Sunday, October 24, 2010

What didn't get in

In my previous post I promised images of my Quilt National entries. Since none was selected, I can share all three with everybody. A brief description of the process: dye and paint fabric, cut fabric apart, sew it back together, cut fabric apart, sew it back together, quilt it, monoprint it, throw paint at it, stencil it. In a nutshell.

Forest Concerto
60" W x 62" L

Forest Concerto detail

Amber Waves
54" L x 55" W

Amber Waves detail

60" L x 70" W

Choices detail

I'm working on getting these and a bunch more onto my web page, which is sorely in need of updating. I bought a new computer last spring with Windows 7 on it and now I can't get the ISS thingy to work anymore with my web page database. I can't explain it any better than that because if I could, I could probably fix it.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

It's been a while

I have been on the road for most of the past two weeks. The last weekend in September I went to my art quilt group retreat in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We arrived on Thursday and unloaded our gear into a wonderful space where we each had 2 work tables and plenty of space to spread out. We all had plenty of projects and spent many, many hours working diligently. Of course, we also had lots of time to chat and share stories and, of course, to eat the goodies that everybody insists on bringing. I'm sure we would be better off without all the chocolate, cookies, and cashews that were consumed. To be sure, there were some healthy food choices on the table but I think a lot of them went home with whoever brought them. At least I didn't eat any.

We went our separate ways on Sunday, home to do laundry, unpack, and get back into the normal routine. Except that I had to pack up again on Tuesday to travel to Chicago and then on to Missouri. This was a family visit and it was really terrific to be at the wedding of my great niece (omg how did I get to be this old?). The ceremony was held on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River with the light of the setting sun. It could not have been more beautiful.

Home again on Monday, unpack, then repack for a trip to Syracuse, New York. A year ago I posted an entry about my sister and her role as the Chairman of the Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital Capital Campaign. When they asked her what she wanted to commemorate this accomplishment, she said she wanted me to do a quilt in her honor. I was thrilled and excited and of course said that I would be pleased to do it. I visited the hospital last spring and we toured the area looking for possible places to hang the quilt. We decided that the Resource Library was the spot and chose a space above the fireplace. I returned home and began work on the quilt and it was mostly finished by August. That's when I received an email from the hospital saying that the fire marshal had an objection to our chosen location. Apparently all things must be hung at least 18" below the ceiling so that the sprinkler system spray is not blocked, and the size of this quilt did not allow that. Luckily, there were other walls that would be suitable, also in the Resource Library. But...the quilt had to be made fire retardant. No problem, I found a fire retardant spray made especially for fabrics and it is sold by Dharma Trading Company.

I wanted to test this stuff before spraying the quilt and I had a piece of quilt scrap that I could use. First I tested the untreated scrap. Whoosh, it caught fire immediately and burned quite merrily. Then I tested the treated scrap. The flame scorched and charred the quilt, but it did not catch fire. I was quite impressed. And it didn't change the hand of the quilt. So I sprayed the entire quilt, front and back. It will not burst into flames, not even when everything else in the library is burning.

And then they decided it should be framed. I don't know who they chose to do the framing, but they did a superior job. They placed the quilt against a dark blue mat and recessed it slightly. The frame is green, and these colors pick up the colors in the quilt.

This is the quilt. It measures 35" L x 55" W.

A detail shot to show the various fabrics and quilting lines. The quilting echoes the rays.

Here we are at the presentation ceremony. The Board members of the hospital were present and there were some little speaches talking about how much they enjoyed working with my sister and what a wonderful job she did in raising the money for the hospital.

This is a picture of the hospital. It's actually built onto an existing hospital, but it extends out like a treehouse. The shapes of the windows of the hospital are echoed in the background of the quilt. It is a marvel of planning and thoughtfulness that really caters to the needs of both children and their parents during a hospital stay.

All in all it was a wonderful two, marred by only two events. First, I received my rejection email from Quilt National, boo. Second, on the drive up to Syracuse (5 hours) I left my purse in a sandwich shop in Pennsylvania and did not realize it until we had driven for 3 hours. Talk about frantic! We called the shop and they had found it and were trying to get in touch with us. Phew! They stored it in the safe and we picked it up on our drive home on Friday, everything was just as I left it. So that turned out okay. So I guess there was only one bad event. Since I didn't get into QN, I can post the pictures of the rejects. That will be my next post.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Starting today

is the SAQA Benefit Auction. This is a reverse auction, with prices starting at $750 at 2:00 PM today. The prices drop every day to $550, then $350, then $250, $150, and $75. My piece will be in the auction that starts October 3. If I did it correctly, there is a slide show of the pieces above this post. I have my eye on a few pieces, so I hope nobody else bids on them until they come to my price range!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My entries to Quilt National were completed, photographed, and documented. Filled out the entry form, burned the CD, and sent it off on September 3, a full 7 days before the deadline. Of course, they still need sleeves, labels, storage bags, but the pressure is off. At least until early October, when the notifications go out. It used to be you could tell the results of the jurying by the thickness of the envelope - a thin envelope only contained a rejection letter and your returned slides. A thick envelope contained a whole raft of paperwork that meant your work was accepted. Now most notifications come via e-mail. A "thick" email has an attachment, and a thin email only a few consoling words. The major difference is that the snail mail is only delivered once a day but I can check email every 5 minutes, or more, and drive myself up the wall with anticipation and dread. Better to get distracted with something else.

