Monday, April 28, 2014

Smoky Mountain Quilters Show is May 23-25

The Smoky Mountain Quilters of Tennessee will host their 34th Annual Quilt Show and Competition May 23-25 on the campus of Maryville College in the Cooper Athletic Center in Maryville, Tennessee. This is a big guild with many talented quilters, and promises to be a great show!

The quilt show will feature 200 quilts in competition, two special exhibits, an antique bed turning, and more than 20 vendors. Vendors will be doing demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday. There is also opportunity baskets of quilting items, including a featherweight machine; a quilt raffle; small quilts for sale; and a children’s scavenger hunt.

Want to go?
Admission: $5 (bring a can of food to donate to a local food bank and receive $1 off)
May 23 and 24, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
May 25, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free parking
Handicapped accessible venue
More info:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My prayer flags

My prayer flags hanging on a door in our home.
Last week, I made my first prayer flags. Haven’t heard about them? Prayer flags are small pennants or banners, made as invocations – hopes, questions, requests, prayers or wishes. Prayer flags probably originated in Nepal or Tibet, and are still found in the Himalayas, and are often associated with Buddhism. You can make prayer flags as a religious statement, or simply as a way of expressing your spirituality or mindfulness. They make lovely gifts for friends or family who are going through difficult times, helping to remind them that you are thinking about them.

I made mine as a form of meditation. As I worked, I thought about the attributes and personal qualities I am working on cultivating: Compassion, Patience, Peace, Acceptance, Trust, Forgiveness, Love, and Comfort. Each of the flags I made represents one of these qualities. 

First, I got out my favorite paints and stencils. The paints are transparent textile paints by PRO Chemical & Dye. (They come in small lidded containers; I pour mine into bottles to make it easier to use paints in the classes I teach.) I mixed the paint with some of PRO Chem’s Transparent Base Extender to make them even more transparent. 

Most of the stencils I used came from Artistcellar. I really love the ones I just got by Jill K. Berry that feature calligraphic lines. I used a Moda Banner Set that contains 8 banners made of 80% linen and 20% cotton:

If you'd like to make prayer flags, but need some ideas, here’s a great resource: Quilting Arts has a new 47-page e-book that is a collection of articles called Prayer Flags: Make Banners of Hope & Peace from Fabric Scraps and Fibers ($6.99 on the Quilting Daily Shop).

For a limited time, you can get the Moda Banner Set together with the Prayer Flag e-book from the Quilting Daily store for $24.99. 

On a few of my flags, I also used some acrylic inks by Daler-Rowney:

After the flags dried, I added a layer of interfacing underneath (I used Heavy Weight Shaping Aid) and machine stitched some of the stenciled pattern using white thread. On some, I added fabric circles and stitched them down. Next, I added some buttons and hand embroidery. On each flag, I used circles, which to me, symbolize wholeness and balance. The process of hand stitching is very meditative, and I let it take me where it wanted to go. 

I took my flags outside and hung them in my dogwood tree, and on our azaleas and phlox, which are in full bloom.

Want to know more and see some different kinds of prayer flags? The Prayer Flag Project blog shares some of the thousands of prayer flags that have been created since Vivika Hansen DeNegre, the editor of Quilting Arts magazine, started the project in June 2011.

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul.
It is daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words
than words without a heart.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart;
it is a simple look turned toward heaven,
it is a cry of recognition and of love,
embracing both trial and joy.”
― Thérèse de Lisieux

The Prayer Flag Blog Hop
Make sure to check out each hopper’s post for a chance to see some beautiful prayer flags, and win prizes!
April 14: Jane LaFazio
April 15: Meg Cox
April 16: Deborah O’Hare
April 17: Jamie Fingal and Susan Brubaker Knapp
April 18: Carrie Bloomston

Quilting Arts is providing me with a copy of Jane Dunnewold’s Quilting Arts Workshop “Design & Print Your Own Fabric: Tips and techniques for successful online fabric design” to give away! If you live in the U.S., you can choose to get the DVD or the digital download. If you live outside the U.S., you will get the digital download.

