Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Collage Mania: Don't delay, choose your purchase!

by Guest Blogger Virginia Spiegel

One hund
red and sixty-one artists have donated artwork to Collage Mania 2009 to raise funds for the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.

The 383 fiber collages can now be previewed here.

1. Buy Organic by Virginia Spiegel
2. Forever by Linda B. Dunn for her grandmother
3. Flames of Hope by Cindy Simms a one year survivor and counting
4. Connections by Sue Bleiweiss
5. Serenity 1 by Sharon Tootles:
In memory of my family and friends who have survived, died or who are battling cancer. I love you all.

Collage Mania opens May 5 with an $80 minimum donation for each artwork.

On May 6 and 7, the minimum donation drops to $40.

The goal of this three-day art extravaganza is to raise at least $20,000 For the American Cancer Society. Fiberart For A Cause (FFAC) has already donated more than $170,000.

When I began Fiberart For A Cause five years ago, my goal was to raise $90 for the American Cancer Society using fiberart. My sister, Nancy J. Spiegel Rosman, is chair of the Forest Lake, MN Relay For Life and I wanted to support her fundraising efforts. We are both so thankful for the cancer research that made it possible for our Dad to be a colon cancer survivor.

Before I knew it, my tiny effort had been expanded through the support of the online group Quiltart. Karey Bresenhan, Director of International Quilt Festival - Houston, Chicago and Long Beach, became FFAC's Honorary Chairperson and guided the Postcard Project toward an amazing $120,000 raised for the ACS. Fiber artists have been beyond generous donating their artwork to the Postcard Project, the Invitational Reverse Auctions, and Collage Mania.

There are very few families whose lives have not been touched by cancer. That is one reason why dedications in honor of and in memory of those fighting cancer are so important in the Collage Mania pages. It's great art, but it's art with a meaning and a purpose also.

Collage Mania is the final big FFAC fundraiser as I return to my studio fulltime.

I treasure all the friendships I have made with artists and patrons during the five-year run of FFAC and salute their generosity and kindness.

Sue Bleiweiss adds: "Unfortunately I am not a stranger to having lost loved ones to cancer so for me, to decide to contribute a small piece of artwork for such a worthy cause is an easy one.

It's a fantastic feeling when your collage sells because not only have you helped raise money for the American Cancer Society but there's validation for the artwork that you've submitted.

Virginia has done an incredible thing with Collage Mania. Not only has she raised the level of awareness of the importance of coming forward and getting involved she's
created a community of goodwill, cooperation and given artists who have lost someone to can
cer an outlet to create a piece of artwork to celebrate the lives of the ones they want to remember.

Knowing that the artwork will raise money for research and hang in someones home where it will be admired and cherished is really icing on the cake. I have nothing but admiration for all that Virginia has done with Collage Mania and I wish her much success with all her future endeavors."

-- Sue Bleiweiss is a mixed media fiber artist living in Massachusetts USA. This is her second year contributing to Collagemania. You can see more of her work at

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ellen Anne Eddy's Thread Magic

When I discovered Ellen Anne Eddy's fabric art, I felt transported. Ethereal, fantasy, delight, exquisite -- just a few words used to describe her creations. On her website, she describes herself as:

"Ellen Anne Eddy is an internationally known fiber artist whose wall art goes beyond the traditional concept of quilting. Fish, bugs, birds, and frogs are found throughout her art, blending her dreams and vision with the natural world. She uses hand-dyed fabrics, lames, machine embroidery, cut-away applique, and layered sheers to create the illusion of flames, water, and mist in her work."

But I think she has magic in her fingertips and lives with fairies.

In an interview published in CQ magazine, she describes her work:

I’ve called it thread magic for a long time. It’s a fusion of a lot of fiber techniques: hand-dyed cotton, direct and cut away applique, machine embroidery, thread painting, and fiber collage. I tend to define it differently for different groups. If I’m speaking to a group of quilters I tell them it’s an embroidered applique. For fiber artists I’d tell them it’s reconstructed fiber. For folk who really don’t have any preconceived notions about fiber work, I tell them they’re embroidered tapestries. Basically, I’m using a number of skills that all fall between the cracks to be something fairly unique. Words tend to fail me. But that’s a fair description.”
To read the entire interview, click here.