The good news is that the District of Columbia Commission on Arts and Humanities has purchased this quilt, titled "Hidden Agendas". The DCCAH purchases art every year for the Art Bank which places artwork into government offices. This year the call asked for work with a them that related to D.C. urban life. I submitted several works and they chose three for further review, and then chose this one for purchase. I think that "Hidden Agendas" is a very apt description for the workings of our federal government.

Hidden Agendas ©2008

Several posts ago I showed some sunflowers that I've been growing in my yard. They're ready to be harvested now so I'm cutting them down to let the heads dry, and then will let the birds and squirrels feast. But I'm not the only one around here growing sunflowers. This is a field of 300 acres of sunflowers growing on a farm about 20 miles from me. This variety is smaller than what I grew, but what they might lack in quality, they certainly make up in quantity! What an impact that sea of yellow makes.

And lastly, today is Primary Election day in Maryland. We have been bombarded with electioneering signs (which are only one step above trash imho) and robo calls (three steps below telephone solicitations). In case you are lucky enough to not be subjected to robo calls, these are automated telephone calls from candidates telling you how wonderful they are. Yesterday I received 10 calls, even one from "Governor" Sarah Palin. I think being endorsed by Ms. Palin, the EX-governor, is a point in the opposition candidate's favor. Anyhow, their dollars are wasted on me because I hang up as soon as I can tell what the phone call is about. If I'm near the phone that displays the caller ID, I don't even pick up. I wish I could say that I would cross off my list every candidate that called me, but then I wouldn't even need to go vote. I'm sure this will calm down a bit, but come November, the calls will ramp up again. Don't you just love that politicians exempt themselves from every law they pass?

Sunday, August 08, 2010


I love growing sunflowers. Last year I had 2 and I promised myself I would grow more this year. Trying to get a head start, I planted a dozen seeds in little pots and put them in a sunny window. They sprouted almost immediately, but then didn't do much else for several weeks, except get stringy. I planted them outside and visited them every day. Much to my chagrin, the seedlings were eaten and nothing was left but a little stalk. So I planted a dozen more seeds directly in the ground. They also sprouted immediately, and also were eaten by the birds and/or squirrels. Argh! Next I bought a bunch of plastic cups to use as collars and planted a dozen more seeds. Success! The cups could stay protecting the cups until the true leaves came in, which must not be as tasty as the first set.

Sunflowers are amazing. In just a short time span they grow to 10 feet tall and then produce a magnificent bloom.

Here is the long view and you can see how tall they are. The blooms are in various stages - some have not yet opened, some are in the process, and one (nearly hidden) is bent over with the weight of the developing seeds.

It is fascinating to watch the process. The little blossoms open first on the outside rim, then work their way towards the center. The bees and the butterflies love them!

You can see here the outside blossoms have been fertilized and are growing seeds. The next band is the pistils that have just been fertilized. The next band is waiting for the bees to do their job, and the very center has not yet begun the process.

As the blossoms get fertilized and the seeds begin to develop, the head of the flower goes from flat to bowl shaped, and gets heavier and heavier.

This head has been entirely fertilized and is so heavy that the stalk has bent over and the flower is facing the ground. It will take several weeks for the seeds to develop. Once that is done, I can leave the head on the plant and let the birds eat the seeds from there. Or I can cut the head and hang it to dry, and then harvest the seeds. Last year I cut the heads off but I think that this year I will leave them out and watch the birds go after them.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

New work

I haven't posted new work in quite a while, it seems. Not that I haven't been doing anything, I'm just lazy about posting it. So here is something new. This is an experiment. The background is many small squares and rectangles, all raw edge stitched, then quilted in a loose grid. I did the background without any thought as to what the focus might be. But looking at the background, it seemed to be not background-ish enough, that is to say the yellow pieces clamored for attention and were distracting. A little paint applied in a random fashion took care of that. I thought about a foreground image for a while and came up with a graffiti-like scribble. However, doing this freehand with paint would not result in clean edges, so I made a stencil from freezer paper and ironed it down. The graffiti image is painted with opaque white paint then overlaid with some gold so it's not so stark. The piece is about 24" x 36", or a little smaller.

