rocket tracking


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Art Quilts: What are they and How do you make them? Tutorials/tips Part 3

Tonight's post has information which are not necessarily just for art quilts...but any quilt!

(Della) Alice Cruz has posted two tutorials on her blog, one of which is that illusive creature I had heard of, but never figured out…the machine applied BINDING…no hand sewing. J

And…another fun one:  A way to use those scraps that are
Too Small To Keep, Too Big To Throw Away:

Helen Anne Lemke offers two tutorials on her blog which are useful to art quilters as well as traditional quilters… on color and value and another, how to baste a quilt on a WALL!  Wow…my knees thank her already.

Look here for her “how to” sections.

Brenda Gael Smith is just chock full of information.  Here’s what she has in her words:

I have numerous tutorials for quilt finishing techniques of my blog
and link to others that I have found useful.  You can view a complete
listing at:

Also I am the 3 Creative Studios guest artist for March and have
prepared a series of mini-tutorials on shibori for their "Technique of
the Month" program.  The first tutorial is on Karamatsu (Japanese
larch) which is a radiating stitch resist design. See:

The other introductory tutorials cover folding resists; pole wrapping
and clamp resists.

Brenda @ Copacbana: Serendipity & the Art of the Quilt
Co-author of Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge

Now, just to leave you on a dangling note…Lisa Walton has a tutorial on using dangling fringe or beads on her blog:

The tutorial is listed on the side, but you’ll be sidetracked in all the other fun and informative areas.  Have fun!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Art Quilts: What are they and How do you make them? Tutorials/tips Part 2

Ok...for this installment, I've decided to go in no particular bear with me. :)  The brain isn't just working like it used to.

Ellen Lindner has several possibilities for you to explore on her website.  Under "Learn with Ellen"  you can look at some of her articles, watch a video on making a mixed media book, or you can look over her gallery and on-line and regular classes.  In addition, her blog has some good information and examples on it as well.Some of her posts include how to block a quilt, putting on facings, and MORE. 

Bonnie McCaffery has lots of vidcasts on her website which often include mini-demonstrations by her guest artists.  Some of them are just downright fun, even if you have no interest in EVER making an art quilt.  Look here for the vidcasts.

Kathy Loomis has lots of tutorials on her blog.  Just scroll down the side of the blog, then look on "Labels."  There, in alphabetical order you'll find "tutorials."  She has  the following subjects currently up and she adds to this when the muse moves her. :)
sewed cords for jewelry
piecing curved seams
piecing very fine lines
foundation piecing
machine quilting very large quilts
"designer mending"
perfect facings.

Like Kathy, Terry Grant puts up tutorials periodically as well. Check out her fusing method which uses liquid thread rather than a fusible web which allows the hand to stay very soft and it doesn't gunk up your needles.  She also has one on edge finishing a small piece, really cool if you want to stay away from bindings or facings....She has a little trick which makes it really stand out. She, like several of the others, also has a little gallery of her work on the top of the blog.

Ok...just in case you might have your head blow up too quickly...I'm going to let you think about these and continue tomorrow. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Art Quilts: What are they and How do you make them? Tutorials/tips Part I

Since life has been going at warp speed lately, I've decided to put up my posts on where to find information on art quilts as well as quilting tips in segments...if I wait to write one long post, I'll take too long and you'll give up....or at least you might give up.

For over a year, I've been trying to come up with categories of art quilts...and I've struggled.  Some, since they were so closely related to traditional quilts, I was sort of calling them contemporary.  I was quite pleased when Jane Dunnewold delivered a lecture which she later turned into a blog post.  It is cogent and thoughtful.  Take a look here to start thinking about them.

Now, Jane also has wonderful tutorials (which are FREE and downloadable as PDFs) and has most recently written a great book called Art Cloth (ISBN: 978-1596681958).  I also own Complex Cloth: A Comprehensive Guide to Surface Design (ISBN: 9781564771490) and Finding Your Own Visual Language: A Practical Guide to Design and Composition by Claire Benn, Jane Dunnewold and Leslie Morgan (May 24, 2007, ISBN:  978-0955164927-- cheaper at Interweave Press's bookstore.   I admit, I use the Complex Cloth as a reference tool (i.e. I look up what I am working on and haven't read it cover to cover) and I intend to sit down (yeah, when???) and do all the exercises in Finding your own Visual Language.  Jane's specialty is surface design (i.e. painting, stamping, etc. cloth--which is often a work of art in itself rather than something to stitch/distort/cut up).

