Saturday, July 16, 2016

"Reigning Men" exhibit at LA County Museum of Art - a must see!

Just read a Facebook post counting out the six great rules of blogging.  The second is "Be Consistent - Get in front of your audience often and consistently."
 I guess following quickly on a post from November 2015 isn't good enough! Many excuses, none of them interesting to you, so let's just go on as if this never happened. 

Los Angeles has so many wonderful opportunities for art and culture and recently I've been to the same one twice - The "Reigning Men" exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art which features men costume from the 18through 21st centuries.  What a gas! A new and unusual take on the evolution of costume. Everything from the incredible hand embroidery on 18th century waist coats and banyans to Rudy Gernreich silk kaftans and 1960s Cardin fashion forward tweed suits and military uniforms.

I was tickled by the description on the Cardin tweed suit in the photo above, second from right, to find that it had belonged to and been donated by a long time friend. The fabulous Sulka silk dressing gown and an evening suit were his, too. I called him and he said he purchased it in Paris in the 1960s and actually wore it often. Very far from his conservative and buttoned up, but  elegant image today. He was happy to donate trunks of his former New York clothes to the museum. LACMA must have been thrilled! So many of their bountiful costume holdings are for women.

The exhibit is beautifully presented on very individual looking mannequins with very impressionistic hair I've lately learned was made from hair canvas - the stuff they shape men's suit fronts with.  It continues at LACMA until August 21st. Well worth a trip! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Catching up....

It's been a long several weeks and I am now just catching up with life and work...

Our big business project for the year - The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show - has come and gone. it involves weeks of planning beforehand, the ten days in San Francisco actually doing the show, and then the decompression and re-organization, catching up on everything afterwards ... So it is basically a two month slog. It is an exhausting process that we have been undergoing for 34 years! It's just that after 34 years we are older and slower.

If you're interested, here is a photo of our stand this year complete with furniture borrowed from Daniel Stein Antiques in San Francisco and a gorgeous floral arrangement from Jessica Frizell of Oakleaf Floral Design 

Too much standing, too much walking in San Francisco compounded by a long march to Costco and a very enjoyable day with friends exploring the new The Broad Museum in DTLA  on our return left me with a very painful knee problem which kept me on crutches and out of my Studio for several days, but thanks to modern medicine and some injections I'm back to normal and back in the studio after - wow, it's hard to believe -  almost 6 weeks!

So, after finishing a few charity quilts for Westside Quilters' big November philanthropy push, "Giving For Thanksgiving" during which our guild finished over 60 quilts which will be distributed to local Los Angeles Children's charities and Quilts for Wounded Warriors, I'm finally back in the studio working on a long put off project.  Below is the pile of quilts from the November 7 sewing day ready to be delivered. Wish I hadn't been on crutches and could have been there....

 I have long wanted to do a quilt based on the Florentine art of pietra dura - the exquisite hard stone inlaid panels often incorporated in very high end furniure from the 17th and 18th centuries. I've collected images on individual panels for years - from museum trips and auction catalogs. Last January I began a tall narrow panel in a workshop with the wonderful Jenny Bowker at Road to California, but put it aside to work on other projects that had deadlines.


Now I've removed it from mothballs and have spent the last several days working on the appliqué
and designing a medallion style quilt using this image as the central field and surrounding it with other smaller panels. I'm using the luscious velvety hand dyed cottons from Cherrywood as well as my collection of prints and hand dyes that resemble various types of semi precious stone and marble. It's going to be a long haul project and I'll blog about my progress as it continues.

This work has inspired me as well as some great news yesterday from Road to California. Both my entries - Mated For Life and The Green Man - have been juried into the show and I am humbled and grateful. I'm so looking forward to being there in Ontario in January for 4 days and taking a 3 day workshop with Susan Brubaker Knapp learning her painting techniques on fabric.  

The Green ManMated For Life

I'm also so happy to learn that my "Swan Song" which is included in a selection of pieces from Sacred Threads 2015 will be traveling even more extensively than I originally thought through 2017. It is going to be nearby in Pasadena at the Fuller Theological Seminary in February and will also wend its way to the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange in 2017! I've posted the entire schedule as it now stands on my website at 

Swan Song

Check out Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday's at 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Yes, the 14 boxes of special exhibits missing from Quiltfest Oasis in Palm Springs have finally been found after three weeks of searching! Word came from the Mancuso organization yesterday that, as originally suspected, the pallet of boxes had been misdirected by a truck freight warehouse to another location - I'm told about 60 miles away. I'm assuming they sat on some loading dock for three weeks until someon noticed.... Because the individual boxes still had UPS labels on them, UPS was contacted and yesterday they arrived back at the Total Expo (the decorating company that works on the Mancuso shows on the west coast) warehouse from which they will be returned to us.