She generously teaches her style and skills and techniques and on her website offers a free PowerPoint type tutorial about design. Not a bad refresher course or inspiration for us newbies who are setting out on our design journey. One class topic I found particularly fascinating is titled "The Beautiful Beast" and is more about quilting stories than techniques, she cautions, but the descrip tion drew me right to it:
A slide show exploring the images of animals in the quilt world. Whether they are pets or alter egos, metaphors, or mentors, or a mirror of our reality, we live in a world full of animal imagery. We’ll look at that rich vein of symbolism through the eyes of quilters who are fascinated by beautiful beasts.
She also lectures on color as well as thread painting and the elements of design. And then she offers classes to recreate a few of her patterns. Such as the one shown here titled: Crescent Moon or A Quick and Easy Magic Midnight Sky.
This artist has such an eye for seeing the magic in anything. I would like to live in her world.

Perhaps she'll inspire a little more magic in our own creations. For some reason I want to go read a book by Charles de Lint -- his fantasy and Ellen's go hand in hand.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fickle Tree Hugger remembers Earth Day -- finally!

What a fickle tree-hugger I am! I can remember Earth Hour, but not Earth Day? Well it is upon us. Thanks for reminding me with your blog, Virginia Spiegel!

Happy Earth Day!

If you're like me and the event sneaked up on you, never fear! It is not too late to celebrate. Just because it says it is a 'day' to celebrate. We can make it last as long as we want. This day is a beginning, so begin a new earth-friendly project.

With the priority on recycle, reuse, reduce and de-carbon -- mending even fits into this help the earth attitude. But I bet we can all find something more fun to do than that!

Mary Emma Allen put together a little list of suggestions including a project designed by Terri Powers to make a quilt out of natural items. It is a learning project for children or students, but I can see laying out a garden in patchwork squares or circles or designs such as those laid out in Amish country. I love the idea of 'natural' and find it can include a limitless number of materials -- including jelly beans, according to this one project -- a jelly bean mural (as shown here).

Maybe a journal quilt or post card? Find a favorite poem and design a corresponding image? I like what is posted for Earth Day at Journey of a Quilter blogspot, including the quote chosen:

The earth is a garden and each of us only need care for our own part for life to be breathed back into the planet, into the soil, into ourselves. ~ John Jeavons
Perhaps somewhat associated with 'mending' or reusing: make a quilt out of recycled fabrics. At Sew Green website, they are hosting a quilting bee to make a crazy quilt of reused materials. Or as mentioned in another blog -- pocket quilts using pockets from favorite shirts.

Another Earth Day quilt may not work into your daily schedule, but for the University of Central Florida, quilting an oyster reef, to save the intercoastal ecosystems is a priority. If you read my blogs on Observations about our visit to a small roadside historic site dedicated to ummm trash heaps, you should know that the site borders onto Mosquito Lagoon. I find it so heartening that the concept of quilts enter into saving our ecology.

This site offers many ways to be 'green' and celebrate the day. And, you know me, I always seek out books on every subject -- here is a list for quilters and artists and crafters and teachers that bring quilts into Earth Day.

I chose the Laurel Burch photo to accompany this because we are all kindred spirits on this earth and when we ruin someone's habitat, we all suffer. Hearing about the disappearance of the fish in the ocean should trouble all of us, knowing about that huge glob of trash and garbage swirling in the midst of the ocean where we actually dump it! Makes me sick just to think of it. Our little house must fit into the world picture and when it doesn't, when we abuse our environment or hurt those around us, we will also feel the sting. So I look at Laurel's Kindred Creatures and want to be a better steward. It is never too late -- even for fickle tree huggers like me!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some Thoughts on Entering Juried Exhibitions: A View from the other side of the Projector by Gayle Pritchard

Gayle Pritchard in her own words:

Back in the 1970s,
when the field of Fiber Art began to sweep the country, there were very few exhibition opportunities. In those days, “fiber” generally meant only weaving, and quilts as an art form were just beginning to be recognized by the museum and gallery establishment. Today, just a few short decades later, because of all the work done by the pioneers in our field, there are more opportunities than ever before. I’m sure it must be almost be overwhelming for those of you who may just be starting out. As an artist and writer in the field for over two and half decades, I have stood where you are. As an exhibition juror and curator, I also have a view from the other side of the projector. Let me give you some tips, as you decide how to dip your toes in the water.

