Friday, September 25, 2009

Downunder designs and global gift swap brought together by Fiona Marie Clark

We've had some discussion about using commercial patterns. Fiona Marie Clark gives several excellent reasons for investing in patterns and receiving more than you ever expected from them.
She also gives us a peek at what some patchwork designers are doing. Such delight and whimsey, you can't help but smile and feel your creative urges slide into a more light hearted frame of mind.

I hope you'll warmly welcome Fiona Marie to Subversive Stitchers and check out her web site. Fiona Marie has her own story, so read to the end. -- Dawn

Fiona Clark in her own words:

On my side of the world, commonly referred to as ‘Downunder’, we are fortunate to be home to a growing number of patchwork quilting designers.

The predominant trend in their work is the merging of simple stitchery designs within a traditional patchwork setting. The stitchery designs are generally set in a randomised layout, and often overlap onto the pieced block giving the quilt an unstructured, organic look. (Photo 1: Journey of a Quilter Block – Leanne’s House)

Bronwyn Hayes, an Australian designer, is one of my most popular designers whose work follows these principles. She is slowly becoming better known throughout the world especially in Europe. Her latest design and one I am working on myself is a quilt featuring the Gingham Girls called ‘My Favourite Things’

Like the Red Hat Ladies before them, the Gingham Girls are enormously popular with quilters, embodying the spirit and philosophy this demographic strongly identifies with.
(Photo 2: Gingham Girls Quilt Block by Bronwyn Hayes.)

For me personally working on this quilt is a holistic patchwork experience and its stitches will be the threads weaving together my memories of 2009.

When you start the quilt you are given the opportunity to join a cyber group in flickr called ‘The Gingham Girls’ where questions can be asked and photos are posted of blocks throughout the quilt makers journey. Purchasing this pattern set has now become an interactive quilt making experience you can share with others along the way.

Photo 3: Butterfly Garden Block – Leanne’s House

Australian designer Leanne Beasley who produces patterns under the Leanne’s House label has three beautiful heirloom proportioned quilts in this style, ‘May your Heart make you Grateful, ‘Journey of a Quilter’, and her latest release ‘Butterfly Garden’. All these quilts can be viewed in their entirety at this link.

Leanne’s quilts again follow the theme of incorporating beautifully worked stitchery panels into a pieced patchwork layout.
Many other Australian designers including Cinderberry Stitches, Rosalie Quinlan Designs, Hugs n’ Kisses, The Birdhouse and Lynette Anderson Designs, are also producing patterns in this style or a close variation to it.

Photo 4: Little Patchwork Village – Rosalie Quinlan Designs

Another popular pattern trend is the increase in smaller projects being designed with a practical everyday use. This trend I am sure is influenced by the high proportion of designers who are working mothers and understand there are many women who simply lack the time, means, and energy to justify embarking on large projects without a practical use.

Photo 5: Birdhouse Bag – Lynette Anderson Designs

I am fortunate to own a business in the patchwork quilting industry, which means I can justify spending an hour of my quiet work time each day stitching!

I stitched my first little quilt in the Spring of 1995 while awaiting the birth of my first child, now fourteen. Encouraged by my Mother I used fabric from her stash and purchased a pattern from a local quilt shop by American designers ‘Little Quilts’.

At this time the naïve design, soft country colours, simple buttonhole appliqué, and small project size that characterise ‘Little Quilts’ designs appealed to me and were perfectly matched to my skill level. It was when stitching this first wall hanging my love affair with patchwork quilting began and since then I have gradually immersed myself in the craft both in my leisure time and in a commercial venture through my online pattern store

In 2007 my youngest daughter at age six was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia. She is now in remission and thriving. I mention this not to solicit sympathy but to identify the catalyst that played a large part in moulding my outlook on life in recent years and how this experience has influenced my patchwork quilting.

Today, I take a more holistic approach to the craft, I have become more traditional in my tastes, I prefer to work by hand rather than machine, and I’m no longer scared off by large projects.

I am spoilt for choice running a pattern store and it is often overwhelming deciding what to make next, but every time I pick up a pattern and begin a project I see myself as having started a new journey.

I am never quite sure where it will take me, who I will connect with along the way, what emotions I will experience, but when I have a needle between my fingers I am confident I’m headed in the right direction.

Have your own holistic patchwork quilting experience by joining the 2009 Great Global Christmas Swap and make the acquaintance of a stitcher from another country, in the spirit of friendship, who shares your passion for this craft.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Books written by our friends and colleagues

This is in no way a comprehensive list of my friends and readers' books, but just a few I happen to be thinking about at the moment. If any of you would care to send me information about your books, I'd be most interested!

First up is a new release by two creative fabric and mixed media artists who have both guest blogged here at Subversive Stitchers. Check the right column under Guest Bloggers for a look at what they've written. -- Dawn

Creative Ways with Books and Journals
by our very own Sue Bleiweiss and Terri Stegmiller!!!

It is available through Amazon of course or from the authors themselves. Cost at Amazon is $22.99.

