Thursday, October 21, 2021

Venus Flytrap

“Venus Flytrap” 
(Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2021) 22x28” 
White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton batting, interfacing, cotton thread, cotton backing fabric. Wholecloth painted, free-motion machine quilted.

I finished this piece in August and forgot to post about it! I have always loved the Venus Flytrap, and had one when I was a kid. We purchased it at a gift shop on the Outer Banks in N.C. during a family vacation, and it came in a plastic domed cup, like a Dairy Queen ice cream sundae. I did not realize that they were native to North Carolina until I was educated by the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. It has a fabulous display of carnivorous plants, including Pitcher Plants, Venus Flytrap and Dewdrops. 

Charles Darwin called it “the most wonderful plant in the world” in 1875.

The Venus flytrap is a fascinating carnivorous plant native to a 75-mile radius of Wilmington, NC. It is endemic in 14 coastal NC counties and one SC county with boggy, swampy coastal plains. It catches its prey, spiders and insects, by snapping shut the spiky parts of its leaves once the tiny hairs inside ("trigger hairs") are set off by the insect’s movement. 

Unfortunately, this plant is highly poached and because of this – plus fire suppression and habitat loss – it has dramatically declined in its native range. It is under review to be added to the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  You should only buy it from reputable buyers who have cultivated, rather than poached it. And if you see it in stores, you should never “tease” the plant by triggering it to close up. 

Here’s some interesting details from Wikipedia about how the plant got its name:


The plant's common name (originally "Venus's flytrap") refers to Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The genus name, Dionaea ("daughter of Dione"), refers to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, while the species name, muscipula, is Latin for both "mousetrap" and "flytrap".[7][8] The Latin word muscipula ("mousetrap") is derived from mus("mouse") and decipula ("trap"), while the homonym word muscipula ("flytrap") is derived from musca ("fly") and decipula ("trap").[9][10][8]

Historically, the plant was also known by the slang term "tipitiwitchet" or "tippity twitchet", possibly an oblique reference to the plant's resemblance to human female genitalia.[7][11] The term is similar to the term tippet-de-witchet which derives from tippet and witchet (archaic term for vagina).[12][13] In contrast, the English botanist John Ellis, who gave the plant its scientific name in 1768, wrote that the plant name tippitywichit was an indigenous word from either Cherokee or Catawba.[8][14] The plant name according to the Handbook of American Indians derives from the Renape word titipiwitshik ("they (leaves) which wind around (or involve)").[15][16]

When I quilted this piece, I outlined everything in black thread for a graphic, cartoon-y look, and then I added echo quilting around the leaves to give it a sense that the plant was moving. I can’t figure out if the plants look scary and ominous, or if they are laughing. Maybe both? 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

But how will I hang it?

“But how will I hang it?”

As I start to sell more of my work, especially to people who have never purchased an art quilt – or any kind of fiber art – I'm hearing this question more and more often. Until recently, I concentrated on teaching and speaking to earn money that contributes to our family income. But now, I'm exploring other ways to make money from my art. That includes joining my county artists’ guild, and participating in my first open studio tour this fall (read more about that here!), and exploring gallery representation, art exhibition opportunities beyond quilt shows, and making other kinds of merchandise featuring my artwork.  

I did an entire video workshop for Quilting Arts on the topic of finishing and hanging quilts; the DVD is available for purchase on my website, and you can also purchase it as a digital download at  

Quilting Arts Workshop DVD

Fabulous Finishes: Seven Techniques for

Binding, Facing, Framing, & Hanging a Quilt

“Susan explains and demonstrates seven techniques that show not only how to bind and hang your quilts with perfect results every time, but also meet the requirements of quilt show judges. Techniques Susan covers include: Basic quilt binding with mitered corners; satin-stitch edging that lies flat and doesn’t buckle; pillowcase-turn method that allows finishing the edges before quilting; facing a quilt for a clean, contemporary look; framing in a shadow box; hanging using slats to keep a quilt straight and flat; and making a quilt sleeve with space for a hanging rod or slat.”  73 minutes. $24.99

Here’s information about some of the methods I’ve used to hang my quilts, and what I like – or don’t — about them:

Fabric sleeve

Traditionally, quilts are hung up on a metal  or wooden rod or slat, and a fabric sleeve sewn to the back of the quilt. You can download and print a PDF of my directions for doing this on my website here by clicking here. This method is preferred for large traditional quilts and art quilts because it provides the best support of these heavy pieces. 