I really like the effect achieved when the painting is done after the quilting - if the paint is applied with a light enough hand, it does not penetrate into the valleys created by the quilting and so the quilting becomes more prominent. Of course, painting the fabric at this point in the process takes a certain amount of bravery but I've done it enough that I'm pretty sure what the effect is going to be.

In this detail shot you can see how the paint emphasizes the quilting and also lets some of the background show through, yet is still a strong focal point.

I'm working on a much larger piece constructed in the same fashion, also painted, and still in need of a focus. Not showing that piece for several reasons, the most important is that I intend to enter it into Quilt National, and they have such stringent rules on prepublishing images of the work that I don't want to take any chances. Entries are due in early September, so I need to get back into the studio!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back into the routine

Home again, back from a wonderful week at the beach with multiple members of the Kleeman family. We spent the week catching up, eating, sunning on the beach, swimming, eating, and just hanging around. The Outer Banks were in the throes of the East Coast heat wave, with heat indexes of 110 degrees. Not usually a problem with an ocean right there, except the water temperatures were in the mid 50s. It was numbingly cold and only the bravest (or most foolhardy) of our group spent any time in the water. But the houses come with swimming pools, where the water was just the right temperature. When it got too hot on the beach, we would run up, jump into the pool, then return to the beach. The most difficult decision we would have to make was what to cook for dinner.

This is my family - husband, son, daughter, significant others, and grandchildren. I hope you can see the t-shirts - click on the picture to get an enlargement. Each one is painted slightly differently and they were a big hit.

We returned home on Saturday to 100+ degrees only to find that our air conditioning wasn't working. A call to the service got us in the queue for repair and the man showed up yesterday afternoon. The compressor is under a 10 year warranty, but of course the problem was the capacitor, not under warranty. The compressor will wait until next summer, when it is out of warranty, and then go up. We are cool again, and happy. And ready to think about Quilt National. Time to get stitching!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Artful Home Studio Sale

The Artful Home Studio Sale has started and will continue through July 29th. This is an opportunity to purchase artwork at a discount anywhere from 20% to 50%. I have a lot of work up there, some fairly recent but some really pretty old. The prices on the older work are not anywhere near where I'm currently pricing my work, and then they are further discounted. I would love to move these pieces out of my house and into someone else's!

OH NO 50!

This is a piece I did when I turned 50, so you know it's pretty old. Or maybe you don't, so take my word for it. This and other work is available here.

Next week is my family's triennial reunion, held for a week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Actually, it's my husband's family. He's the oldest of nine children and nearly all of them are married and have their own children. Some aren't coming this time, so there are only 30 of us. We rent two houses right on the oceanfront and have a wonderful time. We always do a t-shirt to commemorate the event and this year I commissioned one of my granddaughters to draw the logo. I modified it into a line drawing, had t-shirts printed up, and then we hand painted each one individually.

Here is the drawing; I think it's pretty clever. And the painted ones are fabulous. When we do our group photo I will post it and you will get the full effect. Our houses are supposed to have wi-fi and I hope it works so I can post stuff.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

I joined the Sketchbook Project and received my book last week. The way it works is that each artist gets a Moleskin sketchbook and has to fill it with something. The dimensions have to remain the same and the books will become part of a touring exhibit and will be cataloged into the Brooklyn Art Library System. Each artist must select a theme. I chose "Inside/Outside". So far I have no entries into my sketchbook and as usual, when called upon to make something that fits a theme, my mind goes totally blank. Looking at some of the samples of previous entries, it seems that many people only loosely follow their theme. So I probably will just go ahead and do something and let the viewers figure out how it relates.

We are in the midst of a horrible heat wave. We had a 10 day stretch at the end of June where the temperature was in the 90s everyday, and hit 100 at least once. A few days of some cool weather that was wonderful, but now we are back into the 90s and above. Yesterday the official high was 105 degrees. It hasn't rained since June 16 and the grass is brown and crunchy. I've been hauling water and using the soaker hoses in a desperate attempt to keep plants and shrubs alive. And now even the trees are showing stress. No significant rain is in the forecast. We could use about 3 days of gentle rain but what will probably happen is a thunderstorm with a downpour. The ground is so hard that any deluge like that will just run off and not soak in. Wonder which will be more outrageous - our electric bill or our water bill.

Friday, June 18, 2010

SAQA Auction quilt

It's time again for the SAQA Benefit Auction. You can read more about it here but essentially the way it works is that members donate 12"x12" pieces and they are auctioned off in a reverse auction starting in September. My piece is on page 3b, since I just sent it off this week. Take a look at all the pieces already listed. You would be hard put to not find something you like amongst all those works of art.

