Thursday, May 22, 2008


At the end of April, I went to the Hudson River Valley art workshops to study for a week with Margot Lovinger. If you don't know her wonderful work, just google her. Margot taught how to use layers of sheers to achieve depth and dimension in quilt art. We all brought as many different colors of tulle as we could find, and it was a hoot as we opened our bags and the stuff exploded! We were asked to bring a photo from which we could work. We drew it's major outlines, blew it up in size using an overhead projector, and ultimately traced the image, using a lightbox, onto a piece of artist canvas.

We fused Wonder Under to large pieces of fabric which would form the major shapes in our picture, as you can see in this next picture....

and then we began to build layers of sheers to define shapes, make shadows, modulate color, and create depth.

The sheers are hand sewn through the canvas with tiny "tacking" stitches, often layer upon layer, to get the desired effect. Ultimately, we auditioned different colors of tulle to use as an overlay (mine turned out to be a vibrant purple!). The fabric picture was made 6 inches larger on all sides so that we could use the mounting Margot taught us. Foam core board was affixed atop wood framing. This layer was followed by one-inch foam, cut to the edges of the board, and topped with a layer of batting. The quilt-canvas is the top layer, and it is stretched around the framing and stapled to the wood in the back. The image, therefore, continues around the sides of the piece. Here's a picture of my final project, which I call "Water Carriers."

The second project I recently completed was to try to make a 12" x 12" square for the SAQA online auction to be held in October, proceeds going to support the organization. As an Old Folkie, I'd long wanted to make something in honor of one of my folk heroes, an old bluesman named Mississippi John Hurt. John was born in Avalon, Mississippi in 1892, and I got to hear him in a club in Washington D.C. shortly after he was "discovered" and shortly before he died (1966). John's family were very poor sharecroppers, but his mother managed to squeak out $1.50 for his first guitar when he was 9 years old. Nobody taught him to play his syncopated finger-picking style; as he said, "I just make it sound like I think it ought to." This wize, but gentle and soft-spoken man wrote some great hot songs, like "Nobody's Dirty Business" and "Candy Man Blues." This is my quilt for John:

Now go see all the amazing quilts that are piling up on the SAQA auction site, and buy one!


After a brief skirmish with breast cancer (lumpectomy, clean margins, no further treatments!), I got back to work. This little piece was the next thing I completed. It's called "Lily and her Dog" and was mailed out to Lily's mom after she'd sent a photo in their Xmas card. I learned that dog hair is hard to draw!

Meanwhile, I'd been working along on a Fractured Flower #2 challenge, sponsored by SAQA. We all got a large print of this gorgeous flower, and you can see that it's divided into 4 irregular segments. The idea was that we would do 4 separate "quilts", leaving unfinished edges around all sides of each piece. We were to photograph our work, mail the 4 pieces to the moderator of the challenge (Tomme Fent), who would then send back 4 NEW pieces (we'd never see our own again) which we combined into a finished quilt, which was then posted on the website. Here are some shots of this sequence: First, a practice piece I made:

And here's a shot of my four finished pieces, in parts:

Here's what I did with the new interesting and creative segments I was sent...

And here's a shot of the label on the back, showing the artists who did the various pieces. All in all, a very interesting and fun project.

That brings us to about March, when my first-born son (Alec) and his wife (Rachel) returned from Germany. They'd been living in Heidelburg and working at the Max Plank Institutes for a year, and as a welcome home present, I made a quilt based on some photos they'd sent of the castle. I played with things a bit, adding two little figures in the back (me and my hubby), a tourist with two camera bags on the left front, and my beloved travelers on the right. I took the heads from a photo of them at their pre-wedding dinner and dressed them up in winter togs for the Heidelburg chill. The photo below shows the work in progress.

They loved the quilt, until they saw their pictures on it. Two weeks later they hesitantly asked if I could just take them off! Geez. But I'm working on it.

Hey. Remember that Nancy Crow course I took last year? I promised to post the final project that we did, and I have just declared it "DONE." Now in full disclosure mode, I have to tell you that when our final projects were put up around the room in Nancy's great barn studio, I was forced to conclude that I am probably the worst student Nancy has had in several years. Mine didn't look anything like the sophisticated pieces others displayed on their design walls. But it's big, bright, and cheery, and has a -- shall we say -- happpy childlike quality to it.

Now Nancy Crow has long been a quilting idol of mine, and after I recovered from the course I took from her, I realized I'll always be grateful to her for making me realize that I loathe strip-piecing!