Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Update: Hearts for Anna

NOTE: The glitches are fixed on the Artful Home site. -- Dawn

The deadline draws near for participation in the fundraiser for Anna Millea who faces a barrage of chemo in her second round with cancer. She shouldn't have to face this alone nor without insurance.

Alone she is not with all of her friends and fellow artists.

Insurance we can't do much about right now, but I hope everyone will find a way to contribute and save this one woman's life. Below you can find out what you can do. -- Dawn

With just under two weeks until the online deadline for “Hearts for Anna” submissions, the first pieces are rolling in to Artful Home. I have to admit that I’m not the only one around our office who gets rather teary as we see all these beautiful works! We have open offices, so it is easy to hear the squeals of delight when yet another package arrives.

The work is, indeed, in every medium. This lovely fiber piece, “Morning Song” by Virginia Spiegel , is a beautiful miniature example of the artist’s hand. The lyrical quality combined with the strong graphic composition is a signature of Virginia’s, and is very moving.

In a completely different medium, but with very similar sentiment are “Encased Heart” by Nina Cambron and “Red Heart Paperweight” by acclaimed glass artist, Mark Rosenbaum. On our website, Nina is known for her painterly fused glass art clocks. In miniature, she captures the same beauty and exuberance in glass that has real textile sensibilities. Mark’s New Orleans locale clearly influences the spirit in his work.
There is still plenty of time to consider contributing a piece to this event, as the deadline for images is August 7. “Hearts for Anna” takes place online August 12-16, with all proceeds going to artist, Anna Millea, to help with her medical bills as she fights breast cancer alone, having been deemed uninsurable. More details here.

Check out a previous blog concerning the fundraiser for Anna.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fabric altering fun can be life changing

For the past few weeks I've been enrolled in Lyric Kinard's Quilt University "Playing with Paints" class. I certainly got my $36 investment's worth. First of all she helped me get over my fear of failure.

It is all good. There is no 'failure' with fabric, paints, and Lyric. Each piece we design, no matter what technique, whatever turns out is usable.

At worst we learned what doesn't work.

But more often class members demonstrated surprise at the outcome -- pleasant surprise -- and a renewed interest in duplicating it or jumping off from that effort onto the next.

I learned to 'play' again. Dabble with paints, marvel at sun printing, and the effects salt has on paint flow. Perhaps the best part of this class has been the connection it offered for my husband and I. Of course you know that he's battling a killer disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. There was a time when he could fix anything with a screwdriver, but the disease has stolen his grip, his smile and his song. It has been difficult to find something he could succeed at and enjoy. But fabric painting brought his smile back. We have spent many a delightful weekend oohing and aahing and laughing together over our creations.

Surprising what unexpected blessings come when we try new things, step out of our regular lives and just give art a try.

A couple of days ago Kelli Perkins new book "Stitch Alchemy" arrived in the mail. It is published by Interweave Press. Unlike Lyric's class, this book is based upon combining fabric and paper for mixed media art. Yet many of the techniques are the same. I seem to have quite a bit of both fabric and paper. The idea of combining them into something lovely and totally different speaks to my renewed need to create.

OHHHHH MMMY! Kelli has taken what I learned in Lyric's class and expanded it. Since readers don't have Kelli to discuss the projects with as in a class, she has given a photo of a project using each technique and then told exactly how to reproduce it. Basically she has opened up her journal that she has kept while experimenting with the various mediums and techniques and given us a leg up on how and why and what to expect.

Each fabric and ingredient is described and what results you will get. Then she goes through the techniques with visual aids and examples to make. She writes with brevity and clarity and I could easily follow her how-to instructions and which products or tools to use and what surprises to expect.

Number one warning: "don't press directly on the project" otherwise you will have just covered the bottom of your lovely iron with glue. Other than that, pretty much anything goes.

Experiment is the operative word for both Lyric and Kelli. Kelli adds a second half of the book filled with encouragement, galleries, special projects and more. Of course going right along with these two women is Rayna Gillman and her book "Create your own hand-printed cloth."

Whether a serious artist or just someone who needs to push past a drab existence and your own self-enforced limitations, fabric painting and design really is a freeing experience.

