Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inchies: A teeny tiny world of immense possibilities!

Does Nadine Ruggles need an intervention?
I think Inchies have taken over her life! But that's a good thing -- at least for us.
Her new book Inchie Quilts published by AQS Publishing can cause addiction -- so read with caution. Just kidding. It certainly sparks the imagination for big ideas in tiny tiny spaces.
Back in the day the 'in thing' for frugal and imaginative quilters resulted in scrap quilts entirely pieced in one-inch squares. My husband's grandmother was a master at these perfectly pieced wonders. She would be the first one to examine Nadine's twist on the use of that little square.
Nadine's Elemental Changes--Color Play (pictured above) reflects a similar romance with that little square. But as Nadine explains -- each Inchie is complete in itself. Yep, each little square on this quilt is actually one finished Inchie. I'm fascinated with her fascination with Inchies! -- Dawn

Note: Elemental Changes--Color Play was made for the New Quilts from an Old Favorite Contest sponsored by the National Quilt Museum, and is published in the book Burgoyne Surrounded -- New Quilts from an Old Favorite. More info about the contest here.

WIN A FREE COPY OF NADINE'S BOOK! What will you use to create a world on your Inchies? Get creative and tell me what kind of materials you’ll use to create a dimensional story on your Inchies, and be entered to win your own copy of Inchie Quilts! (One winner will be chosen; deadline to enter is Aug. 30, 2009.)

Have you seen Inchies?
Guest Blog by Nadine Ruggles in her own words.

Fabric artists make Inchies, these 1-inch by 1-inch fabric or paper art squares, in the same way postcards and ATCs are made. They use fabric, batting, and perhaps a stiffener, and embellish them with beads, buttons, crystals, fibers, wire, and found objects.

When I saw Inchies for the first time, I thought, “Wow! That’s pretty cool, but so small!" I turned and twisted, examined its tiny frame and wondered, "How can you make an interesting design in so small a space?” Then life intruded and I forgot Inchies for a while.
Later, I needed to take a break from a couple of large projects, and decided to make some Inchies, just for the heck of it. Maybe you’ve even made some and swapped them with other textile artists. If so, you’ll probably understand when I tell you I was instantly addicted to Inchies. Even now one of those large projects, which I took a break from, still lies in an unfinished state totally preempted by the Inchie Invasion.
The other large project is finished, but only because I decided to incorporate Inchies into the quilt; 500 and then some Inchies later, it became one of the first Inchie Quilts.

What is it about these exquisite little gems that is so attractive and intriguing?

How can you make an interesting design in just one square inch of space? Start with the fabric.

Look for a fabric with interesting design elements in colors that you fancy. Find a fabric you love, and then use some coordinating threads in different colors, textures and weights to add some base texture with machine quilting. And then the real fun begins. Gather anything and everything you think you might use to create a little design story on your Inchie.

Beads are perfect of course, and crystals, tiny buttons, and bits of lace or chunky fibers are naturals for Inchie embellishments. But let your mind and imagination wander, and look for other things like safety pins, computer parts, colored copper wire, felt shapes, watch parts, jewelry findings, shells, small stones; anything and everything that can be glued or sewn on or stuck through is fair game for Inchie embellishments, as long as you keep the diminutive nature of the Inchie canvas in mind. This is where you can use that ever-growing stash of bead mixes and fiber bundles, as well as all the found objects and odd bits and bobs that you may wonder why you kept, but couldn’t bear to part with.
Once you’ve gathered your embellishments and have many to choose from, spend some time selecting a variety of embellishments to use. Choose a mixture of shapes and sizes, colors and finishes. Start by building up the embellishments in layers. Add some simple embroidery stitches with metallic thread or hand-dyed flosses to accent the fabric design or the quilting or both. Use a large bead or button as a focal point, and place smaller beads or crystals or findings around it to create a multidimensional texture and design story in just one square inch.

While you’re making this first Inchie, you’ll probably get ideas about how to embellish the next one, and the next, and the next one after that. At some point, you may find yourself stumped by how to embellish a particular Inchie, but you’ll get even more creative to solve that little design dilemma, and be excited and eager to move on to the next one.

