29 Sep

Death Shroud For Democracy (Take 2)

I actually made this quilt several years ago (see it’s post HERE), but I was never very happy with it. After several rejections and a year of contemplation, I decided that what it needed was to be covered with words that represent what I believe to be the things which are tearing away at our democracy. And so I got to embroidering.


I auditioned several ways to create the letters. At first I thought I wanted them to be negative space left when I covered the rest of the quilt in seed stitches. After testing a few letters, I didn’t like the legibility (or lack thereof). I wanted something more subtle than appliqué on top of the existing shroud. I considered filling in the letters, but ultimately decided that a simple outline with variegated floss was both legible and subtle enough for my purposes. The words themselves were edited down from an extensive initial list of members of caucuses, senators and Representatives, names of PACs, etc. Specific names tied the shroud to specific moments in time or movements within the US government, so the final list is words that refer to these entities but are still general enough to be relevant as long as possible.


I finished this in time to submit it, and a handful of other quilts, to the upcoming “Patchwork Pundits Take on Politics” exhibit at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Colorado. Unfortunately this one did not get accepted, but at least I am much happier with it this time around. (By the way, War Sucks did get in the show.)

28 Sep

Too Many Quilts (6)

I’ve gotten lots of questions about my sale quilts — mostly about which others will also be for sale. So, without further ado, here are the quilts I am price cutting:


Hansel und Gretel (link to it’s own blog post HERE).



Juni im Rhein Neckar Kreis (link to it’s own blog post HERE). SOLD



Fliegenpilz I. Named after the red and white mushrooms the polka dot fabric suggests, this is yet another quilt in my Impressions of Germany series. It’s machine pieced mostly of cottons, but with a few interesting bits thrown in for texture. The work is machine quilted with hand stitched details.  At 33.5″ x 51.5” it’s made to be a wall quilt, but I think it could be fine for a lap or small child as well. I’m offering this quilt for $200, mailing included, anywhere in the US.  SOLDfliegenpilz-i-detail

Fliegenpilz I detail.



This last quilt is an early one — I made it in 1997 before I discovered “art quilting.” The center is a vintage flour sack. The surrounding 9-patch blocks are reproduction fabrics. The colors coordinate with my collection of Bauer pottery. I still have most of the collection, but no longer want to use a quilt in my accompanying decor. This one is hand quilted (as were many of my early quilts) and also priced at $200, mailing included. It’s 43.25″ x 52.”

That’s it. Everything else is either sentimental, useful, or just too horrible to be seen in public! Thanks. Paypal only. Email me at umzavi(at)hotmail.com if you are interested.


25 Sep

Too Many Quilts (5)

“Juni im Rhen Nekar Kreis” was the first quilt I made for my “Impressions of Germany” show in Heidelberg, Germany in 2006. I love it’s combination of traditional 9-patch blocks, free-piecing, and stitched embellishment to create a landscape that is both recognizable and abstract at the same time.


As the title suggests, this quilt is what I saw in June in the Rhein-Nekar county in Germany. It represents still-green spring wheat fields edged with Flanders poppies. It’s smallish (and therefore easy to find a place for) at 30″ x 42.” I’m offering this quilt for $150, mailing included, anywhere in the US. Paypal only. Email me at umzavi(at)hotmail.com if you are interested. SOLD

21 Sep

Too Many Quilts (4)

I’m cleaning house again. This time it’s the wall quilts that I’m looking at. I built some quilt storage and still have more than I want to fill it with. My work has changed over the last decade or more (as it should) and I have many quilts that just don’t make sense for me to hold on to for exhibits or display in my home. So, I’m going to post them here at bargain basement prices.


This is “Hansel ind Gretel,” created for my solo show Impressions of Germany in 2006 and juried into Main Quiltfestival 2006 Wettbewerb “Märchenwelt” (The World of Fairy Tales). It is 29.25″ x 35. The center is has dyed cotton velvet embellished with suggestions of a magical forest with a button and pebble path. There’s even a (boiled and bleached) chicken bone should any inquisitive witches be looking for small children to eat. The backing is an adorable Japanese print with Hansel, Gretel, and forest critters of course. This would make a lovely wall hanging for a child’s bedroom, and if you buy it and remove the bone and pebbles, it would be a snuggly lap or play quilt as well. I’m offering this quilt for $150, mailing included, anywhere in the US. Paypal only. Email me at umzavi(at)hotmail.com if you are interested.


