Monday, December 21, 2015

Paper Pieces

I was recently in Paducah, KY, for a quilting retreat with friends. We made a stop at Paper Pieces, a shop (and on-line store) for paper piecing supplies. Before I get into this post, I just want you to know I am not in any way being compensated for this write-up. I am just a happy customer (and my friends tell me an enabler). The owner and staff were VERY friendly, informative, and welcoming. The shop itself is small but well stocked with all your paper piecing needs. I bought the coolest things.

First, I purchased a great portable work table. Here are the pictures from their website (although they really don’t do the table justice—mine is cuter).

This thing is ingenious. It tilts, it has a place for three spools of thread, a little magnet to hold your needles, a cloth cover along with a heat-proof cover for ironing, and the cloth cover even has a little pocket on it. When all the covers are taken off, sandpaper has been added to the top. That feature is great for holding your fabric in place while tracing pattern pieces. It even tilts. One of the best things about it is that it is made in the USA. This is a well thought out piece.

My other purchase was a small ring-type cutter for cutting thread.

The owner of the shop told us this cutter was originally made for cutting fishing line, but the fisherman's wife used it for cutting her sewing threads when she couldn’t find her scissors. She liked it SO much she gave cutters to her friends, and they all loved it too. I plan to use it when traveling. I figure it will be much easier to get to than scissors when I’m sewing in the car AND I can use it on a plane. The cutter rings come in black or pink.


I wanted to buy lots of things at the shop but didn’t since I will be working “forever” on my big hexagon project. If you ever get to Paducah, stop by. If not, you can always shop online here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

What's in a Name?

I REALLY have trouble coming up with names for my pieces, and I struggled with the name for my latest piece. You can see the quilt in this blog post. Here are a couple of detail pictures. (I'm happy I decided to hand quilt this piece.)

I asked friends (who came up with some very good ideas--"Poppy Daze" was my favorite), I did some research, and I thought about it A LOT. I looked for synonyms for "poppy," but I didn't think "opium," "drug," "brown stuff," "opiate," "heroin," or "morphine" were appropriate. While doing some research, I read about how the poppy was the inspiration for a famous poem and was touched by the story of how the poppy is used as a remembrance for fallen soldiers. I thought I had stumbled upon something I could work with here.

"The sight of these delicate, vibrant red flowers growing on the shattered ground caught the attention of a Canadian soldier by the name of John McCrae. He noticed how they had sprung up in the disturbed ground of the burials around the artillery position he was in. It was during the warm days of early May 1915 when he found himself with his artillery brigade near to the Ypres-Yser canal. He is believed to have composed a poem following the death of a friend at that time. The first lines of the poem have become some of the most famous lines written in relation to the First World War."

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

The information in the previous paragraph comes from the website listed below. If you'd like more information about the poppy and how it became a symbol of rememberance check it out here--

So, I chose "Remembrance" as the name for my quilt. Not only does "Remembrance" refer to the poppy's being the recognized symbol of Remembrance for fallen soldiers, but (in this case) it is also a nod to Marie Webster--a "remembrance" of her accomplishments as a quilter and early female entrepreneur. She authored a book and had a business at a time when that was a rare occurrence for a woman. "Remembrance"--here's to you Marie Webster!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Finally Finished

I have been frantically working on a piece for the last two months. Thankfully, I had some quilt/art retreats in those months that allowed me the concentrated work time to finish it. "Remembrance" was made in response to a call for entry for the regional SAQA exhibition, Dialogues: Contemporary Responses to Marie Webster Quilts to be held at the Indiana Museum of Art early next year.

According to the SAQA website, the following is the exhibition concept: "Artists are asked to submit work that responds to the early 20th century quilts made by Marie Daugherty Webster (1859-1956). Webster’s quilts were inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and represented a fresh and innovative approach to quilt design. Since then, the world has changed dramatically. Our experiences, perceptions, ideas and art have been influenced by wars and political upheaval, by the changing roles of women, by globalization and environmentalism, and by extraordinary advances in science and technology. We invite you to respond to a single Webster quilt or to the group as a whole – specifically those designed in the early 1900s – with work that reflects the times we live in: how do we, in the early 21st century, express ourselves artistically? Your artist’s statement must cite the connection you are making to a particular Webster quilt or quilts."

