15 Jul

Sacred Threads Art Quilt Show

I went to Northern Virginia yesterday to see the Sacred Threads show. It’s up until the 28th, so there’s still time to go see it! Click the link for all the details.

I will be the first to admit that I underestimated this show and did not budget enough time to see it. An hour was insufficient. Overall, the work was very representational, which I often have problems with, and it could be trite, which I don’t like either, but really, that is totally irrelevant to what this show is about.

After the show, I joined a group of local SAQA members and visiting artists for tapas and conversation. Chatting with Chair Lisa Ellis brought it into focus for me. She said Sacred Threads would never be a Quilt National or Art Quilt Elements type show, looking for artistic excellence and cutting edge work. Nor is it an IQF or Mancuso event with an eye towards the traditional and pristinely executed. Sacred Threads is about the emotion behind the artwork. It is about the maker’s vision and their process. It is less important that the work is well resolved or mature. The show is meant to be “a safe [and] welcoming venue for quilters who saw their works as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their own spiritual journey.” That opens up a whole different set of criteria for appreciating the work. It became much more about the statement and how well the work reflected that.

I didn’t take any photos. I was focused on reading (almost all) of the statements posted next to each quilt. There was extra audio information for each one if you had a smart phone, which really intrigued me, but I quickly realized I was short on time so I couldn’t indulge in the techy extras. I liked the effort though. I made notes on 18 of the nearly 200 quilts.

Things that caught my eye:

The zoomed in simplicity of Stephanye Schuyler’s After The Storm.

The over the top wackiness and visual treasure hunt that is Kristy Moeller Ottinger’s Off to Babylon or How I Spent My Summer Vacation. It reminded me of what I saw at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

I was charmed by Albert Feldman’s A Tribute to Kilmer. His digitized quilting shows the possibilities of what we can do with our tools.

Both Stacy Hurt‘s Moon Sisters, and Gates of Heaven and Hell. Simple, black and white, with lots of scale of line and imagery. In the case of Moon Sisters, I enjoyed finding the hidden script, and in Gates of Heaven and Hell the use of pattern attracted me.

The deft marks and light touch with dimensionality on Annette RogersPeaceful Waters. I was not surprised to learn later that she is indeed a painter in addition to a quilt artist.

The unabashedly quilty Route 211 by Maggie Ward. It’s green and purple too!

Artist in residence Dominique Ehrmann and her three dimensional fairy tale-esque quilt, exquisitely constructed and charming to look at.

The folky mola style of La Famille by Helene Blanchet.

I liked how effectively watery Catherine Waltz’s Water was, but liked her Maelstrom even more because it didn’t remind me of anyone else’s work.

Everything about Sharon CollinsWinter Came too Soon spoke to me. It’s such a nice balance between simple and detailed.

The evocative color in Just Harry by Martha Wolfe.

The thoughtful use of materials in Susan Clayton’s Funeral Pall, and that she didn’t try to get too fussy with the quilt.

Most everything about Remembering My Family by Helena Scheffer. The quilt blocks, fabric choices (especially the grey stripes), and hand stitching were all so thoughtfully chosen.

The well-integrated amulet in Healing Pathway by Cheryl Costley.

The use of iridescent and shiny fabrics that actually felt right and appropriate in Archangel Haniel by, uh oh, I didn’t write the artist’s name on this one. Maybe someone else who saw the show can let me know.

The photo manipulation and not too fussy quilting of The Bowl Judgements by Virginia Greaves (the colors of which glow nicely in person). I see from Greaves’ website that she also did the Beach Guardians, also in Sacred Threads, which I thought was a popular technique, but done well, and Just Call Me Jack, which I remember seeing and admiring in Houston a few yearts ago for the same reason.




10 Jul

On Procrastination and Stickiness

(Doesn’t really have anything to do with this post, but she is pretending to work. Montpelier Station, VA)

I’ve been noticing some patterns in my work habits.

Work moves quickly and smoothly if I have a pretty clear vision of what I want to create and the process by which I’ll create it. For example, the sun prints. I know the basic look I want to achieve and I’m pretty sure some type of sun print is the way to get it. I don’t quite know which paint or dye will work best, but that’s a minor detail that I’m happy to work out with tests of each one. So that is moving along well.

Work also moves forward if I am motivated to make progress, and I can see evidence of it, even if it’s incremental. For example, the apron with all the french knot stars. That was slow going, but I was liking what I was creating and was motivated to continue working until it was done rather that set it aside to make quicker progress on something else. Removing the quilting from the Suck it Up quilt was kind of the same. It was tedious, but I could see progress and wanted to get all the layers separated so that I could move on to the next phase.

