Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dreaming of Georgia

My dreams last night were of Georgia and my friends there. I miss them more than I want to admit. The photo is one I took of my favorite balcony in old Tbilisi. It is also a landmark. If I turn lef,t I go to Maia's home and right takes me to the Georgian Textile Group's studio. I don't know if I will make it this fall but I do know I will return. Hopefully there will be no more state of emergencies (happened the last time I was there) or invasions by the Russians (prevented my trip last year). Paka! Karen

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pinch Me

Saturday was an unbelievable day for so many reasons. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all. The quilts that are being created by the quilt group are incredible. I cannot believe how confident, original and thoughtful these quilts are especially with the subject matter--the "Women of Juarez." Since 1993, more than 450 young, petite, long haired, dark skinned children and women (10-28 years old) have been killed in Juarez, Mexico. The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago will be having an exhibit concerning this very subject which is why I am teaching the workshop. Which also leads me to the pinch me part. My quilt "They are our daughters, our sisters" has been juried into exhibit. I am so deeply honored. I cried. I'll try to post a few detail shots of the quilt tomorrow. I'm not sure if I can share the entire thing with you yet.

On this coming Saturday, the original quilt group will be taped for a special project with Northwestern University on immigration by a journalism student. Eventually the documentary will be on a website specifically for this project. I've been asked to be a part of the documentary. I hate these kinds of things. However, this is too important to the women and the musuem so I'm doing it. Wish me luck! As always, with deep gratitude, Karen

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quilt Me A Story

The National Museum of Mexican Art has expanded their website (http://www.nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org/). There is now an online story too. I love the museum's gift shop. It's a dangerous place for me. They have now also added the "Quilt Me A Story" exhibit to the front page. The quilts are getting a lot of attention which makes me so happy. Today a journalism student from Northwestern University is going to visit the class and do some interviewing. It should be interesting. I'll let you know what happens. I'm excited to see what progress has been made with the quilts. I also want to introduce the idea of making fabric angel dolls in addition to the quilts. We were discussing my dolls in the last class. I'm excited! Need to run and get ready. Karen

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Look Deeper"

This was a piece that I made that I donated to SAQA's "One Foot Square" auction. An amazing professional quiltmaker, curator, writer, etc. purchased the piece and I was so deeply touched. Recently I had an opportunity to interview her for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories and discovered that she has more than 700 quilts in her collection. Mine hangs in her studio. She shared with me that the quilt has gotten many postive comments from the many people who go through her studio. It was fun to explain to her what was in this piece. The "Look Deeper" is a photograph of a door that my husband took for me when we were standing in line to get into MOMA in San Francisco. I noticed it when I looked down the alley across the street as we were walking to get in. The star piece was from a workshop I gave in the Republic of Georgia on surface design. The fimo buttons were a gift from my friend Kathy Pierpoline and are placed on Etal which I was was still being made. The batik man is from Africa and purchased at a shop near my home that was moving. I truly wish I knew where they went. Although it is probably better for my pocketbook that I don't. The charms hanging off the hand say "dream," "hope" and I cannot remember what the third charm said, "love" perhaps. Anyway, I've been floating since our conversation. I've been exploring what I am calling improvasational quilting and I am liking the results more and more. It feels good to be using all these treasures that I have kept in drawers and boxes. Karen

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I've been in a mood to finish things. This piece which is called "Connections" (title decided before I even thought about this blog) was started last October on my way to visit my friend Elizabeth Cherry Owen in Maine. It is hand appliqued and hand quilted using pearl cotton. It was unplanned as are so many pieces I've been doing of late. I simply created the background, threw some fabrics together that I thought would work, cut out a variety of circle templates and worked on it while I was flying and in the evenings when Elizabeth and I sat around and talked. I quilted it on the way home from my sister's wedding reception in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Easter. I put the silk dupioni binding and sleeve on while spending a wonderful Friday (April 17) with my friend Barbara Wester. It has a lot of texture which unfortunately doesn't show up in the photo. It feels good to have it done. It is 30" by 18". Karen

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Postmark'd Art New Elements Challenge-Leaves

The newest challenge was leaves. A 12" by 12" piece that is then subcut into 4" by 6" postcards. I'm so excited that this is finished. It isn't due until October 15. the leaves are each indiviudally made. Some are made from hand dyes. Others are made from commercial fabrics. It seemed too flat so I also added some leaves that were commerical leaf fabric. I did sew details to each leaf. While the bark challenge, caused me to create a tree this challenge was actually inspired by a mask I had made. The Green Man mask was inspired by reading an anthology "The Green Man" edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I've never been pleased with my Green Man mask. He did not turn out as in my mind's eye. However, he did make it into several shows. And I do think I will do another Green Man mask and hopefully make what was in my mind's eye. Enjoy! Karen

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Beatriz's Quilt

Beatriz Alvarez is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She is always in a good mood. Christmas is her favorite holiday so she decided to make her quilt about the differences between a Mexican Christmas and Christmas in Chicago. Beatriz loved embellishing and I will try to post some detail shots so you can see them as they really make the quilt.
Enjoy! Karen

Friday, April 17, 2009

NMMA Opening Night

Here are all of us (minus Raquel) together at the opening. My world is richer because of these women. Dolores Mercado (far left) is the person who invited me to teach. She is no longer with the Education Department at the museum but she still checks in on us. Two of the women pictured have decided not to do the next session with us. Our next project is to create quilts based on the women of Juarez, Mexico. Since 1993, more than 450 women have been tortured, raped and killed in Juarez. The women range in age from 10 to 28. They are all petite, dark skinned with long hair and poor women. The work that is being produced is amazing and I cannot wait to share it with you. Saludos, Karen

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Postcard for AAQI

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) (alzquilts.org) raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer's research. My mother-in-law, Dorothy, and friend, Ron, both have Alzheimer's. Ron got the disease when he was 50. My mother-in-law is dying the way she most feared. I'm only thankful she is no longer aware of this.