Sawtooth picture hanger
My small pieces, including the one above, “Blue Raven,” often have a sawtooth picture hanger sewn on the back, so they can simply hang – as is – on a single nail. Most of my small pieces (and lots of my medium sized ones, too) have a layer of interfacing (usually Pellon 910) inside, so they are somewhat stiff, and this helps them hang flat, too. Here’s how it looks on the back:

I know this may seem odd to people who have purchased paintings or prints, which are always framed or mounted in some way, but many people who collect fiber art prefer “naked” fiber art because 1.) they can examine the stitching on the back, 2.) it is easier to appreciate the texture from the quilting because the light directly hits the piece, 3. it’s lightweight, and easy to move to another location, if desired. 

As long as it is not hung in a place where it could get splashed (in a bathroom or near a kitchen table), this is an option. 

“But what about dust?!?” you ask. You can simply shake it out and hang it back up. 

One drawback to this option is that “naked” fiber art invites touching, sometimes unwanted touching by people with dirty fingers. Toddlers who have just eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, for example. If that’s a real possibility at your house, consider the options below. 


Framed under glass

To frame a piece under glass, I recommend stitching down to an acid free mat board and then framing it either in a regular frame with spacers, or in a shadow box. This way the fabric does not touch the glass, which is important because fabric can get mildewed if water gets between the glass and the fabric. You can learn how to do this using my directions by clicking here

Here’s a small piece (above) in an inexpensive IKEA shadowbox. It's stitched down to a piece of acid free mat board first. 

My “House Rules” piece at the very top of this post was also done this way. Some shadowboxes have a hard surface covered by fabric at the back, so it’s impossible to stitch a piece down to it. In this case, I just pin the piece to the backing. 


Just pinned

Lightweight pieces can simply be pinned to the wall. This is easiest on drywall, using small brass appliqué pins or very fine nails. 

This piece, “The Moon Sees Me” (a miniature version I made for myself after I sold my 2012 piece,“I See the Moon” to Karey Bresenhan/International Quilt Festival Collection) is light enough to hang beautifully with two tiny nails, which I inserted through the back of the quilt just at the top, and then lightly tapped in with a small hammer. (Don’t nail through the front of the quilt.)


Wooden slats
My favorite way to hang medium sized pieces is to use wooden slats, either just at the top, or at the top and the bottom (see the photo above). The wooden slat at the top has just one hole drilled  through the very center. It slides through two sections of a snug sleeve, one at each side of the piece. A second slat in a sleeve at the bottom weighs the piece down so it hangs very smooth and flat. When you hang it up, you can slide the top slat a bit to the left or right until it is weighted properly and hangs straight. 

Here’s my piece “Up and Away!” hanging in my studio on one nail: 

And lastly, a reminder that I do sell much of the work that I make. Simply go to my website (and look under “FIBER ART.” You can click on a thumbnail image or use the arrow buttons to scroll through the pieces (nearly 200). Under each one is information, including the year it was made, the size, materials and techniques, and a price or notation that it has been sold. I work with buyers to find a hanging solution that works for them. 

Tar Heel Tough

Tar Heel Tough
8.5" x 8.5" Copyright 2021

This is a portrait of Rameses, the mascot of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton threads, interfacing, cotton backing fabric. Based on an original drawing. Wholecloth painted and free-motion quilted. 

