Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Creative Inspiration"

Three of my art quilt pieces will be on display as part of "Creative Inspiration" a SAQA regional exhibit opening January 3 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts near San Diego. Mary Tabar is the Curator.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quilts for others...

Recently I've been thinking and musing about some art quilt projects - waiting for inspiration - but nothing has totally gelled for my next big project, so instead of pushing forward I've been spending my time on some pieced charity quilts. One for Quilts From the Heart and another for the Transitional Housing and Education program at the Santa Monica YWCA. I'm also sharing a project with a friend to be sent to Hurricane Sandy victims through a quilt guild in New Jersey.

The most meaningful project, though has been a little pieced child's quilt for Operation Kid Comfort. It took only an afternoon to put together and another day to quilt but in this season of giving and giving thanks, it seems so very appropriate to do something for the kids of currently deployed military personnel.

From the Military YMCA website: "The Armed Services YMCA’s innovative Operation Kid Comfort program creates custom-made quilts and pillows for children of deployed U.S. military personnel who experience grief from missing their mom or dad. Photos of the deployed parent are printed onto fabric and sewn into the quilt or pillow. Each child received a quilt/pillow depending on age. Children 6 and under receive a quilt, 7 and older receive a pillow. Both quilts and pillows contain pictures of the deployed parent. Each quilt takes eight hours of volunteer sewing, as well as $50 worth of quilting materials. The program started at the Armed Services YMCA Fort Bragg Branch as has expanded to serve military families nationwide." for more information, or to volunteer yourself check out the Military YMCA website at

The kit to put together the quilt was organized by the Santa Monica Quilt Guild and included all the fabrics and fabric printed photographs for the quilt - photos of the little boy named Michael with his Marine Corps Dad and the rest of his Camp Pendleton family. I just hope that this little quilt will make the holidays while his Dad is deployed, little brighter.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Quilting Bee? Sort of....

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but when I tell people I meet that I'm a quilter, often the first or second question asked is "Do you go to Quilting bees? " Too many grew up with The Walton's or Little House on the Prairie, I guess. No, not many quilting bees on the Westside of Los Angeles, but last Saturday I did participate in something close.

My local Quilt Guild Westside Quilters organized a philanthropy sewing day to make these quirky shaped heart pillows for recovering breast cancer surgery patients. The pillows which are stuffed fairly tightly with poly fiberfill are placed under the arm of a patient putting pressure to relieve the effects of lymph edema. My mother who was a long term breast cancer survivor suffered the effects of lymph edema the rest of her life, so I'm well aware of the problems with this condition.

And there we were, 30 of us coming and going over the course of the day sitting around a huge dining room table piled high with colorful fabrics, thread, stuffing and finished pillows.

We sewed, we stuffed, we chatted and, yes we gossiped a little now and then. We tried not to talk politics - emotions still running high so soon after the election. We sorted out the problems of the world ( so why don't they listen to us?) while we stitched closed the openings on the pillows with very tender fingers by the end of the day. 50 pillows.... I guess we formed our own very LA quilting bee...

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sometimes it just feels good to sew....

Sometimes it just feels good to sew.... There are times as a quilt artist when you want to relax and free oneself of all those artistic decisions - sorting through all those ideas going on in your head, finding the subject matter, deciding on the right techniques to further your vision, making the perfect fabric decisions, etc. Sometimes you want someone else to make the major decisions. Sometimes it just comes down to "give me the pattern and the templates and I'll sew it". It's just me and  my trusty Viking SE and an old movie or the news in the background and I'm happy. I'm one with the machine.....

So this quilt came to be.... It's from a workshop with Judy Sisneros - her "Circle Pizzazz" design.  I had taken the workshop to brush up on some curved piecing techniques (always a vulnerable area in my  technique).It required purchased templates and very few fabric decisions.  

Deciding to make a scrappy version, I already had a pile of blue to green fabrics including prints, hand dyes and batiks pulled from my stash for another quilt - too lazy to put them away in the pull out bins in  my studio - so I just used a selection of those already out on the table that pleased me. I had made a couple of the blocks in the workshop (in which I had decided Judy's curved piecing techniques actually worked) and came home and in a few days more had enough blocks for a smallish lap quilt.
The one conscious decision I made was to change the layout of the blocks (seen at right). I turned them so the consistently dark blue bands ran in the same direction throughout - instead of in circles as Judy's original design decreed.  I liked the way it moved the eye across the quilt diagonally making it, I think, a bit more visually interesting. 