What I learned from Lyric and now from Kelli has carried over into other aspects of my life. It didn't really hit me until this morning that I'm trying new recipes and looking at life so much differently. Now I don't see the same old same old. I see the empty cookie container as a potential rubbing or the wind chimes as potential stencils or the paper clips as beautiful sunprints or that old toothbrush as the perfect tool for spatter painting. And when I look at things differently, I look at people differently.
I expect them to do more, be more, and even to surprise me. And when I'm open to such things -- they happen! Art is not just about making lovely things. It is about experimenting, trying, and letting the kid out to play more often. It is about sharing and being and expanding and embracing. And most of all it is about euphoria and the wonder of clouds coming from salt and finding that even mistakes can be the basis for something beautiful.

With the right tools, the right technique, the right attitude, and a never say die attitude -- any disappointment can be reused, renewed or cut up and made into something totally unexpected.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lyric's book "Art + Quilt" that's just coming out. I saw a full-page ad in Interweave's magazine "FiberArts." Lyric offers basic principles of art and design and shares secrets and insider tips to design success.
Photos: I've included photos of my first efforts in painting fabric and the various techniques. The first photo is a wall hanging I started making from the blue fabrics that I painted using a wet technique, scrunching and salt. I incorporated my favorite nine-patch and some photo transfers. Not sure where it goes next. I'm thinking it needs a poem on there someplace about the ocean or shorebirds. Photo 2: I did a wax resist using a yellow crayon for the Tic Tac Toe design and my name, and rubbed across my little cheese grater for the cross hatch design. A wet technique for the background colors, just dabbed on paints Jacquards I think, and let them do their thing. Photos 3 and 4 kind of go together. I wet the cotton fabric, dabbed colors helter skelter over it, scrunched it up and laid it in the sun to dry. Voila! For the 4th photo, I protected my workspace with a piece of butcher's paper and the colors bled through the fabric onto it. When it dried I took a firefly stamp and scrapbooking inks to add the little figures to it. I thought I could cut out the cute parts and adhere them to gift cards, spruce them up a little and I can turn 'waste' into something useful. Photo 5: Since I can't draw, I am drawn to stamping. Lyric encouraged playing with our food, so I tried a lemon, but forgot the first rule to set it on a paper towel to soak up some of the juices. So my fruit prints are little juicy. But with a fabric pen, I could probably make them look edible again. The rooster print came from one of those wooden cutouts I bought at Michaels a long time ago. I tried outlining one with a thick fabric pen and one with a fine point metallic pen. The metallic pen seemed to glob and go in fits and starts so that I didn't have much control and it was quite frustrating. I'm seeing my three roosters as a rough draft. I live in a farming community where chickens free range all around town. Why not get a couple more of those wooden cut outs, decorate them in various ways and adhere them to a fancy or perhaps black and white squares design paper, frame it and hang it in my kitchen? Simple yet striking, I think.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Easy Peasy Confetti Art

Photo: Silent Sentinels by Noriko Endo

--By Dawn Goldsmith

Virginia Spiegel inspired me to use the itty bitty pieces of fabric that I would normally discard. Her blog on this subject reads like poetry. Beautifully written.

The idea is to save all of your scraps -- fabric, thread, whatever. Virginia tosses them into big multi-gallon containers. She calls these leftovers: schnibbles (love that word). She said she picked up the term from the Quilting Arts group.

Recently she pulled out those overflowing containers, filled with snippets of her hand painted or hand dyed fabrics. She sorted through them separating by color and texture and need, then incorporated some of them into art quilts. Her technique requires no organza.
"I just sew and sew. I have used a layer of MistyFuse and then a vintage poly scarf when I'm working with mini/mini/mini pieces, but that is a whole different look than what I am currently doing," Virginia explained.
She generously lent me a couple photos from her blog that captures unused schnibbles in their natural habitat and schnibbles in captivity under the needle on the front of her imaginative and colorful art quilt .

Confetti techniques really reflect the artist and can look startlingly different.

For example, Japanese fabric artist Noriko Endo advocates confetti art but strives for a more impressionist look with the project she chose for an HGTV broadcast. At their website she provides a step by step approach . Her autumn trees quilt in the photo below has a Van-Gogh colors meets Monet's dots kind of quality to it.

She lays all of the pieces out, covers them with organza then stitches across heavily to hold everything in place. The first thought I had when seeing this approach was, "Don't sneeze!"

I can see one ill-placed sneeze deforesting a whole woodland scene.