As you create more and more Inchies, you’ll realize that each one has something to say and a story to tell, but it’s when they get together in groups that they speak the loudest. There’s a tiny world full of details and textural interest in each one, and when you put them all together they become a universe of creative possibilities. Inchies are more than just patchwork and you’ll want to take your time and study each one to see inside its world.
Accessorize Me—with Inchies! (pictured below) was awarded an Honorable Mention ribbon at the National Quilting Association Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio in June. This quilt will be on display at the IQA World of Beauty Quilt Show at the Fall Quilt Market and Fall Quilt Festival in Houston, October 10-12 and 15-18 respectively.

To see a world in one square inch every day, subscribe to The Daily Inchie. A new Inchie is profiled every day and delivered to you via RSS feed or email. Visit to find more information and download extra content for the book, along with news and updates about Inchie Quilts and upcoming workshops and lectures. Order your copy of Inchie Quilts at DreamWeaver’s Quilts Studio, where you will also find unique supplies and embellishments.
Thank you, Dawn, for inviting me to be a guest here at Subversive Stitchers! -- Nadine

BIO: Nadine Ruggles has been sewing and crafting since childhood, and was caught by the quilting bug in 1990. She wanted to make "just one (large) quilt" for the bed and, of course, couldn't stop quilting after that. Being mostly self-taught, Nadine sees each new quilt as a challenge, and she applies her special talents for fabric selection, precision piecing, elegant quilting and unexpected embellishments to traditional blocks to create innovative quilt art pieces. Nadine lives in Angelbachtal, Germany, with her husband Eric and two beautiful daughters, Erica and Erin. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her machine quilting and innovative piecing. Her quilts have been exhibited across the United States in quilt shows, galleries and museums, and her newest work and techniques are featured in Inchie Quilts, published by the American Quilter's Society. Nadine will be teaching Inchie Quilts and other embellishment workshops at the AQS Quilt Expo Des Moines in October, 2009.
Visit with Nadine and find out more about her artwork, book, workshops and lectures at her website and blog,
DreamWeaver’s Quilts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Update from Hearts for Anna

I want to thank you -- no pun intended -- from the bottom of my heart for contributing to a most successful "Hearts for Anna" event.

I don't know if you tracked the event, but we were nearly sold out of all artist-donated pieces within the first 2 hours. Ultimately, we sold every piece, and then added additional pieces from which we called the "gallery" and from which we donated all of our profit.

Between the event pieces, the gallery pieces, and 5% of all our sales throughout the event, today we sent a check to Anna for more than $14,000!

Regardless of where you stand within the healthcare debate that is raging right now, you helped an artist who is struggling through the obstacles of our current healthcare system while she battles for her life.
You didn't have to do it, but you did.
You didn't have to care, but you did.

You didn't have to give your time, energy, and materials, but you did.

Thank you so very much.
My best wishes to you,
Lisa Bayne

NOTE: Lisa Bayne was the driving force behind this Artful Home fundraiser to benefit fabric artist Anna Millea. She deserves a hearty thank you and pat on the back for a job well done!
Lisa added in an email: "In addition, we were thrilled that our site did not crash, as traffic to the site quadrupled from normal, with much of it happening in the first hour!" That gives you an idea of how many of you stepped up to help.

Let me add my thanks to all of you who stepped up and made a difference -- a $14,000 difference! And in addition, you reassured Anna that we find her, AND her life, AND her health valuable!
We love you Anna -- now get well soon! -- Dawn

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit brings together two favorite mediums

Whenever knitting and quilting come together in the same project, I hear angels sing. Or maybe its just my own voice shouting, "Hallelujah!"
Lynn Krawczyk created a heavenly quilt: 1000 Stitchers, pictured here. She also brings together my two other favorite mediums -- fabric artists and good causes.

Busy curating the 2009 Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit, Lynn took a moment to explains her thinking behind this adorable quilt.

"I made it as part of the 2008 Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit. The theme of the exhibit was "With One Voice" and it was about people or organizations that do good. Franklin Habit's 1000 Knitters Project is very empowering and a huge self confidence booster, he's just great."

One of Habit's beliefs, “If the U.N. had any sense, it would require all delegates to knit during sessions. We could eliminate famine, war and economic injustice in about a week and a half.”