(Photo: Above: Fabric Artist Susan Shie (Susie) and Gayle Pritchard at Kenyon College where they were both asked to lecture. Gayle also did a book-signing. Below: 'Kenyon Me,' her artwork at an invitational exhibition at Kenyon College, Innovation and Tradition: Contemporary Art Quilting in Ohio and Gayle Pritchard)

Are you really ready to enter an art exhibition?

This is a question only you can answer, and there is no right answer. Creating artwork for the sheer pleasure of it is perfectly fine. So, what are you hoping to accomplish by exhibiting your work? What are your personal goals? Do you want to build a professional resume, lecture or teach? Do you want to sell your work, or compete for artist grants or commissions? Are you prepared to compete in the art world? If so, at what level?

When I first began to exhibit my work several decades ago, I had already been working and teaching quilt classes locally for a number of years. I enjoyed it, and knew I wanted to teach more, but I also wanted to exhibit, so that my work could be seen by a larger audience. I knew that would never happen if I didn’t put my work out there.

If you want to compete in the jury process with other artists, it is important to do a thorough self-critique. Most crucially, ask yourself this: Have I developed my own style? Nowadays, everyone and her sister take a workshop or class and pronounce to the world that they are now an Artist…with a capital “A.” I am all for studying, learning techniques, and being mentored. That is not the same thing, however, as years of study, training and practice. If you aren’t quite there yet, that is alright. Keep working on it.

It is my firm belief that you should not be exhibiting your work professionally until you have figured out who you are as an artist, and what you have to say. Almost every artist has been influenced by someone else. Developing your own style simply entails working through that stage until you emerge with your own voice, something new to say on the subject. Settle down, focus, and look through all of the artwork you have created to date. Pick one idea from your existing body of work that interests you, then spend the next year working at it. See where it takes you. You will be amazed at the strides you will make in the process.

What type of exhibit do you want to enter? When you are starting out, local and regional exhibitions are a good place to begin. Just remember, if you made a piece in a workshop or as a result of a workshop, you need to credit your instructor. In addition to local, regional, national, or international opportunities, there are types of exhibitions, often categorized by the range of art media the organizers plan to exhibit.

The type of exhibition you want to consider will often determine where you will find listings of opportunities. Are you planning to enter only juried art quilt exhibitions, or do you also want your work shown alongside other media, such as painting, sculpture and photography? If so, you are competing against all genres of art during the jury process. Your work must stand up to all media in terms of technique, composition, use of color, etc.

Part of deciding the type of exhibitions to show in will depend, in part, on what goals you have for yourself, and how difficult it is to transport the artwork you create. I’ll give you several examples to explain what I mean.

In my case, when I began exhibiting my work, I started in my region, gained confidence through acceptance into those juried shows, and then began to enter national and international shows. After a period of years, with much success and so many opportunities available, I began to be more selective, focusing on invitational exhibitions along with juried exhibitions that included some sort of benefit: a catalog or an award of some sort.

My path, however, is not the only one you can choose. John Lefelhocz lives in Athens, Ohio, and decided to go see a Quilt National exhibition. He was so inspired by the artwork he saw that he was determined to create an entry for the next exhibit. Did I say he had never made a quilt before? His style is so engaging and unique that his work was, indeed, juried into the next Quilt National, and has been several times since.

(Photos: Gayle hanging an entry at Artist as Quilt Maker (AQM) XII; and Gayle lecturing at AQM 2006)

Some artists create work that is difficult and very expensive to ship. Linda Fowler, co-founder of the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus, is one of the early pioneers in our field. She has created very large, shaped work since the very beginning of her career. Early on, with the help of an artist friend, she figured out how to create a hanging system to support the large, heavy shaped tops of her quilts. Since her work is very difficult and expensive to ship, she decided very early on to limit the geographic region of where she exhibits her work.