Product Description:

Combine traditional book binding techniques with fabric and fibers to create journals to keep for yourself or give as gifts. You'll learn how to make beautiful hand painted fabrics using shibori and water soluble crayons and explore mixed media techniques with tissue paper, kitchen foil, paper fabric and recycled envelopes. Create gorgeous textured surface journals using machine cord, linen strips and pearl beads. With easy to follow directions accompanied by full color photos even the most inexperienced book maker will have no trouble making the eight soft cover and four hard cover book projects.

Product Details:
Paperback: 130 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (September 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 144212573X
ISBN-13: 978-1442125735
Product Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 0.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces

Of course we couldn't forget Lyric Kinard's recent release:

Art + Quilt

Product Description:

Secrets for quilting success are presented through a variety of techniques, exercises, and insider tips to inspire novice quilters and experienced textile artists to make genuine works of art. Simplifying the basic fundamentals of art and teaching the underlying principles of the visual language, this guide explores texture, shape, line, color, and value with examples and hands-on exercises. Essential principles—such as focal point, balance, repetition, scale, and space—are paired with creativity exercises while guest essays, guest artwork, and inspiring artwork from the author allow readers to analyze how other artists utilize key artistic elements or principles and see how to successfully use these elements in their own work. Both a personal creativity coach and a guide for a hobbyist or professional artist, this reference clarifies quilting goals and takes the craft to the next level through design and composition.
About the Author:

Lyric Kinard is an award-winning master quilter whose articles have appeared in Quilting Arts magazine, and her works have been featured in numerous books and exhibitions. She lives in Cary, North Carolina.

Product Details
Hardcover-spiral: 136 pages
Publisher: Interweave Press; (September 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1596681063
ISBN-13: 978-1596681064
Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 9.1 x 0.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

For more information about and inspiration from Lyric, check out the latest guest blog! She has great advice.

This I Accomplish
by Kyra Hicks
One of my favorite fellow bloggers (check out my blog list to the right for Black Threads) has written a thoroughly researched and respected book about the quilts of Harriet Powers.

Product Description:
The powerful quilts of Harriet Powers (1837-1910), a former Athens, Georgia slave, continue to capture our imagination today. Her two-known creations, the Bible Quilt and the Pictorial Quilt, have independently survived since stitched more than a century ago. Over the years, thousands of museum visitors to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have stood transfixed viewing her artwork. Powers' two quilts are arguably the most well-known and cited coverings in American quilt history. But, until today, no one has told the entire, dramatic story of how these two quilts, one of which initially sold for $5, were coveted, cared for, and cherished for decades in private homes before emerging as priceless, national treasures.
This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilts and Other Pieces brings to light new, exciting facts - many never before published: complete exhibition history for both known quilts; proof Harriet Powers was a literate, award-winning quilter, who stitched at least five quilts and promoted her own artwork; profiles of the two nineteenth century women who sought to purchase the Bible Quilt; profiles of the three men who once owned the Pictorial Quilt; unveiling of a young artist who embellished the Pictorial Quilt; and the name of the person who first made the connection in the twentieth century that Harriet Powers stitched both quilts.
This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilts and Other Pieces is the most comprehensive resource guide on this influential African American quilter. The book includes nearly 200 bibliographic references, most annotative, including books, exhibition catalogs, newspapers, plays, poetry, interactive map and more. For the first time ever, readers are provided with clues and encouraged to search for Harriet Powers' lost 1882 Lord's Supper Quilt.
This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilts and Other Pieces is written by Kyra E. Hicks, a quilter whose story quilts have appeared in over forty group exhibitions in places such as the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the American Folk Art Museum in NY. Hicks is the author of Black Threads: An African American Quilting Sourcebook and Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.
Product Details:

Paperback: 182 pages
Publisher: Black Threads Press (July 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982479654
ISBN-13: 978-0982479650
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
Congratulations to all of these artists for their accomplishments and hard work. And I've found all of their publications, blogs and work most inspirational and helpful. -- Dawn

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lyric Kinard's secret: How to do it all


In a world where too often, the images we feed ourselves are full of
violence and fear, my goal is to create beauty and remind us of the strength we
all possess.

If you've been following this blog for the past few months you will have heard me singing the praises of Lyric Kinard and her Playing with Paint class through Quilt University. I continue to reap the rewards from that class. Not just in the fabrics I painted, but in the attitude adjustment about success and failure and 'just do it!'

Her energy and enthusiasm vibrated all the way from her house through the Internet and right into my fingertips! And now she's published her book that opens with inspiration from several sources. I'll have more to say about her book in an upcoming review. But, for now, here's Lyric in her own words. -- Dawn

Lyric Kinard:

I hear it all the time. “How do you do it all?”

My student is usually looking at my book or at artwork I’ve produced.

I’m wondering if they think I wave a magic wand and the work just pours forth fully formed. I open my mouth and say, “I don’t do it all.”