I didn't go into the work with anything political, environmental, cultural, or scientific in mind. I looked, primarily, at her style and design sense. Her style and mine could not be more different, so coming up with a design that was influenced by her work and still stayed true to mine proved difficult. I like bold color and bold shapes. She used (primarily) VERY traditional designs, lots of flowers, and pastel colors. The one thing we have in common is the hand quilting. There is NOTHING that gives you the look of hand quilting. I bought her book, researched her quilts, and still struggled to find an inspiration; I kept going back to her Poppy quilt. You can see it here.

The thing I liked the most about it was the "flow" and symmetry of the central poppy medallion. While I am drawn to symmetry (as most people are), I don't like too much of a good thing, and I kept this in mind while making my piece. When you look at mine, you will notice that it is not (intentionally) EXACTLY symmetrical. I'm showing the quilts side by side so (hopefully) you can see how her work inspired my piece.

(The picture above is deceptive--Marie's quilt is a full-size quilt; mine is about the size of her central medallion.) My background is solid white and is HEAVILY hand quilted. I took this photo of my quilt with my phone; I guess I didn't realize there was a big shadow on it till I'm looking at the photo now. (I'm not seeing anyting very well these days; I have to have eye surgery in January--long story.)
In my next post about this piece, I'll tell you how I came upon the name for my quilt and a bit more about the exhibit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Nineteen Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Present and Past (3)

This is my third installment about a quilt exhibit at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science in Evansville, IN. The exhibit opened on October 24 and runs through January 10, 2016. NINETEEN STARS: QUILTS OF INDIANA’S PRESENT AND PAST, begins the museum’s celebration of Indiana’s upcoming Bicentennial. The theme is drawn from the 19 stars depicted in the state flag that commemorate Indiana’s position as the 19th state to join the Union. I recently had the opportunity to view this wonderful exhibit. If you live close enough to check it out, please do so. If you would like more information about the exhibit or museum, click here.

In my previous posts, I've shown you lone star quilts and variations, feathered stars, and Penny Sisto's quilt about Frances Slocum. In my last installment on the show, I'm going to show you a variety of quilts in the exhibit.

I have to mention the fact that, as a hand quilter myself, I LOVE to see good hand quilting. This show did not disappoint. Here is only one of many examples of REALLY, REALLY good hand quilting.

REALLY good machine quilting was also represented.

There were modern/art quilts (the full quilt--Bohemian Fireworks by Sandra Peterson, 2009--is in the upper left; the other three pics are close up shots),

Bohemian II: Ferris Wheels and Kites, Sandra Peterson, 2013 (below)

and there were traditional quilts (full quilt upper left; remaining pics are close up shots).

(Quilt above--Back Porch Stars, top designed and pieced by Kaye England; quilted by Cathy Franks, 2014)

The traditional quilt above (Stars Across Indiana by Deb Geyer, 2014-2015) is unusual because of the quilting in the solid areas of the pattern. Deb says she included some of her favorite images from across Indiana in the quilting of the blocks. She has included things like the Purdue Student Union, country scenes, the Indy 500, the Children's Museum and more.

The Indiana Amish quiltmakers were represented, too. This quilt (Variable Star) was made by Katie C. Troyer Miller in 1915.

I haven't shown you nearly all the quilts in the exhibit. Please check it out in person if you get the chance. It is well worth the trip.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Nineteen Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Present and Past

This is my second installment about a quilt exhibit at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science in Evansville, IN. The exhibit opened on October 24 and runs through January 10, 2016. NINETEEN STARS: QUILTS OF INDIANA’S PRESENT AND PAST, begins the museum’s celebration of Indiana’s upcoming Bicentennial. The theme is drawn from the 19 stars depicted in the state flag that commemorate Indiana’s position as the 19th state to join the Union. I recently had the opportunity to view this wonderful exhibit. If you live close enough to check it out, please do so. If you would like more information about the exhibit or museum, click here.

Here are some more of my favorites.

This one is a string star (Enlightened Star made by Judy Pleiss, from Indianapolis, in 2014). She says she was inspired by a 1940s scrap quilt top she purchased for $15. I love the lively colors in this quilt; I LOVE scrap quilts.

This was my favorite feathered star. It was made in Pike County--1840-1870. This is another quilt where the quilting is just FABULOUS.