Not to mention with the whole U. N. contingent knitting and purling, they could make enough socks and scarves and hats to more than clothe the people served by a long list of charitable knitting projects. (Caps for Kids and Scarves for Veterans, for example).

Habit also draws and published a book "It Itches" with a variety of knitting related cartoons and essays as well as brief tongue-in-cheek snippets from famous diaries regarding knitting. For example:

Edgar Allan Poe
(1809-1849), writer

The weather being very fine, I sat for some hours int he park to work the
second of the pair of stockings I wish to give Lenore as a birthday gift. When
for a moment my back was turned, its finished mate was plucked clean from my
knitting basket by a large raven. I am sick at heart to think I shall see it
nevermore. (Note to self: Poss. story idea here?)

But, back to Lynn's quilt.

Her artist statement explains: "This quilt honors ... the diversity of knitters and the beauty of the craft. I began knitting two years ago during a difficult time in my life and I have leaned on this art ever since as a form of meditation and comfort. The knitted fabric on this quilt has 1000 stitches in it. I am always amazed at the kindness of knitters and the bonds that are instantly formed when we meet for the first time. Franklin's project is a symbol of the ties that link every knitter together."

Lynn is all about making every stitch count! The 2008 Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit raised more than $1000 for Virginia Spiegel's Fabric Art For a Cause.

Now this year her stitches and organizational skills will help support Bernie Berlin's "A Place to Bark" a non-profit dog rescue that helps provide loving homes for abused dogs.

Above are two quilts from the 2009 exhibit, created by Wendy L. Starn -- Her Yin-Yang kittens Boris and Natasha, and Dancing in the Moonlight.

For more information on how to donate or support the exhibit, visit Lynn Krawczyk's site. August 15th was the last day for sending quilts for this year's exhibit. But don't forget -- there's next year's exhibit to consider! Another worthy cause and another need for quilts. Also, you can sign up to have the exhibit displayed at your event. And you can definitely support the chosen charity: Bernie Berlin's "A Place to Bark." Send donations and mention Breaking Traditions.

Nobody loves you like your dog -- here's a chance to return a measure of that love and give a dog a good home while ending abuse. There should be a special place in hell for anyone who abuses a dog or cat or any creature! But especially dogs. Cause they are all about love and forgiveness.

How can you not LOVE this face? He's one of Bernie's babies that she has been able to rescue from an abusive situation. Make a dog smile and support Bernie.

And don't forget Breaking Traditions Art Quilt Exhibit! The exhibit will hang in the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI. before going on tour. The 2008 exhibit is now traveling. -- Dawn

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Let's Twist Again: Linda Cooper's Kinetic Quilts

The hardware store or sports center may be the new hang out for fabric artists. You can find the neatest items there to use for purposes never before imagined. Wire mesh for rubbings, trowels add texture to paint designs. And Linda Cooper discovered a piece of fishing tackle that's become a vital part of her Kinetic Quilts.

But don't be fooled, her clever repurposing sets her quilts apart from the norm, but her attention to detail and fine sewing make these quilts award winners. -- Dawn

Please welcome Linda Cooper in her own words:

My dad was a fisherman. When we were young, we often gave him fishing swivels for a present. These swivels look like figure 8’s with a bead in the center and both the top and bottom loops rotate. They’re used to let the fishing lure whirl as the line is pulled through the water, catching the fish's attention. The swivels come in many sizes and several finishes and can be purchased from sporting goods stores. The little gizmos fascinated me.

Connect those childhood memories with my love of dimensional quilts and you see the genesis of my Kinetic quilts.
I spent many years trying to name this kind of quilt and my web designer, Cyndi Souder, came up with Kinetic Quilts. Kinetic quilts are two-sided and have fishing line swivels to rotate the cut-outs in the quilt's center. No two of my quilts are the same. Some are mobiles, others swivel, or feature whirligigs. [Linda usually purchase Cabela's swivels as pictured above.]

My first quilt using the swivels was made for a Millennium challenge quilt. I made it in 2000. It had Mylar inside the mini-quilts and I wired all the cut-out openings for stability. It had patchwork designs on one side and millennium fabric on the other. Unfortunately, the shape didn’t hold well through the years.