That work on the wall? It might be the only thing I finished last year. The book? It’s done but ask my family about the sacrifices they made to give me the time to do it. I don’t do it all, at least not all at once. I do one thing at a time as time allows.
What my students are really asking is “why can’t I do more?”

It’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves than to accept or to change where we are in our artistic careers.

I’ve fallen into that trap myself. I’ll look at a prolific artist and begin to feel jealous only to find out they don’t have children.

Ah. I have to remind myself that I’m blessed to have children and chose to put my family ahead of my career. I remind myself that children grow. Quickly. There will be a season for greater productivity.

“No time” is excuse number one for not being productive.

I am the mother of five children. I’m involved in my children’s activities, my church, and my community. I have almost no spare time, but I have learned to leave the TV off. I take my sketchbook and a small “to-go” project everywhere. I stitch during hockey practice - a friend elbows me when I need to cheer. I bead through school concerts, sitting on the back row by the sound booth window and it’s light. It’s amazing how much work gets done in these little “lost” bits of time. I sketch everywhere - doodles and form studies sitting next to lecture notes and to-do lists.

I’m still learning about discipline. I’m working on keeping the computer off until after I’ve met my art goal for the day in the studio. I’m still working on limiting the engagements and deadlines I take on. It’s important to take care of the business and marketing side of the art - but you must create the art in the first place. That is one of the wonders of textile art. You can create it three stitches at a time in between interruptions. You can set it down and come right back to it later.

So - now. Off to create. Today’s goal is to clean off half of the work table and to sketch two more dancers for an idea I’m working on. Manageable.

The kids get home in an hour so I’d better get to it.

Photo Info: 1. projects to go - work in progress, sketchbook, mint tin with beading supplies .

2. pic- moonflower - 4" x 6", dyed, beaded

3. Lyric's newly published book "Art + Quilt"

4. violin pic - title Soar 20" x 20" dyed, discharged, printed, painted, stitched beaded

BIO: Lyric Kinard (see photo) is an artist with a serious addiction to fabric. Her award-winning wall quilts and wearable works of art are a product of her need and passion to create order and beauty while living a chaotic life as the mother of young children. She often says that her art is the only thing she does that is not undone by the end of the day. Her second love is teaching, which she has been doing in various capacities for the past 12 years. She loves to share her joy in the process of transforming plain fabric into a work of art.

Lyric has studied with many well known textile artists around the country and continues to expand her skills in the area of surface design. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of Utah and has also formally studied music and architecture. She currently lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and five children.

For more about Lyric and her work check out her website, blog and etsy account.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Question of the Day: What scissors do you run with?

I'm introducing a new addition to my blog and hope you will all respond.

Now and then I'll post a question and hopefully you will all chime in with your best answer, advice, favorite whatever the question requires.

Today's question: What do you love to use to cut your fabric?

What brand scissors or if you prefer, rotary cutter. Or in fact, do you use something else? Let us know your favorite cutting tool and if you have a story -- please share!

My favorite scissors were given to me as a high school graduation gift from two older women I worked with at The Leader Store. Ages ago! They are a pair of Farr scissors and have not required sharpening for 40 years and I've cut everything with them. I don't know if they are even for sale any longer.

How about you? Tell me about your scissors, please. --Dawn

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Inspiration struck Ellen Guerrant like a hurricane!

Dawn asked me to write a guest column after seeing a photo of my quilt Hurricane Warning on my blog. Thank you, Dawn. -- Ellen Guerrant

Living in Florida has brought hurricanes into my life with a new uncomfortable reality. When I saw Ellen's quilt, somehow it was soothing and put things back into perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed her creative use of a weather map and warning flags and the tiny bird in the center of the storm (that's me!). As a journalist and a creative soul I am always interested in the story behind the story and this quilt piqued my curiosity. Thanks Ellen for sharing your art and your inspiration. -- Dawn

Please welcome Ellen Guerrant in her own words! And note the photo of the quilt that inspired this blog: Hurricane Warning, 42x55” Fused appliqué.

My quilting began with a class at the YWCA. I jokingly tell everyone I only chose quilting because the aerobics class was full. I was so hooked after the first class that I went looking for an all-night fabric store!

My quilts were traditional at first, but quickly began to reflect my own design ideas and more personal themes. I joined guilds and professional organizations and was soon teaching and lecturing on what had become my life’s work.

I’m from the tall grass prairie – one of four sisters born in the Land of Lincoln. I was familiar with tornadoes and storm cellars but knew nothing about hurricanes until I moved to North Carolina.

When the Professional Art Quilt Association (PAQA–South) issued a call for entries for Vantage Point–South: Art Quilts, the rules stated, “Each quilt must illuminate the vantage point of the Southern artist.” Oh my. Ideas came and went until it was almost too late. With the deadline looming large, I suddenly remembered an image seen years before.

We’d been watching news of evacuations from Charleston just prior to hurricane Hugo when I’d
been struck by the graphic beauty of the red and black flags seen whipping in the strong winds. I later learned these were hurricane warning flags.