When the top was pieced I layered it with Warm and Natural batting which I will not do again.... I know lots of people use it, but I'm used to wool and this batting gave me lots of problems. It bearded through the darker colors and poked out of the needle holes on the dark blue batik backing. The free motion quilting was done in Superior Rainbows - a polyester thread that variegated from blue to green.

The final and easiest decision was to donate the quilt to Quilts From the Heart a non-profit group here in Southern California of volunteer quilters, both women and men, who share a common goal and make quilts to donate to disadvantaged children and adults.

The group was started in 2004 by Evie Steinberg and has grown in size to over 25 dedicated quilters with varying degrees of skills and talents from beginning to advance. Meetings and workshops are held on the second and fourth Friday of each month from 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Mar Vista Public Library located at 12006 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90066. There is no membership fee or quilt quota required. The group continues to thrive and grow as a result of the generosity of others through the donations of fabric and miscellaneous items.Some of the organizations that they work with are: City of Hope, Children's Hospital, The Shriners, Good Shepherd, Foster Children, Venice Family Clinic, and the Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP). I'm not a member, but I'm happy to know that this little quilt will go out into the world and help someone.... 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

California Dreaming - Asilomar

Over the years of attending Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar near Pacific Grove California I have snapped almost 100 photos of the Conference Grounds campus and the wonderful Julia Morgan Arts and Crafts style buildings, the rocky beach and tidepools,the Monterey Cypresses, the weathered redwood fences, the boardwalk across the dunes nearby and of course the deer that wander freely everywhere. I filed them away thinking I would someday design a quilt around them, but was never quite sure how to combine all the disparate elements.

This last spring in a workshop with Australian quilt artist Gloria Loughman which focused on just this idea - how to combine different scenes in one quilt composition - I was finally able to put it together.
So it is finally finished.... About seven of my photos combined in a fantasy landscape that includes it all - even the deer. 

The quilt is a combination of piecing and fused appliqué using hand dyes and batiks. The ocean and the cypress tree are painted with Tsukineko inks and Jacquard textile paints. The deer are actually digitally printed from my photographs and over painted. The stonework border on the right is fabric printed at from a photograph of one of the Asilomar buildings. (Many thanks to the Pixeladies and their great Photoshop classes where I learned how to fashion a fabric repeat) and the vegetation on the dunes is free motion embroidery.

Here are a few of my photos.... 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Into Fall.....

In Southern California there finally comes that magical day at the very end of a hot dry summer when the light softens, the shadows deepen and there is just the first hint of fall in the air. Yes, we do have seasons! they are just a little more subtle than in other parts of the country.

It's the day I start thinking about baked apples and how soon it will be until it's cool enough to think about making some great red wine pot roast. That day of thinking may just be today..... It's not terribly cool, but there are wispy high level clouds and the light is definitely different. So welcome Fall!

So this means it's time to change out the summertime quilts I hang in the house and replace them with autumn hues. So out comes Kyoto Kaede with its fall colors and Japanese maple leaves made quite a while ago in a Ruth McDowell workshop (and still one of my favorite quilts) and the table runner with all the Guatamalan stripes and appliqué maple leaves.

It also means I have to start thinking about Thanksgiving and even sooner The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show the end of next month. Hoping there will be some wonderful Autumn color up there and some cool crisp days. In the meantime I'll just look at the quilts.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tug Comanche

A commission came from an old friend and US Coast Guard veteran to design and make a quilt of the US Coast Guard Tug Comanche to be presented to the non-profit foundation which is restoring the ship. He served
on the Comanche's sister ship USS Modoc and planned on presenting the quilt at that crew's reunion in Tacoma, Washington the beginning of September. The Comanche has a long history - built and commissioned as an ocean going tug during WWII she served in the Pacific towing damaged ships to safety. After the war she was transferred to the Coast Guard and stationed in the Pacific Northwest. She was later owned privately as a working tug.

My client requested that the Comanche be pictured as she was when she was still used by the Coast Guard and provided small resolution scanned photos from the 1970s. He also asked for her to be shown steaming in Puget Sound with Mt. Rainier in the distance. If possible there should also be signal flags fluttering, seagulls and orca. I gulped .... And then said "sure....".