I had thought this would be the eventual scenario all along - I could not bring myself to believe that they had been stolen, just misplaced. However, when the Mancusos announced they were starting the insurance process and suggesting we start combing EBay, Etsy and post our quilts to lost quilt websites, I began to worry and started getting the word around. 

David Mancuso and his staff worked tirelessly to find this missing shipment and my thanks go out to them and all of the quilters around the country who shared my blog and Facebook posts to help get the word around. Thanks, too, to everyone who has sent comments and emails of gratitude that all has been found. We are a truly caring community

Monday, October 26, 2015

Further to "Mourning My Quilts"

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read and comment on my blog from the other day about the loss of over 100 quilts prior to the Mancuso Quiltfest Oasis n Palm Sprimgs. I truly appreciate your good wishes and hope that all the quilts will be found soon.

Just a few points.... UPS was in no way nvolved here. I use UPS all the time for shipping my quilts and the antiques from my real business. Have never had a problem. All the quilt exhibits had been shipped to the warehouse by UPS and had been received and signed for. We know that. The misdirection/loss happened at the trucking terminal warehouse.

To answer the question about police involvement... The Mancuso organization was told that they could not enter a police report because so far there has been no evidence of a crime. So far, th belief is that the pallet was "misdirected".

I've been out of town for a week, but have managed to get one of the quilts on the Lost Quilt web page. The other will be added in the next few days.

The  Mancusos are searching the Internet for the lost quilts. In fact, their search yielded my blog that someone had posted to their website. I received a very cordial letter from David Mancuso saying that my blog was"right on point" but that they were deleting it from their page saying  "Please accept our sincerity that there is no intent of malice. We have removed your post from our Facebook page for the simple reason that it will not be instrumental in recovering the exhibits." 

Thank you David... But I am doing exactly what you have suggested the artists do.. Just trying to get the word around in case someone sees my quilt and can help solve this mystery.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mourning My Quilts

Some of you may have heard…. A group of 8 different traveling loan exhibits went missing from the Mancuso Quiltfest Oasis show in early October  and were never hung. They included two exhibits from Quilts On The Wall Fiber Artists, one from the Southern California region of SAQA and five others. I had pieces in both of the QOTW shows – Maps and Shadows. 

All 8 of the individual exhibits were shipped via UPS to the Mancuso’s decorating company in California and were delivered and signed for. It is believed that all 8 were put on the same pallet to be trucked to the Palm Springs Convention Center for the Show which opened on October 10, 2015. They never arrived. 

My husband and I drove from LA to Palm Springs to see the show and my pieces in it, and we were very disappointed to find the photos above. I visited again the following day, but still no quilts. By the end of the weekend, the quilts – approximately 100-120 of them were still not hung. Four of the shows were to be sent north to the Mancuso’s Pacific International Quilt Festival, but were not hung there either. 

"Nightshadows", 2014  - Ribbons of hand dyed gray to black along with accents of opalescent organza, quilted with silver thread. Traveling in the Quilts On The Wall exhibit "Shadows". Disappeared from Quiltfest Oasis, October, 2015

"A La Carte",  2013  - Printed imagery of Le Chateau de Vaux Le Vicomte  over a plan of Le Notre's famous garden. Fused applique with sewn embellishments and three dimensional leaves.
Disappeared from Quiltfest Oasis, October, 2015

To date, none of the 100 + quilts have been found.  Warehouses , trucks,  freight  terminals and the Convention Center have been searched.  Security footage has been scoured. The Mancuso organization has offered a $5000 reward to the employees of the decorating company and the freight terminal  in hopes they will turn up. So far, nothing. It now seems that no system of bar coding was used, making an electronic search impossible.  We have been told that all 8 boxes still had their original UPS labels and tracking numbers intact, so if someone finds any of them they might get back to their owners. 

Meanwhile the Mancuso organization is beginning the insurance process, though at this point I’m not sure what that will mean to individual artists. They also suggest that artists search Ebay and Etsy and post their quilts on websites devoted to finding lost and stolen quilt websites.  

I am rather surprised that there has not been more discussion of this issue on the net. No one involved has posted to the SAQA group or to Quiltart that I have seen… The safety of all our artist’s work  is of utmost importance and I thought might have started a lot of dialog.

To say that I am disappointed, heartbroken and angry is, of course, an understatement.  I am mourning my lost quilts, but hoping beyond hope that they will still be found. Whenever I send an art quilt – a piece of myself  - off to a show or exhibit, my heart is always in my mouth until I know that it has arrived. As artists, we have to trust the organizations to which we send our pieces to use all care and diligence in safeguarding them. What happened in this case, after the pieces arrived at their destination is unknown, but it certainly makes me think about to whom I will trust my work in the future

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Urban Graffiti" ... My view.