Hurricane warning flags! Of course! I would use them in my entry. As many good ideas do, this one struck in the middle of the night. With no time to waste and no time to go to a quilt shop for the perfect fabrics, I was forced to go shopping in my stash.

My color scheme began with the red and black of the flags themselves. A white fabric with black abstract scattered lines reminiscent of flying debris made a perfect background. Then I chose two border fabrics. Strong graphically, they began as black on white and gradated to white on black.

As I pinned the first fabrics to my design wall, I suddenly knew this quilt would be larger than the 20x24” I had originally planned. This quilt had to have impact! It had to be BIG, by my standards.

For the hurricane image itself. I needed a swirling motion – but had to think a bit about how to place concentric circles on the white background fabric without having to mark it. As placement guides, I cut a huge circle from freezer paper and then smaller and smaller ones which were ironed onto the background fabric one at a time.

I literally composed Hurricane Warning by ironing fused fabric shapes of red, black and gray directly to the background fabric on my design wall. A fabric printed like a newspaper, with a weather forecast, became part of one circle along with the word No! In the very center I placed a cutout of a bird - a virtual bird’s eye view.

This quilt had to come together very quickly, as I had just one week to deadline. I finished just in time to get slides in the mail.

I later learned jurors Susan Brandeis, artist and professor at NC State University College of Design and Jane Shuping Tyndall, owner of Tyndall Galleries in Chapel Hill, had chosen 45 quilts from 30 artists from eight southeastern states for Vantage Point-South. I was so pleased that Hurricane Warning was among them, and totally thrilled when it was chosen for the show’s poster and postcard image!

The quilt was later shown in Explorations in Fiber: New Works (by members of the Art Quilt Network) at The Concourse Gallery, Upper Arlington, OH, and subsequently purchased for its permanent collection.

Hurricane Warning was one of those magical quilts that “just happened.” I had a very limited amount of time and a limited number of fabric choices. These both worked to my advantage. We sometimes tell ourselves we have to have every fabric available, every new gadget. I didn’t, and I know quilters before us didn’t. They used what they had; I used what I had.

This quilt is very unlike my other work, some of which is shown here. I create bright contemporary quilts, frequently inspired by the humble log cabin, as well as those with more personal themes.

2. Hold on My Heart....Throw Me a Lifeline 52” square. Commercial cottons and silk, hand painted and beaded. Created as a healing quilt for my family following the heart transplant of our son.
3. His Eye is on the Sparrow, 20x24” Commercial cotton, hand-dyed and painted fabrics, my son Matthew’s shirt from 3rd grade.
4. Toast with Jam 26x31” Commercial, hand-dyed and repurposed cottons. Hand-dyed chenille cording.
5. We Fix Broken Hearts, 51x63” Collage and pieced cottons and hand-dyed fabrics. Painted and beaded. Created to honor those who heal.

Ellen teaches and lectures nationally. Please visit her website and blog for information on her workshops and patterns.

Bio: With a teaching style described as relaxed and enabling Ellen loves sharing her passion for innovative design. She encourages students to find their own creative voice by veering off the paths labeled safe and correct.

A free-spirited quilt artist, Ellen has conducted workshops for conferences such as AQS, NQA, NCQSI (North Carolina Quilt Symposium), VCQ (Virginia Consortium of Quilters), Gulf Coast, Tampa Bay and dozens of guilds across the country.

Ellen was the featured artist in American Quilter magazine, spring 2007. Her work has been published in Focus on Batiks, Great American Quilts 2004, Quilter’s Newsletter magazine, IQA Journal fall 2002, spring and summer 2003 and summer 2004, Quilting Today and American Quilter (article) 1992.

Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in many collections. She has received over 70 awards.

Ellen attended Northern Illinois University as an education major. She lives in Charlotte NC with her husband Bill and their grand-dog, Numa. Their son Matthew and his wife Suzie will soon make their home in Asheville NC. In addition to her quilting interests, Ellen owns a small antiques business and collects vintage textiles and buttons. But most of all, she loves to make people laugh.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Layers, not time, significant in Maya Schonenberger's art

Photo's artist's statement for Quilt National 09 piece: Rejection: Reflecting on the elaborate and artful phrasing of my various rejection letters (and there are quite a few) I decided to use them in my new art work. After a ‘call for rejection letters’ among my artist friends I started the project. China, the Olympics and especially impressions of the ‘Yangtze River’ provided the background for my work and should be a reminder that rejection is the other side of winning.

I took one look at Maya's art and felt myself pulled deeper and deeper into it. It is, for me, like poetry. I have a love-hate relationship with poetry and most of the time I don't get it. Other times I have an ahhhh moment and everything falls into place and changes my perspective. Maya's work gives me an AHHHHH! moment. I hope you feel it too. And, as a writer, I can thoroughly understand her inspiration for this first piece: Rejection. Her other work resonates as well and I love her sense of humor.

So I am pleased to present Maya Schonenberger in her own words. -- Dawn

'How long did it take you?’…..