I asked the members of the Quiltart message list to tell me if they have tutorials and/or tips on their blogs or to share what they found useful or knew of.  I had 48 responses with more than one citation per email.  I want to group them together in a logical stay tuned!  I'm not sure what order I'll put them in....or if I'll just dive in and they will come as they come.  So, in that same vein, in addition to the places to look for information I put in on the February 12, 2011 "Breakfast with Pokey" blog.....Take a look at the Laughing Cat Designs new e-zine.  Yes, she has items she's selling, but in addition she has tips and tutorials.  So, in other ways, she's very much like Leah Day. ; )  Subscribe and you'll get her latest (without a bunch of spam) in your email box.

Sew, stay tuned guys and gals! More's on the way! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sometimes I can be a real horses patootie

On February 12, I wrote a blog post entitled "Breakfast With Pokey."  In it, I wrote about Nina Paley's blog post about Leah Day.  In it, I wrote that Nina was criticizing Leah.  Later, Jeff H. commented "Did you actually read the blog entry Nina wrote? She's PRAISING Leah Day for the accessibility she provides to people looking to learn about art quilts and art quilt techniques. And although she criticizes the "cagey" way in which OTHER artists' techniques are not widely distributed over the web, she's doing so in order to compel them to share their knowledge!"

Uh, yes.  I did read it, three times before I even wrote my "Breakfast post."  I went back and read it again.  Yes, Jeff is correct.  She does like Leah Day....however, I still take issue with other items in her blog and I realize now, that my ire which was raised in the beginning of the article overflowed and caused me to focus on the negative aspects and totally miss what she was really saying...although there are some things about what I was able to find again which makes me think I read a different edition of this blog.

I think part of me was taken aback by Nina's opening gambit.  "Having made an award-winning feature film, the next logical step in my career would naturally be...quilting." Ok, so she went on to say that it was her "inner muse" saying that she wanted to look into art quilts...but even so, this sounds a bit...egocentric...perhaps not.  Perhaps she was saying this tongue in cheek.  I don't know. 

However, her next statement made me snort...massively because it is just not accurate.  "Starting from zero knowledge, the first place I sought information was the Internet. Easier said than done: quilts are poorly represented online. Art quilters are extremely cagey about their designs and techniques; online photographs of art quilts are scarce and those that do show up tend to be postage-stamp tiny."

The internet is full of images of art quilts and blogs and websites owned and maintained by art quilters. Look at how many art quilts I've shown on this blog and mine is just a little one.  There are web rings of art quilts for heaven's sake.  "Postage-stamp tiny"? Yes, they load more quickly and are not intended to be HUGE although there are some out there which are.  In addition, I would advocate going to shows and galleries which have art quilts...surely there are some within a reasonable distance which Ms. Paley could attend.  In addition, quite a few quilters have discovered their images taken without permission from their websites and printed on things such as coffee mugs without their permission, nor with any mention of their name or a portion of the profit.

Ms. Paley also says "While other quilters cling to their designs and issue threats against copying, Leah goes in the opposite direction, sharing freely, inviting copying, and requesting (rather than demanding) links back to her site."  Hm.  Leah does do that.  However, "other quilters" do this as well...all you have to do is ask.  Also, there are plenty of websites FULL of free quilting patterns.  Do art quilters say "sure, go ahead and copy my quilt, show it, and don't mention me. "  Of  course not.  Art quilts are meant to be one of a kind.  They are meant to be original paint by numbers.  If the original art quilter wants to make a pattern and sell it, then more power to them.  But, most art quilters want people to be inspired by their work and to go on and make their OWN original work.  I also don't know who she is talking about when she says "other quilters."  Could it be Paula Nadelstern who discovered her quilt pattern had been taken by Couristan and made into carpeting in a Houston Hotel....she sued and won, and rightly so.