Finding Calls to Entry and Preparing Your Entry

Many of the publications you already read probably have a Call to Entry section, both in the magazine and on the web. Often the website listings are more comprehensive and more current, so remember to check both. Here are just a few of the websites that have regular postings:
Fiber Art Calls
Fiber Arts
American Craft Magazine
Art Calendar
Crafts Report
Artist Help Network
Art Marketing

Before you submit your entry, there are a couple of things you will need to do. Most importantly, get good photographs of your work. When the exhibition postcard is printed, and publications request PR material from the curator, you will want to make it easy for your work to be selected. If you are not a photographer, or do not have a professional-grade camera, ask around for referrals for good photographers in your area. Nowadays, most entries have gone digital, and slides have gone the way of 8-track recordings. You will need an overall view of your artwork on a neutral background (no fences, painted walls, garage doors, etc.), well cropped. You will also need at least one detail shot representing approximately 6” square. Some exhibitions allow you to submit more than one detail. If you have several detail images, you can select the one you like best.

Secondly, if you are planning to enter shows frequently, it’s time to start a calendar to keep track of which shows you want to enter, when the deadlines are, and so forth. Keep track of which artwork you are entering where, and make sure the deadlines and exhibit dates do not overlap. Let me give you an example of what can happen when you do not keep track of which artworks are where.

For over a decade, I have curated The Artist as Quiltmaker exhibition, one of the oldest, continuously-running art quilt exhibitions in the world. For the first time during the jury process for the 2008 exhibition, I encountered difficulties with the availability of artwork submitted at several key times. Two artists whose work survived the initial image jury did not have their work available for the onsite object jury and award selection. One of the artists pulled her work after it was accepted. The other had entered three artworks, which had been selected by the juror as a grouping. The artist, however, had sold two of the pieces she had entered, and had not made arrangements with the purchaser to have them available for the exhibition.

Why does this matter? Exhibition spaces are limited in size. When a juror is viewing entries for an exhibition, they are selecting work based on quality, yes, but also in consideration of the available exhibition space. So, the artist who was juried in, but then pulled her work prior to the exhibition, robbed another artist of an opportunity to show work in the exhibition.

When May 2008 rolled around, and it was time to hang the show, four other artists failed to send work that had been selected. In two cases, the artists had again sold their work, and had not made arrangements for hanging it in the exhibition. In two other cases, the artists had entered the same piece in two different shows which had overlapping time frames.

(Photos: Artist and gallery volunteer Kathleen Van Meter and Gayle (above) and both with gallery director Kyle Michalak hanging exhibit entries.)

Read Carefully and Be Prepared For Success

When you prepare your entry, follow the rules specified in the Call to Entry form. Are there age guidelines? Don’t fudge and say your work was made later just to beat the deadline. Does the form indicate that no copies of other work, or work made in a classroom are eligible? Is there a limit to how large the artwork can be, or does it have to be of a certain size? Are entries required to be available for sale? Read the entry form carefully, and make sure you provide all the information it asks for. If you have questions, call the curator for clarification.

Be professional, and be prepared. Put your best foot forward by submitting only excellent images, in the format required. The best artwork poorly photographed will pale on screen when it is viewed against hundreds of other, well photographed entries. Remember, all the juror has to go by are the images you submit.

Don’t ask for exceptions to the rules, or special favors. Most of all, try not to be dejected if your work is not accepted for the exhibition. In all of the arts, not being chosen is part of the territory. Yes, it’s true that your work may not have stood up to the other entries. That is not always the case, however. Sometimes, there are so many great entries, there simply is not enough space to show them all. Sometimes, after the first ten or so pieces are selected by the juror, the exhibition begins to take on a theme of its own, and the subsequent pieces selected seem to fit with the tone set by the strongest pieces.

All of us have had this experience. Friend and fellow artist David Walker wrote a wonderful article years ago about rejection. You can read the article on his website.

If you ever have the opportunity, volunteer to assist during an exhibition jury. You will gain tremendous insight into how the process works.

Finally, be prepared for success, the day the letter comes in the mail to tell you your work was selected. Maybe you even won an award! Congratulations! Immediately mark the dates you need to remember on your calendar, and gather your professional materials. Find out if the exhibition sends out press releases related to the show. If not, send your own.

In your acceptance letter, the curator may have requested Viewbook materials. If so, you will have another opportunity to present your work. A Viewbook in the gallery is usually a notebook containing more information about the artists and the artwork. These materials are also used to provide additional information about the exhibitors when requested by magazines and newspapers for publicity purposes. Make your information easy to include by providing it in advance.