Then there are the projects I am stuck on. If I can’t wrap my head around some aspect of a project, I can’t seem to move forward. Or, if I know something needs to be done, but I don’t like doing that thing, then I’ll seriously procrastinate. I’m supposed to be creating a logo for my husband’s and two neighbors’ home brew project (which should be totally exciting!) but I need to scan a drawing and I’ve been avoiding trying to figure out the scanner because it didn’t work last time I tried. With no quilting to take out this morning, and still waiting on blue dye and detergent, I decided to finally try scanning. Wouldn’t you know, we’ve bought a new scanner/printer/copier since I last tried to scan, and it worked perfect on the first try! Why did I wait so long? I’m also dragging my heels on the Marriage Equality quilt project because I don’t use WordPress and Headway often enough to be comfortable with the interface, and web development makes me want to pull my hair out. It also reminds me that I have behind the scenes housecleaning I should do on my website and I don’t feel like I know enough about how all that stuff works to actually do the job so I just go straight into avoidance mode.

Sometimes, though, working on one thing will shake something else loose. I needed to update and order a few portfolio books of my Army Wife series for my upcoming show, and then make a promotional postcard, and get new business cards while I was at it. As long as I had my designer hat on, I decided to do some minor changes to my SIL’s quilt guild’s logo, which I had been avoiding because I wasn’t sure if I could even open the files (and there were quite a few of them of different types). Turns out all I needed was that kick in the pants because I was able to easily open and update all the files. Whew, one project done and out of the way. The portfolio update took longer than I expected, like most projects, but it’s in Apple’s hands now. Business cards are uploaded, and I’m waiting on a logo from the Art Center to finish my postcards. I like it when I can move past the procrastination and accomplish something.

Maybe now I’ll work on that beer logo (unless my Retayne arrives and I can get back to Suck it Up).

09 Jul

What is it?


Yes, it’s a pile of threads pulled out of a quilt I’m working on. But why?


When I finish quilting my work, especially larger pieces, I like to “block” them before adding the binding. To do this, I use a sprayer to wet the quilt, then I lay it on towels on the floor, and gently smooth and pull it into a nice rectangular, flat, shape.


Unfortunately, this time several fabrics I used in the backing (which I know I had washed (years ago)) and which had not acted suspiciously, bled through to the front in rather unsightly ways.


Add to that a general dissatisfaction with the overall puffiness of the quilt, and finding more ugly puckers on the back than I had originally thought I had.


There was only one thing to do. I picked out all the quilting and separated the backing from the top and from the batting. I will gently wash the top in a detergent that often works in situations like this, and hope for the best. I will wash the crap out of the backing and set it aside for another project. I will break my no new, off the bolt, fabric, and go buy a nice, quality backing fabric in a neutral color that won’t bleed and won’t matter even if it did. I will re-quilt using cotton batting instead of wool. As mush as I like the buttery softness of wool, it’s lightness, and it’s resistance to creasing, it’s just too lofty for the amount of quilting I want to do (or lack thereof, as wool seems to look better with denser quilting and cotton stays flatter with comparatively less).


As the quilt says, I will suck it up and drive on.

04 Jul

Arty Stuff

I’ve been blogging in my head again. I need to figure out how to plug my brain directly into my blog dashboard…


On the social front, I went to the American Visionary Artist Museum in Baltimore last weekend with the best dates ever for this kind of thing, Deborah and Tonya. No photos allowed inside, and we were too caught up enjoying the art anyway, so I don’t have much to show. The current exhibit is The Art of Storytelling, which we thought was well presented and offered a good variety of narratives both in style and substance.

AVAM Tonya

My favorites were the paper cuts by Beatrice Coron. There was also wonderful stitched narratives by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Chris Roberts-Antieau (who is new to me but so wonderfully dry-humored I question why I had never heard of her before). The museum itself and the wacky gift shop were fun too. Lots of mirror mosaic, like this Cosmic Egg by Andrew Logan. Oh, and though a bit pricey, the on site restaurant is delicious, and I thought worth every penny.


On the local art scene front, guess whose work is just inside the front door at The McGuffey Art Center’s Summer Group Show?

MAC Summer Show

Yup, those are my summer fields, Raps and Am Rand des Omas Weizenfeld, waiting for the lighting to be adjusted, but looking good nonetheless. Come by before mid-August if you’re in the area. There’s a wonderful variety of work on display and a lot of bright, summery, color.

On the educational front, I’m still attending the life drawing group almost weekly. Today’s session was particularly good.


Robert, who’s studio we use for the Thursday at Saturday morning sessions, has what he calls “The Cube,” which is actually a rectangular prism made of welded steel tubing covered with foam pipe insulation. It is also known as a “pose making machine” because the models can contort and balance and be supported in all sorts of ways not possible on the floor or in a chair. These are warm-up drawings, and drawings on top of drawings, but maybe the gist will come across. I love The Cube.




So, hopefully that catches me up on most things and maybe next time I won’t wait so long between posts.