19 Aug

Check Out My Bathroom

It’s time for another house remodel update. When we bought our house (over a year ago!) there were several things that we knew needed immediate attention. The 30 year old rotting deck with no stairs was the first thing, which is now replaced by a gorgeous deck that connects to our yard (we hired a company to do all of this work). We took a short detour to the basement this last spring to fix some leakage (also hired out). And, we’ve spent the last six months working on renovating this downstairs bathroom:Downstairs bath reno before

This is what it looked like when we received the keys to the house. When we first saw the house there was stuff all over the counter and kitty litter all over the floor, plus the shower was really gross (and tiny). Looking at the house now, I can hardly imagine all the wall paper that was previously here.

Dowonstairs bath reno before 2

My first step was to sketch out ideas of what I wanted to change and what I could change. I even made a mood board to share with my mom as she was removing wallpaper in the house and I was still in Virginia. I wanted something that was contemporary, but simultaneously looked appropriate in a mid-century home. A grey and yellow tiled aesthetic fit the bill.

Downstairs bath reno sketch

My mom and step-dad removed the wallpaper and primed the walls. We hired a guy to take out the plastic shower insert and create a larger shower space for me to tile. He also installed a light in the shower stall and prepped the baseboard area for tiling, plus smoothed out a lot of the wobbly walls and coordinated with a plumber and carpenter. The result of this awesome team’s work is now ready to share:


The key piece is the drop in, bull nose, new old stock yellow sink I found on Ebay before escrow had even closed on the house. Once it was installed, I realized that it was no longer centered under the light fixture (which I replaced with a retro looking update). My mom suggested, and my friends encouraged, a collage of mirrors to mitigate the imbalance. I think it adds a lot of fun to the room.


The old vanity was small even though the room is large. The baseboard heating limits what will fit. So, I designed a vanity with an overhang of sorts. We researched retrofitting a standard vanity or something from the ReStore, but ultimately we decided that we deserved a custom build. I chose knobs from Rejuvination, and found a sparkly white quartz counter remnant which was ours for the price of cutting and installation. The result wasn’t exactly cheap, but it is so sexy and worth the investment.


The baseboard in the bathroom was wood on some walls and vinyl on others (because of wobbly walls and floor). We opted not to change the heating, the floors, or the toilet because they would more than double the cost of the project and potentially affect other rooms as well. So, a tiled baseboard evened out the vagaries and underscored the retro aesthetic in the room.


My mom and I did all the tiling. I chose DalTile 4″ porcelain tiles as they are essentially the same as would have originally been in the house. I had to special order the yellow ones which match my sink, but the yellow and grey mosaic floor tiles were a return from the University of Oregon and therefore on super-special while supplies last. The yellow and grey were perfect for my project! I replaced a few tiles with white to lighten the look.


In the photo at the beginning of the post you can’t see how small the original shower was, but by taking 18″ from the closet in the room next door, our shower is not only attractive and clean, it is spacious as well.


I painted the door grey to match the color scheme, and to continue the trend in the rest of the house. Doors into a room are different colors (to coordinate with the room), while closet doors are white.

I am so happy with this renovation. Not only does it make the room pretty and easier to use, it’s the first step in bringing the basement on par with the main house upstairs.

01 Aug

Good Press

There’s still one more month left to go see Stories of Migration at the George Washington University Textile Museum in DC.


My mobile village “Home is Where the Army Sends Us” is part of this exhibit and I couldn’t be happier about the good press the entire show is getting. As a participating artist it is wonderful to see viewers react to the work, but it is also important to have some kind of context in which to put the show. That many others in the world at large are paying attention to the show is a huge validation. So, in order to have all the references at hand (mostly for future me), here’s a list of mentions in the press that I know about:

American Craft  (USA) Aug/Sept ’16  (p.108) Featuring “Mother Tongue and Foreign Language” by Shin-hee Chin

Embroidery Magazine  (UK) Jul/Aug ’16  (p.11) Featuring “Navigating a Broken World” by Shea Wilkinson

Magic Patch  (France) #123  (p.9)

Textile Fibre Forum Magazine  (Australia) Sept ’16  Six pages, featuring works by Alice Beasley, Kristin LaFlamme, Gloria Daly, Penny Mateer, Susan Else, Daniela Tiger, Joy Nebo Lavrencik, and Carol Larson.