The size of the small scanned photos he emailed me and of those I found on the Internet was definitely a problem. I had to interpret and in some cases imagine some of the details on the ship. For the basic layout and composition I put together a photo mock up in Photoshop and then drew a full sized cartoon from which I constructed the basic quilt top.

The fabric selection was fairly easy. An ombre printed blue Mckenna Ryan print provided all I needed for the sky and a Hoffman Bali batik stripe in aqua and purple was the answer for the ocean. cherrywood cotton solids were perfect for the ship itself. I digitally printed some of the details including the anchor, the both Coast Guard crests, the flag and the name of the ship on my inkjet printer and fused them in place.

At this point I brought out the paints and using a combination of Fabrico markers, Tsukineko inks and Jacquard fabric paints added shading and dimension, rigging, highlights to the ocean waves and the seagulls. The pod of orca were painted individually, cut out and fused in place. The bow spray and the wake of the ship were done with painted and heat shrunk cellophane cut in slivers and applied with glue before stitching down. The serendipitous discovery of signal flag printed fabric at a local quilt store certainly made that job easier... Just cut out and fuse them on. My US Navy vet husband says that the ship is "over flagged", but I was having so much fun putting them on, I couldn't stop.

For free motion quilting I used polyester invisible thread to outline the motifs and then YLI silk for the rest. The texture and realism of the ocean was greatly improved with undulating lines of quilting.

The finished quilt was presented as a surprise to the Foundation last weekend at the reunion to much acclaim, I'm told. I was certainly happy to bring this historical ship back to its old gloried appearance.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Finally Finished MY TAFA List Profile!

It was one of those jobs that I knew I had to get to, but it kept getting lost in my emails and my written and printed reminders buried on my desk.  Finally, goosed by a conversation with my friend Linda Miller of Linda Miller Designs last week and another gentle reminder email  from Rachel Biel the founder of TAFA - Textile and Fiber Art List a few days ago, I got down to my computer yesterday afternoon and today it's finished. A couple of hours of work, a couple of false starts and stops, a session in Photoshop and lots of help from Rachel and it's up and working.My biggest quandary was deciding on which quilt to use for my banner. I chose, Fossil Fueled, but what do you think?

Check out my profile on this great marketing resource for fiber artists at 
It's all there in one place, photos of my quilts, a link to Facebook and my Etsy shop and a place for news and upcoming events. Rachel has created a beautiful site and  I'm thrilled to be in the company of such a large group of talented artists.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The SAQA Benefit Auction starts online through the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) site on September 10th - barely a month away!  Here is my quilt donation for this year.  It's titled "Fiorabella" and is a little 12" X 12" wholecloth botanical study painted with Tsukineko inks on a wonderfully subtle piece of hand dye from my stash. I free motion quilted it and the traditional feather border using 100 weight silk thread. Pretty traditional for the SAQA auction - I hope is finds some bidders......  You can see it an all the other marvelous works being auctioned online to benefit SAQA programs at

Monday, July 30, 2012

Loving Long Beach!

Home from three wonderful days at International Quilt Festival Long Beach and putting away the "stuff" and the supplies. I actually bought very little except for a lot of Superior Masterpiece and YLI silk thread (I love that for quilting!).  One new gadget - a permanent self adhesive plastic edge guide for sewing straight seams will allow me to get rid of the blue masking tape on my machine bed.  Hope it works as well! My only big purchase was a Sew Easy portable sewing table that I can use upstairs in the winter when I don't want to be outside in my little studio and can go with me to classes. I was disappointed that there were no vendors selling hand dyed fabrics - only the usual run of commercial prints and batiks. Nothing unusual at all,  sadly.  I'll have to wait for Road to California.....

I did take some great classes including two with the wondrous Australian quilt artist Pam Holland  - one on dying cheese cloth and layering on fabric to get really interesting effects and texture. The little study of the Mexican door at left was the result a combination of layered cheesecloth and illustration techniques with thread and Tsukineko fabric markers.
The other class was doing free motion illustration in black thread on a light background - essentially sketching by machine over your design which is sketched or printed on to a piece of see through vellum.  A great technique. I'll post mine when it's finished.

