Thursday, September 29, 2011


Stitched, a documentary that follows three quilters (Caryl Bryer Fallert, Hollis Chatelain and Randall Cook) as they prepare to enter  Houston's International Quilt Association show, when it was shown at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago on September 18. First the documentary was a lot funnier than I expected. I also enjoyed the music and loved that two songs by Cathy Miller, the "Singing Quilter" from Canada. Cathy's songs are extremely entertaining. and if you ever have the chance to see her in person, jump at it! Jena Moreno, the director (photograph), and her husband, Tom Gandy, the camera man. editor and graphic designer, were there. I also went out to dinner with them to a great PanAsian restaurant afterward. I found them to be delightful. I've thought a lot about the movie since seeing it. First, it seemed to me that for Jena it was the story and entertainment factor (how much people laughed) that seemed to be important to her and I think she succeeded. For me, it certainly did not tell the entire story of the quilt world. The focus was on the two major shows (Paducah, Kentucky, and Houston, Texas) with more of the focus being on the Houston show. Who was going to win? Unfortunately, none of them won so I was worried that the ending would be anticlimactic, but they were saved when Hollis won Viewer's Choice. They luckily (according to Tom) were able to capture Hollis' emotional response to hearing the announcement.

I was bothered that the traditional quiltmakers shown were elderly and outspoken about their dislike of art quilts. For an outsider, this might look like the opinion expressed speaks of all traditional quiltmakers which I know is not true. The flip side was also not shared. No art quilters were shown giving an opinion of traditional quilts.

I loved that we got a glimpse how the judging occurred at Houston.  I was quite surprised to see that no one was wearing white gloves! I am really surprised that no buzz has occurred about this. When I lived in Houston, I did volunteer to help hang the show four times and each time I was required to wear them. If anyone was seen not wearing them, we were severely admonished.

I am also not sure how long film will be relevant and I am not sure if people will want to watch it more than once. I could be wrong since sales were good with quite a few people even purchasing two copies. For me, I purchased a copy to support them. We need films about quiltmaking. The DVD is only $19.95 which is reasonably priced. Make sure to watch it all the way to the end for the bonus outtakes. Some which were funnier than others.

By the way, Jena is not a quilter nor does she plan to make one. She does live in Houston and drives by the George R Brown Convention Center (where the Houston quilt show takes place) every day on her way to work at the Houston Chronicle. She writes about air lines.  You cannot live in Houston and not be aware of the 50,000 people descending on the convention each year. She and her husband are going to be making a stretching and exercise video for quilters with Randall Cook before making a documentary on Mariachi bands. Jena's dad is in one and I'm sure it will be just as entertaining as Stitched.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Geared Up tp Paint ATCs

The new theme for the Arts in the Cards group is "Hardware." There is a joke in my family that if you stand still long enough that you will get painted. My sister even gave me a Christmas ornament that is a women with a paint brush and can of paint covered with different paint colors. So most of my trips to the hardware store is for paint. I even share in my lecture how I found the perfect color of periwinkle to paint the shutters on my house (which I did when Tom, my husband let on a business trip) in the section where rejected paint goes. The best $5.00 I ever spent! I added gears which also helped with my title! It was fun returning to making something out of fabric. I think this has also inspired me to work on a new quilt using graffiti images. The paper I am using to figure out the design (72" by 42") is laid out in my family room (only place with good lighting and space). Tom keeps saying, "You're not planning to spray paint in the family room, are you?" I just smile.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


This week I learned that my quilt, Me, You and Everyone (shown here), was not chosen by Quilter's Newsletter or the Journal for Original Thought. This quilt is part of a traveling exhibition by Fiber Artists For Hope titled The Unspoken Truth About Color: A Dialogue in Art Quilts About Racism. In my defense, it was not just my quilt. Nor do I begrudge those whose quilts were featured. I'm actually quite happy for them and for the group.

Quilter's Newsletter choose mostly quilts with people in them. For me, it seemed safe. Smiling children laying on the ground in a circle (a fabulous quilt) doesn't speak to the title of the exhibition in my opinion, but it does make a great image for a magazine. None of the incredible abstract or more "controversial" quilts like Bonnie Smith's quilt that deals with the KuKlux Clan were chosen. While I understand, it also makes me sad.

When I asked how the quilts for the Journal were chosen I was told that due to the fact that the quilts were going to be in black and white that they needed images that worked well in that format, the images had to be clear, personal preference of those doing the selecting and finally, space. Nineteen of the twenty-seven quilts were featured. I am so happy they choose Bonnie Smith's piece. I appreciated their honesty. I embrace their mission. I appreciate the connection that Jeanette Thompson provided.

I also was at the launch of the Journal for Orginal Thought journal. It was so energizing. The writing that is coming out of the participants blew me away. I was moved to tears more than once. I believe more than ever in the positive healing and changing powers of art. This organization embodies it all.

