rocket tracking


Friday, July 31, 2009

Visitor to another Quilter's Garden

Many of my quilting friends have gardens. This isn't terribly surprising because gardens are about creativity, color and texture...with some other things thrown in as well.

Chris Landis is a professional long-arm quilter, who does art quilts along with traditional quilts and gardens. Chris and I belong to several groups together and have been exchanging garden plants.

This Thursday, after our weekly quilting group, I went over to get some excess water hyacinth from her for my pond.

This HUGE swallowtail was visiting her garden. These are large lantans and a full sized petunia to give you some scale.

It was very difficult to photograph as it was in constant motion and the upper wings were fluttering. I think that this too is a anise swallowtail, but it is so much bigger than the ones from my garden.

Chris has a large vegetable garden as well. Her nephew lives with her and does a lot of the gardening in exchange.

When we were in her vegetable garden, we commented on the fact that there were few things ready to pick.

The reason there were few things ready is that her nephew had alread picked! Chris had brought a bag of cucumbers to the group, and when we went into her kitchen...this is what we found!

There were also piles of fresh green beans, salsa, jalapeno, green, and hungarian sweet peppers.

I took a couple and will make salsa as well as Greek salad tonight. YUM!

I'm jealous as my tomatoes aren't coming in yet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Struggling with Self-doubt

Montana ground of those "random" photos my daughter criticizes me about.

And that's really what this post is going to be about. I am my own best (or is it worst?) critic. Ever since I joined an art quilt group which had a person who was hyper-critical and often said things in general which were quite cutting socially at it's head (although in the art world she was well respected), I've wondered if I should continue.

On Monday, I received the transcript from the interview Karen Musgrave did of me for the Alliance for American Quilts: Save Our Stories. I was floored. There were MANY "ands." I felt that I came across as someone who was uneducated and not very verbal. I have difficulty believing that I really said them, but on the other hand I didn't hear the tape. However, the transcriber DID say I have 8 (!) cats (I have three, and never would have said I've NEVER had that many cats ever), so maybe the tape isn't as damning as I feel.

I'm tired. I'm frustrated because I can't seem to get on top of my flower gardens. I'm still digging and dividing iris, trying to get rid of the borer and get a box ready to send out to someone who wants divisions. I have too many gardens, and life's general things are getting in the way of me quilting. (I type about 80 words a minute so blogging doesn't take too long).

Someone on the quiltart message board put of a link not too long ago about how we are responsible for our own success and that if we are not producing then it's our own fault. I accept this, and at this point in my life, my family still takes precedent, although I am trying to simplify other areas which I have taken on.

However, yesterday someone put up a query on the same message board asking if we struggled with self-doubt in our work. I was reading the posts with interest, as that's exactly how I was feeling.

Most were very supportive. Then, someone posted this "Maybe when you worry in the dead of night that you aren't good enough it's because you aren't good enough." Ow.

Talk about a major downward spiral. Words, whether written or spoken, are dangerous things. I have a hard time letting them slide off. I have an excellent memory and I still suffer for things I've said or done when I was a child, with the additional baggage as years have gone on.

Now, granted, she went on to say this "That doesn't mean you're a worthless human being, but that you have grown (or ought to grow) and what was good enough last year is no longer the best you can do. So go into the studio and do a little better today." However, I'm having a hard time getting over that initial statement.

Fortunately, Robbi Joy Ecklow wrote in that she struggled tremendously with self-doubt. That helps. Knowing that someone who is recognized still has those periods makes me feel a little better....and probably I'll feel better tomorrow if I can get some decent sleep.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Visitors to my Garden: Sphinx Moth

I have been working very hard in my garden. I've been madly weeding, spreading mulch and trying to figure out how I'm going to thin out some of the plants (I have a tendency to plant too closely) and to divide and try to save more of my iris (the iris borer is doing significant damage).

In June, this HUGE moth was taking a sip from a water droplet on a daylily (hemerocallis) leaf. I left my index finger in the photo so you could see exactly how huge this guy really is. I also thought it was really neat how his patterning on his wings and body mimic the shadow that leaves would have . Somehow I feel a series of quilts based on visitors to my garden coming on.

I'm certainly glad that this moth isn't the mother for the iris borer!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Christina Pereyma: Quilting as Performance art

On July 5th, I visited the Cityfolk festival in Dayton and saw Christina Pereyma there. Christina is a performance artist, along with doing installation art and "regular" art. I first saw her work this last year at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy. She was exhibiting "Yellow Installation."

(You can see a couple of pictures here:

It caused quite a bit of press as the yellow synthetic fabric which was rust dyed was used as a background for a number of photographs of people who came in off the street and had their picture taken, then the pictures were displayed.

There happened to be an Obama rally of some sort at the Democratic headquarters, so a number of people had Obama buttons and tee-shirts. Then they brought the cardboard cutout of Obama down to be photographed with. There was no political statement made, and whoever wanted to was photographed.

A lady in town objected because she said that the Cultural Center, as a publicly funded institution should not be showing any political favoritism (no one was pictured wearing McCain/Palin pins because they didn't happen to come in).

Anyway, it was a tempest in a teapot and I thought the whole thing silly. I did enjoy Christina's pieces. Her rust dyeing was pretty neat and it is something that I wanted to look into.

I also found that it was pretty neat that Christina uses "found" materials which were given to her. Most of her work at present is on a synthetic yellow fabric which was found in the attic of a Troy home. She swears it is multiplying because even though she uses it a lot, there seems to be a never ending supply.

She also uses non-traditional fabrics and materials. Here is a really neat piece which is a sandwich of a mesh, buckram like fabric, with batting, the yellow stuff and petals and parts of a flower. The top layer is a clear cellophane-like material.