Quilting Arts Magazine  (USA) Jun/Jul ’16  Nine pages, featuring works by many artists.

The Washington Diplomat

CCTV Africa Featuring the work of William Adjete Wilson and more

The Washington Post

10 Jul

Sisters 2016

Stitching Post

W00t! I did something totally fun and blog-worthy. At the last minute, I took the Fabric Depot bus to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. It was a serendipitous combo of having the day off work and making a new friend who had an extra ticket.

Sisters is about three hours from Portland, so it was quite nice to turn over the driving (and parking) to the coach. Once at the show, I buddied up with an Instagram friend and we ended up spending the whole day together wandering from eye catching quilt to eye catching quilt. We found out that we had very similar tastes (probably why we follow each other on IG). It was a pleasure, as always when seeing exhibits of any sort with a friend, to talk about what we were seeing and why we liked (or didn’t like it). Overall SOQS is pretty traditional. This year though, Quilt Con had a special exhibit of some of it’s most favored quilts so there was definitely a big Modern influence. The Portland Modern Quilt Guild had a small exhibit too, in which my “Partisan” was hung. Interestingly, I was not that wowed by the art quilts. I think it was because most were literal and for some reason that doesn’t do much for me. SAQA’s Central Oregon pod had an exhibit of their Doors exhibit which was easily the best of the art quilts on display.

Here’s some of my favorites of the day:

Marks DisplayInside The Stitching Post, Valori Wells’ new fabric line Marks was front and center. I have a big ol’ crush on this fabric and I love this display which is chic and naive at the same time. My only purchase besides lunch was a fat quarter set of the blue color way.

Colors 2 The show organizers do a fantastic job of organizing the quilts so that they flow well together, and very often they are enhanced by the colors of the buildings on which they hang or the plantings in front of them. “Daybreak” by Marsha Savage looked particularly nice with the golden sedge grass in front of it.

ColorsA detail of “Freddy Dot Com” by Susan Brennan. This quilt looked so good with the poppies and other flowers in front of it.


Buscemi The green and the purple! It was a fun surprise to discover that this one in one of my favorite color combos was made by my friend robin Buscemi, who had given me the bus ticket!

Me and Petal

A big reason for going to the show (besides it being relatively close to me, and the world’s largest outdoor quilt show) was that my quilt, “Partisan,” was part of a special exhibit of The Quilt Block Abstracted by the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. Hanging next to me is “Fallen Petal” by Karen Lee.

DavidsonI’m a sucker for flying geese, so of course I like Heather Davidson’s “Two by Two Dancing Geese” which was also in the PMQG exhibit.

HobbsI also liked this variation on a Lone Star, “Carkai Quilt” by Meredith Hobbs.


BondSpeaking of flying geese, I’ve been drooling over this one by Sarah Bond online for what seems like ever. It absolutely holds up in person. It’s beautifully executed and even looks great hung sideways (which I didn’t even notice until a fellow traveller pointed it out to me. This quilt was one of many which represented the best of Quilt Con 2016.

Burnett Two color quilts can be so dramatic, and so classic. The gradation in this one makes it particularly attractive too. “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades” by Rebecca Burnett.  I’m pretty sure it was part of the Quilt Con exhibit too.

ParkesQuilt Con quilt “Night Flight #1” by Heidi Parkes. Big stitch hand quilting and lots of little free pieced bits made this one a lovely mix of rustic and refined.

PeakI failed to get the name or maker of this one but I was struck by the way it echoed the building on which it hung.

Tuazon I also liked “Flounce” by Melanie Tuazon

Royle We rarely get a chance to see the backs of quilts at shows, but outside, and on a breezy (becoming windy) day we caught many glimpses. The richly glowing “Embers” by Stephanie Royle uses all solids on the front but has a fun patterned fabric on the back.


Price “Embers” by Mary Kay Price just glowed too.

RabyAnd, in the teacher’s tent, this richly colored quilt by Pam Raby glowed due to the sun behind it. I had the chance to see this one at work and it has such delicious color without the sun, but this outdoor addition added an extra dimension.

ShawAnother teacher quilt was this cheeky “Curious Duck” by Ann Shaw. I see the influence of Ruth B McDowell, who’s work I love, especially in the bold choice of background fabric.