I made a $1,000 Promise which basically means that I promise to raise at least $1,000 for research through the AAQI with my quilt art. At this point in time, I have raised $943.62. It's been a while since I have made anything for the AAQI so I've decided it's time to start making art so that I could fulfill my promise. I seem to do very well with my postcards. I was making a Calla Lily for a quilt and decided to make a postcard too. Hopefully I will be able to report that I have exceeded my goal soon! By the way, the postcard sale is ongoing and a great way to support the cause! With gratitude, Karen

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bark Challenge Inspired Tree

I have the privilege of belonging to a group called Postmark'd Art which has amazing people in it. We swap postcards. Our last swap included an "elements" challenge. We were to create a 12" by 12" piece (the first image) that looked like tree bark. The piece was then cut into 4" x 6" postcard sized pieces. Five were mailed to others who in turn sent their bark inspired pieces. In the end, everyone had 6 pieces with different techniques for bark. My piece was simply raw edged applique. I enjoyed making bark so much that I decided to try making a tree using the same process. Here is my piece. It was fun to make and the car trip to my sister's wedding reception provided the prefect opportunity for finishing it. I am also eternally grateful to the group because I know I would not have made the quilt without this challenge. It is 26" by 46". Enjoy! Karen

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ira's Second Face

Here is the first face that Ira decided she did not want to use.


Detail of Ira's Quilt

Sue, your wish is my command. There are actually two faces in the quilt. When she started the first one she didn't like it but didn't want to discard it. In my last couple of trips to Georgia, I've been teaching surface design techniques. While I continue to ship fabric to the group, the expense is reducing the size and frequency. I wanted them to try to use what they can find. It still amazes me that they do not get better quality cottons being a neighbor of Turkey. The shop owners just don't seem to understand a need. I was able to convince several stationery stores to import rotary cutters. However in more than two years of effort, I have not been able to convince them of the need for mats. Anyway, her face was done with acrylic paint.

My oldest son pointing out to me at the "Quilt Me a Story" opening that he could see my influence in all the quilts. I try hard not to put myself too much in my students work. I do know it is there. Just like the quilts at the museum are made with a lot of my fabrics. So are the ones, like this one, from Georgia. I love seeing my fabric used my others. Georgians did not like the idea of black and white quilts until they kept seeing mine. An influence, yes. However, Ira's quilt does not look like my work at all. Karen

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Georgian Quilt Group

This is Ira Kashrashvilli-Lavrinenko from my quilt group in Georgia (former U.S.S.R.). Whenever and wherever I teach, I always stress that the work you create should come from within you. When I asked Ira while the woman looked so sad, she told that she was sad because she did not have a man. She has plans to create a Spanish man with a feather in his hat to accompany this quilt. It took the members of my Georgian group some time to come to realize that they needed to create things that reflected who they were. I am so proud of Ira. Not only is she creating quilts that reflect her but she is becoming more precise! My world is a better place with her in it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More "Quilt Me a Story"

Maria Tortolero's quilt shows her village in Mexico where she grew up and Chicago. I love all the detail that Maria put into her quilt. I love even more that Maria has caught the bug! All she wants to do is quilt! I think this is an amazing first quilt. I hope you agree with me.

I do want to share one sad story. Maria shared her quilt with two quiltmakers who were visiting the musuem and they immediately started telling her everything that she has done wrong. I wanted to cry as she shared this experience with me. My teaching philosophy with beginners is expression first and the skill level with improve. We all need to be kind to each other and ourselves. Happy creating! Karen

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Quilt Me a Story (Socorro Carlos)

This is another first quilt. Socorro Carlos shares her story of immigration from Mexico to Chicago when she was around 2 year old. It was a windy September day when they stepped of the airplane to their new home. The argument is whether she or her sister were wearing the red coat. However, it is her most vivid memory. I love how she has roots coming out of her grandmother's house to remind everyone of her roots are Mexican. She did lots of embellishing which is also near and dear to my heart. She has gold button earrings, lace on her socks, tight braids because that is how her mother did their hair and she holds a medal of the Infant of Prague who has always watched over her.

Another amazing quilt will be added tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quilt Me a Story

I have had the great privilege of teaching a group of incredible women how to quilt at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The workshop was titled "Quilt Me a Story." The quilts were suppose to share their immigration story. Many of the women at never sewn and did not know how to use a sewing machine. Over the next several days I will be sharing their quilts and stories. I am also interviewing them for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories (www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/qsos/). This is Maria Herrera. She was the first one to finish. Maria's quilt tells the immigration story of her father. Maria struggled with color until she left the iron on her quilt and burnt a hole in her quilt. She believes this is the best thing that could have happened to her quilt. It is raw edged appliqued and machine quilted. I am so proud of her. She now declares to the world that she is an artist and plans many more quilts. Karen