This technique was made for thread painting as demonstrated by this quilt of an old gnarled, wind carved "Canyon Tree," by Jennifer. She made this particular quilt in a class with Noriko.

And, the confetti technique can take on as many shapes and styles as the artist can imagine. Compare Noriko's naturescape used on HGTV and the first photo of the blog. Her inspiring quilt Silent Sentinels pictured above and at SAQA's site. Silent Sentinels shows a much different woodland view. It feels like a cathedral and reminds me of a favorite old song:

"I know a green cathedral,
a hallowed forest shrine.
Where leaves in love join hands above
to arch your prayers and mine."

Another way to make confetti cloth involves "schnibbles" adhered to dissolvable stabilizer. More often threads and yarns make up most of the schnibbles. This tends to make a more loosely woven finished product. Once again it is closely stitched. This holds the pieces in place once the stabilizer dissolves. Here are step by step directions. Don't confuse confetti art with confetti fabric designs by RJR Fabrics. Or with Confetti Quilts which offers a host of more traditional patterns.
On a personal level, using up all of those snips and castoffs gives me a sense of 'doing the right thing.' I can recycle, reuse and create. When given the option, gee, do I want to adhere them to a wall hanging or do I want to throw them into a landfill? Seems like an easy choice and a fun project. The only downside is convincing my husband that all of those bits of fabric, thread and yarns that I am hoarding will eventually get used and not just take up more space in his sacred garage. So I suppose the first step in confetti art is to DO IT!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nanny's Gift of Memories: Rayna Gillman

When Dawn asked me to write a blog post, I was delighted; this is one of the most interesting blogs in the ‘sphere.

I’m Rayna Gillman and I print my own cloth. (Sounds like the beginning of a 12-step program introduction and I’m so addicted to doing this that maybe I should consider it). You may be familiar with my book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth, published by C&T.

I never considered myself an artist: my seventh grade art teacher told me on the first day of school that I couldn't draw, after he saw my rendering of a tree.

Because my grandfather was an artist who drew and painted, I equated making art with the ability to draw, so that was THAT. I began quilting because I could use color, texture, and design without drawing. My grandmother was really my prime influence in several ways. First, she had an instinctive, fearless sense of color. Second, she improvised. Third, she gave me a raft of memories and a love for the past.

She used leftover threads and yarns and scrap cloth for whatever her next project was, which meant she never planned ahead. If she had orange, green, red and purple remnants at hand, that’s what she used together and they always looked wonderful!

"Darling," she said to me, "you can put any colors together as long as you use them more than once."

That advice and ability to improvise were among the best gifts I got from her! This early “art” quilt put that advice to the test. (Celebration 1997, first photo)

If you look at the purple and green hand-dyes in this piece, you’ll see I tried to cover them up with other fabrics. But I soon discovered that printing on them worked better. (Postcards 2, 2003, 2nd photo)

In my piece, Cacophony(2003, photo 3), my original intent was to cover up the blotchy raucous yellow fabric I had dyed. Without planning ahead, I just kept adding layers till I had covered the fabric and suddenly it was a whole-cloth quilt that was juried into Art Quilts at the Sedgwick (now Elements).

Once I discovered I could improve almost anything by printing in layers, I was off and running. And it became clear that if I didn’t like one layer I could add another and another. But I learned it was better to stop before the fabric became mud and that if you have to ask yourself whether it needs more, the answer is usually “no.” Improvisation is great but a little drop of thought as you go along can make something better.

If you were to ask which printing process I like best, the answer would depend on which day it is. This week it’s screen printing; next week it might be soy wax batik. Sometimes I love using paint, other times, thickened dyes. I love it all and I love teaching it all.

I improvise when I’m designing, too: a legacy from Nanny. Scraps and leftovers, randomly pieced, cut up and reassembled and moved around on the wall till they pleased me. I don’t know any other way to work: if I were to plan ahead I would feel as though I had already made the piece and I would never actually make it. (Usha's Quilt, 2005, photo 4)

The third way my Nanny influences my work is in my return, time and again, to memory and a sense of the past. A poignant photo of unknown relatives she gave to me led me to collect and use old photographs of people in my work. Sometimes I use image transfer, sometimes a screen: I don’t know who they were – but they are alive for me.(Kaddish detail, 2003, photo 5)

An antique collector, she taught me to look beyond the first layer to see what was behind it: old buildings, passports, newspaper clippings, a piece of china: everything has a story. If we don’t know what it is, we can invent one.(Time and Again, 2005, photo 6)

Layers. Whether It’s layers of cloth, layers of meaning, layers of the past, or layers of paint and dye, my work explores it all – improvisationally and without worrying about whether the colors coordinate. I didn’t start out to write about my grandmother’s influence but it is there, beneath the surface – and even on the surface.