I must admit, however, I never thought of doing quilting as a performance art. Christina was working on a Davis treadle sewing machine which had been made in Dayton. There was a sign saying not to disturb the artist when working, but to wait for a break. My husband and I didn't enter from the front of the booth, so we didn't get it and I was mortified when I saw the sign as we left.

I really liked several of pieces of Christina's work. However, the curator in me could only think of Albert Pinkham Ryder. Pinkham Rider was an American artist from the late 19th - early 20th century. He was known for painting layers and layers of materials, fast drying on top of slow drying. This layering, and disregard for the types of materials means that over the years his pieces have failed, or at the very least cracked and lifted. They are a curator's nightmare.

Since Christina doesn't know what some of her materials are made of, I wonder how well they will hold up. But then again, the disintegration or degradation of the materials may be part of the essence of her work.

She is currently exhibiting at the Dayton Visual Arts Center through Aug. 20, 2009 as part of "Green: the 18th Annual Open Members' Show." On August 7, she will present "Moneybags: A Sweatshop Performance." She will create "Moneybags" on the treadle machine, and a limited number of the moneybags will be auctioned during the performance. Bidding numbers are assigned from 5 - 7; the market will open at 5:15 pm and close at 7:45 pm. Sealed bids are accepted at (937)224-3822.

What an interesting concept!

For information on rust dyeing:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beyond the Barrier--Women Quilting in Prison

As I mentioned earlier, on Sunday I drove to Dublin, Ohio to meet with Karen Musgrave. Karen was in Dublin so that she could interview some of the women who were involved in the Beyond the Barrier program for the Alliance for American Quilter's Save Our Stories program.

Karen has put up some of the interviews and will continue to post them on the SOS website as she gets them ready. You can see the interviews at:

Just look for the ones by Karen.

In addition, she has written about her experience interviewing them on her blog:

And finally, Lisa Ellis put up the quilts on the Sacred Threads website, so if you want to see an overall, and detail of the quilts which were shown, you may find them there:

Many of the women who participated had never quilted before. Many do not feel that they are "real quilters." I assure you, they are and that while their technique may improve with more practice (and I don't know a single quilter to whom this doesn't apply), their story and the emotions that they have sewn into their quilts are phenomenal. Surely, if the women of Gee's Bend have gotten a lot of attention, the quilters of the Ohio correctional facility deserve it as well.

Karen has asked that you share comments that she will then pass on to the quilters, and I hope that you will take the time to do so.

According to Karen, Chaplain Jami Burns is considering discontinuing the program as only 16 of the thirty women actually finished their quilts. I consider this a success when you read the women's stories and what they have gotten out of it. Quilting isn't for everyone, and surely the journey is the important part, not necessarily a completed project.

In addition, many quilters take a long time to finish projects....sometimes working on something seems to heavy and you put it away, only to take it out again and complete it later. Sometimes other things just get in the way. Although "to finish is divine" is true, sometimes I take a while to finish--I have finished items lately that have been in the works for 10 years.

The socializing and fellowship which goes on is also important. I know it is to me and I'm not in prison, so I can only imagine that it is more the case for women who are.

Lastly, not everyone who takes up a needle wishes to stay with it. Not liking quilting is OK. Maybe something else strikes more of a chord, or perhaps it just isn't the right time.

I would hope that if you read this blog, you might consider posting a comment on Karen's blog for the quilters. If you post comments here, or email me, I would be happy to forward on your comments to Chaplain Burns. If you live in the area of a correctional institute for women, or if you live near Marysville, Ohio, I hope you would consider helping,or being a mentor to start or keep a program like this running.

Recipes for Summer

As much as I love to cook, I hate cooking in the summer. Things have been sooo busy lately, that I barely am able to keep up. Ok, I'm NOT able to keep up.

On Sunday, we had a pot-luck (also known as a carry-in) for the MVAQN summer social. I made up this as my vegetarian offering (as someone who was a vegetarian for a number of years, I usually bring two items, one a vegetarian offering and another which isn't).

I had found a package of Harvest Grains Blend mix at Trader's Joe's. It is "a savory blend of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa." sounded healthy, but what to do with it? Hmmmm.

Here's what I did: (if you don't have access to a similar blend, just use orzo pasta, although I suppose you could also do it with rice).

Orzo Salad...or Harvest Blend Salad...or the grain of the moment

A half package, or about 8 oz. uncooked Harvest Grains Blend (or orzo, or rice) --cook it according to the directions. If you are not doing a vegetarian course, then you can cook it in chicken broth for extra flavor...or you could use a good quality vegetable broth.

2 medium tomatoes (more or less) coarsely chopped

4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled (I like to use the peppercorn one, but any Feta is good.).

1/2 c cup minced parsley

1/2 c. minced fresh basil leaves, or dill.

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (or bottled, but fresh is better)

1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Italian dressing, or just add some more oil and a minced garlic clove and 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning or a mix of oregano, and marjoram to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

If you are using orzo, drain and rinse with cold water. Add tomato, Feta, parsley, basil (or dill). Combine remaining ingredients and pour over salad and toss. It's best if you let the flavors blend in the fridge overnight.

(Options: you could put in some cold chicken diced, and/or diced cucumber. This won raves from my family).

Last night, as well as Monday, I was enslaved to the princess following her around the mall as she did her back to school shopping. We ran home last night and what I intended to make was thrown out the window, but here's what I did REALLY quickly and it turned out good.