When Timtex and Peltex (the interfacing in baseball caps) was introduced, that gave me a chance to use it as batting and make a sturdy piece that I was able to quilt. I am limited by the size that gently rolls under my home machine because if you crease the Timtex the fold won’t go away.

I hadn’t realized until I was writing this how personal each of these quilts is to me.

Evening Primrose - Evening primroses are plants which bloom at dusk. When my kids and I visited my parents in Ohio, we often watched the evening primroses open. They seem to vibrate a bit and then pop open. Sometimes very large moths fly in, attracted by the fragrance.

I adapted Kumiko Sudo's origami pattern from "Fantasies and Flowers". The one side of the quilt is blue, violet and yellow diamonds representing dusk and the other is a dark batik for evening.
The mini-quilts have buds on one side and the open flowers on the other.

Quilting-The Heart of the Matter

I was in a challenge class with Cyndi Souder. She asked us to make quilts with the theme "the heart of the matter". Of course for me, quilting is the joy in my life. I painted a background and Broderie Perse appliquéd flowers to it. I pieced diamonds for the other side. In the hearts I have examples of many techniques I enjoy: my marbling, paper-piecing, silk flower appliqué, beading, chenille (which was new for me), and burned-silk appliqué. For this quilt I couldn't find Timtex and I substituted Peltex which is thinner. I have 2 separate layers that I quilted independently and then sewed together at the openings. You can see other examples of my Broderie Perse painted background quilts on my website. [A detailed view of the quilt's center is the first photo.] Recently The Heart of the Matter won a Judge's Choice ribbon at the 2009 Quilt Odyssey in Hershey, Pennsylvania!

Rabbit in the Moon and Rabbit in the Moon 2 In the Far East, people look at the moon and see not the man-in-the-moon, but the Moon Rabbit. My yoga teacher, Clare, pointed him out to her class. So in Rabbit 2, the "moon" is a challenge fabric on one side and a representation of the moon rabbit is on the other, while Rabbit 1 has a fabric photo of the actual moon on the other side. On each quilt, one side of the moon is a harvest moon cake design. These are special treat pastries served in Asia in the fall. The bunny at the bottom of the Rabbit 2 is a fabric photo of an ivory moon-rabbit netsuke, a fob that hung from a traditional man's obi in Japan. The other side has the rabbit which I copied in appliqué.

Turning Leaves I've enjoyed making sun prints with Setacolor and these are featured on one side of these cut-outs. I printed on pique, which has great texture and gives the sun print extra dimension. I made mini-quilt sandwiches with the sun print on one side then the Timtex, then a piece of backing fabric and then a piece of silk. I quilted around the sun print and then on the other side I cut away the excess silk leaving the leaf shape. These leaves are like a guide to what was growing in my yard at the time.

The trickiest thing about making a Kinetic Quilt is coming up with a design that looks good on both sides and making the mini-quilts integrate with both sides and with the innumerable positions that they can take. It's a bit like playing chess in 3D.

A binding hint that I've found works well (and this would work in miniature quilts too) is to find a fabric that continues its color or print to the edge of the selvage. I use narrow bias bindings (usually 1 inch wide) and when I sew them, I let the selvage edge finish on top of the binding. This results in a much smoother binding without lumps where the extra fabric would usually be turned under.

All of these quilts have no fronts or backs and a sleeve would ruin the look. So my solution was to make loops and hang the larger ones from dowels top and bottom and uses bamboo pieces on the smaller Moon Rabbits. Unfortunately, some shows prohibit quilts with wooden parts.

Bio: Linda's family has endured her quilting obsession for the past 20 years. Linda loves all aspects of the quilt world but has gravitated to art quilting in the past few years. She teaches fabric painting, raw-edge appliqué, and other classes at Artistic Artifacts Annex in Alexandria, VA. She is also available for lectures, workshops and commission work.

Her kinetic quilts are only one example of Linda's diverse abilities. You can see her Flowers for a Cure in the IAQ 2009 Quilt Festival's special exhibit: Making Memories. Her Fading Memories quilt with hand painted background is currently on tour with Ami Simm's Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative traveling exhibit.

I also discovered that Linda is a fellow Ohio transplant and grew up a few miles from my old stomping grounds! Small world!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Age Appropriate Activities: Late Bloomers?