I am sure you all have heard that question many times in your life. In general I appreciate very much when people ask questions about my work. But years ago I decided, that ‘how long did it take you’ was for sure my least favorite one. Every time I am asked that question I am very tempted to answer ‘what difference does it make’.

Think about it, does it really matter (except for yourself) how long it took to create a piece? Is the piece worth more if I have spent more time on it? Is the question asked to compare the sale price with the time it takes to create the piece or is it true admiration and one would like to know how many hours it really took to create a piece like that.

Both are legitimate reasons and I of course try to answer the question. That is when the problem starts. What can I include in my working hours? Where is the beginning of a new piece? When do I start adding up the hours?

Should I include the time I needed while studying and practicing the new Photoshop program that I needed for my new creation? Are all the experiments in painting, printing and other techniques part of my hours even if not all of them are finally used? I think yes, but then maybe they are not?

I do not and cannot keep track of my hours anymore; I simply have way too many things that I need keeping track of like receipts etc. Therefore I try to answer the questions by describing the different steps that are involved in my artwork. By doing so I hope one obtains a better feeling for the various parts that make up my artwork and can therefore relate to the hours it takes to create one of my pieces.

These three photos: 'Dusting the Bottom,' 'Lady in Red,' and Sea Slug Frank (Tridachia crispata)are pieces I made for Nature Conservancy exhibitions at the Nature Conservancy in Jupiter Florida.


I start out with cotton fabric (light color) the size of the piece. The background of the pieces contains several layers of different materials such as all kinds of fabrics, print material and papers. I then glue, fuse and stitch the layers together. At that stage I basically chose whatever technique creates the effect I want and leads me to my goal, anything goes. The amount of stitching on that first level depends a lot on how easily I can glue or fuse the materials on top of each other. Decorator fabrics for example are often very difficult to glue or fuse, therefore they require a lot of stitching, while cotton and silk stick together without any problems. I make certain that all pieces are well secured on this first layer. Since almost all of my pieces contain environmental, political or social statements I add quit a bit of newsprint to my work. (I am not going to touch the copyright problems at this point but I can assure you I observe all those laws and ask for permission whenever they are needed).

Photos, either transferred onto fabric or on paper are also a vital part of my backgrounds. The next step in the background process is the first layer of painting. I like painting wet on wet but usually let the piece dry in between layers. If desired I add more layers of fabric and paper, again securing them with stitching.

Photo inspiration: During the last year I started a new series called ‘Hindsight’. The expression ‘Hindsight is 20 / 20’ led to this new series of work. (Thus the animal butts.) It focuses on issues such as endangered animal or plant species, political, economical and social issues. Living in southern Florida exposes me to more than just lush, rich tropical life and beautiful waters but also brushfires, floods, droughts, spills, pollution and ‘raw’ politics. I have always been interested in nature, in our evolution and our history. Here I focus on the interaction of humans with nature and the changes that result from this process. Intrigued by the possibilities that textiles offered I started exploring different techniques guided by my sense of colors and the feelings they invoke. I strive to be in tune with my mind, body and surroundings, continuously searching for new ways of expressing my thoughts, feelings and concerns.

The last photo is my newest work: Brain-E-Scape: left and right Hemisphere. I haven't written my artists statement, yet. It is a difficult one for me to write because it is a 'complex' idea. Menopause influenced this piece and I borrowed the shape of the planet to signify the way 'losing my mind' makes me feel like I'm in outer space. You are viewing a planet -- planet Maya. I've hidden several ideas inside this mysterious me -- some appear primeval -- others I leave for you to discover.

Bio: Maya Schonenberger is a certified arts and crafts teacher from Switzerland. After teaching for several years she started her career as a studio artist and is now living in Miami. She teaches her workshops in the US and in Europe.

Her award winning artwork has been shown nationally and internationally in exhibitions such as Quilt National, FAVA, Art Quilts at the Sedgwick, Art Quilt at the Whistler and Fine Focus. Her work is in private and public collections in Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the US.

Maya was the featured artist in ‘Quilting Arts Magazine’ June / July issue 2008. Her latest solo show ‘See Sides’ was at Biscayne National Park, February 8 through May 11, 2008.

Several of Maya's works will be featured from Sept. 18 through Nov. 6 in a special exhibit Earth Elements at Pensacola Museum of Art in Pensacola, FL. To see more of Maya's work and learn more about what she's up to, visit her website and her blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Please Purchase Your Raffle Tickets and Help Fund Research for a Cure

Every few months my husband and I make the pilgrimage to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville for his ALS evaluation.

We spend most of the morning in a small room in the neurology department. Usually eight or nine technicians and doctors come by to run tests, ask questions, give us encouragement and share results. We've been there often enough that many remember us and we remember them and are getting to know about their families and goals and pet peeves. So far the final score for Derrol has been good -- no measurable decline. We know he is an anomaly. My brother says its because his church is praying for Derrol. That works for me! He also takes a little pill twice a day that has proven less than effective on most ALS patients, providing a meager 10 percent extension of life. Yet, 10 percent is 10 percent! And the $400 per month pricetag, although a strain on our wobbly budget, seems a worthwhile investment. Whatever keeps him with me, I want it!