I  conceived this small quilt recently as my response to a Quilts On The Wall Fiber Artists call for entry "Urban Graffiti" but unfortunately it didn't make the cut.... However, it did crystallize my own feelings about graffiti in the urban landscape. I remember traveling to New York in the 1970s and feeling so smug that at least the cityscape of my native city of LA was not scarred with graffiti. Alas, of course, this is no longer true. My feelings might have been further cemented later on when our place of business was tagged - not by gang members or serious graffiti artists, but by local wannabes from the surrounding upscale neighborhood.  I spent hours scrubbing it away from a painted brick wall.
I know that in today's art world graffiti artists are subjects of study and veneration and I can certainly see that is valid in some cases, but my appreciation cannot help but be colored by my own experience and the feeling that what I've always thought of as a beautiful city is being diminished by what is painted all over its buildings and infrastructure. Certainly most of the artists that offered up work for the QOTW exhibit "Urban Graffiti" explored this artistic view of the subject and I applaud them for seeing beauty and meaning in the ugliness that I see around me.

For those interested, the quilt was constructed using a fused raw edge technique. The individual bricks were cut and fused on to a printed mottled gray fabric that served as the mortar. The letters were from a "graffiti" font I found online. The bricks were dabbed with textile paint for an aging effect and free motion quilted in various small fill patterns with silk thread. If you are wondering about the two white objects on the quilt in front of my machine, they are pieces of rubber shelf lining which I find helpful in guiding the quilt sandwich during quilting. Much better than gloves, or hoops, etc. I hate having to put on and take off gloves!

My congratulations to those QOTW members whose works were juried in to "Urban Graffiti" There are some remarkable images in the quilts that were included in the exhibit that will debut at Road to California in January 2016. I'm looking forward to seeing all of them together!

In the meantime, this quilt will soon be added to my website at and will be added for sale in my Etsy Shop

See this and other great blogs at  Off The Wall Fridays with Nina Marie Sayre

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Yes, that was me on Jeopardy last week.....

So yes, that actually was me if you wondered who that slightly familiar looking contestant was on Jeopardy last Monday night, June 8, 2015. To answer your first question, no, I did not win buckets of money and to answer your second question... What was it like? I thought I'd better put the whole experience down while it's fresh so years from now in my dotage, I can go back and actually remember the very interesting experience.

Yes, it was sort of a bucket list thing. I've always watched and seemed to do pretty well on the couch with a drink in my hand.... and no pressure. Also my good friend and college sorority roommate was on Jeopardy in the 80s and won a whole big bucket of money... so there was a little bit of competition there.  I'm pretty good on Art, archaeology, history, food, movies, theater and word usage.  Not so good on recent music, Rhyme Time, Before and After , etc. I'm basically a fairly shy reserved person, but i react to challenges and I've found in life that the things that really scare me are the ones once accomplished that mean the most. So I decided, one evening early last summer probably after a glass of wine or two, to take the Jeopardy online test. 

It was a bit of fun, not too hard, but in no way did I think I aced it. No one was more surprised than I when a few weeks later I received an email inviting me to a local Jeopardy audition at the Doubletree in Culver City, not far from Sony Studios where the show is filmed. That was in early August. I had no idea what to expect... a one on one interview, a cattle call, a super embarrassing once over and a 'Thank you, we'll let you know"?

I arrived to find myself one of about 75 people waiting outside a function room in the hotel. I looked over the other interviewees. I was - without any  doubt - the oldest person there... by far. I gulped. I was surrounded by mostly very young men who I knew had great buzzer talent from all those computer games. There were a few younger women, a couple of mid 40s guys and a whole load of Jeopardy nerds.  I overheard conversations in which they were knowledgeably discussing former Champions and their strategies, great Jeopardy questions, shows by their ID number etc.  They knew everything! I overheard one young man say that this was the 7th time he had interviewed.  AS I listened more, I sort of learned why.  Crazy. I got more nervous by the minute. By the time the talent coordinators came down the line taking Polaroid shots of each of us, I wanted to turn tail and run. 

Inside we were seated and told about the Jeopardy selection process, about the show and its history and what we  were going to do for the next two hours. We took a longer written test and then each one of us went up and talked to Glen, the head Talent Coordinator. He asked questions based on our written responses to some questions about our lives and interests. Then we were brought up three at a time to actually play a little Jeopardy Game with what we were told were the actual Jeopardy buzzers! I was nervous and thought I had blown the whole thing. We were told that if selected, they could call us to tape at any time for the next 18 months.  The whole team were delightful and very kind, but I went off home feeling tired and assured my call would never come.

