Sunday, May 19, 2013

It’s time to Kick Off Your Heels!

click the image to learn more about the Kick off Your Heels fundraiserThe Kick off Your Heels fundraiser begins tomorrow morning! 

Did you know that more U. S. women die each year from heart disease than from all cancers combined?  
Sue Bleiweiss and Jamie Fingal have organized a group of wonderful artists, and are working to change this statistic through research and education. We have made some amazing art shoes and donated them to this cause. They are not shoes to wear; they are shoes to display as art. 

All money raised from the sale of these shoes will be donated to The Barbara Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California. This center not only treats women. They also educate and do major research on heart disease with women, exclusively. 

Please consider purchasing a pair of shoes to honor a woman fighting heart disease, or in memory of a special woman lost to heart disease.  

Here’s how it works: The price starts tomorrow at $300 per pair. Every few days, the price goes down. 

Purchase shoes for $300 on May 20 and 21 beginning at 8 a.m. EST.

Purchase shoes for $200 on May 22 and 23 beginning at 8 a.m. EST.

Purchase shoes for $100 on May 24 and 25 beginning at 8 a.m. EST.

Click here to preview all the shoes and get more information.

Here are my shoes, “Hope With Wings”:


Thursday, May 16, 2013

How big?

How big? 

That’s the question I’m getting most often when I post about “We All Swim Together,” the new piece I am working on now.


Bigger than any art quilt I’ve done to date. But as far as the exact size, I really don’t know yet.

To give you a better idea of the scale of this piece so far, I spread it out on our king-sized bed. The seven fish I’ve painted to date run from one side of the bed to the other. I suspect this piece will end up being at least 100" square. Maybe bigger.

I don’t usually work this way. I usually plan, and sketch things out, and know exactly how big the finished piece will be. I'm letting this piece take me where it wants to go. I’m taking a risk, having fun, focusing on the beauty of the fish, and not thinking too far ahead. 

I like it so far … both the piece and the process.

P.S. If you want to see detail photos and info about the fish I’ve painted so far, just click at the bottom where it says LABELS: We All Swim Together, and it will take you to all the posts about this piece!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This old quilt

I think this blue-and-white quilt was made by my maternal great-grandmother, Agnes Loretta Warren Carter. But I don’t know for sure. It is not marked. I think I remember my mother telling me that Agnes had made it. I have two other quilts, matching pink-and-white twin quilts that she made for my mother, and that my mother saved for me. I used them on my beds as a child, and they are pretty shabby (well loved, I should say) now. I display them in my house on an old ladder.

Agnes Loretta Warren Carter (1877-1951) about 1899.
She was my mother’s father’s mother.
Agnes, about 1947.
I found this old quilt, which I remember as our family’s picnic quilt, wadded up in the garage at my parents’ house when we were helping my father pack up and move last summer. I brought it home and washed it in the washing machine. No need to treat it gently, as it was already in pitiful condition and desperately needed a really good wash.

Even stained, faded, ripped, and with its binding worn through, I still find it charming. Maybe it is because of the memories. Maybe it is because I appreciate quilts, the work that goes into them, and the people who make them. I’ve thought about making it into some primitive table runners, and using them for patriotic holidays. The blue stars would be perfect on a table set for the Fourth of July, with a big vase of American flags or a pot of red geraniums and watermelon. But not yet. For now, I can’t quite bring myself to cut it up. It would be like saying goodbye.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day

I remember my mother saying this (“We need love most when we are least loveable”) … it is a really wonderful quote. Meaningful for all relationships, but especially the relationship between a parent and child. My mother died more than two years ago. I will be thinking about her tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, and honoring her memory. 

I love calligraphy and beautiful type. I only took one calligraphy class, in high school. I was fortunate to grow up in a wonderful public school system – Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania – one of the best in the country. I’m sure my mom had a lot to do with that. When she and my father moved to Mt. Lebanon, she was pregnant with me. She valued education highly, and wanted her children to attend the best schools possible. 

At Mt. Lebanon High School, we had a fabulous fine arts program that included both visual and performing arts. (It makes me sad to see how much arts programs have been eroded at most public schools today.) That one calligraphy class really changed me. It was when I discovered that I really relax, really feel meditative, when I am concentrating every fiber of my being on doing something as perfectly as possible, and on creating beauty. 

I think this is why I love making art; I’m addicted to that Zen feeling. It is my drug of choice, my escape from the stress and chaos of some parts of my life. 

I have been playing with type lately in my sketchbook, and decided to do this quote. I did it in black ink, then scanned in the illustration and opened it in Photoshop. I changed the black type to white, and put it on a background that is an enlarged section from the photo on the left side (this is a skeletal hydrangea shot close up against a purple bottle). Aren’t the colors luscious?

Anyway, this is my little gift to Mom, and to you, my readers. Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Australian classes and students

I had so many wonderful students when I taught at Australasian Quilt Convention 2013 in April. This slideshow has photos of some of them with their work.

P.S. This is the first slideshow I made with Smilebox. Let me know what you think. When I have lots of photos to share, would you like watching them this way? I would welcome any constructive criticism. Thanks!
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East Cobb Quilters’ Guild show coming up June 14-16 in Marietta Georgia

The fabulous East Cobb Quilters’ Guild will hold its quilt show, “Georgia Celebrates Quilts,” June 14-16  at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia. If you are in the area or can get there, don’t miss it.

It is a big show! They will display 360 of “Georgia’s finest quilts.” (I’ve taught at this guild and seen what these quilters can do, so I don’t think they are bragging about that!) There are also vendors, demonstrations, raffles, quilt appraisals and a silent auction. There’s more information on the guild’s website.