Pepper steak over Rice

1 1/2 pounds chuck roast or London broil, sliced very thin. Marinate this with 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar, 2 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce, three cloves garlic, and a dash of soy sauce and a dash of lemon juice. If you wanted, you could pump up the spice factor with a couple of spurts of hot sauce.

1 can diced tomatoes, either with Jalapeno (which is what I did) or Italian style

1 1/2 large onion ( didn't measure this, just threw it in)

2 Tbsp. oil

1 green pepper

three large fresh mushrooms or you could used canned

one large fresh tomato (it was sitting on the counter and needed to be used :) )

one small zucchini

1 Tsp. basil

Make a pot of rice, I used 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice and three cups water, this makes about three cups rice, and takes about 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, put the oil in the pan and quickly saute the beef, keep the marinade. When the beef is browned, remove the meat and set aside. Put in the onions and cook, I like to have them caramelized, but you can cook them less if you want. Add in the green pepper and the mushrooms. Cook a tiny amount and toss in the can of diced tomatoes and the marinade.

Put the meat back in and lastly, add in the zucchini. Cook very quickly and Please don't overcook the zucchini....the goal is to have it cooked, but not mushy, and this is done in 5 minutes or less over medium heat.

Serve over rice. This makes about 6 servings. You can stretch it if you want by adding more veggies.

It's fast, and my daughter and husband gave it the thumbs up, even if it did come flying off the top of my head....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sacred threads: Sunrises and Sunsets

I was going to combine this thread with what I was up to yesterday....but I decided to split this into two parts since I am lacking a photo of a major thought....

Sunrises and Sunsets seem to play a significant role in our inspirations and as allegories for life. Therefore, it isn't surprising that several representations show up in the Sacred Threads exhibition.

This photo is of First Light by Gerri Congdon. It was inspired by the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee inspired Gerri to make this quilt. Gerri is from Portland, Oregon and has only been doing "textile art" for the last 8 years. She's 70 years young. I love the colors and the abstract way in which these little pieces combined compose a realistic picture.

Another gorgeous piece, Jutta Halpin composed this lovely piece entitled "Sunrise: Another Day, Now What?" The central part of the "sun" is beaded. I love how the quilting goes in a echo over the top of the rectilinear shapes.

On her artist statement, Jutta said: "Sunrise, a new day and a new beginning. Every day we have the power to live life to its fullest. Enjoy people and our surroundings.

What could be nicer than to be a witness to the beginning of every day."

I agree wholeheartedly with Jutta's sentiment...until you get to the last paragraph. As a night owl, who would prefer to be awake 24 hours of the day, I don't often willingly see the sunrise, although every time I do, I think it is marvelous. You can see this, and other quilts on Jutta's website,

This lovely piece is Anne Louise Mullard-Pugh's "Red Sky at Night." Anne Louise uses some innovative quilting in the segments are made separately then overlapped and hung might call it an applique of quiltettes.

Anne Louise Mullard-Pugh is from Las Vegas, Nevada. Here's her artist statement:

"Red Sky at night? Sailor’s delight. Red Sky in the morning? WARNING! Two of the most inspiring moments of a day are the sky at sunrise and at sunset. Living in the desert Southwest, we are treated to many spectacular visions. It is somewhat less romantic to learn that part of the reason for the spectacular show is dirt and pollution in the air. So do I work and pray for cleaner air or for more inspiring skies? There are no easy answers.Separately quilted layers hung together, commercial fabrics."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I have a "thing" about the Virgin of Guadalupe. I've always been intregued by the images of the Virgin Mary. I've also loved quilts which show a sense of humor.

At left is the detail of Donna de Soto's "Our Lady of Bling" shown at the Sacred Threads exhibition. Donna's piece combines the two! I don't know what she used for her "glasses" --looks like chips of mica, but they are superb!

"As my mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers did before me, I don't go anywhere without my rosary. I have always had a special devotion to Our Lady. I've not seen her portrayed before with a sense of humor, but I know she has one; she accompanied me to the fabric store and inspired these choices of exuberant array of textures, colors and fabrics. This piece was created joyfully!" (Donna DeSoto, artist statement, Sacred Threads).

The quilt is quite narrow and suprising. Donna combines commerical fabrics, embellishments and traditional pieced blocks in the wild and wonderful representation of the Virgin Mary.

Although I showed you the overall in an earlier post, here's another view, a close up one, of the area in Penny Mateer's quilt "I Could Just Eat Color." This too used one of the commerically printed cut blocks from Luana Rubin's "Enchanted Desert" line of fabrics. Luana herself has a pretty outrageous sense of humor and color, and I just love it.

Now...earlier I mentioned that I MEANT to enter the exhibition, but just didn't feel that what I had was good enough. Here's what I would have entered. This is my "Our Lady of Traverse City."

In 2003, Hoffman fabrics brought out this Cherry fabric used as the background as their challenge piece. I saw it and immediately thought of the roses traditionally used on images of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I had wanted to do a quilted representation and felt that this was the perfect time.

I lept into it. I painted Mary's face, and found a leaf patterned gold and peach batik for her gown. Her robe was a holographic star print on a blue cotton, and the lining quilter's lame. I painted the shading on the robe and gown with Jacquard and Dyna-flo paints.

Mary's hair is a print fabric, I think by Hoffman...or Kaufman, I forget which, which I painted to make darker as it was sort of a yellow ochre and raw sienna color.

The "flames" around the base are quilter's lame and sections of a batik with gold striations I fused onto a piece of muslin. I had never fused anything before. I had never used quilter's lame which has a nylon thread weft and a cotton warp.