I had to show you a close up of this star. There is LOTS of gorgeous hand quilting on this quilt.

Penny Sisto has two quilts in the exhibit. (I'm only showing you one of them. You REALLY need to see these quilts in person. The imagery is spectacular, and the eyes haunting.) The focus of both quilts is Frances Slocum. At the age of five, Frances was kidnapped by Delaware Indians. She was raised among the Delaware in what is now Ohio and Indiana. This quilt is called Frances Slocum's Totem and was made in 2014.

Penny says, "Against a darkening sky a Totem forms. It is made up of the child Frances Slocum in the years after she was kidnapped."

"The horizon of the quilt shows a child's memory of the kidnappers galloping bareback. The scene is chaotic and stands in sharp contrast to the stillness of the Totem group. Frances holds a deerskin shield bearing the symbol of a white deer."

"The shield frames the head of her adopted Grandmother/Teacher who teaches her the ways of her new people."

"An eagle rises behind Frances to bring her guidance and courage. Fractured stars form a line behind her right sholder, lighting her pathway."

I will have one more installment on this exhibit. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Nineteen Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Present and Past

There is currently a quilt exhibit at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science in Evansville, IN. The exhibit opened on October 24 and runs through January 10, 2016. NINETEEN STARS: QUILTS OF INDIANA’S PRESENT AND PAST, begins the museum’s celebration of Indiana’s upcoming Bicentennial. The theme is drawn from the 19 stars depicted in the state flag that commemorate Indiana’s position as the 19th state to join the Union. I had the opportunity to go to the exhibit today. If you live close enough to check it out, please do so. We need to get the word out that fiber arts are appreciated and that people are willing to come to the museum specifically to see fiber art. If you would like more information about the exhibit or museum, click here.

If you are a fiber art lover, you know you need to see these in person--looking at pictures just doesn't do the pieces justice. These were some of my favorites from the show.

There were very old lone star and lone star variation quilts. This one by Rachel Rardin from Greenfield, IN, is dated from 1835-1843. The quilting on this quilt is specifically mentioned on the information about the quilt. It says, "Besides the perfectly flat central star, unusual (and difficult) diamond border and survival of easily-faded purple dye, this quilt is also notable for its quilting, a formidable eleven stitches to the inch in white or blue-green thread (depending on the hue of the face fabric) through a very thin batting.

This quilt is called Stars Upon Stars and was made between 1913-1919.

This Blazing Star Quadrant Quilt was made between 1860-1880.

I took a close up of this quilt; the quilting was FABULOUS.

This is a lone star made by Anna Chupp Miller from Goshen, IN. It is dated 1930.

It is amazing to me that women 100 years ago could make such masterpieces, and that the work would survive in such good shape considering the tools (or lack of tools) they had to use. I'm sure many of them worked like my grandmother by cutting templates from thin cardboard/brown paper/sandpaper, cutting out quilt pieces with scissors (no rotary cutters back in the day), piecing by hand, and quilting by hand. I'm floored by the talent of these quiltmakers.

Over the next few days, I'll share some more quilts from the exhibit. There are string stars, Amish stars, and very modern stars yet to share with you.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Mindless" Embroidery

I belong to a great fiber arts group that meets in Louisville, KY. LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) is a good mix of all types of fiber artists. One of the best things about the group is that it offers free classes to group members. LAFTA members volunteer to lead workshops in a wide variety of areas such as screen printing, felting, beading, bead embroidery, design, and "mindless" embroidery to name a few.
I just took the "mindless" embroidery class led by Felice Sachs. Felice explained that she has been stitching on small canvas pieces. She uses the stitching to keep her hands busy as she watches TV. You can see one of her pieces in the picture below.

Felice was kind enough to allow me to take photos of a few of her pieces to share with you. These are some of my favorites. She sometimes uses pieces of fabric collaged onto her pieces.

Here she has collaged a piece of lace onto the canvas.

Sometimes she simply uses threads.

I do a lot of embroidery, but I NEVER use just one strand of floss. (I'm a bit more of an "extreme" embroiderer. My work is a little more "in your face.") For these pieces, Felice always uses only one strand. She sometimes stitches over an area more than once, but she sticks to the one strand "rule." I like the more delicate look of the stitching with one strand. I appreciate that Felice shared her expertise with us in this class. I really enjoyed it. I'd also like to give a big shout out to Preston's Art Center on Bardstown Road. They let us use their classroom space for free. If you can visit the shop in person, you should. It is a GREAT store. If you don't live close enough to visit, check out their website here.