With the advent of the movie Julie and Julia, the discussion of quality of life and creativity and 'late bloomers' has escalated, especially among artists.

Erik Erikson, a well known psychiatrist, described the eight stages of aging ending with the 50 to death stage. This final stage he described as a time of integrity or despair.

Certainly not despair for Julia Childs who sold her first cookbook at the age of 50 and didn't become a popular television personality until the 'end stage' of her life.

The link between creativity and generative or positive attitude has been measured and the results are in. The creation of art, the process of creating, will keep you young, vibrant, and boost your positive attitude. But then, we already knew that! Artists tend to forget age and what is appropriate for that age and just dive in, focused on the project or the process or the imagination and forget about success or failure. Actually success or failure, if there is such a thing in art, is based upon the perceived or imagined project -- what we see in our heads as the thing we are attempting to create. So the world can not set the standards for us. We set our own.

When I started out decorating cakes, a wise teacher told me in the first class. "Don't worry if your cake doesn't look exactly like the one in the picture. No one will know except you -- if you don't show them the picture!" Of course later on as I took off the training wheels, there were no pictures, just images in my mind.

I don't think creativity enhances only the end stage of life, but any stage. Also in the movie is Julie who faces the milestone of turning 30. She becomes absorbed (obsessed) in her task of making all 500 plus recipes in Julia Child's cookbook which drew her out of her 'powerless' job. This movie based on two true stories, written by Nora Ephron, strikes a chord at several ages. Just watching the trailer I feel strengthened and encouraged.

In Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot's latest book "The Third Chapter" she interviews forty people age 50 and older and concluded that people fall into two categories by that age. One group is stagnant, retired, waiting to die. The other is generative and finding new lives and living with enthusiasm and vitality. They are curious, outspoken, secure. Most of the people she interviewed were upper income, but a few were not.

One man, a factory worker, had resorted to selling his belongings at a flea market in order to get money to pay his bills. He noticed some metal sculptures at one artist's booth and thought he could do that. He had been a welder most of his life, he was good with metal. So he returned home, used the found objects around his house and drew on his love of all things dinosaur, creating his own dinosaur sculptures. When he displayed them at the flea market they were a hit. He not only found a new income, he also found the joy of creating and he elevated his entire lifestyle simply by changing his attitude about 'perceived abundance.' He wasn't poor any more although his art didn't boost him into a higher income.

Peter Drucker wrote in The Harvard Review back in 1999 urging employees to "manage oneself."

"It means we have to learn to develop ourselves. We have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution to our organizations and communities. And we have to stay mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do. It may seem obvious that people achieve results by doing what they are good at and by working in ways that fit their abilities."

Considering fabric art and quilting as a form of work -- well, that's difficult for me to think of it as anything but fun because I'm engaged, enthused and doing what I enjoy doing. At any age, I think this is the secret to a happy and successful life: doing what you most want to do. Just looking through the various guest blogs that have appeared here at Subversive Stitchers you see a whole host of examples of people happily succeeding at something they love. I hope we can all have that in every stage of our lives.

How to achieve it? The American Creativity Association have great information on this subject. Maybe not quit your day job, but definitely devote your energies to your first loves. Make time for your art and experiment. I'm heavily into experimentation these days. It is not just for the teenager or college student.

There's no failure in experimentation, simply results. Those endeavors that don't please you are examples of what not to do -- but they are learning experiences, not failures. And who knows those 'ugly fabrics' may be exactly what you need when making your next masterpiece. No learning experience is ever wasted.

So what is age appropriate? Who decides when life is over? The answers lie within YOU! Within me! And there are so many techniques and fabrics and ideas and and and so little time! There's an urgency at my age. It isn't about death. But it is about seeing myself closer to the end and needing to stuff as much as I possibly can into the remainder of my years.

I can't wait to see your experiments, personal successes and creative endeavors! We're subversive stitchers -- we do not stagnate, we do NOT retire. We NEVER say die. And if that doesn't get you off your duff, I have two words: Grandma Moses, one of her creations is pictured above.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ami Simms 2008 Favorite Quilting Philanthropist and loving daughter

Is there anyone in the universe who doesn't know Ami Simms?

She (right after Mom and Grandma) influenced my love of quilts and all things fabric. She demonstrates that a quilt is first about love.