I put stabilizer underneath and started zig-zagging around each one of those rays using metallic thread. I had never used metallic thread. I didn't have a sewing cabinet, just my Bernina 153 sitting on the table. As I stitched, the background stretched and humped.....I realized I'd not be able to finish this for the Hoffman Challenge and put it away.

In 2006, I decided it was time to finish it....especially since I had moved and I had a cabinet. I fixed the warped areas, and satin stitched around her with a copper thread. I didn't know I needed to use a stabilizer or interfacing behind her face, so now she sort of looks like she has 5:00 shadow.

I apologize I don't have a better picture of her. I was going to shoot another but I haven't had time and wanted to wrap up the Sacred Threads.

I call this piece, "Our Lady of Traverse City" as Traverse City, Michigan is the Cherry capital of Michigan. She has another which makes some of my Catholic friends cringe, but it shows my off-beat sense of humor. She is one of a series of images of representations of various visitations of the Virgin Mary. I don't know why she intrigues me so much. Maybe it is the history of the rise of the Marianists. Maybe it is the whole story of Mary. I don't know.

I know that the Virgin of Guadalupe is especially meaningful to me as she was the first visitation in the Americas, and she appeared to a lowly Indian who had to convince the Bishop, a man WAY above him in station to build a church based on his report. I can't imagine the fear that Juan Diego must have had as he begged an audience with the Bishop. He was a man of perseverance and courage.

For more information on the Virgin of Guadalupe, look at these two sites:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Visitors to my Garden: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

My garden is often visited by lots of different animals and insects. Butterflies of all sorts love my gardens for the variety of plants and flowers.

The bright caterpillar at left is the caterpillar for the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius). They love plants which belong to the fennel/dill/Queen Anne's lace type. Here, he is feeding on a red fennel which freely seeds itself in my garden...a little too freely, but I keep it around to feed these brilliant creatures.

Yesterday, one had the misfortune to take a swim in the pool. We fished him out and I carefully placed him on a daylily to let him dry out.

He sat for a little while and dried his wings. Notice the brilliant orange and blue on the side view which doesn't show up on the back of his wings.

And yes, he is a him. The females don't have the yellow like this, but have more blue. There seems to be a bit of variation in patterning.

No doubt he will show up in a future quilt.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sacred Threads: Many Faiths

As I said earlier, there is a place for all faiths in the Sacred Threads exhibition. Here is Jutta Halpin's Golden Triangle Buddha. I thought that she did a masterful job at showing the massive Buddha from a realistic, but unusual angle. The gold glitters on the piece even though it is painted silk.

Here's Jutta's artist statement:

"In 2006 I visited Thailand.
I was always intrigued by Buddhism and it was wonderful to learn more about it and see all the different statures in temples and monasteries.

Taking many pictures of different poses and places of Buddha's, I found the "Golden Buddha" at the Golden Triangle, where Laos, Burma and Thailand meet, the most fascinating.

This is a recreation of a photo that I took."

Jutta lives in Glastonbury, Connecticut and her website is full of other lovely images. You may see it here:

I didn't know Jutta when I lived in Connecticut, and I even worked in Glastonbury, but I sure wish I had met her!

I am intrigued by double sided quilts, and I have a couple which I haven't finished (no surprise there). Double sided quilts have a challenge in quilting them so that the quilting makes sense from both sides as well as constructing a "Y" seamed internal sleeve.

In this case, Barbara Forrister chose to make a traditional hanging sleeve but more or less incorporated it into the design on the back.

Barbara's quilt is entitled "The Fertility Goddess" and I love the interplay of the shapes and the colors.

Barbara's artist statement: The Fertility Goddess is an abstract double sided quilt with irregular borders that pays tribute to the deity who looks to the sun and moon cycles to provide fertility, growth and renewal on earth. She is the true embodiment of life and returns each year to nourish her people. Elements of earth cycles, hope and growth are featured throughout this heavily quilted piece with thick metallic threads, paint, beads and Swarovski crystals. Machine pieced, appliquéd and quilted; hand beaded and embroidered.

Here's the back side You can see her label on the lower left and the hanging sleeve.

This last piece is "Forgiven: A Lenten Study" by Kimberly Mason of Cinebar, Washington. I feel like this is a Lenten banner, and if it is, it is one of several pieces included in the exhibition which were designed as religious banners used in processionals or in houses of worship during special times.

Kimberly's piecing of the cross' background and composition I thought was particularly well done.

Here's Kimberly's artist statement:

"Father (the golden yellow sun), Son (the shining cross on the hill) and the Holy Spirit (the butterfly) are represented above the word that most amazes, inspires and heals me: Forgiven.

Working through this quilt (and it's two sisters quilts) was a healing experience that I am able to share with my family, my friends and my community. I am able to share myself, my love, my peace, hope and faith more fully because I am FORGIVEN."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sacred Threads: Healing Part II

Perhaps the subtitle on tonight's post should be "hope" rather than "Healing part II", but hope is a strong element of healing and these are taken from the segment of the Sacred Threads exhibition called "Healing" so I'll leave it.

At left is a powerful piece called "Walking through Fire" by Carolyn Wirtz from Eugene, Oregon. I know this feeling. In fact, I think ever since I was diagnosed with cancer in 1994, I've been living it. Nothing can say it better than Carolyn's artist statement:

"The design for this original art quilt was extremely strong in my mind following a period of a year when three very close and beloved family members were finally emerging from life-threatening health issues. During the months of wondering what the outcomes would be, the following words were constant comfort to me: “…when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2-3 NRSV) The dove quilted to the right of the sun is a symbol of the Holy Spirit guiding us through the fire that does not consume us."

Drawing strength from our spiritual side, and from the spirituality of others is paramount in surmounting obstacles. No matter what faith you have, to me, this is an important part in surviving.