You would think a place where the sickest of the sick go for help would be depressing. True the place is filled with walking wounded. Most of us there belong to the same brotherhood and we go to Mayo for an injection of hope. That hope seems to lighten the atmosphere. We know we're in a good place and the kind of service and care provided gives us back our humanity.

It probably also helps that the richest of the rich also frequent this campus, and also donate to it and provide endowments and put their names on wings and such. So in addition to brightly lit hallways and what I think is a Chihuly designed light in the newly built main entrance to the state of the art hospital -- the walls are lined with art.

Being in Jacksonville, Florida, the art naturally turns to Florida's strange and wonderful plants and animals.
During our lunch break we meandered from the neurology department which is quite a trek from the cafeteria. We took the opportunity to enjoy the paintings, but I stopped in my tracks when I saw the only fabric art (that I could find) in the whole clinic. My husband was halfway to the cafeteria before he noticed me missing. I stood mesmerized, trying to take in all of the intricate details and symbolism of this delightful fabric creation.
Shortly after arriving home, I contacted Mayo's PR department for more information and Lyn Closway was most helpful in telling me that "In 2007, Mayo Clinic in Arizona celebrated its 20th anniversary, in part by unveiling quilted artwork. The 13-foot wide, 5 feet high quilt portrays Mayo Clinic taking root among saguaro cactus, agave and palo verde trees. Just as Mayo Clinic practices medicine by teamwork, this intricate work of art was also created by collaboration. After two years and countless hours of cutting, fabric dyeing, stitching, beading and appliquéing, a team of six woman, led by Denise Currier and Dr. Renee Caswell, completed a priceless metaphor for Mayo Clinic's first 20 years in Arizona."

There's another quilt, not on display at Mayo, but hopefully it will be able to offer hope and help researchers who are striving to find a treatment and a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a queen sized quilt that is a treat for the eye and a comfort when wrapped around you. Derrol, our friend Lyn Rocca and I donated the quilt, made by Trish Bowman of Jersey Girl Quilts in Orlando. Raffle tickets are available at $5 each or 3 for $10 through the ALS Association's website.

I hope you will dig deep and take a few moments to visit the ALS Association website and purchase your tickets. You see, this Florida Chapter of the ALS Association has never raffled a quilt before and most of their meager administration staff have little confidence in a quilt as a fundraiser. They don't understand that the quilting and fabric arts community support one another and give to charities and to help one another when we ourselves are in need.

I know there are many MANY deserving charities. But please consider that ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease targets healthy individuals, those who run marathons and are active and watch what they eat. There is no reason why a person gets it -- none that science has discovered -- and it destroys voluntary muscles usually beginning with hands and feet and working its way inward until it steals voice and swallow and breath. It is a mean disease.

But worst still. It is showing up at twice the normal rate in members of our military. It doesn't matter what war they fought in or whether they saw combat, members or our military are diagnosed with ALS so rapidly that the Veterans Administration has made special provisions to deliver care more speedily to ALS victims. You see, ALS victims usually die within six years of diagnosis. And sadly we're seeing so many that die within a year of the onset of their first symptoms.

A cluster of ALS diagnosis has cropped up at NASA and the Kennedy Space Center and the nearby air bases in Florida. But scientists need funding to continue their search for cause and cure and this one queen sized quilt is offered as a token and an invitation to help us find that cure.

Please purchase your raflle tickets. Please help us save our soldiers, our loved ones and my husband and sons. We have a special stake in this cure because Derrol is one of the 10 percent of ALS victims whose disease is inherited. More than a dozen members in his family have died and we have two sons and a grandson who have 50-50 chances of inheriting the disease.

But, enough about us. Enough about illness. It is a quilt raffle and some lucky person will take home this queen sized quilt made from Hoffman batik fabrics in a Bird of Paradise pattern. I'd been calling it a tulip pattern, but I stumbled across a site today that gave it a name. Bird of Paradise seems just right for this quilt of Florida origins. And just the right name for a quilt that offers so much hope through the dollars it will raise for research.
Thank you everyone!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Art + Caring = Laura Krasinski

Laura Krasinski is a refreshing breeze. She fills the room with energy, enthusiasm, boundless imagination and such generosity. You quickly see it all reflected in her art.

She thanks me for asking her to guest blog, but I'm the one who is so pleased that she's taken a moment to share herself and her art with Subversive Stitchers. You'll notice that Laura does alot of sharing. She shares below her secrets of paper fabric. And, she contributes to almost every charity.

If ever there was a reason to donate to, as well as thank scientists and doctors for their work in cancer research and treatment, it is Laura -- she's a survivor. The world's a richer place because of her.

Now, here's Laura in her own words! -- Dawn

Thank you Dawn for asking me to be a guest blogger. This is really exciting.

I found my artistic talent at a stamping up party. I loved rubber stamps and making cards. Amassed quite a collection of the various stamps before boredom set in. I can only make so many greeting cards.