I really feel lucky to belong to a group that promotes all areas of fiber arts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

And the Quilting Begins

The hand quilting has finally started on my current project. I haven't done any hand quilting for quite a long time. I find that I am REALLY enjoying it. The biggest drawback (besides the time it takes to do it) is that my underneath fingers look like chopped meat. I have little specks of blood on the back of the quilt; and when I go to bed, I can feel my heartbeat in my fingertips.
Here is a look at the piece. You can see the basting threads and the beginnings of my quilting.

The quilt is for the exhibit Dialogues: Contemporary Responses to Marie Webster Quilts (SAQA Regional Exhibit) to be held at the Bret Waller Gallery at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Current SAQA members from Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, and Tennessee are eligible. If you are interested in participating in this exhibit (and I hope you are), you can find the information here. This website summarizes the timeline and requirements.

This special SAQA regional exhibit, to be heldJune 23, 2016-September 4, 2016, will be based on Webster’s quilts. She lived in Indiana from 1859 to 1956. Her quilts were inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement and represented a fresh and innovative approach to quilt design at the time. If you should choose to accept this mission, you will need to list a particular Webster quilt or quilts title(s) which inspired your new art quilt for this juried submission.

I had real trouble picking a quilt from her collection. While I appreciate her quilts very much, they are NOT my style AT ALL. After much thought, I finally found some inspiration in her Poppy quilt. I'm hoping I get it finished in time for the exhibit and that it gets juried in.

Oh, here is a gratuitous picture of my grandson Cade. He was a prince in his elementary school's fall festival. He is such a sweetie and gets a kick out of being on Mimi's blog.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Invitation to the 44th Mid-States Craft Exhibition

I just got some news this week that two of my pieces have been chosen for the 44th Mid-States Craft Exhibition at the Evansville Museum (Evansville, IN). The exhibit will take place January 17-March 6, 2016. The opening reception is January 23 (6-8 pm Central time). I'd also like you to know that currently there is a quilt exhibit at the museum. The exhibit, Nineteen Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Present and Past, will be available through January 10, 2015. For more information about both exhibits click here. You will be able to find the address and hours of admission on the site if you are interested.

I am particularly excited by this invitation because this show is an "all-media" show. My fiber pieces were chosen along with sculpture, paintings, mixed media, metal, glass, ceramic, jewelry, woodworking, etc. The last time I had a piece of work in this show there were only two fiber pieces in the entire show.

I'd love for you to see the pieces in person and hope (if you are close enough to Evansville) you attend the show. As you know, if you are a fiber lover, you REALLY have to see the pieces in person to fully appreciate the detail in the work. If you can't come or you are interested in which of my pieces made it into the show, here they are.

Metamorphosis I (24" X 24") is totally hand embroidered. I call this "Extreme Embroidery." The entire surface of the piece is covered with hand stitches. It sure takes a long time to do a piece like this. It was framed by Kathy Hilger at Elements in Jasper, IN. (The frame looks really blue in the picture, but it is actually black.)

I included some detail shots, so you could see the stitching.

Black, White, and Red All Over (36 1/2" X 26 1/4") is densely hand quilted and hand embroidered. It also includes beading, appliqu├ęd yoyos, and fine-line piecing. This one is a favorite of my niece, Wendy.

Detail shot

If you get a chance, please check out both Nineteen Stars: Quilts of Indiana's Present and Past and the 44th Mid-States Craft Exhibition at the Evansville Museum. You'll be glad you did.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Art in the Community

LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Texile Artists), a group to which I belong, does a community art project every couple of years. This year, the art was created for use at The Family & Children's Place Child Advocacy Center in Louisville. We were asked to "create at least one piece of fiber or textile art that appeals to children of all ages as well as their families." We were told that "The appearance of the CAC can help facilitate children's and families' participation in the process, largely by helping to alleviate anxiety and instill confidence and comfort in the intervention system. It (the art) should communicate, through its design, decor and materials, that the CAC is a welcoming and child oriented place for all children and their non-offending family members."