Even if you don't have a particular faith, I think you can relate to walking through fire when you have a diagnosis which could mean the end of your life or that of a loved one. The light and the sun filtering down through the darkness while flames soar to each side, and the smallness of the person gives this great visual impact.

I also know intimately what Peggy Trickler experience and portrays in her three small quilts:

"Confronted with cancer, I faced my future, as the security of Life was no more, but my security in God was steadfast. The first segment, "Where There is Hope" is the aftermath of my initial diagnosis, when the fragility of my existence surrounded me. In "Where There is Peace," despite the chaos within me, my faith was held fast by the hand of God through this time of uncertainty. The third, "Where There is Joy," carries my joy in the recognition that I am never alone. My soul is healed because of Him and I can sing and dance in His praise."

I think these were actually hung backwards. I think, and I may be wrong, but in looking at the submission photograph and how these faces are oriented, the image on the right portrays the windblown hair which was the diagnosis, the center one is the "Where there is Peace" and the piece on the left of this photo is the one which is "Where there is Joy" as it is looking forward.

This colorful piece is entitled "Crack" and is by
Helen C. Hollingsworth, of Oakton, Virginia. I love the piecing, the jagged shapes and the choice of color. The quilting added to the sharpness of the piece as well.

Helen's statement also says it better than I ever could: "I survived years of childhood emotional abuse partly by building barriers, learning that trust is a dangerous thing. The barrier served as protection, but it also hid my true self, from others as well as myself. In my mind, it is made up of many shards, built up and cemented together over many years. While working on it, I was going through a difficult period in my therapy, and felt hopeless that I would ever be “normal.” What I’ve found is that the barrier is beginning to crack; what is underneath is full of light, and just might be beautiful."

There's no question. It is beautiful. You can just see the light bursting through.

Similar in the color choices is Pat Ryan's "Shadows and Light." I think this spoke to me as I have several friends who have struggled along the same path as Pat.


I have dealt with depression most of my adult life. I called it living in the shadows. In the past few years as I have worked on connecting more with God the shadows have lessened and I now live mostly in the light. The following is from a poem I wrote:

When I’m in the shadows my world is not black.
My life still has texture and colors, though muted.
If I will only look, the light will allow me
to trace the outline of the shadows.
It will define for me the edges and the depths,
while I can still see the light just beyond.
The light shows me the wonders and gifts concealed in the shadows,
along with the pain and the losses that hide there."

Here, Pat has affixed crystals in both the dark portions and the light, adding a depth even in the dark portions. I love the gradations of the shades of violet and yellow. I also feel that the light is winning out.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sacred Threads: Healing Part I

I just loved this quilt when I saw it! I loved the colors, and I loved the texture imparted by the threads and the lettering.

I was even more pleased when I read Denise Hitzfield and Vanessa Owens' artist statement:

They say life is like a game...That you’re a victim of chance.But, with one roll of the die, the odds can turn against you.Three months before my 18th birthday, they told me I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.Everything I perceived as reality seemed to vanish.I was left to an endless tormenting game of scrabble in my mind...Desperately searching for the right words to fit.The game board of life is set.It is up to you to make sense of the game pieces.To make your mind up to be a survivor and win the game.Life is like a game, so they say... "

Survivor Scrabble attempts to symbolize the search for the right words to express the response to the emotional, spiritual, and physical 'game' of cancer."

The words in the scrabble game have all aspects of the individuals struggle against cancer. While there are words such as "tears," "pathology," "fear," and "needles," there's also "love." Although I didn't have lymphoma, my reaction was much as what is represented here. I was taken aback by the diagnosis of cancer, and yet, I too made my mind up to be a survivor even when the odds were stacked against me.

Denise Hitzfield and Vanessa Owens are from Huntsville, Alabama.

This next quilt was made in an attempt to brighten up a cancer treatment room and to give cancer patients some hope and something else to think about. I can attest that these rooms can often be dull, or somewhat sterile in the choice of the artwork (I remember vividly one of Joseph Alber's original prints at the Hospital of St. Raphael which was in my mind a rather unfortunate combination of pink, orange and a reddish color....never mind what it brought to my mind). One lady who was in treatment with me used to bring her own mini-mural of a tropical forest scene which she would use to think pleasant thoughts and to meditate on.

Marianne Bechtle made this piece entitled "Believe."

"My daughter volunteers at a leukemia survivor support group. She asked me to make a quilt to cheer up the meeting room. Believe was the result. It depicts a fearful little frog learning to leap from one lily pad to the next. Though intimidated and unsure if he will make it, he takes the leap anyway with the loving support of his watchful mother. Fused fabrics hand-dyed by the artist, machine embroidery, foiled, free-motion quilted."

I love this happy little frog, even though he looks a bit terrified, he's making that jump.

The last quilt for tonight is one which was done for the healing of one person. It is called "Painted Prayer" and was made by Barbara Hollinger of Vienna, Virginia.

" My long time friend, Peg, sent me an article on Kolam designs from India that she had been saving for me for several years. I was immediately struck by the rhythm and symmetry of the twists and turns woven into the designs. Shortly after I began this piece, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stitching the endless loops and swirls became my meditative time filled with prayers for her. The appliqué and quilting took both of us through a year of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. We are both finished now and looking forward to a lifetime of continued friendship."

What a wonderful friendship is imortalized here.
Kolams are decorative designs drawn in rice powder, or powdered limestone or other materials on doorways in the southern parts of India, particularly Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Women and girls sweep the ground in front of the doorway (or in courtyards or in special rooms) and make a pattern which is supposed to bestow prosperity and success.