Leave a comment after this post and tell me a little bit about why you’d like to win, or if you’ve ever made a prayer flag (and why). Please leave me a way to contact you. I’ll pull one name at random at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 22. The winner will be announced at the end of this post on that day. 

Note: If your comment does not show up right away, please don’t freak out. Please post only one comment. I now have to moderate/approve all comments, because I was getting a ton of Japanese porn spammers leaving comments and links on my blog! 

We have a winner! Laceflower has won Jane Dunnewold’s Quilting Arts Workshop!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Prayer Flag Blog Hop is coming!

Have you heard about the prayer flag movement? It is sweeping the art quilting and mixed media worlds. Prayer flags are small pennants or banners, made as invocations – hopes, questions, requests, prayers or wishes. I made some this week; they are pictured above.

Starting next week, several artists – including me – are participating in a blog-hop to help spread the prayer flag concept. We will be sharing our process and techniques of making prayer flags, and encouraging you to get involved. There will also be some great giveaways of DVDs donated by Quilting Arts/Interweave. 

The Prayer Flag Blog Hop
Make sure to check out each hopper’s post for a chance to see some beautiful prayer flags, and win prizes!
April 14: Jane LaFazio
April 15: Meg Cox
April 16: Deborah O’Hare
April 17: Jamie Fingal and Susan Brubaker Knapp
April 18: Carrie Bloomston

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A visit to Meridian Fibers in Charlotte

Colorful woven scarves by Laura Sutthoff

NOTE: Meridian Fibers has changed into a “high-end home fabrics business” as of 2021. 

Today, members of Fiber Art Options, a group of fiber artists in the Charlotte area, met to tour a wonderful new facility in uptown Charlotte: Meridian Fibers. It is owned by artist Laura Sutthoff, who has created “a working studio and teaching lab for adults and children.”

 Classes for adults – some a few hours long, and some a few days long – include:
  • Stamp, Print and Foil
  • Knitting 101
  • Painted scarf using soy wax resist
  • Felt and ribbon scarf
  • Dyeing for quilters
  • Dyes and resists
  • Fabric design with digital printing
  • Felted ruffled scarf

Laura has a BFA in Textile Design from East Carolina University, and has designed fabric, owned an interior design shop, painted murals in large office buildings and homes, taught art to 2nd through 5th graders, and printed and designed custom fabrics for the design industry. Her work is just beautiful. She’s teaching classes, and lining up experienced teachers to lead other workshops. This place is just getting off the ground; I’m excited to see how it grows!

Laura with some pillows she’s created for the design industry

Screen printed napkins for sale in Meridian’s shop

Nancy G. Cook, a member of Fiber Art Options, will be teaching an embroidery class at Meridian soon. I’m also exploring the possibility, and will post again if we get something scheduled. 

NOTE: Meridian Fibers has changed into a “high-end home fabrics business” as of 2021. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wholecloth painting with the Charlotte Quilters’ Guild

I taught a class in wholecloth painting today for the Charlotte Quilters’ Guild. Many of the students worked from their own photos; others worked from my photos and patterns. Some had never painted before. This is the first time I’ve taught students working from original photos in class for only one day. I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t have enough time to work on their projects, or that I’d be spread too thin, but they did great. Here are the results at the end of the day.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I have two Aurifil thread collections!

Aurifil thread has been my favorite thread for a long time, so I’m thrilled to announce that I now have two thread collections with them! In conjunction with Quilting Arts magazine, I have chosen my favorite colors for thread sketching. This collection will be exclusive to Quilting Arts/Interweave, so you can purchase them at, or from me.

Aurifil makes a lot of different kinds of thread – cotton, wool, polyester and invisible. My absolute favorite is their 50-weight Cotton Mako. It is long-staple Egyptian Cotton that is strong, smooth and shiny. It leaves very little lint in my machine, even after hours of heavy thread work. It is perfect for thread sketching, quilting, and hand applique, and it comes in hundreds of exquisite solid colors, as well as varigated. 