Saturday was two classes - one with the lovely Jean Brown of Jean's Impressions learning her hand quilting technique.  Yes, I said hand quilting!  Though I'm a dedicated machine quilter, I've had a yen recently to try my hand at hand quilting on some more traditional pieces. I now know I need a lot of practice, but it was lovely spending a morning with this wonderful traditional hand quilter and listening to her stories -  slowing down and taking one stitch at a time. Using her Aunt Becky tool and her techniques it was was easier than I expected.

Later in the day on Saturday I joined the applique' class of quilt artist David Taylor from Steamboat Spring, Colorado who I've known for several years and taken classes from before, but never a class on his particular hand applique' technique. I learned a lot and it was great to see him again and enjoy his quirky sense of humor.

I ran from that class down to the show floor to do my  shift in the SAQA booth. I enjoyed talking to friends who stopped by and sold a few SAQA catalogs and memberships! Friend and fellow Fiber Fanatic Sandra Lauterbach's "Red" was featured in one of the SAQA shows.

The quilts on show were incredible all over the floor especially the Black and White with a Twist exhibit from Quilts on the Wall  which included a wonderful piece by my friend Linda Miller.  My piece for that show was not at Long Beach, but will be included when it goes to Houston Quilt Festival in the fall. The Rituals quilts from Dinner at Eight Fiber Artists including the marvelous Geisha by Sherry Kleinman.

Now it's back to earth and to my own studio to finish up some projects and a special commission.... 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating Independence Day!

To celebrate Independence Day, July 4, 2012 I'll share this patriotic wall hanging recently finished.

I bought the appliqué pattern with the reproduction fabrics (including the background which is printed to emulate old, yellowed and stained muslin) from Karen Witt of Reproduction Quilts several years ago - maybe at Quilt Festival Houston -and vowed to make it by the next Fourth of July. Of course, it sat and sat and sat and in cleaning out my studio unearthed it in mid June. Amazingly enough I finished the wall hanging last week!

The machine appliqué piece was combined with a band of paper pieced square in a square blocks and mini sawtooth stars inspired by a workshop with Sally Collins in May. The center stars in those are 1 1/2 inches square though surprisingly easy to make using Sally's technique. These were all done in luscious deeply dyed Cherrywood cottons that have that Americana folk art look. The top and bottom border fabric is from a line reproducing antique American jacquard woven coverlets. I carefully machine quilted a grid background and free motion quilted the rest. I look at it now and wish I had the expertise to have hand quilted this, so maybe that is the next adventure....
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Making Waterfalls

I've just received a commission for a quilt which needs to incorporate ocean water and a boat bow wave and wake and so I've been fretting abut how to achieve these effects in fabric. Happily last week's Westside quilters workshop with northern California quilt artist Linda Schmidt has provided me with inspiration and a number of fairly easy techniques with which to accomplish watery effects. Here is one of her stunning large quilts showcasing her techniques.

It seems that the key to this process is some unusual materials that may not be on every quilter's shelf. Linda walked us through the various processes using some of her favorite materials including Tyvek mailing envelopes, puff paint, heat processed cellophane, dimensional paint, heat guns, Mistyfuse, lutradur, regular fabric paints, bamboo roving, glitter glue and Angelina fiber.

Our trial piece was one of Linda's small designs of a mountain waterfall.
Here is mine finished on the left. We were all curious about how we would utilize all this stuff, but by the end of the afternoon we all had all the components to a watery scene.

I won't give away any of her techniques using these materials - you'll have to take one of her workshops for that- but I'm so pleased with the effect I achieved that I'm ready to test it out on a larger work. I've already put in my order to Dharma Trading for her supply list.

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm Published in Machine Quilting Unlimited!

I'm so excited! Yesterday's mail brought me the July/August issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited Magazine with an article by Editor Kit Robinson "Quilts Inspired by the Sky" which features photos of my quilt Rainy Day San Francisco. It's a beautiful article with quilts by several other artists whose work Has always moved and inspired me - Betty Busby, Ann Brauer and Elizabeth Barton among others.

This quilt was initially made for a Quilts on the Wall exhibit "Bridges" at the 2011 International Quilt Festival Long Beach and then traveled to several venues during 2011-12.

