! Don’t forget to check out Kelly’s online store at I Have A Notion; she has all sorts of wonderful notions, and her customer service can’t be beat!

Monday, August 22, 2011

“Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies” is finished!

“Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies” (24" x 24") by Susan Brubaker Knapp

I finished “Synchronized Synchrnous Fireflies” last night. Now I have to decide how to hang it. Grass on the top and bottom, or grass on the left and right? Cast your vote, please!

“Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies” (Detail)
“Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies” (Detail)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies, Part 2

“Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies” by Susan Brubaker Knapp. (Work in progress)
My latest piece, “Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies,” is coming along nicely. I have added some synchronized grass – regular grass would have looked weird, I decided — and started the threadwork. The shot above shows it pinned to interfacing (Pellon 910), with a bit of the thread sketching done. I have also added smaller circles of lime green Angelina on top of the green Crystalina fibers that make up the fireflies’ glow. They were not showing up quite as much as I wanted with just the Crystalina.

I am having fun with this piece, but it is very different from what I’ve been doing in the past year or so. More playful perhaps, and definitely less realistic. I added the grass to give the piece some more luminous color, and I love the way it glows against the blue twilight fabric, and how it plays off the fireflies’ glow. 

But there is something somewhat sinister in the way everything is perfectly aligned. It gives me the same chill up the spine that much of Jane Sassaman’s work does. I think it has to do with taking the marvelous chaos that is nature, and making it mechanical, clinical — more perfect, and at the same time, less perfect. Messing with the work of the Creator. The Stepford Wives effect. There is some malevolent intent here. This may go back to my childhood battle with poison ivy. I am incredibly allergic to poison ivy, and had many very bad cases of it when I was young – so bad that I had to have monthly shots as a child, and that I missed several weeks of school. But that is enough psychoanalysis for today.

This is one of two pieces I am doing for Fiber Art Options’ exhibition called “Meadowood Stitched,” which will premiere this fall at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte. All the pieces will be based on meadow life, to celebrate the opening of a new section of the garden that includes meadow and woodland.

I have a good idea for my second piece; I will be using (or as they say in the crafting world, “repurposing”) a three-dimensional Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly that I made about 5 years ago. He has a wingspan of about 20" (the photo below shows him sitting on my impatiens. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Once In A Blue Moon Retreat

I have been wanting to teach at my own retreat for a while, so I’m very excited to announce that the very first “Once In a Blue Moon Fiber Art Retreat” will take place October 4-7, 2012 in Black Mountain, NC. Please make plans to come, and immerse yourself in a creative environment of learning and fun amidst the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. This retreat is limited to only 25 students, so you’ll get lots of one-on-one time with me. There is also time to relax and renew the spirit in a beautiful setting.

I’m working with my friend Joyce Mullis, who has years of organizing retreats, to put on this event. Joyce is also an excellent cook, and she will be handling our breakfasts and lunches, and keeping everything running smoothly.

Workshops and lodging will both take place in the same spacious facility, Barnhardt Lodge at the historic Blue Ridge Assembly YMCA conference center in Black Mountain, NC. The accommodations are contemporary, clean and spacious. We will have the whole lodge to ourselves. Sleep is not a requirement, and you may spend the day in your pajamas, if you wish! We have lots of fun activities planned for the three evenings we will be together.

Enjoy tasty and filling breakfasts and lunches at the lodge. Dinners are your chance to sample the many wonderful restaurants in nearby Black Mountain or Asheville – towns known for their eclectic mix of arty shops and diverse restaurants. Don’t want to drive? You can arrange to eat dinner at Blue Ridge’s dining hall for a small fee.

The workshop is based on the techniques in my new book. You’ll learn the skills you need to go home, take your favorite photo, and interpret it in fabric using fusible appliqué and thread sketching. Choose from one of two brand-new projects I am designing specifically for this retreat – pumpkins and passionflower — based on the photos shown here:

We will spend the first day constructing a small fused applique art quilt, and the second day thread sketching it. Basic free-motion machine stitching experience is helpful, but not essential. You’ll learn how to:
  • create a pattern from a photo
  • make a positioning overlay
  • create patterns on fusible adhesive
  • cut out your fabric pieces and fuse them
  • choose the right threads, needles and
  • stabilizers for thread sketching
  • adjust tension for the correct stitch
  • use thread to “sketch” on top of your fabric to add detail, color and texture.
The cost is $385 for a shared room, and $445 for a private room (limited number available). Some handicap-accessible rooms are also available. This includes three nights lodging, linens and towels, three breakfasts, two lunches, and two full days of workshops.

To download a retreat flier with more details and a registration form, click here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Listen for me on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio

I’ll be a guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio, hosted by Pat Sloan, this Monday, August 15. So mark your calendars and make plans to tune in! The live show will run between 4-5 p.m. EST. I am expected to be the fourth guest on the show, and should go on sometime between 4:30 and 5 p.m. 

All the American Patchwork & Quilting shows are at where you can listen live, or get the podcasts.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I’ve been nominated!

I am proud to announce that I’ve been nominated to serve the International Quilt Association as Vice President of Public Service! You can read about all the new board nominees, and place your vote, on page 10-11 of the summer issue of IQA journal. The journal is now being produced completely online. This issue also includes some great in-depth article on quilters who have won recent IQA awards.