I learned a lot at the opening reception of this art project. I was surprised by the number of children served by the center and was extremely impressed with the center itself and the staff that was present. I was touched by the heartwarming words of thanks from the staff and moved by the thought/care given to the location of each piece of art. “We are proud to work with LAFTA and absolutely thrilled to reveal these amazing art pieces created by these wonderfully talented women,” said Becky League, director of the child advocacy center. “Everything at the center is aimed at making the child feel safe and comfortable, so this art adds another important element to help put children and their families at ease.”

I wanted to share this project with you by showing you pictures of some of the art donated to the center. At the end of the post, I've also included a short interview with JT Henderson, Vice President of Resource Development at Family & Children's Place, to give you a bit more perspective about the center itself. He said, "The artwork donated by LAFTA is a real blessing to the children served at the CAC. Before, the walls in our center were barren. Now, they are festive and send a message of hope to children who have been traumatized."

The top picture is in the first hallway the children enter. The house (on the right) is knitted and VERY textural. It is hung at a low level so the children can touch the piece. The texture and colors of the bottom two pieces make them very attractive to the children. (The hallways are not real wide, so it was hard getting good pictures. The lighting isn't great either as you can tell.) My piece is this sleepy purple owl with a bluebird on the tree branch.

Some pieces were VERY colorful and joyful.

It was important, though, for some pieces to be calming--notice the peaceful subject and calm colors of the work below on the left. When I saw where this piece was located, I was surprised. It was "hidden away" in what looked like a closet to me. (picture on top right). I found out during the reception that the location of this piece was VERY important and it was purposefully placed. The "closet" is where the children have to change clothes; a piece was needed to calm them during this very stressful time.

The lively piecing and movement of the remaing two pieces in the picture below draw the children in.

The children are encouraged to touch the pieces. The hand stitching on the pieces below provides great texture.

I think the kids will really enjoy the optical illusion of the piece on the left (below). The texture of the piece on the top right is very soft. (Oh, that's me in the middle. Someone took a pic of me with my piece.) Some pieces were brightly colored and pieced; some pieces were painted and stitched. All providing great variety for the children.

Some of the works were placed in the Forensic Interview Rooms. Forensic interviewing is a first step in most child protective services (CPS) investigations, one in which a professional interviews a child to find out if he or she has been maltreated. In addition to yielding the information needed to make a determination about whether abuse or neglect has occurred, this approach produces evidence that will stand up in court if the investigation leads to criminal prosecution.
The top piece is knitted; the bottom piece is a quilt.
There were weavings and traditional quilts. All three of the pieces on the bottom (below) were done in "rag-quilt" style. These, too, were placed at a level where the kids could touch the pieces. (You don't have to be a kid to want to touch these. The adults at the opening reception couldn't resist running their fingers over them.)
There were a variety of subjects.
The artwork has been placed in interview rooms, conference rooms, hallways, etc.

There were lots of other great pieces that I just didn't get pictures of--for that, I apologize. I am very proud to be a part of an organization that participates in providing community art to local non-profit organizations.


Approximately how many children does the Child Advocacy Center serve in a year's time? Our agency serves 5,000 children and family members annually. The Child Advocacy Center serves 1,400 each year.

What is the purpose of the Family & Children's Place? What type of services do you provide?

Family & Children's Place has helped children in our community for more than 130 years. Our mission is to protect and heal children and families.

The new artwork is housed in the The Family & Children's Place Child Advocacy Center. The CAC is the only center providing services to children with compassionate, coordinated intervention and investigation of child sexual abuse, in this region. The CAC establishes a safe, child friendly environment providing best practices for children and family members impacted by child sexual abuse as well as forensic interviews in cases involving child physical abuse and related crimes..

Co-located within the CAC are the Crimes Against Children Unit of Louisville Metro Police, Child Protective Services, an Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney as well as physicians from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The center also houses trained, licensed and certified family advocates and counselors to provide crisis intervention and counseling at no cost to children and their family.

These professionals collaborate to reduce trauma and provide hope and healing for children and their caregivers.

In addition to the CAC, Family & Children's Place also provides the following services to families in Kentucky and Southern Indiana:

* Individual and family counseling for families overcoming abuse and neglect

* Guidance and coaching for expecting and new parents

* Housing stabilization for families at risk of homelessness

* School interventions to increase parent engagement and improve academic performance

* Community organization to reduce youth violence and drug use