For your Viewbook pages, send your artist biography, a short resume, an artist statement, and a statement about the artwork you will be showing. If you have important reviews or press clippings, send copies of those, as well. Make sure everything you send has been carefully proofread.

These and many more challenges await the professional artist. There are also many rewards for your bravery and dedication to your work. The public awaits! Now, go into your studio and get busy. It’s show season.

Gayle Pritchard made her first quilt in 1973. In addition to her numerous magazine articles, she is the author of Uncommon Threads: Ohio’s Art Quilt Revolution, which was featured on NPR’s The Diane Rehm show. The interview is available as a podcast. She is currently finishing a biography of artist Susan Shie. Visit her blog or Etsy site.

NOTE: Other current articles about entering juried exhibitions: SAQA Journal, Spring 2007; The Professional Quilter, Winter 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My View: Three techniques you'll want to try

If ever you want to be inspired to make your own art quilt or activist art quilt or just make a fun project – these DVDs from Quilting Arts Workshops are for you!

Where to begin!

Lesley Riley, a well known name among fabric and collage artists demonstrates three ways to transfer images onto fabric in her “Transfers Tried and True” DVD. In 45 minutes she gives watchers enough information to try and succeed at the use of transparency transfers using Golden Matte Medium and a foam brush plus burnisher (aka a serving spoon). Also how to make a water transfer using Printworks photo paper and everyday matte photo paper and a mist spray bottle. And last and perhaps the best option – permanent iron-on transfers using TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) and a hot iron. By performing the three methods, she shows watchers the differences in the techniques’ results.

Lesley provides an easy to understand demonstration of transfer techniques as well as tips and troubleshooting to guarantee success. She’s comfortable in front of the camera and clearly articulates the instructions. Lesley also is the author of several helpful books, her most recent is Fabulous Fabric Art with Lutradur.

Perhaps the more messy, hands on, fun kind of transfer begins with Thermofax Screen Printing as demonstrated in Demystifying Thermofax Screen Printing by Claire Fenton. This begins with how to make a thermofax image and ends with Fenton spontaneously printing a third scroll in her New Orleans series. It is fascinating to see how her mind works and to look through her artist’s eye. By the end of the piece I was pointing at the screen suggesting “Put it there, make an image there!”

I so wished I had the paint and cheap little plastic scrapers she buys at the hardware store and could get right in there with her. The scrapers may be the only inexpensive aspect o this process. A thermofax machine, which may not be easy to find, runs around $1000. Tattoo artists are snapping them up on EBay so the reconditioned models are not easy to find. Then the film runs about $175-$300 a roll and up. The Versitex ink starter kit -- $18 or the $255 Thermofax basic kit with · 40 thermal screens, ink, reusable plastic frames, etc.

I understand there are now thermal imagers available new. This technique gives quick results and instant success. Other than being messy, I can see this being a fun project to do with your kids. The Thermofax machine can get hot, but once the transfers are made, the process looks complete safe. And did I mention MESSY!

I suppose you can do this with the transfer techniques Lesley Riley demonstrated, but the thermofax screen prints are reusable. Claire Fenton creatively used parts of photos or manipulated photos on Photoshop before printing out an image to be thermofaxed. She also used headlines and newspaper articles, geometric shapes and images that will reinforce the story she tells with her art. Being creative with the thermofax can incorporate much in the way of found art.Another option would be to pay someone who owns a thermofax machine to make your stencils. Since they are reusable, it might be cost effective.

I did say three ways to be creative and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Judy Coates Perez and her Mixed-media Painted Fabric demonstration. Her technique, more free form, marries clip art and various images with transparent paints.

She adhered, using acrylic gel medium, the clip art and bits of paper – phone book pages and pieces of clothing patterns for example to PFD fabric. Then she began adding color and an overall design using transparent and metallic textile paints, black permanent pen or marker and then adding bits of decorative or handmade papers. She worked in layers as did Fenton working for balance and harmony and a melding of images.

It was spontaneous, yet with an underlying basic image that she had in mind. She will eventually add traditional quilting techniques and machine quilting to her artwork. Perez seems to talk to herself rather than clearly speaking to her watchers. But her actions are self explanatory and she emphasizes the necessary steps. Yet some may find her mumbling a bit disconcerting. The techniques and beautiful finished art speak for themselves.