In Colonial America, and I assume in Europe as well, patterns were often swept into sand which was strewn on kitchen floors. I don't know if they had any particular meaning, but this came to mind when I learned of the Kolams; that and of course the Zen sand paintings.

I think the meaning behind the Kolam adds extra meaning to this quilt which is a gorgeous thing on it's own and uses commercially printed fabrics to great success.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sacred Threads: Asperger's Healing Quilt

OK, even though I posted tonight on another topic, I thought I had better do one on yet another of the Sacred Threads exhibition. Yes, there are STILL more quilts which I thought were pretty special.

Here's Kathy York's brilliant piece which grabs you in with color and texture. Her quilt is entitled "Falling through the Cracks."

In her artist's statement, Kathy explains that this quilt represents her son's travails with Asperger's syndrome:

"There is no perfect place for my son at school. He has Asperger's, which is a high-functioning form of autism. A regular classroom uses all his coping skills, just to be there, and attend to the overwhelming sensory input and social expectations. And the special education classes don't fit him either. So, it is no wonder that at times I feel like he is falling through the cracks of public school. His new caseworker tries to “catch” him, she is a godsend and has brought immeasurable healing to our family. "

One of my close friends in Connecticut has a son who has Aspergers and in many ways, this quilt reminds me of him.

Here, the caseworker tries to catch the child. Notice in the "sky" the whirlwind like quilting in the little diamond shaped "holes"? I feel like this represents my friend Betsy's, and her son's, feelings as they try to cope with this neurological disorder.

The colors are bright, as the kids often are, and full of vitality and texture. The buttons march on in little rows, but the marble like shapes, although similar, just don't fit and fall out.

Kathy's quilting patterns mimic the disorientation and tumult of working with an Asperger's child. It's not all negative, as the quilt feels joyous, but it is a struggle as they try to find their places.

In Connecticut, I was close friends with yet another woman who had a son with Autism. Here, another quilter has a son who also has Aspergers. I'm truly dumbfounded as until I met the women in Connecticut in the 1990s, I had never known of anyone with this diagnosis. I watched as Betsy and her husband struggled in trying to find what was the difficulty in a really bright child. I also watched as my other friend's struggles with her low functioning child tore at her family.

Why is it that there are so many children diagnosed with Autism? I really don't know. I do know that with Betsy's son, he is a bright, funny kid with an incredible sense of humor even if it is a bit different than most people's. Kathy must have a similar experience with her son as I certainly can relate to her quilt even though my child doesn't have this challenge.

Kathy is from Austin, Texas and you can see more of her wonderful work on her blog:


Prejudice Rears its Ugly Head

Sometimes I am taken aback when in this day and age I run into prejudice. I am optimistic, or perhaps it is naive enough to think that most people by now have learned that the color of your skin, the lilt in your language, the religious beliefs (or not) you hold don't really matter. It is who you are.

Tonight on the news I heard about a country club which originally were allowing summer camp children, who were largely black or Hispanic, to use their pool facilities, then, changed their mind. Allegedly, it is because of prejudice.

I don't know. I wasn't there. I can't speak for the managers or board of directors who made that decision. I do know, first hand, how insidious prejudice can be.

Last week, three of my daughter's friends were over at our house using the pool. They were discussing the fact that they can't get summer jobs. I was sort of smiling to myself that these kids are so insulated that they don't understand that their inability to get jobs this summer is directly related to a poor economy. If there are fewer jobs because people are spending less money and there is a large pool of adults in the area who have lost their jobs and are now willing to take low paying jobs, then teenagers, particularly those entering the job market for the first time are not going to find it easy to obtain jobs.

My daughter said she couldn't find a job because she doesn't have a drivers license. I snorted at that. Then one of the boys turned to another boy whose parents are Indian (as in Asian Indian, not Native American). "Do you suppose you're being discriminated against?" I stopped, startled. "Mrs. Q, would he be discriminated against?"

I took a deep breath. "No, not usually. Indians, aren't usually the target but then again, technically you're Asian. However, among extremists, just by the color of your skin, you would be targeted as a "mud person," as is my daughter, but she would be harder to detect with her green eyes, fair skin and brown hair." Most of the kids who were here were fair haired, fair skinned, and of German extraction, or at the very least Northern European.

I've run into it before. Quintana isn't a name readily recognized in this part of the country as being Hispanic, and certainly with my heritage being 1/4 Swedish and the rest a motley bunch of ethnicities stirred in the American melting pot between 1619 and 1870 I don't fall into the regular targets of prejudice. However, I have experienced it in very subtle forms.

For instance, the most obvious "minority" I belong to is the fact that I'm female. I remember going into a hardware store in Williamsburg, Virginia in the 1980s to buy a sabre saw. I was told to come back with my husband. When I was the director of a historical society in my mid twenties, I was told by a couple of people who were on the board "not to worry my pretty little head" about the leaking roof. Then there are the number of repair people, car dealers etc. who haven't treated me well, or treated me as nonexistent if I had a male friend with me, or fed me a line of complete lies just because they thought I wouldn't really understand how a car engine works.

Then, because my maiden name was Broberg, in Connecticut and Massachusetts I had several people apologize for serving me pork and had one woman call me to find out what one wears to a Jewish funeral service. Just because your name ends in "berg" doesn't mean you're Jewish.

When I started a neighborhood association and one of the things the neighborhood was concerned about was the rehabilitation of an old factory into an apartment building. A certain number of the apartments would be reserved for low-income tenants in order to get some Federal funding. Many of my neighbors said that they didn't want minority children playing on the playground.

