15 Nov

Houston 3

There were quite a few figurative quilts in the show. Now, I’ve got issues with the portrayal of the human form in quilt art. It’s a tough one — maybe because there is limited use of people in the vernacular of quilts. Sunbonnet Sue, Baltimore album silhouettes, and cookie cutter style people in story quilts: that’s about it. So, I took photos of some of the quilts which I thought handled the human form well. One of my new favorites, but who’s work was in a no-photo section, is Annie Helmericks-Louder. Another one I like is Susan Shie who has her own very personal visual language, which I appreciate.

Back to the show.

A popular way to translate portraiture into fabric is to break the shading down into defined shapes. Jenny Bowker (who’s White Sands looked amazing at the show) does this exceptionally well. Nadine Sanders and the Hanging By a Thread Quilt Group used this technique too:

Hanging By a Thread
“Hanging by a Thread” by Nadine Sanders and the Hanging By a Thread Quilt Group.

I thought this lady had particularly nice hair.

And I liked how this lady’s green blazer was reflected in the green dots on her face.

Together With You
“together With You” by Noriko Nozawa


This work reminds me of European travel posters of the early twentieth century. Maybe I just have a thing for Japanese quilters.

“Grace” by Shin Hee Chin. Apparently she is known for making portraits out of yo-yos.

I love the work of Pamela Allen:


“Eve Under Scrutiny II” by Pamela Allen.

Look at the babies in her belly!


This was in the O Canada exhibit, but Pam had several other quilts in other exhibits as well.

Similarly, I love the work of Bodil Gardner:
Tell Me a Story
“Tell Me a Story” by Bodil Gardner.

I liked how Leslie Gabriëlse used fabric, paint AND stitch to make his dancers. I’ve always liked his collage style.


Portugal (Minho region) Fokloric Dancers
“Portugal (Minho Region) Fokloric Dancers” by Leslie Gabriëlse

Color Comes to Back of Beyond
“Color Comes to Back of Beyond” by Janice Munzberg and friends is one I couldn’t quite figure out. On one hand I don’t think the people are drawn very well, but on the other hand, the whole thing is so wonky that it looks like it could be intentional. I liked the gimmick of the figures “entering” the quilt and the story is charming, so I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt.

The Woman
“The Woman” by Irina Kasrashvili-Lavineko is another one that probably would have looked just as good on paper, but the fabrics add great pattern to the piece. The face is a lovely illustration:


You can’t broach the subject of the figure in quilts without mentioning Hollis Chatelaine.

“Innocence” by Hollis Chatelaine


My favorite is an older piece titled “Burkinabe Mother” in which she made her stitched portrait on fabric from the subject’s country. To me, that’s the answer to “why not draw or paint on paper?”

15 Nov

Lines 5

More work with the ruling pen. I think I’m over it. I equate the ruling pen with very straight lines, so that’s what I did. I also tried for thick ones and thin ones. The difference is not dramatic. So, good to see you again old pen, but tomorrow I think I’m going to try something completely different.

14 Nov

Lines and Inspiration

I like today’s lines.

Ruling pen with acrylic paint and fine line permanent market. I left my paint a little thicker and thus had less blobbing. I have to say that I really like the hand (or lack thereof) of dyed fabric, but I am not comfortable with the dye or thickened dye process. Too many steps and ingredients, too much potential toxicity. If I was devoted to the dye process, of course, I’d have all the necessary supplies and protection on hand, but I’m not so I don’t. I am much more comfortable with paint, so I’ll have to live with stiffer fabric. Luckily, these line exercises don’t add much paint to the fabric.

But I digress. Seeing as today is Sunday, I have an inspirational photo and accompanying sketch too.

This is part of the landscape I see when driving around near my house: red dirt and furrowed fields of bright green. Deep green mountains and bright blue sky often with big billowy white clouds. It is impossible to capture in one photo.

It has inspired a strip quilt though. This sketch is pretty minimal, but it is enough to jog my memory when it comes time to actually put something together. I have made this quilt and it is drying on my bed right now. I will share it soon and we’ll see how true it is, or isn’t, to my inspiration and sketch.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get back to posting Houston photos.

13 Nov

Lines 3

I’m following in Melanie Testa’s footsteps and since she’s using a puling pen, and I have one from art school, I figured I needed to try it too.

Ack! Bad art school flashback!! Painting single letters with black and white gouache. Ruling pen dropping a blob just as you’ve achieved linear perfection on your ascender. Garamond, Times and Futura. OK, Ok, I’m breathing again. It will be OK.

My first attempt was with an ink I had bought in Germany. When thinned to work in the pen, it bled too much. That’s OK, experimentation is part of the exercise. I switched to slightly thinned acrylic paint. Much better! But, oh, the blobs. Ruling pens are not like bikes. You can’t just hop back on one after 20 years. That’s OK — I’ve got 27 more days to work this out.

Note, I masked off a bit in an homage to Melly’s lovely use of negative spaces. I always love seeing this in other people’s work and never remember to do it myself. This is me trying to remember to try it.

12 Nov

30 Lines

We interrupt the Houston reportage for a little art exercise. Yesterday, Melanie Testa invited anyone who wants to play along to join her in making a line study each day for 30 days. I keep telling myself I need to draw more, and even though I’ve been spending a little bit more time than before doodling or drawing self portraits, this 30 day challenge sounded like a perfect addition and kick in the pants.

So, I dropped everything and ironed nearly 30 little squares of fabric to freezer paper (for stability).