For sale: $200

Interested in purchasing one of my art quilts? All pieces for sale are listed on my website at  Just e-mail me to let me know you are interested, or to get additional photos or information, and to arrange payment and shipping. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Lavender Chook

Lavender Chook 
8.25" x 8.25" (2021)
White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton thread,
interfacing, cotton batting, cotton backing.
Wholecloth painted, free-motion quilted. 

I taught two classes a few weeks ago at Bernina World of Sewing in Raleigh. These were the first (and only) classes I've taught since February 2019, because of COVID! It’s only about a half hour drive from me, and we had postponed the class twice as conditions got worse, better and then worse again because of the Delta variant. They have a new spacious classroom, and everyone was masked up. It's a terrific space, and I’m hoping to teach there again, as conditions improve. 

Anyway… one of the classes was Wholecloth Painting, and while digging through my teaching materials to get ready for the class, I found a half-painted rooster piece that just crowed out to be finished. So I got busy the week after that and finished him up. 

I've done several similar pieces based on a photo of a rooster that I took in Rotarua, New Zealand, when I was there teaching a few years ago. In New Zealand, roosters are often called “chooks,” so I'm calling this one “Lavender Chook.”

For sale: $150

Interested in purchasing one of my art quilts? All pieces for sale are listed on my website at  Just e-mail me to let me know you are interested, or to get additional photos or information, and to arrange payment and shipping. 

Visit me on the OCAG Studio Tour

My studio will be open to the public during the Orange County Artists Guild Studio Tour the first two weekends in November. If you live in the area, please stop by. I'd love to meet you and show you my work. This is a sales event (what a great time to purchase Christmas gifts!) but it's also a chance to see artists in their most personal spaces – their studios. 

Painters, sculptors, mixed media artists, ceramicists, weavers, glass makers, and … even a few fiber artists!

It’s a HUGE tour. There are more than 100 artists participating at 82 locations throughout Orange County – in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. 

Here’s how it works:

First, download the brochure here (at the Orange County Artists Guild website, and figure out which studios you want to visit. All the studios are numbered, and there's a handy map. I'm stop 68. 

For a preview of what you can see on the tour, you can visit The Arts Center in Carrboro. It's located at 300 E. Main Street in Carrboro (near concert venue Cat's Cradle). 

The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts will also have a Preview Show Oct. 29 - Nov. 14. It's located at 121 N. Churton Street in Hillsborough. 

Next, grab a friend or two (and a mask, which is required inside all the studios this year), and start your drive. At each location, signs mark a spot. Parking and accessibility varies from location to location, because these are private homes, in most cases. At my house, parking will be on the street, and then there’s a short hike up a steep driveway to the studio entrance that faces the street.  

I'll be selling my work, including small and large pieces, as well as notecards. And when it’s not too busy, I'll be doing demonstrations of how I make my painted and threadsketched work. 

Please come! I’d love to meet you!


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Let it Be Love

8.75" x 8.75" (Copyright 2021)

White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton threads, interfacing, cotton batting, cotton backing. Wholecloth painted, free-motion quilted.

I've always had a fascination for fingerprints. I changed this one a bit to include a heart at the center. For sale: $150

Interested in purchasing one of my art quilts? All pieces for sale are listed on my website at  Just e-mail me to let me know you are interested, or to get additional photos or information, and to arrange payment and shipping. 

Fern Dance


“Fern Dance” 43.5" x  62" (Copyright 2021) White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton threads, cotton batting, cotton backing. Wholecloth painted, stenciled, free-motion quilted.

This is one of the larger art quilts I’ve made recently. It’s part of the botanical series I've been working on for months now. It is stenciled and painted on fabric, then free-motion quilted. I loved playing with transparency in this piece by masking on the painted background, then rubbing away some of the light blue paint to reveal some of the stenciling in the background. 

I will be selling this quilt once I price all of the pieces in my botanical series. Interested in purchasing one of my art quilts? All pieces for sale are listed on my website at

Just e-mail me to let me know you are interested, or to get additional photos or information, and to arrange payment and shipping.