In my “Thread Sketching Essentials Collection” (retail price: $130, shown above), you get 12 large spools in an Aurifil plastic suitcase. (These little cases are great for transporting the Aurifil threads you need to take to a class or retreat.) Each big spool of 50-weight 100% cotton Aurifil has 1422 yards of thread; it goes a long way!

I chose the 12 colors I love best, and use most often in my work. I always use this thread for thread sketching, but I also use it when I machine quilt, machine piece, and hand applique.
You can pre-order this collection now through the Quilting Daily Shop.

Thread Sketching Essentials Collection
12 large spools (all 50-weight Cotton Mako):
2692 - Black
2625 - Arctic ice
2024 - White
6010 - Toast
4012 - Copper brown
2430 - Antique rose
2270 - Paprika
2240 - Rusty orange
2135 - Yellow
1114 - Grass green
1320 - Medium Teal
2582 - Dark violet

For my Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics Collection” (retail price: $46), I chose 10 more colors I use often. Each small spool of 50-weight 100% cotton Aurifil has 220 yards of thread, and usually retails for about $4.50. You can pre-order this collection now through the Quilting Daily Shop.

Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics Collection
10 small spools (all 50-weight Cotton Mako):
2600 - Dove
2315 - Pale flesh
2260 - Wine
2120 - Canary
2145 - Yellow orange
1231 - Spring green
5023 - Medium green
2805 - Lt Turquoise
2570 - Aubergine
4020 - Fuchsia

I am ordering my thread collections next week, and hope to have them here in the next few weeks. They will be available on my website; I’ll post the link here once I have it all set up. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

“Pink Dogwood,” in progress

I have been working on a new piece of a pink dogwood blossom based on one of my “Beauty on my Morning Walk” photos that I try to take every day and post on Facebook. Here’s how the piece looks tonight, after I darkened the background at the bottom, and added suggestions of more branches and blooms in the sky. 

Earlier today, it looked like this:

I actually stitched a tiny bit on this piece (in the pink on the blossom) in a segment I just shot for “Quilting Arts TV” last week. But I wasn’t happy with it, and thought I needed to darken up the background, and add a few darker values to the structure at the center of the bloom. I showed it to my friend and fellow fiber artist Lyric Kinard, and she confirmed my suspicions.

I also was concerned that I had simplified the background too much. I often try to clean up the background somewhat, and leave out things that seem distracting (in this case, the house, stepping stones, and driveway). But I think I did too much cleaning. It looked unnatural, so I went back in and added suggestions of the branches and the blossoms in the background.

I am liking the way that the darker background makes the flower pop forward more. The blooms in the background are perhaps too purple (part of the problem is that I painted them on top of the blue sky, so they went more purple than pink).

And here is the photo on which the piece is based:

I am going to let it gestate, and think about whether it looks right now, or not. It is hard at this stage to determine how much the thread sketching will change the piece for the better. I do a lot of threadwork, and sometimes it substantially changes the look or mood of the piece. 

“Up and Away!” at the Texas Quilt Museum

My piece Up and Away! is part of a new exhibition – An Invitational Flutter of Butterfly Art Quilts – at the Texas Quilt Museum. It opens today, and runs through June 29. This exhibition features 17 quilts selected by the museum curator, Dr. Sandra Sider. A juried exhibition – Butterflies and Their Beautiful Kin – which will show at the same time, contains 38 works. 

The Texas Quilt Museum, which opened in November 2011, is a little gem of a museum housed in two historic 1890s buildings in La Grange, in central Texas. Its goal is to “recognize and celebrate the art and beauty of quilts, the creativity of their makers, and the continuing contributions of quilt making to history and culture.” Karey Bresenhan and Nancy Puentes, founded International Quilt Association with their mothers, are co-founders of this museum. I am so honored to have a quilt there!

My piece features a three-dimensional butterfly soaring in a meadow. The butterfly is made of fabric and thread; the background was wholecloth painted.

“Butterflies symbolize rebirth and metamorphosis. This exhibit shows how modern artists are reworking quiltmaking, contributing new techniques, processes, and concepts to the historical continuum of quilts,” says Sider.