Unfortunately my freezer paper is very, very old and has finally lost it’s adhesive abilities, but that’s easily fixed on my next trip to the store. Regardless, I took out my fine permanent marking pen and set to making organic lines — kind of like wood grain or a seismograph but not really.

This morning I decided to try the pen with the brush-like tip. It doesn’t do the thick-thin as elegantly as I had hoped it would, but that’s kind of the point of this — what kind of line can you make with what kind of tools.

Melly is using a ruling pen and acrylic paint, so maybe I’ll dig mine out tomorrow and see what I can get mine to do…

11 Nov

Houston part 2b

This is a quick one for the Hawai’i Quilt Guild. There were a whole group of lovely quilts by Kathy Nakajima’s students, but I didn’t photograph them because we can see their work pretty easily. But, since last year’s challenge was miniature quilts, I knew I had to share these amazing ones:

A Touch of Autumn

“A Touch of Autumn” by Terri Doyle. Machine quilted wholecloth miniature quilt.

Mini Log Cabin

“Mini Log Cabin” by Thelma Robbins. This one had even teensier pieces than yesterday’s “Last Chance, Last Dance.” One inch blocks maybe?


“Emiline” by Pat Kuhns. Yes, all those pinky-nail sized diamonds are pieced — no stenciled work here.

Eternal Stars

“Eternal Stars” by Alice Tignor. I liked the shashiko look of the border on this one. I could easily see some of our guild members making a full sized quilt inspired by this bitty one.


“Constants” by Leslie Hall. This was in what I think was a Miniature Art Quilts category, which I don’t really get since art quilts are often small to begin with, and mini quilts are all about scaling patterns down. But then again, there is a miniature art genre in the painting and sculptural world so why not here?!

Joyful Garden

“Joyful Garden” by Stephanie Nordlin was another mini art quilt. It caught my attention with it’s graphic-ness and happy vibe.

And, although it’s not a miniature, I had to share this one:

Ahuimanu Stream

“Ahuimanu Stream” by our very own Elizabeth Schowalter. Way to go Liz!!

10 Nov

Houston part 2

I did not take any pictures of the big prize winners at Houston. They look like you will expect them to look, and my photos wouldn’t do justice to the intricate and dense machine quilting on them. Better to see the official winner’s pages here at Quilts.com.

What I did take pictures of were quilts that caught my eye, or had a detail I liked, or seemed like something someone I knew would like to see.

Overall, I  liked the honesty of the regular old bed quilts, so I’ll start with those. (Click to see the pics a little bigger)

(I apologize for the wonkiness of many of the photos. They don’t do the quilts justice.)

Earth Trees, Earth Flowers


“Earth Trees, Earth Flowers” by Yuko Kosaka. I liked her colors and whimsical use of fabrics — especially the way the scrolly shapes in the border interact with the text of the same color.

Sparkling Winds


“Sparkling Winds” by Matsea Utsunomiya. Again, interesting colors, and I liked the way the texty fabric affects the leaf shapes. There’s a nice little embroidered detail around the circle shapes too which I liked.

Circular Momentum

“Circular Momentum” by Becky Goldsmith. This one won Judge’s Choice. I think it’s a fun study in dots and it made me happy just to look at it.

Last Chance, Last Dance


“Last Chance, Last Dance’ by Moira Cannata won third place in the Traditional Pieced category. I like scrappy and I like log cabins, and even though this has a bajillion teensy pieces, it looked more joyous than tedious so I really appreciated it’s celebration of a large stash of fabric. It kind of reminds me of Tonya’s Jumbo Margarita quilt.

American Eagle

The simplicity of “American Eagle” by Vicky Quint really sung to me.

Lady Libery Has The Blues, For Mark

“Lady Libery Has The Blues, For Mark” by Diane M. Sehorne. I love a blue quilt. I am un-apologetic in that.

Tie Quilt #2

“Tie Quilt #2” by Lynn Isenberg won Honorable Mention in the Traditional Pieced category. I was attracted by the unusual shape of the Pickle Dish design, and when we realized it was made with ties I was even more impressed — it didn’t have that usual “tie quilt” look.

Sunflower in Love


“Sunflower in Love” by Masako Katase is the wackiest, most unusual New York Beauty I have ever seen. The weird shapes and the plaid fabric really worked for me.

The White Garden


“The White Garden” by Akiko Kawata. Ah, those Japanese ladies and their interesting fabric. I thought the ricrac was used effectively here too. The quilt is bold yet whimsical, and a bit Merimekko too, I think.


I think this was a vintage quilt. It’s certainly a patriotic theme I haven’t seen before. It reminded me of Service Flags.

Crazy in the Garden


Crazy quilts are often too fussy and romantic for my tastes, but you can’t deny that more is always more with crazies, and “Crazy in the Garden” by Allison Aller is not only MORE, but it’s done so well too. I was captivated by the center roses. It won second place in the Embellished category.

The next post will be the art quilts.

08 Nov

Team Taylor Kickin’ Diabetes

Thank you so very much Natalya, Connie, Debra, Nancy, Chris, Ursula, Deborah, Sheila, Gerrie, Doreen, Leeann, Theresa, Robin, Nancy, Karen, Wanda, Mom, Stephanie, Delores, Colleen, and Diane for your generous support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Team Taylor Kickin’ Diabetes walked last Saturday, and even though I couldn’t join them since I was in Houston, they had the largest group at the Honolulu walk. Collectively I think I heard that the team raised over $10,000 for Type 1 diabetes research. That’s awesome! I have a few more postcards to make and pop in the mail, but I promise that will happen in the next few days. Many of you have already told me you’ve received your cards! Thanks again to everyone who donated to my walker page — your support is greatly appreciated.