Mixed media was only a step away and collage became my new passion. I loved everything from collecting interesting papers to itsy bitsy collage bits. I was really into swapping art too. But, as the years went by that fell by the wayside.

I loved being the proud owner of another artists work but, my house was busting at the seams and I had no where to go with it all. I found that Deco Books were my favorite and to this day I really miss passing them around and having all my friends do a page or two in it.

Many of my online friends started working with fabric and making postcards and small fabric books. Hmmm, that looked interesting. With no previous sewing experience, I decided to dive in with both feet. That was about 6 years ago.

I fell in love with fabric. I took my first “traditional” quilt class just to get the basics of sewing. It was pretty fun. I made a lap size quilt for my first try. I still enjoy curling under it on the couch. It was based on a pattern that Trudie Hughes made called Fun Patches. I chose Cat fabrics.

But, after that short dance with tradition, the art quilts cut in and whirled me away to the land of endless possibilities. As the years go by I’m working larger and larger.

I love taking classes and learning techniques. I think I am still in the “ sponge” mode. Soaking up all the information I can find. I love reading all the books and have a huge collection which I find so useful when I am working on a project and need more information.

I have had a few quilts in smaller shows around the state. I entered the Hoffman challenge last year and was accepted. I have a quilt in Quilt Expo in Madison this year. I have also received a state award 2009 for a quilt called High Anxiety. I have entered quilts in the State Fair and took 3rd place with Space Balls. And took 2nd place in a show in Cedarburg last fall with my one and only bed quilt called Crazy Mixed Up Chicken.

I also had a quilt in the 2007 exhibit at International Quilt Festival. Which to this day is my favorite quilt. I get asked all the time if it is for sale but, I just can’t bear to part with it. It has a special place in my heart and that is what that exhibit was all about.

This quilt was about the Blue Herons and the expansion of houses in the area where they roost. Since I finished the quilt the Blue Herons do not come back to that particular roosting area. Which to me is really sad. I loved watching them. They are incredible birds.

I also love to free form and do raw edge appliqué.

However, I still like to dabble in mixed media. I love to use fabric paper that I have made in my mixed media pieces. So I thought I would share the technique that I learned from my girlfriend. Patti Bradley, in New Hampshire when I visited with her last year.

Fabric Paper Making

This is a messy project so you will want to cover your working surface with plastic.

Materials : 100% cotton scrim, glue ( the ultimate glue, or pva works well), liquid acrylic paints, white tissue paper, colored tissue paper, various lightweight decorative papers, napkins, ephemera, fabrics, etc. Foam brushes.

Lay your scrim out on the plastic sheeting.
  • Make a mixture of glue and water, 60% water and 40% glue.

  • Start to paint the glue on the scrim completely covering it with the glue solution.

  • Lay your decorative papers on top in one next to the other smoothing them down as you go. They can overlap however you like. Completely cover the scrim with one layer.

  • Paint another layer of glue mix over the entire piece.

  • Rip your white tissue paper into 5” strips. Carefully lay them over the last glue layer making sure to remove any bubbles that form. At this point you can add more paper if you would like.

While the glue is still wet paint it with diluted paints or dyes. Letting the colors blend and run freely on the paper.

Now the paper is ready to dry. Laying it in the sun works well, or just letting it dry overnight.

After the paper is dry you will want to add white felt to the back of it. You can do this with glue or fusible web. This makes it a bit stiffer and easier to work with. However you could use it without the felt too.

Photo info: 1 An example of fabric paper collage made for the American Cancer society "Eyes of the Beholder."2. Another fabric paper collage, All Birds Can Sing, will be for sale in the Art for Autism auction in October. 3. Laura's latest quilt: " The Mad Hatter's Tea Party" which is hanging in a gallery in the Anaba Tea Room. I received copyright permission to use the photo from Alpha Stamps. 4. Against the Odds as described above complete with Blue Herons. 5. This is a quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative which will be for sale in Houston. 6. And the last piece is my Hoffman Challenge piece called Complete Serenity.

Bio: I live in Menomonee Falls, WI. Married to Mike with 2 children and 2 cats and a dog as well as a tarantula, and turtle. I am a 12 year breast cancer survivor. I am in love with art quilts. The whole process is just amazing to me. I have been blessed to find my talent a few years ago. The creative process, along with my faith in God, are really the glue that hold my life together.

I have participated the past 2 years in Breaking Traditions exhibit, Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative and Art Now for Autism and in Fiber Art For a Cause a few years ago. I also dabble with the Fast Fridays quilt group and am a member of the Milwaukee Art Quilters and Oconomowoc Quilt Guild.

For more about Laura, check out her blog, her mixed media pictures and more.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Go Ahead and Play!

Thank you Terri for agreeing to guest blog at Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles. I think you offer not only beautiful fabric art and visual art, but also a much needed message that we all need to take to heart.

Please welcome fabric artist Terri Stegmiller, in her own words. -- Dawn

I’ve been asked many times over the past couple of years if I have any formal art education or training.

My answer is “no”.