The IQA’s annual meeting, the Lone Star Quilt Conference, will be held on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 5:15 p.m in the George R. Brown Convention Center during International Quilt Festival in Houston.

The International Quilt Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the art of quilting as an art form, and the advancement of the state of the art throughout the world. The four founders – Jewel Patterson (1910-2002), Karey Patterson Bresenhan, Helen O’Bryant (1914-2005), and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes — established this organization in 1979 to provide dedicated quilt lovers the opportunity to work productively toward increasing the prestige, artistry, creativity, professionalism, and recognition of quilts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies, Part I

Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies by Susan Brubaker Knapp
This week, I started work on one of the pieces I am doing for Fiber Art Options’ exhibition called “Meadowood Stitched,” which will premiere this fall at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte. All the pieces will be based on meadow life, to celebrate the opening of a new section of the garden that includes meadow and woodland.

I am calling this piece “Synchronized Synchronous Fireflies.” 

“What the heck does that mean?” I can hear you all thinking.

Well, synchronous fireflies are a phenomenon that you can only observe in two places in the entire world – the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and Southeast Asia. The Smokies are only about four hours from where I live. My mother told me about this phenomena demonstrated by the species Photinus carolinus, and she went to see it in the Smokies, but my family has not made the trip yet.

According to a website for Gatlinburg, Tennessee, “This species of fireflies has an internal sensor that lets them know when a nearby firefly has lit, in which they respond with their own light as quickly as possible. It may take a minute for them to get in sync, but all of a sudden that start performing together with flashes that last as long as six seconds. This, in turn, presents an amazing wave of blinking lights that is truly astonishing.” You can watch a video about these fireflies here.

The name made me think about synchronized swimming, which in turn made me think about cute little beetles lined up in the night sky in perfect formation, like the synchronized swimmers in the Olympics, firing up their little green lights at just the perfect moment in an outstanding example of simultaneous bioluminescence, tiny swim caps on their heads. Okay, maybe without the swim caps. 

So I made five little fireflies and arranged them in a position reminiscent of the synchronized swimmers. Their lights are made of Angelina fiber that reflects the light and gives them their signature glow. The fabric is a piece I hand-dyed last summer; I picked it because it reminded me of twilight, the gloaming – the time between twilight and dark.

As a child, I spent many a summer evening in Pennsylvania with friends, chasing and catching lightening bugs (another name for fireflies) and putting them in Mason jar to make a lantern. It was magic. I didn’t realize until recently that there are no fireflies in the western United States. My husband had them in Oklahoma, but when I took a class with California artist Jane LaFazio when she came to North Carolina last June, she was all abuzz because she had seen fireflies the night before. Apparently they don’t have them in Europe, either. How sad!

What’s next for this piece? I’m going to add some grass coming in on either side. The finished size needs to be 24" square. I think it will be very orderly grass, to emphasize the very orderly nature of the insects. And then I will thread sketch the fireflies, and quilt it. I’ll post more photos as it progresses.

Monday, August 8, 2011

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

Jinny Beyer is Aurifil’s Designer of the Month for August. Jinny designs fabric – including the many fabulous border designs she uses in her quilt patterns – and she does everything (piecing and quilting) by hand.

On the Aurifil blog, you can read Pat Sloan’s interview with Jinny, and download this beautiful free project — a placemat she designed using her border prints:

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!

Jinny’s website: 


FabricAndFlowers from Houston, Texas is this month’s winner! 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 why you started quilting, I'll pull a name at random on Saturday, Sept. 3 at noon EST. The sampler pack includes great colors in different weights.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

9th Annual Barnful of Quilts coming in October

I will be exhibiting with Fiber Art Options October 8 at the ninth annual “Barnful of Quilts” in Waxhaw, NC. This year, Barnful of Quilts will benefit Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that provides food, medicine and assistance to the world’s poor, sick and suffering.

The show will feature exhibits, vendors, a bake sale and a quilt sale. Admission is a $5 donation to Samaritan’s Purse; it is free to those older than 80 and younger than 18. The show is in the amazingly beautiful barn at Fox Farms in Waxhaw, just south of Charlotte, NC.

For information, e-mail Valerie Fox at, or call 704-516-8060. I’ll have more information as we get closer to the date.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

“The Space Between” at IQF/Long Beach

A corner of “The Space Between” exhibition at International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, Californina.
“The Space Between,” an exhibition of art quilts curated by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal. of Dinner at Eight Artists premiered last week at International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California. Among the 40 pieces in the exhibition is my “Hope is the Thing.”Although photography is not permitted in the exhibition itself, a friend shot and sent me these far-away shots of my work, which was apparently visible from the booths in the vending/shopping area!

My piece, way… way… way off in the distance!
Loris Bogue designed the exhibition catalog. It’s available to view and buy at 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. Here is the catalog, with my piece on the cover!

Another friend wrote me today:
Hi Susan, When I was vending in Long Beach, a gal named Lou came up to me and said that she just saw a beautiful quilt by Susan Brubaker Knapp and it touched her so much, it made her weep. I said, "Susan?" I know her!" I promised her I would let you know. ♥♥♥ Isn't that so wonderful to know that your art moves people in such ways~♥
Wow! That is wonderful! Moving people or making them think about things in a different way is one of my goals, and part of what is so powerful about making art.