Prices are reasonable, around $20 each.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Recipe for Fabric Art: Gather 176 red fabrics

It was a serendipitous moment when I stumbled across an article about Jessie Marinas' art, particularly his "Grape Harvest" painting. The moment I read that it had been reproduced as an art quilt, I had to find the fabric artist. Lynn Drennen blew me away with her work, her imagination and her devotion to detail and technique. For more views of her work, visit webshots. Her fabric version of Marinas' "Grape Harvest" won the Hoffman fabrics sponsored best of show award for 2009 in Road to California competition. Lynn graciously took time to write this blog and share photos of her work as well as tips and suggestions. She also urges us to embrace a new form of technology unrelated to fabric art, but very much in our thoughts and lives. Here is Lynn Drennen in her own words. -- Dawn


I grew up with a sewing machine and learned traditional quilting in the late 80s. But in 2003, making a romantic art quilt depicting dancers captured my fantasy--her skirt swirled in the moonlight as he twirled her in his arms. I’d never constructed an art quilt; even so, I blissfully gathered 176 red fabrics for this masterpiece and set the dye on them so they’d not bleed when washed. During the year constructing Folkloric Ballet Dancers, I detoured frequently to learn how to do the next step. My talented friend, Wei Luan,** came to my rescue and painted the dancers’ faces. If you aren’t already aware of this: art quilts don’t come with (pre-printed) instructions. Construction ideas are randomly considered and rejected or used as the project proceeds.

“Dancers” was a turning point in my quilting interest. At night, while asleep, I methodically pieced, thread painted or quilted various parts of it. Then it happened: quilting passion steamrolled over every facet of my life! I equated quilting with breathing and knew I couldn’t stop either and

continue to live. Folkloric Ballet Dancers went on to win the Giltner-Moore Memorial Award for “the most meaningful quilt.” By then, “good enough” fell below my personal standard. I began reading, studying and practicing construction methods to expand my technique “toolbox.” Even now, breakfast is best eaten with a quilt book studying yet another construction, design or finishing technique.

Grape Harvest was inspired by a mural Jessie Marinas painted. I instantly saw that scene in fabric and gathered sky fabrics as Jessie gave me permission to use his art. The quilt top was made by Marilyn J. Smith and me and quilted by Gina Perkes. Both Marilyn and Gina are inspired with their artistic work. Marilyn’s contribution is the amazing people on the quilt and Gina tied it all together with her creative quilting. I provided most of the background you see and appliquéd it. The piecing is a combination of Sharon Schamber’s method of Piec-lique and raw edge appliqué. I used Canson’s Calque tracing paper to make patterns from my full-sized

computer printout.

Although I enjoy using commercially printed fabrics in my quilts, I was challenged to find a print depicting grape vineyard rows. I dreamed about making the “rows” by pin-tucking fabric which, later, added nice dimension to the quilt. Fabric in the dog is a fussy cut autumn forest print to bring out the dog’s shading. Various shirt and jeans fabrics were thrift store finds.

Both the mural and quilt were displayed together at the Manteca Quilt Show in March where

visitors were able to view both art works side by side. That was exciting. And Jessie is interested in future collaborations with me.

NOTE: ** Wei Luan, muralist, loves painting epic murals. He's Chinese, having left China following the Tienanmen Square massacre. One of the first educated ci

tizens China allowed to leave the country.

These are steps I adopted relating to studio setup, equipment and practice: TIPS OF THE TRADE

Setup is important: create a dedicated space large enough to support artistic endeavor. I commandeered our living room. Store stash(s) in that room. Make or buy a sewing machine table to recess the machin

e so the machine’s throat plate is level with a flat surface for piecing and quilting. Include a la

rge design wall, cutting table, pressing surface, abundant full-spectrum lighting, bookcases, computer and printer if you can.

Focus on construction: store construction supplies (i.e., tape, rulers, glue, starch, stabilizers, fusibles, papers and tools) in this room. Quick access of construction supplies allows me to stay focused on my project. I keep fabric in plastic trays on shelves in cabinets according to color. My thread stash is organized by color in rolling carts from an office supply store. Rolling carts and drawers also hold embellishment supplies (i.e., inks, paints, beads, bling, fibers, foil, trims, and sheers). Cutting tools, scissors and templates are in drawers under the cutting table for easy access.