Her "Underlying Current" quilt (shown here) gave me goosebumps when I began reading the various blocks. They describe the behaviors that the Alzheimer's Disease brought about in Ami's mother, Beebe Moss. Like many who have seen this quilt, it brought back memories of a loved one. For me, I think of my father, Ben Stump, who battled Alzheimer's for more than ten years.

When it comes to quilting, Ami encouraged alot of us to make our first quilts and her 'Worst Quilt in the World" contest gives us someplace to show them!

Ami provides the answers to questions posted below. And she lets us get to know her and her mother and the charity that grew out of her mother's battle against Alzheimer's Disease. Like Ami's quilts, her fight to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease is all about love.

Get your coffee, kick back, and give a warm welcome to Ami Simms. --Dawn

First introduced to quiltmaking in 1975 while conducting research among the Old Order Amish, Ami is the author of nine quilting books, numerous patterns, and is the creator of the infamous Worst Quilt In The World Contest®. Ami has designed two fabric lines, appeared on five different television shows, and was invited to the White House in 2004 along with other artists who participated in the Art in Embassies program.

Ami is the founder and Executive Director of the
Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative and the curator of "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece." Ami was named Favorite Quilting Philanthropist by Quilters Newsletter in 2008. She blogs and writes a free monthly e-newsletter read by more than 16,000 subscribers. She is the creator of

1. What was your mother like or who was she before the disease?

My mom was one of the most creative women I ever met. She was a potter when I was a kid. We had a kickwheel and a kiln, and she sold her bowls at small art fairs in the Detroit area for several years. She gardened like no other. Her whole hand was green, not just her thumb. She was into orchids big time, and after she retired she traveled all over the world with other "orchid nuts" attending conferences and collecting the plants in the wild. She had a greenhouse and used to rent blooming orchids (they do that infrequently and they look pretty boring the rest of the time) to people whom she couldn't convince to grow their own.

Mom had a loom, she made all her own clothes and most of mine too. She could knit and crochet, loved to read, volunteered with the Art To The Schools program at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and went back to school when she was in her 70's. She went to Clown College---so she could entertain the old people. She designed a line of quilting fabric for Marcus Brothers after that. [See photo of Beebe and some of the images she created for her quilting fabric line below.]

Mom was my best friend. We lived overseas for 3 years, spread out over my growing up years, and as an only kid I was very close to my parents. I hung out with adults a lot. Until my teen years I was probably more comfortable with people four times my own age than I was with my age mates.

Back in the States we were very close with my Mom's side of the family, and for a time my great grand mother lived with us. She and I shared a bedroom. My father passed away in 1984 and when Mom got tired of living by herself the plan had always been that she would move in with Steve and I. Together we had added on an "apartment" for her, but she wanted her independence and refused to move in! Her diagnoses with Alzheimer's in 2001 pushed the issue and she moved in with us later that year.

Mom lived with us for almost four and a half year before I had to move her to an assisted living facility. It was during the last six months or so that the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative was born. Her constant, unrelenting decline was death in slow motion. I had to do something. My skill set being what it was, I did what I knew how to do.

She never grasped what I was doing, but for a time I used to bring the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts to her at the assisted living place for her to unwrap. She thought they were all beautiful, even when she closely examined the wrong side or the paper they were wrapped in. She loved anything I ever did, no matter what it was and that stayed with her almost up until the end. She was my biggest cheerleader and that is one of the things I miss most about losing her. She was never objective, and that bugged me from time to time; but she loved me to pieces. She passed away in November of 2008 for the most part having forgotten who I was.

2. What quilts have you made for the initiative?

I made my exhibit quilt, "Underlying Current," which I started the day I moved Mom into the assisted living facility. Mine was the last one done, way beyond the deadline and into the "I May Not Make It In Time" zone. As curator, it was very intimidating to see the other quilts before completing mine. I remember that every single thing that could go wrong with my quilt did. I also made 23 Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts and Little Treasures Quilts, but that was mostly at the very beginning of the Initiative. I have very little time for my own quilts as the AAQI takes up an inordinate amount of time. It's the best work I've ever done, but it is work, and there is a lot of it. It seems to never end.

3. Does the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative help you cope with your mother’s and your situation?