For several months I fretted about how I would interpret the bridge theme and then one morning in October 2010 my husband and I were driving toward the Embarcadero having just traversed the Bay Bridge into San Francisco and there was this composition in front of me - thebridge in the rain disappearing in the mist, the shiny pavement and the streetcar. Glen was terrified as I pulled out my cell phone in the middle of traffic (yes, I was driving) and shot the photo through the windshield.
My thanks to Kit Robinson and her great magazine Machine Quilting Unlimited.....
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

A New Dresden Plate

Growing up there was always pair of vintage traditional Dresden Plate Quilts on the twin beds in the guest room. They resembled the quilt pictured below - small pastel prints on a white ground - and were supposedly made by a great grandmother or great great aunt on my father's side who was gone long before I was born. I was never particularly interested in them at the time and when a close friend from England came to stay in the 1980s and admired the quilts my mother (who in her later years was interested in giving everything away so I wouldn't be "burdened" with all of it )happily gave them to her.

It was only after my mother was gone that I became a quilter. Although I am most interested in expressing myself through art quilts, I still have a fondness for the old and traditional. It's a little late to think about these quilts from my childhood and wonder where our family's quilts are now, but I often think about them.

So when Westside Quilters offered a workshop with Anelie Belden author of
Thoroughly Modern Dresdens, I thought that perhaps it was meant for me to make my own version in a slightly different vein.

I took myself off to a local quilt shop - Sew Modern- in West Los Angeles and bought a variety of all the brightest most "modern" prints I could find. I didn't want to do a large quilt, but I thought I could get this out of my system with a small wall hanging or table runner and after some experimenting with EQ chose a setting that was a little quirky and non-traditional.

Anelie's technique of making the blades with a finished top edge and then incorporating a "sew and flip" move on to the background foundation worked terrifically. Non-traditional as this small piece is, it works terrifically in our very old school dining room and will stay there for the summer....

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sally Wright Pioneer Woman!

I don't know what it is about making jams, preserves, pickles that gives me such a feeling of real satisfaction. Taking that gorgeous fruit or vegetable and making something that looks jewel like in a jar is always a thrill for me. Don't get me wrong , I'm a confirmed urbanite, but "putting food by" makes me feel like the original pioneer woman. My husband's specialty is pickles, but my favorites are fruit preserves and chutneys. Every winter I make my favorite Meyer Lemon Marmalade and Indian Lemon chutney from our own backyard tree and every summer I do apricot jam.
Apricot season in southern California is May through early July. Last year waiting and hunting for the blessed Blenheim variety (supposedly the best for jam making) I missed out entirely. My local farmers market guy kept promising, but by the season's end I had missed the boat. So this weekend we got out there and found lovely small Pattersons and some huge unnamed things the size of medium apples.

Pitted, cut up and layered with loads of sugar (according to British cook Delia Smith's recipe at ) the fruit happily marinated overnight. This morning I put the pan on the fire to cook and got out the jars and tools.

I always get Glen to take a hammer to the pits to extract the lovely ivory kernels which I blanch and add at the end for even more flavor. the kettle boils furiously for about 20 minutes and suddenly there is this gorgeous unctuous orangey/gold concoction.

A little time for settling the foam , a little mess of ladling into jars , and about 20 minutes to process and seal the jars and there are 10 glistening jars. Some home printed labels complete the process.

Amazingly satisfying!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Glorious Broderie Perse!

On our recent trip to the American South - Charleston and Savannah in late April - Glen and I were  impressed and inspired  by the amount of 18th and early 19th century architecture and decorative arts which have been saved in these two beautiful cities. A case in point:  We wandered into the Charleston Museum   , by the way, the oldest museum in the United States, founded in 1773, and found in the Textile Gallery the most amazing and comprehensive collection of 18th and 19th century broderie perse quilts made by early Charlestonian women and  donated by their families. 

Displayed in low level lighting to preserve the fabrics and their original colors, these quilts fairly glowed inside their glass cases. Broderie Perse is an early technique of hand applique' in which motifs are cut from printed fabrics - mostly cottons- and attached in pleasing arrangements on a cotton or linen background fabrics. The background fabric is then finely hand quilted . These quilts incorporated French and English copper plate and wood block printed dress and upholstery goods. The detail is amazing and the colors are superb. The patterns echo the chinoiserie craze of the 18th century and the neoclassical taste of the late 18th and early 19th. 

Enough  words - let the quilts talk for themselves.

This little crib quilt below was actually my favorite -  I may have to make my own version of this with some reproduction fabrics.