Sewing machines: new machines offer a wide list of great features. I recommend auto foot lift for piecing or pivoting appliqué, needle stitch-width safety to avoid breaking needles while using a single-hole needle plate, auto needle down, end bobbin alert, integrated dual feed, and large harp space since I machine quilt my quilts. For me, presser foot and machine familiarity is a must.

I thrive on sharing my quilting passion every day with friends, retreats, virtual and local training classes, art groups, quilt shows, and guild meetings. Creating synergy with quilting buddies on group projects, sharing my knowledge of various topics including who to study and how to do a technique rounds out my quilting journey.

Lynn Drennen lives in Lindsay, CA, working full time as a financial analyst and database manager. She is a national award-winning quilter who practices FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) an hour each morning before work. Evenings and weekends are dedicated to quilting endeavors and time with her supportive husband, Bill, and two wonderful Labradors who share her life’s passion.


Raise your hand

if you like having a mammogram! Personally, I hate them which is why I don’t plan to ever have another one since there’s better technology for breast examination. I want to tell you about thermography. Thermography uses infrared imaging to examine breast tissue. It’s totally painless and more effective in finding problems than mammography.

I need for you to learn about breast thermography so that you and I (along with your family and friends) can bring that technology to the Valley area where we live. Right now, those exams are only available in Ventura (south of Santa Barbara) and in northern CA up toward Santa Rosa. If you don’t know about thermography, Google it, find out about it and encourage everyone you know to have it instead of a mammogram. Thermograms detect breast tumors with a 94% success rate. (Only a CT scan can approximate 100% efficacy.)

Mammograms miss up to 46% of all tumors. Mammography only detects tumors or problems if the tissue can be compressed and read between the examination plates.

Breast Thermography. . .

Because mammograms can be too late!

Thermography is non-invasive. You stand in front of the camera, put your hands on your head, and the technician takes about 8 shots of you which transfer directly into the computer. These pictures show the chest area from just below the neck to below the breast area and in underarm areas. Thermography shows the chest wall, sees through implants, scar tissue, thick tissue, and problem breast tissue. Problems encountered by mammography aren’t problems for thermography. The sad thing is that some tumors are on the chest wall and mammography won’t detect them. My girlfriend’s daughter had her malignant tumor there.

Thermography pictures are read by a qualified thermography doctor who sends you a report complete with copies of your pictures. Then, your technician gives you a full consultation explaining the report, pictures and information on “where to go from here.” I’ve used this test for the last two years (annual exam) and it is approximately the same cost as a mammogram. In both cases, my insurance reimbursed me the full cost of the exam. I submitted a claim along with my paid invoice and they sent me a check.

Thermography shows exactly what’s happening in your breast tissue (in the color picture of your report) whereas a mammogram shows a spot. Then the mammography doctor says, “well, I don’t know, let me do a biopsy just to make sure.” In thermography, you can tell immediately if there is a problem and then pursue the ultrasound to determine exact size and location. Unnecessary surgeries, fear, pain and expense aren’t involved.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest in thermography and I hope, like me, you’ll investigate this newer exam technology, become an advocate, and demand that it be available in your area for you, those you love and those you know and so forth. It will take a grass roots effort to make this available for all of us no matter where we live. Currently, it’s mostly available in major metropolitan areas. (I first heard of it reading one of Suzanne Somers’ books.)

In my opinion, it is the only technology available that tells me exactly what condition my breast tissue is in… and knowledge is empowering. Most tumors are caused by life style and can be reversed by changes in life style if detected early enough. Sadly, the generic mammography postcard saying “ok” doesn’t tell me enough. I can’t accept that non-informative report.

In most cases, thermography will show suspect areas years before they can develop into problem tumors. That’s amazing information. It’s information that will cause fewer people in our families, friends and community to suffer from breast cancer or go bald from chemo or radiation treatments. Supporting thermography is supporting breast cancer awareness.

Get your thermogram and adopt recommended behavior changes… encourage everyone you know to have thermograms (from as early as 18 or 20 years old) and monitor yearly changes based on annual thermograms.

This technology will save lives—our own, those we love and others we touch with our knowledge and enthusiasm. Please become a foot soldier in my army to turn breast cancer around in your area. I know you can do it! I have faith in your enthusiasm.