Yes, it does. It feels good to know that hundreds of thousands of people have seen the traveling exhibit ("Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece") and been moved by it. It helps to know that quilters all over the country are threading their needles and becoming quilting philanthropists. It helps to know that we are supporting research that some day, hopefully, will end this vile disease.

4. Do you have any high points, exalted moments where you can say, “my quilts made a difference”?

I don't often get to travel with the exhibit, but it does work out some times. I have watched people read my quilts (the background is a chronology of Mom's disease direct printed on fabric) and weep. I have seen them laugh through their tears too. As an artist, seeing someone react to my work as I hoped they would is tremendously gratifying. Multiply that by 51 other quilts in the exhibit and you can understand why I feel drawn to it like a moth to a flame. These quilts are so emotionally painful to look and yet because they make their point directly to the heart, people understand what Alzheimer's is all about when they look at them. For those that don't know about this disease it's a way to appreciate why we're working so hard to end it. Those who are walking this journey with someone they love understand that they are not alone. Seeing the quilts can be cathartic, a vehicle to share their story with their friend, with me, with one of our white glovers. We ask that venues provide tissue. Some don't understand why until they need to give it to someone sobbing in front of a quilt.

5. Do you worry about becoming your mother (I think I can answer that one having watched my father disappear before my eyes and wonder if I was looking at my future).

Of course. It's only natural. If you are actively involved in caring for a relative, or even a friend, with a terminal disease it's not a big step to put yourselves in their shoes. You do that as a good caregiver all day long, trying to anticipate their needs from their point of view. Because we know that Alzheimer's probably has a genetic component, I think it's a given that anyone with a parent or sibling with his disease wonders if they're next. Like many people, as I age I have "become my mother!" Will I get Alzheimer's too? Every misspoken word, every time I forget where I put my purse, I used to wonder. Now that Mom's gone, I wonder a little less because I'm not dealing with her disease every moment. Running the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative is, to a great extent, like any other work. It's when I step back and remind myself of the reason behind the work that the fear comes back.

7. Who have become special friends or Samaritans or beloved friends through this effort.

Because of the AAQI I have had a chance to interact with thousands of people touched by this disease who have taken my struggle and made it their own. I have witnessed selflessness and generosity in our supporters which inspires me every single day. My life has become so much richer for knowing them. And, yes, there are some incredibly special people who, through this project, have become confidants, and friends. That is pure bliss.

8. What kind of quilts do you need?

We always need Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts.
These little 9" x 12" quilts account for more than half of the $300,000 we have raised so far. From the quilts we receive (more than 4,000 have been donated) I select those that I think will bring in the most money and auction them during the first 10 days of every month. We only have room for 26 quilts each month, so the rest are priced and offered for sale at quilting venues, most importantly at Houston's International Quilt Festival each October.

The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts are also the pool of quilts from which the quilts for the next traveling exhibit will be selected.

9. How can one participate?
Visit our web site and read the "rules" to make a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt.

Sign up for the AAQI Update and help (as much or as little as you want) with other things like printing flyers, and sharing information with your friends.

10. How’s the traveling exhibit doing? Where is it now, where is it headed?

"Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece will be hosted by the Mountain Top Quilters at their show in Prescott, Arizona on August 14 and 15. I'll be there for a lecture on the 15th which is open to the public. Check out the traveling schedule.

The quilts will stop traveling at the end of 2010, but there are still a few openings to book the exhibit early in 2010. Most of the quilts will be returned to their makers; however several have asked that I auction their quilts to raise more money for research. Our new exhibit, "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope" will begin traveling in January of 2011.

11. And what are you quilting right now? What do you do when not involved with AAQI?

My quilting time is pathetically non-existent, however I am trying to find time to work on a new pattern called Dancing Spools. When I'm not involved with the AAQI I basically eat and sleep. My life right now is terribly out of balance. As soon as I get some time, I'm going to try and fix that. Yeah, right.

Note: Ami has also made more than 200 quilts, and perhaps unrelated, has a quirky sense of humor that always makes me smile. Check out her blog for a laugh and maybe even a tear, but always a surprise. And if you aren't familiar with her 'rag fur', it too is worth a look!

[Copyright 2009. All materials on this blog are copyrighted.]