I wish I could tell you that these rejection doesn't hurt but that would be a lie. It does. The good news is tomorrow is a new day. I learned long ago that not everyone is going to like or get my work. My husband is one of those people and he supports me!  I know how lucky I am that I am in the position to make art. I know that I will continue to make art and there will be more rejections. I also know that it is better to put it out there and be rejected than to stay safe from pan because life is about pain and understanding.

 Artist Statement

Racism is not just about killing or wanting to eliminate an entire population or discriminating against the one who sits next to me, because she follows a different faith, holds a different belief, or simply has features and skin color different from mine. I must embrace racism because it is about me. It is also about you. It's about all of us. It's about understanding and realizing that we have more in common than we think. It's about creating a world that has room for all of us because we are all human beings.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

War and Peace by Jeanne Marklin

Jeanne Marklin is a member of Fiber Artist for Hope. This is her quilt War and Peace. "It was started in 2007, and I was still adding things in 2010! It is 49.5" height, 29.4" width. The fabrics are hand dyes from Heide Stoll-Weber and Ricky Tims, commercial fabrics, and tulle. The silvery gingko leaves are fabric paints. Machine pieced and quilted. Exhibited at Sacred Threads exhibit 2011 in Virginia." It was too large to fit into the 9/11 exhibition so I'm sharing it here. It is my hope that now that the 10th anniversary is over that we simply won't just move on. I so agree with Tom Brokaw when he said that:
  • We need to be more effective in promoting the American ideal without using guns and drones.
  • We need to listen to each other more and shout less.
  • We cannot keep our place as the greatest nation on earth if we are self-absorbed, deeply divided people too quick to forget the unity that prevailed immediately after 9/11.
On a personal note, I think today I finished the proofing (no fun) of my book, Quilts in the Attic, that will be out in January 2012. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I danced around the block and got caught by one of my neighbors. When I explained why I was so happy (besides the sun shining and the weather being in the mid-70s), she joined me. She's in her late 70s/early 80s and loves doing crazy things with me. "What will people think?" Me, "Who cares?" Her, "So true." Everyone should be so lucky.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Falling Below the Line

I'm reading Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom for the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt and highly recommend it especially if you love crows. Haupt talks about going to her doctor because she thought she had an anxiety disorder. I loved how her doctor shared with her that "people who live near to the line can easily fall below it." Last week I fell below the line. I don't know why Fall, with all its wonderful colors, always makes me sad. Maybe it's the impending Chicago winter which seem to feel longer and longer each year. Or maybe it's just the craziness lately. Will I ever fit in anywhere? Last year I had the writing of my book to get me through winter. Need to find something to focus on this winter. Heck, I need to simply find something now to get me out of my funk.

Monday, September 12, 2011

And More Quilts

Chaos and Confusion by Janice Willis ($100) and Be Peace by me ($125)

Never Enough Tears by Jeanette Thompson ($100)

Across the Universe by Jeanette Thompson ($100) and 
September Sky ($150) Jacqueline Bryant Campbell
Nobody's Socks by Sherry Boram and
Spirits Rising by Vivian Milholen (NFS)

More 9/11 Quilts

OH, NO! by Susan Walen ($150)

Reclaiming Ground Zero by Kathy Zieben ($500) and  
Surviving, Improving...Remembering by Marjorie Diggs Freeman ($150)

9/11 - Primer by Susan Shie ($500) and
Only Love Can Do That by Suanne Reed ($100)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fiber Artists for Hope's 9/11 Exhibit

Today I attended 9/11 Primer: The Epoch of the Peacemakers organized by the Human Thread and co-sponsored by Chicago Fringe Festival. The Fiber Artists for Hope's 9/11 quilts, titled Reflections on September 11th, A Decade Later and curated by Jeanette Thompson, were on exhibit. I apologize for the fuzzy photos but the lighting made photography difficult and I did not want to use a flash. I'm drained from all the activities today so I'll post some tonight and more tomorrow.

September 11, 2011 Blue and September 11, 2011 Yellow by Bonnie Smith ($95 each).

A Time for Everything by Michelle Flamer (NFS) and Homeland Security by Betty Colburn ($100)

Frozen ($100) Susan Levering whose quilt was a favorite of several people I talked with after the program.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Painted Chair

When I had my jeep (sometimes I still miss it and this is one reason), I picked up treasures from the side of the road. This chair, a road side treasure, has been sitting in my basement for several years waiting for me. Originally I thought I would put it outside when one of my other chairs fell apart. Instead I decided to try my hand at painting it. Tanner, my son's dog, had chewed the corner of the pillow (not once but twice!) which is now the seat cover (I like it better as a seat cover anyway). I bought a few cheap acyclic paints and used painted that I had so this chair cost me less than $5.00.  The chair is in my kitchen at the desk and makes me smile every time I pass it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tote Bag Next Steps

Once the sewing is done and you have squared up your pieces, measure and cut your lining the same size.