Lynn (getting off my soap box now)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Art's Voice

Such a lovely piece titled "A Sudden Spring Wind" uses a discarded kimono as the base for art. But the story it tells certainly lacks beauty: genocide.

It is the topic of a new art display at the Brand Library in Glendale, CA . Artist Sumi Foley drew soldiers blowing away in the breeze. If only it were that easy to stop the killings.

Seventy pieces by 44 artists depict the horror and atrocities of genocide around the world, focusing on the Armenian genocide. The exhibit will run through May 8 with a couple special events planned in the evening. For more information about the event and the art, click here.

This particular piece is by Sumi Foley and lists at $10,000. Several of her art pieces can be seen online via the Square i Gallery.

Her gentle art, at least from afar, reminds me of Susan Shie and her delightful picture quilts with Quilta and the third eye and kitchen pots and pans and images of family and home. But when you see the words that fill every free space on the quilt, you quickly realize this is a serious discussion, important thoughts are being shared. Her art has evolved through the years and each phase is overwhelming in its complexities, yet beautifully simple in design. She teaches classes at her 'art camp' and home where she maintains her Turtle Moon studio in the middle of Ohio.

I had the opportunity to talk with and interview Susan for a Quilters World article. Immediately it is apparent that she's a talented and a serious artist who has much to say about our world -- her world. She takes ownership and strives to improve our planet.

Susan definitely sees it with a different perspective than most, I might add, because she has been legally blind since birth. That certainly hasn't affected her sight or insight as an artist. You can see this quilt and more of her work at her website gallery.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Pocketful of Possibilities

There's something mystical about pockets. They offer such possibilities.

They seem so simple, so innocent positioned in a shirt, covering a man's heart. Or hanging at a comfortable length to enfold hands for warmth in a cozy jacket.

Mom's aprons always had a most fascinating assortment of found items in them. Items she discovered while cleaning house, funny what dusty corners reveal.

Perhaps the 'unknown' of pockets and their possessions make me want to include them in unusual spots on quilts or pillows, in wall hangings and even in cards and letters. With that in mind I looked around a little on the Internet to see what others are doing with pockets.

Kate North's imaginative and delightful little quilt immediately captured my attention. She describes what she has done: "Onto the background, I then attached pieces of organza, which I sewed down with cotton thread, capturing a variety of items inside and used a soldering iron to remove the excess organza. Next, I used Markal paintsticks to outline the edges of the pockets, and then couched a variety of threads all over the top, including around the organza pockets. The piece was then fairly heavily machine quilted using loops and vague flowers. Finally, after binding, I added strands of beads (which hang loose) at the base of each organza pocket."

She's turned my image of pocket quilts on their ears!

You may remember the quillow. What a great idea -- a single-person size quilt that will fit inside an attached pocket and look like a pillow when all folded up. But when unfolded the pocket provides a cozy place to warm your toes.

And of course whenever I think of a quilt with pockets, I first think of a denim quilt made of odds and ends of raggedy jeans. Don't we all have a collection of holey jeans? The pockets are so perfect added to a quilt square. I made a couple little nephews some small flannel and denim pillows with a pocket big enough to carry their favorite little matchbox trucks. And when thinking of a masculine quilt -- denim seems an obvious choice.

Children and pockets seem to go hand in hand. So to speak. Wall hangings that serve as storage make perfect sense in a child's room. Or perhaps a gift quilt that acts more like the greeting card with a pocket that holds the true gift. Heather Finnell designed a quilt that will make any birthday happier for it. (see photo) Visit her site and see what she's designed for other special celebrations. I like her choice of quilting patterns, too.

Advent calendars, calendars of any kind are like a collection of pockets. Maybe a wall hanging made of men's shirt pockets -- those crisp and clean looking oxford stripes would make a nice traditional look. The photo is one of Martha Stewart's creations. Doesn't it look like something she'd make?

Yet my most favorite and magical and imaginative is Kate North's organza pocketed art quilt.

Pockets hold lovely treasures or at least hold the unknown. We live in a pocket of time, in a pocket of culture, in a geographic pocket. Pockets seems to fit with any topic -- time, landscape, nature, animals, children. Or wombs -- the ultimate pocket.

Additional note: Here's a great tutorial for making a hooded bath towel and it would be even greater with a pocket!