26 Apr

Inspirational Weekend

Call it what you will: artist date, professional development, girl’s weekend, retreat, etc., getting out of the studio alone, or with friends, is almost always inspirational and invigorating.

Gee's Bend Quilts

(Deborah and another guest discuss quilt construction)

I had the pleasure last weekend to have just such an experience. On Friday, long time blog (and now real-life) friend Tonya invited Deborah and I to join her for a special presentation by Gee’s Bend quilters Mary Lee Bendolf and Loretta Pettway of their story and many of their quilts.

Gee's Bend Quilts

(Deborah chats with Mary Lee Bendolf about her work)

The event was small, and held at a law office hoping to help them find suitable venues for the quilts to be part of a permanent collection. It was unlike the usual shows, but absolutely wonderful to chat with the quilters, and to see the quilts up close — and even touch them!

Gee's Bend Quilts

(Deborah and Tonya admire — and touch — a quilt)

After the presentation we sat down near a food truck for lunch and great conversation about art and utility and definitions of quilts. Then we retired to Tonya’s house for show and tell and lots of laughter. I even accomplished a bit of sewing and enjoyed raiding Tonya’s extensive fabric stash.

Saturday, I took Tonya as my guest and met Deborah at the regional SAQA meeting. There was a particularly convivial atmosphere as we enjoyed seeing mini trunk shows from three members, and had a short but very informative presentation about critique techniques. Afterward, we continued the conversation at lunch together, and though I went home with Deborah, I had forgotten my overnight bag at Tonya’s so the three of us met up once again for dinner and margaritas and lively talk about goals and projects.

Finally, on Sunday, I worked a bit in Deborah’s studio and then met a third friend for an authentic indian lunch at her house. It’s been such a pleasure for me to have friends who I originally met in quite far-flung places now living in the same general area and not so far from me. On the way home I stopped at a yarn store recommended by my knit night compatriots and purchased needles for my next knitting project. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and fell asleep before 9pm, but I was full in head and heart,and energized in spirit.

24 Apr

SDA Show in Lynchburg, VA

I’ve finally joined Surface Design Association, whose mission is to promote awareness & appreciation of the textile arts. I’ve long beleived I should join, but never actually got around to it. The tipping point was wanting to support my fellow Fiber Transformed member, and local SDA representative, Jill as she is organizing a regional show. The bonus is that I now have two pieces, Aquifer and Absence II, accepted into the show,  fiber + fabric: art • craft • design at Craddock Terry Gallery in Lynchburg, VA. Yay!

The exhibition will be a selection of SDA artists from Virginia and West Virginia. If yo are in the area, please come see the show — especially on opening night.


Exhibition Dates: May 3 – June 16, 2013

Show Opening: May 3, 2013, 5:30 to 8:00pm.  Curator talk at 6:00pm. I’ll be there, as well as several other artists.

Craddock Terry Gallery at Riverviews Artspace
901 Jefferson Street, #113, Lynchburg VA, 24504
Wed-Sun: noon-5pm

12 Apr

Catching Up

Sorta. The last self portrait I did was number 365:104, but I skipped days 100 to 103, and then I’ve done nothing since and it’s been about two weeks.

My excuse is that I’ve been working on quilts, but really, I just spend too much time farting around and not focusing.

About the same time I decided to do the portraits, I also decided to see what I did with my time. That has turned out to be something I’ve kept up with.

I’m not marking how much time I spend doing each thing, but I do write what I do each day — including most of the mundane little things. I’ve found that taking a little time each morning to set out my goals does help the focus a bit, and keeps my to-do list realistic. I’m also really liking having one place to keep that list, rather than having separate papers all over the house.

Zeitgeist is at a bit of a standstill right now, but not for long! As I made it, I was pretty sure it would be most appropriate to have a long arm quilter quilt it. The person who came to mind was booked solid though, so I kinda resolved to quilt it myself on my home domestic machine. Friends came to the rescue with recommendations and I asked at the local quilt shop while browsing potential quilting threads, and, lucky me, a lady nearby will be able to fit me and my kitty into her schedule (I think the photo I sent convinced her that she couldn’t pass on this one — it’s probably the most fun quilt she’ll do ever!). I am relieved that I won’t have to cram that grumpy cat into my sewing machine, and I’m excited that I will probably be able to enter it into IQF Houston’s World of Beauty show. I know I’ve said that my work doesn’t fit into traditional “pole and drape” shows, but Zeitgeist isn’t my normal work, and I like the idea of it being seen by a large crowd. If it doesn’t get in, I’ll still have plenty of time to try the art quilt route with Art Quilt Elements too.

I’ve applied for several show dates at the MacGuffey art center for my Army Wife series. Now I just have to be patient and wait for the committee to sort out who will be showing and in what gallery in the next 12 months.

Which brings me to my other work in progress. With marriage equality in the news lately, one can’t escape the pink and red logo, which to me, looks like a quilt block! I whipped up a few blocks, liked them, and decided to make a marriage equality wedding quilt. As I work on this, I’ve been thinking of options for it.

Option 1: Take the finished quilt to my husband’s side of the family reunion this summer and have all the relatives sign it, then give it to his cousin and her wife as an anniversary present. Easy-peasy and a very nice gesture for two wonderful ladies, but kinda small thinking.

Option 2: Find photographers (because I’m no portraitist on canvas or film) who will photograph committed same sex couples across the country, with the quilt. Create a questionnaire to for them to fill in and present the photographic portraits, along with the stories (names, type of union, how long, is the union legally recognized, and what does marriage mean to you) on a dedicated blog. I like the larger statement of this, and I think working with a variety of photographers would be more practical and professional than trying to travel and take the photos myself. I’m just not sure I know enough of the right people, or have the resources to do this. I suspect some grant writing could and should be involved too. Thinking too big now?

Option 3: is really an extension of Option 2. A friend asked if she could make blocks too and what were the specs. I hadn’t considered making it a group project, but it does lend itself to such a thing. My fear is that I would end up not just with enough blocks to make the one queen sized quilt I envision, but enough for ten quilts! I’m not ready to finish ten quilts — and then what? But… I could finish my quilt and publish instructions so that other individuals and groups could make their own. They could send photos of the quilts with their recipients and stories to the dedicated blog. I’m not sure of the likelihood of pairing other quilt makers with professional photographers, but if I took it down a notch and the photos were snapshots from those involved, it could still be interesting, and potentially cover a lot more ground than I could alone.

Hmmmm, lots to ponder as I sew.

04 Apr


Take this:

Plus this:

And you get this:

Internet memes are the soapbox for social commentary of the digital age. The Grumpy Cat meme has skyrocketed to internet stardom not least, I think, because she reflects current American cynicism over our economy, stagnating politics, and widening religious divides. Adding to the general gloom, there is an underlying craziness driving people to ever more polarizing views. “Zeitgeist” both mirrors and mocks this schizophrenic trend. In addition to appropriating the image of Grumpy Cat, the echoing lines of the quilt reference the work of Louis Wain, an early twentieth century illustrator known not only for his drawings of cats, but also for the increasing abstraction of them as he presumably battled mental illness — which makes a fitting backdrop to the pessimistic subject matter couched in the irony of a comforting quilt form.


So, this is what I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. I think the piecing is pretty much done, and now it’s ready for quilting and binding.