Art quilters DO share techniques, which is what Leah Day is sharing by the way, and techniques are not copyrightable.  The materials used to describe them, printed materials (i.e. books) and their original art work is copyright protected...but the basic technique isn't.  MANY art quilters share techniques on their blogs and in the next few days I will be posting a blog solely on quilting tutorials and technique sharing.  Heck, I do that here, not that I'm a great art quilter. 

I don't like it when people post quilts and don't identify the maker/designer.  I don't like it when there is an art quilt section at a quilt show and my original pieces are shown next to pieces made from kits, patterns and workshop samples.  I also don't like it when people take quilt pictures (or pictures at all) from people's websites and don't ask permission, don't give back-links, and don't say who took the image.  I found that some of my photos had been commandeered and showed up on another website without my permission and without giving me credit for the photos.  I also didn't like it much when an art quilter shared some wonderful photos and another art quilter took the images, Photoshopped them and put them up on his blog as his own without identifying or asking permission from the original photographer.  When I make quilts using someone else's photo, I always ask permission.  Truth be told, I'd prefer to only use my own images as stepping stones, but there are some images I'm just not going to be able to get in this lifetime (I really think that going to the Arctic or Antarctica is out of the question for me now.)

Is this being unreasonable?  I don't think so. 

Ms. Paley goes on to say "The quilting world is apparently rife with copyright bullying. Those sweet little old ladies (average age of 'dedicated quilters' is 62) issue threats against anyone who would copy 'their' designs, which consist entirely of un-copyrightable motifs like squares, circles and spirals. As long as neither the bullies nor the victims know much about copyright law, the quilting community maintains the fiction that ideas are property."   Uh, no, most of us don't.  Most of what art quilters do doesn't fall into this area anyway...and most traditional quilters know that 1. geometric designs and traditional designs are uncopyrightable, and 2.  with all the variations and patterns out there it is unlikely that there is anything new under the sun.  Since only 30% of the quilters are retired, according to Quilter's Newsletter, I hardly think that that we are "sweet little old ladies."

I also don't know where she got the idea that the "average age of 'dedicated quilters is 62."  It would have been nice if she would have given a citation.  Quilter's Newsletter did a survey which I believe was dated last year (2010) and gave the average age of a dedicated quilter as 55.  Mark Lipinski had this to say about his readers in a piece given as submission guidelines for the magazine, Quilter's Home
"There are 21.3 million quilters in the United States.  Among those, 1.11 million consider themselves dedicated quilters with an average age of 57.   Quilter’s Home taps the untapped, younger market, and  give the reader something they’ll want to read!   Our goal is to offer something exciting and different from the other quilting magazines; something excellent and eye-catching.  

Our target audience is between the ages of 30-55.  

Readers who love Quilter’s Home are contemporary, affluent, young (or young at heart), adventuresome, creative, curious and vibrant women who list home decorating, traveling, gardening, cooking and, of course, quilting as their favorite pastimes. "   (Lipinski has since left the magazine).

Notice, 57 was given as the average age of the DEDICATED quilter.  I think if you looked at the demographics for art quilters you'd find that they are younger.  Traditional quilters quite often are older, however I also find as I am now middle aged, that there are more quilters who start younger.  I was 12 when I taught myself how to quilt and was one of the young few in the sewing groups I belonged to.  However this is changing and I'm often startled to find myself among the "older" quilters at the ripe old age of 51.

Don't get me wrong, Nina is making some very lovely quilts. Look at them here.  I like them.  I don't like the general attitude she expressed about quilters on her blog and I think that they not based on reality.  

Am I a horses derriere? Yes, I can be.  I recognize that fact and am willing to take the lumps for it when I goof up.   Maybe it's because since I'm approaching 55...and 62, I'm just senile.  Ask Nina. I'm sure she'll tell you....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Ohio State Psychiatric Hospital

Tuberculosis Ward, Ohio State Psychiatric Hospital, Athens, OH.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Twelve by Twelve: a book Review

I just finished reading my copy of Twelve by Twelve. It is absolutely wonderful!  I pre-ordered it based on the information coming out of the group.  I can't tell you enough about how wonderful it it.

The Twelve is a group of art quilters who didn't know each other and had different backgrounds and experiences.  They live on three continents and some have never met each other, but they undertook a challenge to do art quilts measuring twelve inches by twelve inches on specific themes.  Interpretation was entirely up to the maker.