The only education/training I have is what I have learned by myself and from taking an online class here or there.

When I answer that question, many times the person who asked it has a response that they just can’t believe I have no art degree or some formal schooling. Sometimes they respond with “oh, you must be a natural then.”

Let me enlighten you. There is no such thing as being a natural. Everyone has abilities and some are able to master those more quickly than others. But they didn’t just pick up a pencil or a paintbrush, or even a needle on day one and by day two they were producing work that was gallery ready.

Artistic talent takes time.

It takes practice. It takes imagination and it takes dedication. I often see many people get discouraged when they aren’t able to create what they see in their mind or what they see others creating. When they tell me about their frustrations my response to them is “have you taken the time to play?”

What I mean by that is this: Oftentimes people are reluctant to use their craft supplies and materials to play and practice with. Many think they can only use the supplies to make something that is a finished work of art or they think that it is a waste of money to use the supplies for play and practice.

If you never play and practice with your supplies, you will never gain the skills needed to create a work of art and you will never feel confident that your end results are worthy. You don’t need to have anyone’s permission to use the supplies you have purchased. The only person you need permission from is you.

Tell yourself that it’s okay to play and use your art supplies.

Tell yourself that it just doesn’t matter if what you end up with is a pile of junk. Tell yourself that you are in training to become an artist and keep an encouraging dialog going on in your head. Do not let any discouraging or negative thoughts enter the dialog.

Keep up the play and practice for a period of time and you will make discoveries about yourself. You will soon begin to think about the possibilities. You will become much more comfortable working with the art supplies and materials and you won’t feel like you are wasting them anymore. You may even find that you’ve subconsciously set new goals for yourself. You may be thinking about making that original piece that keeps floating around in your head and entering it in a show or contest or you may discover some unique ideas that make the work your own “signature” style.

One thing that I discovered about myself is that I had a desire to draw and paint women’s faces. I don’t know where it came from but I knew that when I’d look at the women’s faces that other artists created that I yearned to be able to do that too. I found it discouraging at the time because there were no resources for learning what I wanted to do. Of course there were books on drawing, but they turned me off as they were trying to teach me to draw real looking faces and that wasn’t the look I was after.

So one day I had a talk with myself and made a decision.

“You are just going to do it,” was the mindset I adopted.

So that’s what I did. I started drawing. I would look at the faces of artists I admired and study them and I would ask myself “What is it about this face that really appeals to me?” I kept drawing and practicing. Believe me when I say that the early drawings were not good. But I didn’t let that stop me and I kept at it.

When I felt that my drawings were starting to look better, I decided I’d try my hand at painting them. Well, needless to say those first trials were not good either. There again I was looking hard at artwork I liked, trying to figure out how they got that look. I was basically teaching myself to create what I saw other artists making.

My trials were not always successful, but I didn’t let my use of my supplies and my failures bother me.

I told myself it was my investment in myself.

Over time, my drawing skills have vastly improved and when I draw faces today, they are much different than the early faces I once did. Even now if there is a new or different subject I want to draw, it doesn’t come to me without practice. My skills need to be developed and refined when I explore a new subject matter and my eye-hand-brain coordination needs that practice time to smooth out the rough spots.

I still take the occasional online class because I feel there is always something to learn and another artist may have a tip or trick that would be just the thing for adding to my list of skills.

You must believe in yourself. You can make whatever you want, but remember that it takes time. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Remember that your work won’t look exactly like the artist’s work you love. But you don’t want it to. You want your work to be unique to you. It should be a reflection of your inner soul and shout out to everyone that YOU made it. Go ahead, play!

Photo information:

1. Acrylic painting on stretched canvas.

2. Five ATCs Terri made for a Cloth Paper Scissors magazine challenge. The faces are hand drawn with black ink and then painted with watercolors onto cotton duck

3. This face is thread sketched onto a quilted background. Shading and highlights are painted with acrylics.

4. This quilted wall hanging features a thread sketched face with transparent paints added for see-through color.
5. This quilted wall hanging features an appliquéd and painted face. I teach an online class on this technique called Faces on Fabric.

6. A small mixed-media paper quilt with an acrylic painted face on a paper fabric background.

7. The face, drawn on muslin with black ink, was then painted with watercolors.

Terri Stegmiller is a mixed-media textile artist living in Mandan, North Dakota. Terri is the author of Creative Paper Quilts and coauthor of Creative Ways with Fibre & Stitch. She teaches online at Two Creative Studios. You can see more of Terri at her web site and her blog

Friday, September 4, 2009

We have a winner -- I think

This is my first blog giveaway and I'm so excited to announce that Sherri D is the winner of Nadine Ruggles' "Inchie Quilts" book.

I've tried repeatedly to let Sherri D know of her good fortune, but so far, no response. So I hope you're reading the blog Sherri D. Please contact me before Sept. 10 at so we can unite you with Nadine's fantastic book.

And everyone stay tuned, I've been experiencing some 'technical difficulties' but a new blog will be coming your way today or tomorrow! Thanks for your patience. -- Dawn