One morning in September my cell phone rang and a nice voice introduced herself as Amy from Jeopardy and  - bombshell! - could I come to tape an appearance the end of October?  Exactly the week I was going to be out of town on business doing an antique show in San Francisco. It's the most important event of our business year and I could not miss it. So my name went back in the hopper and Amy assured me, if they called once, they would probably call again.  And they did! The middle of October I was asked to come for a taping in mid November. I was forwarded pages and pages of instructions and forms to fill out including every possible 'interesting " topic about myself for Alex's interview at the break.  I put off filling those out for as long as I could, but finally on a plane returning from Houston Quilt Festival on November 1st  got them filled out on my iPad. I challenge you to find 25 really interesting factoids about your life. 

I arrived at Sony Studios at the proscribed time 7:00AM optimistically toting my required three wardrobe changes on a Tuesday morning and was ushered into the absolutely freezing Green Room along with all the other contestants for that day. We got our orientation, signed our releases, went over our topics for Alex's interview portion and listening to Maggie the Producer basically do a very irreverent and funny stand up routine. Finally we went onstage and did a rehearsal session. Again this was a mostly younger group of contestants, but this time there was one lady who at 72 was older! YES! Everyone got full makeup and waited, and waited as the contestants were chosen for game 1, then game 2 and then game 3. Finally after the chosen went to game 4 (five games are taped each Tuesday and Wednesday) it was clear that I was the odd woman out and as a local contestant would have to be invited back again. 

So I waited... and waited... and finally in February I got another call from Amy and I was booked for early March, this time guaranteed to get on. So again, 7 AM at Sony with my wardrobe... the same orientation, full makeup, freezing green room, slightly different, but similar stand up routine from the irrepressible Maggie and on to the rehearsal.  I was chosen for the first game!  Knees knocking I took my place on the stage, was hitched to my microphone and the familiar music started....

Well, if you saw it, you know that while I did not disgrace myself, I did not win the big bucks. I came in second. For a moment in Final Jeopardy I was ahead and thought maybe, yes, I could win this, but the defending champion also had the correct answer (How could a park ranger know that the name Don Quixote named his heroine was Dulcinea! But, alas, he did and with $19,400 I lost to his $19,700.  

Yes, I made some bad mistakes. Only wagering $500 on my Double Jeopardy opportunity in the beginning of the game was a major gaff, especially since I got the  correct answer. One mistake, I have just found out this week after watching the show was not really a mistake and should have been credited as a correct answer, but I was in such a nervous daze I didn't raise my hand and question it at the time. Turns out that the Babylonian "Captivity" is mentioned several times in the Bible and should have been correct. How did I find that out? By going into  Jeopardy nerd land online and reading a couple of the many, many blogs devoted to weekly Jeopardy contests. Seems a number of the J-Geeks think I was robbed! However,  I was also lauded for courage in going all in at the end. 

I went home relieved that it was over, thankful for my husband Glen and my art quilting group the Fiber Fanatics who came as guests to the studio and solidly supported me, and happy and relieved that it was all over.  I can't say enough about the Jeopardy Staff and Crew - Everyone from the Producers, Director, Talent Coordinators to the stage crew and makeup people were lovely... kind, generous and very supportive. Special thanks to Glen Kagan the senior Talent Coordinator who helped me get my buzzer mojo going during the first break! 

I had almost put it all out of my mind until my show aired a week ago last Monday June 8. It started as a trickle and then a flood of emails, Facebook posts and phone calls and still has not subsided.  Congratulations from old friends, sorority sisters, business colleagues, quilting acquaintances, relatives I haven't talked to in 25 years and friends and clients of my parents 50 years ago who I have never met have poured in since.  My name is all over the Internet on Jeopardy Geek sites and I was invited to appear on a live online blog at where Andy the Jeopardy Fan personified interviews the past weeks contestants along with former champions and fans who are hoping for an interview. 

What did I learn from all this?  First, age should not be a defining boundary. At 65 I did better than a  20-something guy who has spent much more time hitting buttons on a game console than I, but not as well as a quiet park ranger who must spend a lot of time reading.  I learned that a load of people watch Jeopardy religiously and that I should not be surprised when a perfect stranger walks up in Trader Joe's and says they saw you on TV last week.  I was also touched by my friends who gave me boundless support and encouragement. And what has been proved to me over and over is that the thing that scares you most, is the most satisfying accomplishment. Try to get outside your comfort zone often.  And yes, Alex Trebek was very nice....