The guild’s 2013 Raffle Quilt (below and above) was made from Kim McLean’s pattern “Stars and Sprigs.” Guild members made the blocks, and five other members did the appliqued borders. It was quilted by Melinda Fulkerson, also a guild member. “We’re pretty proud of it,” says Pat Allen, Show Publicity Co-Chair, “and we think it will be the star of our show.” They are rightfully proud. Who wouldn’t kill to own this beauty?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Australasian Quilt Convention 2013: Tidbits

I still have some photos from Australia that I haven’t shared with you. Here are some tidbits; enjoy!

I absolutely loved the Australian currency, which is so colorful and intricate! Their coins are beautiful, too, and feature many native animals, including emu, platypus, kangaroo, echidna, and more.

Can’t remember where in Melbourne I took this shot, but don't you love this painted post?

An Australian mailbox. This may be an old style; I love it!

The light was wonderful on these flowers. Not sure what they are. 

This is the main entrance to the show. Every day, mobs of people gathered in this space waiting to get in to the exhibits and vendors.


These are the main front doors to the Royal Exhibition building. They must have been 20 feet tall or more. Absolutely stunning.

Here are the two people largely responsible for putting together the show: Gary and Judy Newman of Expertise Events. Always professional, always smiling, always helpful. An all-round class act. Many thanks to both of you!

I took about a million photos of the Royal Exhibition Building. I was simply in love with it. Here’s  the beautiful domed ceiling:

Old meets new – this shot shows the Royal Exhibition Building reflected and fragmented in the windows of the ultra-modern Melbourne Museum:

Two hundred for tea! This is a shot of the teacups lined up for morning tea and coffee, which was offered to students and teachers for free – along with biscuits (cookies) in the morning and afternoon. Lovely!

From the second floor, where the classrooms were, we had a great view of the exhibition and vendor space below:

The food was delectable. Especially the desserts!


Students got in early on Thursday and Friday so that they could take advantage of less crowded shopping, as they had fewer hours on the floor. Here are students purchasing goods from Cecile Whatman’s booth, Unique Stitching. Cecile carries a wide variety of products for art quilting and mixed media.

Brenda McCullough, Promotional Co-Ordinator - Home Sewing Machines at Brother International Australia, and her staff were an invaluable help in my thread sketching classroom, which was supplied with Brother Innovis 210 machines. I was so impressed with their machines and their customer service. Thanks, Brenda!

Australian fabric and pattern designer Leesa Chandler had a booth for her store, Chandlers Cottage, at the Convention. She has designed several fabric collections for  RJR Fabrics (Under the Australian Sun, Under the Australian Sun 2, and Under the Australian Sun - Classic Collection). All feature native Australian flowers:

One of my students, Debbie Cox, generously brought me a yard as a souvenir, and told me the names of all of the flowers.

Suzanne Gummow (wearing a white shirt, at the back of the photo) leads a group through the SAlt exhibition. SAlt stands for South Australian living textiles.


SAlt is a group of five fiber artists – Francie Mewet, Suzanne Gummow, Julie Haddrick, Sarah Bell Smith, and Judi Bushby – the exhibition showed their work in groupings. It was very fun to see how each artist interpreted the theme. There was some very impressive work in this exhibition. 

The exhibition hall was a fabulous place to exhibit quilts, with wonderful natural lighting, and a wonderful airy, spacious feeling.

 A view of the vendor area from the second floor (where my classroom was):

The floor was busy! Saturday was probably the most crowded day.

Judy Coates Perez was demonstrating her techniques in a booth, when she wasn’t teaching. If you want to see more photos of Melbourne and AQC, check out her blog!

Reece Scannell makes and sells unique fabrics, including shot cottons, with very high thread count (about 66 threads per square inch), that have a wonderful sheen and hand. I absolutely loved them, and purchased a printed panel featuring Australian native plants, and a skirt with panels of the same fabric.

This is Brenda Gael Smith (below), a fiber artist who was at AQC to teach and promote the Twelve by Twelve International Art Quilt Challenge. If you don’t know about this project by the “Twelves,” you are missing something really fun!

Two of the Twelves, Brenda and Kirsten Duncan (Kirsten is shown below, standing next to Brenda), give a tour of the exhibition:

I’ll have one more post, coming soon, that will include photos of some of my students with their work.

Bigeye Tuna

The latest fish for my new piece, “We All Swim Together,” is a Bigeye Tuna. It is a beautiful and very large fish. On my piece, it is about 21" long; in real life, it can be more than 8 feet long!

Bigeye Tuna
Latin Name:
Thunnus obesus
Found worldwide in open waters of temperate and tropical oceans.
Depth: usually above 1650 feet
98" and 400 pounds
The Bigeye can live up to 12 years; the average is 7-8 years. They are one of the species that is very threatened by overfishing, and are also susceptible to purse seine fishing by man-made fish aggregation devices such as open ocean buoys. About half of the Bigeye caught are captured in this way. Many juvenile fish are caught in these devices before they reach breeding age, adding to the problem. Greenpeace International added the Bigeye to its seafood red list in 2010.
The U.S. and some island nations have had treaties regulating and setting fishing quotas on bigeye.

In Hawaii, the Bigeye is one of two species (the other is Yellowfin Tuna) known as ‘ahi. They are prized in Asia for sashimi. 

Bigeye tuna sometimes have high levels of mercury, making them unsafe to eat. Pregnant women are warned not to consume too much tuna for this reason.