Ventanas 21

It's another piece in my Ventanas (or Windows) series. The background blue fabric is the result of hand dyeing and painting multitudes of fabrics, cutting them into strips, sewing them together to make a piece of fabric, then cutting that into strips and sewing them together. I've been doing this because I'm working on a commission piece that is going to have this style of background and wanted to figure out just how I wanted this to look. And also how to work with the strips. Everything is raw edge, so each strip is zigzag stitched to its neighbor. It sort of looks pieced from a distance. Overlapping produces less bulk than seaming, I think, which makes it easier to stitch over the joins. And I don't have to worry about getting curved seams to fit. An added benefit, which I haven't yet figured out what to do with, is that when I trim away extra bulk from the back, I get a pile of skinny strips of fabric.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Here are the first ACEO - Artist Cards, Editions and Originals. These are all originals. Hand dyed and painted fabrics with leaf monoprints; machine stitching. Dimensions: 3 1/2" x 2 1/2". The price for each one is $20, which includes shipping. If Paypal isn't working, email me at










Been doing some soy wax batik and I realized that I haven't done it for quite a while. Since we no longer get a newspaper delivery, I had to scrounge newspapers for the ironing out process. I tried using a boiling water bath and it did work, but it took a long time, and was very messy. Good thing I did it outside because there were lots of wax drips.

So the good thing about soy wax is that it is soluble in water. This can also be a drawback, particularly if you want to get the "crackle" that is so much a mark of batik. Getting a good crackle involves immersing the waxed cloth in a dyebath. Soy wax will dissolve in a dyebath. Except now that I think about it, it wasn't all that easy to get the wax off in cool water, so maybe this is something to experiment with.

Anyhow, I was trying to get a crackle effect on this piece, so after doing one layer with a tjap and getting the sort of leafy effect, I covered the piece with wax, cracked it, and painted on diluted paint, working it into the cracks. I ironed this piece to get the wax out and since I knew that a lot of the paint was sitting on top of the wax, I figured that as the wax melted through the fabric, the paint would get deposited. Here is the piece after ironing. It's stiff as a board.

After washing in hot water and detergent, the fabric softened up and some of the heavier crackle disappeared, although not nearly as much as I was afraid it would. It's a little bit more subtle, if you can call red on orange and yellow "subtle".

I really like this second piece. I applied the wax with a paint brush and you can see the brush marks, sort of. I applied the first layer of wax onto white fabric, then painted on dilute light green paint. After that dried, I brushed on another layer of wax, crumpled the fabric to crack the wax, then applied a darker green shade of paint. I think that this was one of the pieces that I boiled the wax to remove it, then washed it. Here is the before picture.

And the after. It looks like the color has lightened up a bit, but that may be the result of less than expert scanning. I really like the painterly effects and the randomness and how the colors blend into each other. And the edges where the color falls off - love that.

Right now in the studio I'm making some small pieces to put in a sales gallery along with a show. My group New Image is having a show at the Lorton Workhouse Gallery in Lorton, Virginia. It's titled Yard Art at the Yard and is an interpretation of the various uses of the word Yard. My pieces in the show are done with leaf prints, so I'm making some small (5"x7") pieces mounted on painted stretched canvas using more leaves. As I'm making these, I'm getting some small pieces from cuttings that I thought I would make into those Art Cards, ACEO - Art Cards, Editions and Originals. They're really small - 2.5" x 3.5", the size of a baseball trading card. When I get them finished, I'll post some pictures.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Show report

The show opening went really well. Since there were several shows opening, we all benefited from spillover as people wandered through all the galleries. I really appreciated the people who came specifically to see my show and I hope they felt it was worth the drive. It was very gratifying to hear the comments on my work, especially from those who were unfamiliar with quilts as art. Of course, I did hear the word "grandmother" once, but I think it was in jest. The space is well lit, bright, and airy and shows quilts well. I have pictures here but have to apologize for the quality. I have an excuse - I just got a new computer and Windows 7 does not like Photoshop Elements 3 and so I've had to use a different program to edit the images. Learning curve and all that.

Sundown on the left and The Green Flash on the right.

Left to right: Sun Dance, Yellow Brick Road, Symphony in Red, Spring Green

On the left are two Ventanas, on the right is Looking Out

Left to right: Looking Out, Fading Glory, Three Leaves, and two more Ventanas

Hidden Agendas on the left, Sundown on the right

Graffiti and two Ventanas on the left

Left to Right: Downtown, Sun Dance, Yellow Brick Road

Backyardhenge on the left, Life Lines on the right

"Ventanas" is Spanish for "windows" and it occurred to me later that it's an interesting juxtaposition to have those pieces around the actual windows. Not that I thought about it when doing the hanging plan, it just happened to be a good place.

The show will be up until May 30. The Museum director is hoping for some good local publicity and I'm hoping for some sales. I think she has a better chance of success than I do, but one should always be optimistic.