The book is set up so that each artist has a segment where they talk in-depth about how they approached  the theme and made their quilts as well as their backgrounds and about their lives and work.  At the bottom of these pages are shorter entries by each of the twelve about their particular piece.

In addition, there are tips on how to form a group, tips on making art quilts and all sorts of things related to the subject.  This is NOT just a coffee table book, or one which is going to sit on the shelf, but one which you can actually learn from.

I loved it!  It is well written and I found myself laughing with the artist or nodding my head in agreement as they discussed something that I struggle with.  I really encourage you to run right out and get a copy or plead with your library to obtain one.  Very few quilting books grab me like this one.  Although it isn't a "pattern book" like many other quilting books (how can it be?)  is is wondeful and just might give you ideas or courage to go out and make an art quilt or two or twelve or form your own group to do something similar to the Twelves.  What a great group of ladies and how wonderful it is to have them share their experience with us.

The TWELVE BY TWELVE group is composed of 12 art quilters, each with numerous awards, articles, and publications among them. Works from several members have been included in a variety of Lark Books, as well as Quilting Arts Magazine. They are: Brenda Gael Smith (Copacabana, NSW, Australia); Deborah Boschert (Lewisville, TX); Diane Perin Hock (Healdsburg, CA); Francoise Jamart (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium); Gerrie Congdon (Portland, OR); Helen L Conway (St. Helens, Merseyside, UK); Karen Rips (Thousand Oaks, CA); Kirsten Duncan (Townsville, QLD, Australia); Kristin La Flamme (Waipahu, HI); Nikki Wheeler (Poulsbo, WA); Terri Stegmiller (Mandan, ND); Terry Grant (Beaverton, OR).

If you want to follow their current work, take a look at their website:

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Lark Crafts (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600596665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600596667
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches

Friday, March 4, 2011

What Images inspire you?

 Every week when I drive to go to my oncologists, I pass these cooling towers.  I have to figure out where to go  to get a better picture, as obviously I will not take a photo while speeding down I75 on the way to my appointment and having my daughter shoot it for me was less than what I want.  I love the shape.  I want to do something with them.  I think it is partly because I have been following Elizabeth Barton's work (please visit and take a good look at her landscape gallery and you'll see what I mean) and partly because I have always been drawn to industrial buildings...ok...buildings in general.

The next thing which I have been thinking of is a question that Lynn Krawczyk posed on her blog in January.  "What images do you love?", she asked.  For her, she takes inspiration from birds on a wire. 
Not only in screen prints that she has done from her images, but she has incorporated them in other ways as well.  For me, it is nature and architecture, particularly industrial and agricultural with decaying architecture right up there.  I also love details.

These grain elevators in Pleasant Hill just make me want to whip out my fabrics and roar into is a series waiting to be made and I have everything gathered...I just have to clean out my sewing room, reserve 1 hour a day for me in the mad rush to get things ready for graduation and commence.  The stumbling block at present is the sewing room....and my fatigue....and my eyesight which is failing because of the type of chemo I'm on (don't's supposed to come back within three months after I finish).
 Barns have always been home to me.  Growing up on a farm as a much younger child than my siblings meant that I amused myself well.  My amusement was often climbing in the mows, playing with the sheep and watching the golden light filter through the cracks.  I shiver when I look at the heights I used to scale alone....up into the topmost mow. 

I admit, it makes me cringe to see all these wonderful wooden barns falling to wrack and ruin.  When it costs as much to re-roof or paint a structure as it does to tear it down, many of them go down.  Especially since the move now is to larger farms and agribusiness rather than the smaller 80- 360 acre plots with house, barns and other outbuildings.  

Churches, nestled at crossroads in the middle of the country are also falling in.  This one is near New Lebanon and I was hesitant to pull off closer to get a shot.  Even so, there is something majestic in the trees with the shuttered windows.