I reminded them that my child was one of those minority children as she was half-Hispanic. I also reminded them that 68% of the school population which attended that particular school and therefore played on the equipment every day was classified as minority.

I also remember the day that a neighbor was bad-mouthing "those Hispanics." I reminded him that my husband is Hispanic. "Oh, but Carlos is OK, he's Spanish." OK, his GRANDPARENTS were from Gallicia in northern Spain, but that's a far cry from being Spanish and certainly he IS Hispanic.

I guess I was spoiled...although I suppose there was (and is ) prejudice in the little south central Michigan town I grew up in. I always felt that most people didn't care who your grandparents were, it was who you were. Granted, there was only one Hispanic family and no African American families.....there may have been some other minorities, but frankly, the town was pretty poor and only numbered 826 when I lived there. There was also the Pottawatomie reservation in town....Maybe it was how my parents raised me.

I don't know. I do know that denying yourself the opportunity to meet someone or learn about someone whose background is different than your own is a big mistake. You are the poorer for it.

Look at the sunset in the picture I opened this post with. You can't tell what color the person is. It doesn't matter. In the sunset below taken in Cut Bank, Montana, if the sky were only one color, what a boring photograph it would be. The drama which is in multitudinous shades, hues and the blends is what brings richness to the image as well as to our lives. My life, thank goodness, is not a monochrome.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Breaking Barriers Program and ideas of what to do with an un-needed stash of fabric

The huge size of this daylily, Hemerocallis "Open Hearth" seemed appropriate for the "open hearts" that many quilters seem to have.

I've had a couple of people ask me how to donate fabric and or tools to the Breaking Barriers program at the Marysville Correctional Institute.

I contacted Jami Burns who told me that while her program is the only one that she knows of which teaches women to make art quilts, most women's correctional facilities have "stitching posts" which make service quilts for various communities and needs. She said that the women love it and feel much better about themselves when they are giving back.

I would suggest contacting the chaplains or activities coordinators in the areas in which you live so that you don't have to incur expenses in shipping (however, if you want to ship, I'm sure you can ask about that as well). Do a "google" search on Women's correctional facilities with your state's name, for instance "Women's correctional facilities New York. You should turn up a list and you may actually be directed to a state web page.

I also wanted to point out that you can now see ALL of the Breaking Barriers quilts on the Sacred Threads Quilt website. The quilts were not included in the CD as they weren't ready to be photographed and included at the time the CD was being made. The URL for the Sacred Threads show is

I have heard, but I cannot corroborate at this point that the Rosebud Sioux Tribe also takes fabrics and sewing materials for some of it's programs. Their website is

Sacred Threads: Interconnections

If you have read my post about Michael Jackson's death, then you are probably aware of my concern (and that really doesn't describe it) over the many problems which are happening all over the world, but particularly the devastation in Africa, whether the atrocities in Darfur (and other areas) or the Aids epidemic.

It is little wonder then, that tonight I'm going to take a look at three quilts which have a message. Sometimes I think it is easier to make a beautiful quilt without transmitting a message, but quilts, like other art forms, are vehicles for transmitting thoughts.

At left is Deborah Baillieul's quilt entitled "Interconnections."

Deborah was kind enough to share her own image with me when I made a hash of my original.

I was drawn to this quilt, probably primarily for the fact that it isn't square. Then, the subtle colors and textures, along with the wonderful blues really brought me closer. When I read Deb's artist statement I was overjoyed to see someone who had a similar viewpoint to mine. Deborah wrote the following for her artist statement:

"Unitarian Universalist Principle #7: We affirm and promote the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.In 2006, my spiritual journey brought me to Botswana, to le Kubu Island, a sacred Bushman site. Following a Zimbabwean wall, we arrived at nine monolithic rocks, holding offerings tied in red cloths. We camped under an ancient leather-skinned baobab and watched hornbills grab bugs midair. Blue-black sky pushed the flaming sun into the Magadigadi Salt Pans. Baobab bark, elephant hide, salt pan surface, eroded rock, and Bushman offerings intersect and connect us to all elements of the earth. "

I also think of Africa, and I wonder if the reason I can't help but want to dance or feel the pull deep in my being when I hear African Tribal music isn't if all of us still have a strand of Africa within, no matter how white bread I am.

Imagine my surprise then, when I read the label for Deborah's second quilt, entitled "Trade Roots."

"My spiritual journey takes me through Botswana and back in time to my ancient African ancestors. Many paths are/were taken: to hunt/eat, to trade goods for beads and cowrie shells, to exchange culture and ideas, and to explore our relationship to this earth. Just like my ancient ancestors, I meet with unexpected challenges, surprises and celebrations. Today, I honor the many ways of being in this world. I connect with the mystery of ancient places and peoples, my roots and my routes."

I also firmly believe that what happens on this earth to the least of us, happens to us all. Deborah's husband, Tom Baillieul, used this quilt entitled "When Things Fall Apart" to draw attention to the devastation from the progress of the AIDS virus in Botswana.

"Forty years after independence, the Republic of Botswana finds itself in a fight for its life. Fully one-third of the adult population is HIV positive. As my quilt shows, this dread disease is beginning to unravel the fabric of society. Yet, there is still hope. The government has stepped up to the challenge, establishing clinics and treatment centers throughout the country, and working to change the basic culture with the message “ABSTAIN, BE FAITHFUL, and CONDOMIZE.” The final chapters of this story remain to be written – can the country heal itself?"

You can see more of Deb and Tom's quilts at their website:

The scourge of Aids is also the topic for this quilt by Sharon Rowley of Seattle Washington. Sharon's quilt is entitled "Orphans of AIDS."