Rayna's book has become the bible for many of us striving to learn the techniques of fabric painting and various other techniques. And her book provides quite an array of ways to alter cloth: stamp, screen, stencil and then the more amazing gelatin plate printing, soy wax batik, rubbings, discharge printing and on and on. Again and again I have heard fabric artists exclaim, "I just took a class with Rayna and we had such fun!" I can't think of this teacher, artist, woman without seeing her smile.

In the section of her book 'about the author' it says, "Noted for her instinctive sense of color and her improvisational approach to design, she encourages students to work spontaneously." That sounds a bit like children at play -- and I'm a firm believer that we need to let the child in us play more often.

Her book is packed with photographs that whet the appetite to dip right in and give it a try. The directions clearly lead from first to last step with many tips and suggestions in between. And if ever there was a woman that advocates 'recycling'-- it is Rayna who uses EVERYTHING as a found object for rubbings, stampings, or some unique repurposing.

Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth by Rayna Gillman belongs in any multi-media fabric artist's library or in any creative mum's home where she looks for ways to encourage her little ones to play with creativity. -- Dawn

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cancer. No Insurance.

While we work together to help a fellow fabric lover, let's give her a few words of encouragement. Please leave your good wishes as a comment on this blog. Anna will see them. Help comes in all forms -- even words. But read below how we can all help her beat cancer and pay her bill. (Note, if you don't want to jump through Google hoops to leave a message, just email me and I'll post it under anonymous with your name and website as the signature. -- Dawn

Can this really be happening to one of our artists?

Anna Millea, (shown in photo) a longtime Guild and Artful Home artist, is fighting breast cancer - again. The disease has returned aggressively and is now in her bones, requiring an extreme sixteen rounds of chemotherapy. She has no insurance, having been deemed uninsurable due to her "pre-existing condition." When we at The Guild/Artful Home learned of this we knew we needed to do something to try to help her through this situation.

What we have come up with is an event we are calling "Hearts for Anna", to which we hope you will contribute and donate a little bit of your time and talent. Artful Home will hold a 5-day online event, "Hearts for Anna", August 12-16, 2009 in which miniature artworks, no larger than 5" x 7", will be sold. The items will be sold first-come, first serve, with all items selling for $100 on Day 1, $75 on Days 2 - 4, and $50 on Day 5. All money will go to a fund that goes directly to Anna Millea to help pay for her medical bills.

Requirements for donated artwork: (Deadline: August 7)

Participation is open to all artists, both Artful Home members and non-members. The point is to get great participation, and thus give a greater hand to Anna.

The artwork can be in any medium, no larger than 5" x 7". Artists in all media are encouraged to participate and donate works.

The artwork should be one of a kind, though each artist participating can submit more than one piece.

All work should fall within the theme of "Hearts for Anna", however the artist chooses to interpret this.

Download and fill out the submission form.
Submission form and photograph must be submitted by August 7 to

Requirements for Fulfillment:

Purchases for artwork will be processed through Artful Home's system.

Please send your donated work to Artful Home by August 11 and we will send it on to the buyer.

Getting out the Word:

Artful Home will be soliciting donated work from artists around the US and Canada.

We are hoping you can help spread the word to other artists as well as potential purchasers by posting the information on any forums, blogs, Facebook pages, Tweets in which you participate.

Call and email your friends. Write a letter. However you choose to spread the word will be helpful.

Artful Home will then be promoting the actual August event through press releases, Tweets, blogs, emails - the full court press.

Again, we will ask you to pass along this information to any individuals or groups, artists and buyers, that you know who you can help support the event.

The more people who come to the site and purchase these miniatures, the more money is raised for Anna. So it's pretty simple.