Beebe “Eichler Homes” by Mickey Beebe. I think this was part of a special exhibit of quilts using Moda fabrics. The whole quilt is made from the Grunge line, which is one of my favorite blenders. I think this design might have been too stark with simple solids, but the subtle colors in Grunge add just enough variation. I also loved all the little trees between the houses.

ModaAnother Moda quilt was this one titled “Just a Speck/Lolies.” I love that this is a Pineapple Log Cabin but the charcoal line and the fantastic circular quilting move the focus away from the center of the pineapple and out to the corners creating an unexpected secondary focus that becomes the primary.


Cobb This one was so simple, but so intriguing. At first I thought the floral was more concentrated in the center diagonal of the quilt, and scattered toward the edges, but it was just a trick of the effect of the turquoise blocks. The way the squares advance and recede is really fun. Plus, the quilting was simple, but perfect.

SchmidtI’ve seen versions of this X and + quilt in more Modern or novelty prints where it’s bubbly and fun. I enjoyed seeing it in mostly batiks for a slightly more grown-up look.

Cobb 2 This one, “Patches in Light” by Susan Cobb caught my eye because of it’s clever use of a Marcia Derse fabric. Usually Derse’s hand painted-looking fabrics are used more like one would use batiks. But pairing them here with a solid looking background and the navy accents (not to mention the little citron surprises) gives a much lighter, modulated look.

BlaylockFun “Dots” by Myra Blaylock. All hand appliquéd.

Fellows I love the quilting on “Love and Gillies B-17” by Colin Fellows. It so perfectly accentuates the quilt and is beautifully executed. By the way, out in the sun, quilting really shone.

Potter I liked the simplicity but intricacy of this one, “A Wink of Red” by Terry Potter.

Goose FootThere were quite a few vintage quilts, like Goose Foot from the collection of Sally Rogers. With different fabrics it could be very Modern.

Moran B There were lots of quilts by Grande Dame Freddy Moran. Most were raw edge appliqué, loosely free-motion quilted, and had barely finished edges. But they were exuberant and so obviously about the color and composition and the fabric itself (oh, the fabric! Where does she find these wild things? I want to shop with Freddy!). I could’t help but get the feeling that her quilts were saying, “Hey, I’ve been quilting forever and I’ve earned the right to do whatever the hell I want!” And I love that.

DyerAnother quilt that bucked tradition was this one coordinated by Wynde Dyer. It is made of tarp and was created by at risk youth at Caldera Art Center under Dyer’s tutelage. It was rejected by the quilt show for technical reasons (weight, materials?) but a local bookshop was kind enough to give it space.

And finally, The One That Shouldn’t Work, “Not So Lone Star” by Patrick Wilson.WilsonI just love this more is more Lone Star. I found Australian aboriginal print fabric, Erin Michaels paint by number designs, stripes, Kaffe Fasset, novelty sunflowers and more. Only the very brave would pull that variety out of their stash or a quilt shop’s shelves and know they’d work together.

Wilson det

I talked to others about whether the corner stars were necessary, or if the floral background really worked. I noted that without one or both of those elements, it would just be a classic Lone Star. There’s something about the way everything is competing and yet blending that, in my eyes, make this so striking.


26 Jun

Meet Me on IG?

In May, I was lamenting my lack of blog posts. Since then, I’ve blogged a couple times, but not really picked up the pace. I’ve been paying attention to my social media use though, and invited readers to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I’m now thinking the answer is a shift in focus. For over ten years, my blog has been my main story and then Facebook, and more recently Instagram, have played supporting roles. But I’m finding that I like the immediacy and accessibility of Instagram. I can take photos of whatever I’m doing and post it right away, all from my phone. I find that things are much more current on my Instagram feed, and I’m happy with the balance of personal and professional inspiration. I won’t be ditching my blog altogether, but I think that Instagram will now be my main story, and the blog will play a supporting role when I need something that can be more verbose, or contain links, or do whatever it is that blogs do best. My professional Facebook page has it’s merits, as does my personal page, so those will live, but I’m trying not to spend too much time there. (By the way, if you’ve friend requested me and I haven’t responded it’s probably because we’ve never met in person, which is pretty much my criteria for my personal Facebook page. However, please like my professional Facebook page — that’s where all the arty stuff is anyway.)

So, please follow me on Instagram, because I think that’s where it’s at for me right now.

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