Here is her artist statement: This piece is one in a series inspired by the Native American principle of “The Seventh Generation” which calls on its chiefs to consider the impact of their decision-making on the seventh generation to come. The world’s response to the crisis of AIDS, which has orphaned more than 12 million children in Africa, must consider the long-term consequences of generations of children “growing up without parents, without teachers, without a future.”

I guess that this one really hit me again mostly because of the artist's statement. If our leaders would make more decisions based on what is good for the people and what the long term impact is, instead of what is politically expedient, I can't help but think that the world would be a far better place.

Other quilts from the show may be seen at and you can buy a CD which has all of the entries and their artist statements (except for the Breaking Barriers) on the web site.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sacred Threads: Love Eternal

Caritas Aeternum....Eternal Love...What a concept and I thought that I would explore that aspect of Sacred Threads with you tonight. Eternal love...which goes beyond death, of which mourning is a natural outgrowth.

"Caritas Aeternum" (Latin for Eternal Love) is the name of this gorgeous quilt made by Carol L. Auer from Carmel, New York. I'm afraid I didn't get Carol's permission to show her quilt prior to posting it, so my apologies to her.

I love red and my local Art Quilt Guild recently finished doing a challenge based on the Book of Kells, so this illuminated letter really jumped out at me.

Carol used beads, and buttons, and outlined her leaves and the work with machine satin stitch. Here's Carol's artist's statement:

""Caritas Aeternum" is Latin for Love Eternal and is an expression of God's love for us. The design is based on an illuminated letter often used in sacred texts. In the letter can be seen and an alpha and an omega, Greek letters for the beginning and the end. The dogwood flower is often used as a symbol for Christ and the four leaves represent the four Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The six white dots are for the six days of creation and the seven red triangles are for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit."

The next two quilts really spoke to me as well. This is Mary Beth Clark's, "I Wish there were More."

Here's Mary Beth's artist statement:
"My mother died when I was 8 ½ years old. I have wanted to remember everything I can about her. Some memories are vivid moments suspended in time. Other memories are fragile and hard to hold, like soap bubbles. I find comfort in the memories that I have, but also wistful longing because I wish there were more." Mary Beth is from South Elgin, Illinois.

This quilt gave me some peace. When I was 34 and my daughter was 15 months old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer; then 4 years later, I had a stage IV recurrence. Sometimes I wonder if my daughter would have missed me if I had died, or if she will if it comes back again soon.

Some of my friends have told me that you are never old enough to lose your mother. Yet, it wasn't until I saw Mary Beth's quilt that I understood.

Sometimes I am frustrated because my daughter doesn't remember me spending lots of time reading with her, telling her stories, doing everything I could, and yet not accompanying her and her friends on hiking trips because my pelvis hurt too much, or I was too sick. Yet, here is Mary Beth, looking back at what few memories she has and holding them as cherished moments.

Somewhat similar for me was this quilt, entitled "Loss," by Penny Gold of Galesburg, Illinois. I'm afraid this picture doesn't do it justice...the colors shimmer like bits of stained glass.
Penny's artist statement: "The idea for this quilt came in a conversation with my husband, a year after our son's death in a car accident. The mosaic of colors represents the brief span of Jeremy's eighteen years with us—his energy and intensity, his sharp edges, his problems as well as the joys. The chasm of unbroken black represents the bleakness of our future without him.The colored strip is a hand-stitched collage of small pieces of fabric; the many hours holding this in my lap gave me time to live with my grief. The black is machine quilted with jagged lines."

I can't imagine a pain deeper than that of a mother who has lost a child. Yet, through working with this quilt, Penny has had a moment of healing. She's also shared her child, and her grief with us, and I think we are all the richer for it.

Here is "Memories" by Cyndi Souder of Annandale, Virginia. Again, the color is really off because of the lighting. Just to the lower right, you can see a pair of Raybans hanging on the quilt.

Cyndi's artist statement: "This collage piece features a hand-stippled portrait using Pigma and Zig pens on commercial cotton. The postal-themed background fabric is commercial cotton that I embellished with rubber stamping, including fountain pens, satchels, fleur de lis, and my father's old return address stamp. I also added a few beads.
The portrait is of my sister, whom I lost to ovarian cancer a few years ago, when she was a teenager in the 1960’s. And yes, these really were her sunglasses. "
Cyndi's stippled portrait is fantastic.

This last quilt falls into a category which I think of as healing quilts, although many of the quilts seen here on tonight's post as well as previous ones fall into this category for other reasons. "Sue's Bluefish Quilt" is a quilt which one friend made for another out of love, and it incorporated her healing wishes sewn right into the quilt.
Susan Whalen, of Bethesda, Maryland, made this quilt for her friend, Sue. Here's her artist statement:
"Several years ago, my friend Sue was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. She was courageous and uncomplaining as she battled that dreadful illness. Like me, Sue had always been “chunky”, and as her weight dropped, she told me often how beautiful she suddenly felt. Sue asked if she could give me her “chubby clothes”. She was particularly concerned about her boxes of Blue Fish: expensive hand-painted cotton knits. Then Sue got an idea: "You could make me a quilt!", she exclaimed. I didn't have the heart to tell her I’d never worked with stretchy knit fabrics. So I cut her clothes to pieces, and gradually built a collage. The back was constructed of panels of solids, and the quilt was tied using the gorgeous BlueFish buttons.
The quilt made Sue very happy. She died about two months later."

I am sure that Sue knew she was wrapped in love when she snuggled under her quilt. I know that Sue Whalen probably also has some peace with this quilt and knows that her friend, through the memories each patch evokes, is forever stitched into the quilt.
Caritas aeternum.