This shot, however, is one of my favorites.  Its the grain bins at a very wealthy and well kept farm not far from my house.  No, I didn't use any filters for this shot, they just gleamed against the early morning light while on the way to a cross country meet in West Milton.
I can't wait to do something with this.  I love the light and the skies that you can find in this part of the world.  I knew I missed it when I lived in Connecticut, but I didn't realize how much until I moved back.  The light and the skyscapes are breath taking....even if most people do consider it a fly-over state. ;)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: February

February's theme for the Sketchbook challenge was "Opposites."  I must admit, the topic didn't thrill me and I really had to work at getting anything done... I did more than I am showing here, but it wasn't spectacular.  To add insult to injury, when I went to upload them to the FLICKR site, my computer went into a sneezing jag and they wouldn't I had none entered for February. 

Just as well I suppose.  The first one I did on Feb. 1 was this one.....a feather and a cool stone I picked up in Connecticut many years ago.  Opposites as in heavy and light.

I'm not sure why these are so pixilated and the color weird, but it was my attempt at empty and full.  I actually did the one on the left from life (in the chemo room) and the empty one was from my imagination.  Yah. Like I said...I wasn't coming up with lots of brilliant ideas.
This rather sketchy sketch is one I did from a picture.  It's our cat Angel grooming my Siberian Huskey, Luna.  Luna died in February of 2009, but Angel and Luna loved each other dearly.  It was sort of funny.  In the original photo, Luna had this dorky look on her face and was pulling her ears back.  You can see the original picture here.
Then I started to try to think of all the opposites I could. I wrote them down in pairs on a page of the sketch book....and then did this rather uninspired piece.
Finally, in desperation, I decided that drawing ANYTHING was better than nothing and so while waiting in a doctor's office I sketched this cast iron plant (aspidistra).  Not great....but something.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Miami Valley Art Quilt Network at the Dayton Metro Library

Yesterday, Carroll Schleppi, Maxine Thomas, Christine Landis and I hung the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network's show at the Dayton Public Library.  Carlette Baynum, the library's coordinator asked us if we wanted to hold the show now in order to coincide with a special even at the New Lebanon branch on March 12.  Normally, we have a little more time to get things co-ordinated...but I think the show looks pretty good. Nine members of MVAQN have items in, for a total 21 pieces. The show will run from March 2 through April 13. All of the photos on this post are ones Carlette took.

It is an interesting show and might be appropriately named "Old and New."  Some of the artist put in early pieces while mine literally had the sleeves sewing in while waiting to hang.

Here is Chris Landis' "Lone Maple," my "Gold Bars," and Maxine Thomas' "East Meets West Friendship Quilt."   Here's the information from Maxine's label:  This quilt is a rich combination of collage, beading, embellishment, patchwork, appliqué and quilting folding. It is both hand and machine quilted. Hand and machine quilting, charms, and buttons provide further improvisational embellishment.

This quilt grew out of my experience in Japan. While there my quilt group put together a friendship quilt using traditional patchwork and with all of the club members’ names in Japanese. When I returned to the US I asked my quilt group to sign squares to put into this Japanese inspired quilt. I now have two friendship quilts one in Japanese using traditional patchwork designs and another in English with Japanese inspired designs.
I think you've seen this one before...but it is my Redwing blackbird....and I have been hearing the spring calls of the birds so I think that my beloved friends will soon be back...
Chris' "Spent Coneflowers" which she did as her answer to MVAQN's Coneflower challenge.

Kate Burch did this piece entitled "On Walkabout" in 2008.  Here's her descripton:  

Applique, machine quilted.  Cotton and polyester fabrics; machine embroideries embellished with glass and bone beads; footprints stenciled with Shiva Paintsticks.

This quilt was inspired by Australian commercial prints with Aboriginal designs.  The "walkabout" is an Aboriginal rite of passage in which a youth goes alone into the bush for six months, retracing the paths of his ancestors and recreating legendary historic deeds.

All but one of the embroidered Aboriginal animal and symbol designs were digitized by the artist, guided by copyright-free clip art from Dover press.  One design, the "bush onion," was pre-digitized by John Smigh Gumbula, an Aboriginal artist.  

I am afraid that the present course of chemo therapy is really throwing me for a loop.  My eyesight is blurry enough that I was having trouble threading my needle to put on the sleeve even with a needle threader. In addition, my fingers just don't work right.  They are tender, but the tips are also numb...a strange combination which doesn't make for easy sewing.  After hanging this show, I went home and had lunch then slept for 2 hours; made dinner, then went to bed at 9:30 and didn't get up until 8:30.....most annoying.