Next, it's time to cut some notches so that the bag has a bottom. I cut 1 3/4 inch notches. Sew the sides and bottom of the bag. I sew these 1/2 inch and have to remind myself because I'm so use to 1/4 inch seams with quiltmaking.

Do the same for the lining EXCEPT you're going to leave a 6 inches opening on the bottom so when you sew everything together you can easily turn it inside out. You can simply sew the opening closed with your sewing machine once it is turned.

With right sides together and matching the seams, sew the notches to create the bottom of your bag. Again remembering to sew a 1/2 inch seam.

I love pockets so I always make sure the bags I make have at least one. When I started I did not line the pockets and quickly learned that lining them was worth the time and effort. Remember to place you pocket lower that the time of your lining or you might sew your pocket shut! You can add a zipper to your pocket if you like or add a button closure.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reflections on 9/11

I have three pieces (including the one shown) in an exhibition called Reflection on 9/11: Ten Years Later by artists in the Fiber Artists for Hope group. Most of the quilts are 9 inches by 11 inches. Be Peace is 11" by 11" because I couldn't get it to work in the 9" by 11" format. Jeanette Thompson, the curator, asked for the piece and I was happy to send it. The quilts are on display at the Meridian Stage, 1932 S. Halsted, Chicago until September 11. This is part of the Chicago Fringe Festival. On September 11, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.  will be the 9/11 Primer - The Epoch of the Peacemakers. I will be there and hope to see you too! I can't wait to see all the quilts in the exhibition up close and personal. I'm also curious to see if any of them sell. I promise to share about the event and the exhibition.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tote Bag Details (one)

Okay! I had not planned on sharing more about my tote bags, but all the questions I've received have made me realize this is what a lot of my readers want. I live to serve! You're lucky too because I have begun making a new tote bag for my new daughter-in-law Sang. I first choose the umbrella fabric to build from in both color and design. I'm pleased so far. I like fairly large tote bags, but not so big that it becomes too easy to overfill. The size of this piece is 15" by 20". I'm also trying something new. Instead of using batting, I'm using a wool and rayon blend piece of felt. I spray baste the back to the felt then sew the pieces directly onto the lining (also the umbrella fabric, but for this part I'm using muslin or other fabric that is light in color) and felt. I usually use 7-8 fabrics, but this one seemed to work for me with fewer pieces. I originally had a green piece of fabric included, but it just didn't work for me so I used the blue one instead. I'm also not sure that Sang would like more. The next step is to do some machine quilting, but this is not necessary. It's just something I like to do. My friend Barbara does not quilt her tote bags at all and they are marvelous.

I realize you'll have to enlarge the photo to see that I have quilted two sections (the circles and brown fabric). I think it's fun to just play around on tote bags. You could quilt the entire piece too. If there is any distortion, you simply cut it and make it square. No one will know that you made it a little smaller. Personally, I just want to add interest and not make it look like a quilted bag. More tomorrow!

I'd also like to thank everyone for their sympathy and suggestions for my handle problem. You are the best!

Stitched the film Coming to Chicago

Stitched the film will be premiering in Chicago at two venues. Jena Moreno, the director, will be present and selling the DVDs after both viewings.

Stitched is a fun-filled documentary following three quilters racing to complete their entries for the International Quilt Festival, the largest quilt show in the nation. The Houston show draws more than 50,000 quilters including three artists who created some controversy with their work. Quilting legend Caryl Bryer Fallert was the first to win a major prize for her quilt made with a sewing machine. She mentored Hollis Chatelain who caused a stir when she won an award for a painted quilt. And Hollis mentored Randall Cook who sparked controversy with his quilt of a male nude. In this 72-minute documentary, these quilters create their pieces to compete in the 2010 quilt show.

Saturday, September 17, 1:00 p.m.
Forest Park Public Library
7555 Jackson Blvd.
Forest Park, IL 60130

Sunday, September 18, 2:00 p.m.
National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St
Chicago, IL 60608
admission to the museum is FREE

I'll be at the NNMA viewing so I'd love to meet up! If you can help spread the word, I know Jena would appreciate it. We need to support efforts like these!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tote Bag Handle Problem

Christmas 2009 I went crazy making tote bags (15 in all).  You can see them in my post of December 1, 2009. For many of the bags I purchased vinyl for the handle. I thought it would hold up better and was worth the extra cost. The bags were a hit. Unfortunately, friends and family who have used their bags a lot have found that the vinyl handles have separated. This weekend I've spent my time trying to repair one friend's handles. This has turned out to be much more of a challenge than I expected. FabricTac glue did not hold which was a huge surprise. I finally used Gorilla Glue but even with it I had to use bulldog clips used it dried. I had a moment of panic when one of the clips got glue on it and resisted coming off. Hopefully the glue will hold it together. I was going to make some more bags (only 1-2, the obsession to make many has passed) but will pass on purchasing vinyl handles.