Saturday, November 27, 2021

Witch Hazel

“Witch Hazel”
Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2021. About 26x21”.
Wholecloth painted, free-motion machine quilted.

I’ve been working on a new piece, “Witch Hazel,” based on a photo I took at the N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. It is done now, except for the facing. This piece will be part of my exhibition “Native Plants in Fabric and Thread” at the Garden in March-April 2022. 

When the witch hazel was at its peak in mid-November, I took lots of photos of it, and chose my favorite shot. I decided to change the background to give the crazy bad-hair-day blooms more contrast. 

Here’s a photo of the start of the painting. I purposely left some white showing on the yellow strands of the flowers, for more of a water color look. 

And here’s a detail shot of the finished piece:

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) is a species of flowering shrub native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, and south to central Florida to eastern Texas. 

The information below is from Larry Stritch of the U.S. Forest Service:

American witchhazel posses some interesting lore and uses. The most interesting use as been the use of forked limbs as dowsing or divining rods. Early European settles observed Native Americans using American witchhazel to find underground sources of water. This activity is probably where the common name witchhazel came from. “Wicke” is the Middle English for “lively’ and “wych” is from the Anglo-Saxon word for “bend.” American witchhazel was probably called a Wicke Hazel by early white settlers because the dowsing end of the forked branch would bend when underground water was detected by the dowser. This practice had a widespread use by American settlers and then exported back to Europe. Dowsing became an established feature of well-digging into the 20th century.

From Wikipedia:

Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, which was used to treat swellings, inflammations, and tumors.[6] Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, and its use became widely established in the United States.[7]

An extract of the plant is used in the astringent witch hazel.

H. virginiana produces a specific kind of tannins called hamamelitannins. One of those substances displays a specific cytotoxic activity against colon cancer cells.[8]

The bark and leaves were used by Native Americans in the treatment of external inflammations. Pond's Extract was a popular distillation of the bark in dilute alcohol.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Updated website

I’m updating my website, and transitioning to a new name – I’ll still keep the URL, but if you try to reach it in the future, it will automatically take you to 

This is the third software I’ve used to design my website. I started with Adobe GoLive, and then Adobe eliminated it, so I switched to Adobe Muse. Guess what? Adobe decided to stop supporting and updating it, too, a few years ago. It continued to work pretty well since then. But last week, when I went to update my website, the slideshow function refused to work, so now I'm jumping over to Adobe Portfolio. 

I like to create and update my own website, not so much because I’m a cheapskate and don’t want to pay someone, but because I’m a bit of a control freak. And I often update my website in the middle of the night in my pajamas. 

New on the website are galleries of work on the “Fiber Art” page that will be grouped by the year pieces were created. I will have a separate page that lists work for sale. 

I’ve also added a page with information and photos about Quilting Arts TV. 

I’m still trying to figure out ways to make certain things work (like links to PDFs of projects and tutorials), but at least I have a semi-functional website up. 

Take a look, and let me know what you think. Constructive criticism only, please!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Studio Tour!

The first weekend of my studio tour is over, and it went great! I met lots of new people, and sold nine pieces, plus some other stuff (prints, magnets, gift cards, books). I'm looking forward to this coming weekend (Nov. 13-14). This is the Orange County (NC) Artist Guild’s annual event, in its 27th year. You have the chance to see the spaces where artists work, and to purchase their work.  

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. 

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.  

A painting of Dr. Fauci (by wonderful local artist Katie Porterfield) greeted people at my door with a not-so-subtle reminder to put on your mask before coming inside. Orange County has the highest vaccination rate in the state of North Carolina, and correspondingly low rates of COVID, and we’d like to keep it that way. 

Inside, I have displayed most of my smaller pieces, and some of my larger ones. I also have binders of my entire portfolio, and merchandise like magnets, prints, notecards, and books to purchase. I even have some of my hand-knitted dishcloths that I made during COVID lockdown!

And what’s an event without a little drama? We’ve been renovating the guest bathroom just off my studio, and it was completely done a week before the event, EXCEPT for the toilet seat! (It’s a German wall-hung toilet, and we couldn’t just run out to the store and buy a seat that would fit it.) Luckily, our contractor came through in the nick of time and we had complete facilities available for visitors. Whew!

If you live in the area, I hope you’ll come this weekend, Nov. 13-14. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m. If you don’t live nearby, why not plan a visit to the area so you can attend next year’s tour? It’s always the first two weekends in November.