Thank you so much -- Lisa Bayne (

One look at Anna's smile and the work she produces convinces that she lives life with a happy heart, lives joyously. And we need all of the joy and happiness we can pour into this sour old world, so lets help Anna back to good health so we can enjoy her smile -- and her art -- for years to come!!! -- Dawn

Monday, July 6, 2009

Call for SAQA Artists: "Sense of Direction: Sightlines"

Multi-media artist Virginia Spiegel provides information about an upcoming SAQA invitational that she will curate, with entry deadline: August 15, 2009.

It’s always an honor to be asked to jury or curate an exhibit. I am particularly excited to curate Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) new invitational, Sense of Direction: Sightlines.

Sightlines is an opportunity for fourteen invited artists to create a suite of artwork, on a schedule and within the specifications, that is (pick your own adjectives): groundbreaking, challenging, exciting, stunning, unusual, dynamic, provocative, meaningful . . ..

It is safe to say, in case you hadn't guessed, that I am looking for artists who are able to create artwork that will stop viewers in their tracks. Sightlines' unique format is a golden opportunity to take risks and I hope the chosen artists will do just that.

It is my hope that not only will the individual artist's artwork be compelling, but that the exhibit as a whole will become an organic/ synergistic system compelling viewers to move through the exhibit.

Each artist will create from one to four major artworks with a line, literal or implied, beginning and ending at the edges of the piece(s), but meandering at will through the piece(s). On each side of the major artwork(s) will be two 8x8" square artworks with the sightline through the center of the squares. These square artworks will help create a continuous line and visual connection throughout the entire exhibit. Each artist will have a 10’ wide space to fulfill her/his vision through five to eight artworks.
This concept is somewhat difficult to visualize, but visiting this exhibition by tACTile, an Australian group of textile artists, should give an idea of the inspiration for and concept of Sightlines. The format allows artists to pursue their own themes while presenting intriguing connections among all the artworks.
Jenny Bowker walks us through her series that was part of the Eyeline exhibit. "This is a series of quilts based on events in my life. I wanted them to feel thoughtful and autobiographical. I was staying in a hospital hostel at the time the quilts had to be made, and in a way this affected several factors. My daughter had been badly burned and everything narrowed so that everything was black or white - important, or it did not matter at all!
The quilts had to be small so that they could be worked on in any location. I needed to carry minimal fabric and the limited palette helped to hold very different elements together and carry through a story line as well as an 'Eyeline'.

Shimmer - the first seven years
Flowering - puberty and partners - flowering times
My Cup Runneth Over - my four beautiful children
Long Cold Winter - the difficult years - divorce and financial stress.
Patterns Sliding through My Fingers - the making of work and creativity
The Perfect Pattern - I have always loved this pattern. I am aware it looks like a memorial but I have always loved the way the crosses fit together like jigsaw pieces so perfectly, complex, but simple at the same time. I had had good and bad times, times which are mundane and times which are spectacular. All of them lock together to make me what I am, and there is not one thing that I would change.

I truly have no preconceived roster of artists in mind for this exhibition and hope a wide and diverse pool of artists (who must be SAQA members) will submit a Request for Consideration. There is no charge to be considered for this exhibit and the Request format is quite informal.

The prospectus for Sightline is online in the Members’ Home section of the SAQA website. The deadline for sending a Request for Consideration is August 15, 2009.

The exhibition premiers at International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2011 and travels to the International Quilt Festivals in Chicago and Long Beach. A Sense of Direction: Sightlines will also be available for travel. Inquires may be made here.

Please feel free to contact me at Virginia(at) with any questions.

PHOTOS: Road to Lancefield by Beth and Trevor Reid. Two of the three of this series are shown here, not doing the trio proper justice. Please view them here. They were part of the "Eyeline" exhibit. "They are hand and commercial dyed cotton fabric, hand painted, wool polyester batting, machine pieced and quilted, machine embroidered, fusible applique. The background is free motion machine quilting. The Eyeline of trees and grass is free machine embroidered and the rocks are applied using fusible applique and hand painted for depth."

Bio: Virginia A. Spiegel creates art for the wall from her own hand-painted fabrics, as well as mixed-media collages. Her artwork is known for its evocative use of color and its focus on the beauty of everyday nature. She also frequently comments upon the complexity of human nature. In part, she hopes to inspire others to notice and take action against the current devaluation of the natural world. The thirteen trips Spiegel has taken with her sister in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness have greatly influenced the subject and direction of her artwork in recent years.