Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rose Hughes and her long sensuous curves....

Like a Raven, Rose Hughes hoards and admires shiny embellishments, adding them in just the right spot to her quilts. You can discern her quilts from her readily recognizable style that features long sensuous curves and layers and layers of fabric forming an unforgettable fantasy landscape. She's provided several photos. Her Ebb n'flow: Eventide, pictured first; Ebb n'flow: Mesas, next; Ebb n'flow: Hills, next; and then a comparison between her California Live Oak and an older version of an oak in her Never Stand Alone which was made in 2004. All other quilts pictured here were made in 2009. Now here is Rose in her own words!   

by Rose Hughes:
Do you find quilting?

Or does quilting find you?

In my high-school and college days I spent many hours studying textiles, playing with dyes and stitching of all sorts, but then I went off to work in the banking industry. Years went by, my corporate life changed, grew and expanded, and I spent my time making ATM/POS networking come to life. A very interesting time, I may add, made all the better one trip to Seattle where I discovered quilts. From that point on I was consciously hooked on fabric, and it wasn’t long before quilting became a lifeline during corporate travel.

For a number of years after that I learned ‘the craft’, bought my first sewing machine, (hubby knew it was serious when the darkroom came down and the sewing machine went up), and took classes from some wonderful teachers. It took me a while, but while learning traditional quilting, it struck me, “I’m not a very good pattern follower… I really just want to do my own thing.”

Off I went, and almost as soon as I set out to do my own thing, I discovered that a big part of that includes curves, long-sensuous curves, tight circles and everything in between. The other part of what I love is adding sparkle and dimension to the fabric surface. Appliqué, the traditional answer, never was my favorite thing to do, and this realization caused a bit of a stumbling block, but not for long.

Taking bits of what I learned along the way I set out to try and come up with an easy way to create my curves. The journey began, and after many quilts along this path my Fast-Piece Appliqué™ construction method was born.

My book, Dream Landscape: Artful Quilts with Fast-Piece Appliqué™, published in 2008, by Martingale, gave me the biggest opportunity to share this method with everyone. Sharing methods, and of course THE FABRIC, how we choose it and how we use it, is one of my favorite things about being a quilt artist. I like to encourage people to use fabric to share their own ideas and view of the world. The paths we all take after that lead to our ah-hah moments and even some oh-no moments are the ones I find most enlightening.

My own ah-hah and oh-no moments have led to large collections of fabric (of course), but also yarn and beads. All having found a welcome home in my studio. Couldn’t live without them…. So many possibilities! Opportunities!

The journey continues and I’ve been working on my second book, also with Martingale, called Exploring Embellishments.

In it I talk about fabricating our own shiny, fun objects out of all sorts of materials. Some of my favorites at the moment are wool roving, air-dry clay and of course fabric. This book is due June 2010, but these self-created embellishments have been finding their way onto my quilts for years. (There’s a bit of sneak peak to be found about the wool gems in the Feb/March issue of Quilting Arts. Wahoo!)

So does one find quilting, or does quilting find you? One never really can tell, but the journey along the way is one I love to travel and share.

p.s. there’s lots more sharing happening in 2010 through my newly added FaceBook FanPage, and of course my RavenSpeak Quilts blog

Monday, February 15, 2010

Healing Quilts and Thoughts Needed!

Many of you know that my husband has ALS. Well we're at a critical moment with his care and life right now and I can't get close enough to a computer for long enough to put together a guest blog and we do have some wonderful guests waiting in the wings.

What I am doing today is asking for good wishes, prayers, thoughts, whatever you can send Derrol's way. And I wondered if you would like to send photos of 'healing quilts.' Maybe one you have made for a charity for healing or one that gives you comfort or one you made for therapy to get you through a rough time.

I'll post the photos this evening. If you click on my profile you can send the photos to me via email. I've included a photo of one of my favorite quilts (award winner at Houston a few years back) and by one of my favorite people and quilters -- Carol Soderlund. She'll be a guest blogger here this year! Anyway the quilt speaks to me of worlds and possibilities and innovation and in some strange way -- hope. I think seeing the lowly little nine patch front and center on this quilt speaks to me of simplicity fitting right into the world order. OK, enough philosophy. I'm off to the hospital.

I look forward to sharing good news with you of his improvement and can't wait to see what beautiful quilts you have to share. Thanks! -- Dawn

Here are a couple of healing quilts offered by Delores Hamilton and Juanita. 

Delores explained,  "I made it for myself when I was in a deep depression several years ago.  I decided to use a lot of my bright children's fabrics and a child-like design to make an extra long lap quilt (I'm quite tall).

It did give me something to concentrate on, but, in reality, it was antidepressants that finally brought me out of the depression."

Isn't this the most cheerful quilt? I had to smile simply because of the colors. Don't give those anti-depressants all of the credit. Wrapping in this quilt had to have healing powers!

Thanks Delores. 

Juanita Sauve's quilt called Imagine.  

"You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one".  

Juanita said, "Music has been a source of hope and a healing force for me all my life.  This quilt hangs in my living room and reminds me to continue to strive and believe in the present and the future.   May it bring hope and healing to you and your husband as well."

Thanks Juanita. Music has always been a part of the life Derrol and I share. We met in eighth grade band, sang together in junior high and high school chorus and again in the local community chorus. Thank you for reminding me of those memories. 
Ann E. Ruthsdottir didn't have a photo to share, but told about when she was seriously ill and almost died.
She said, "A Friend knit a long scarf like thing he called a 'shawl'. He took it to Worship where people put their hands on it as they prayed for my recovery. I hugged it when I went to sleep at night and kept it in bed with me for the almost 16 months of hospitals and rehab. I do not think the form of the healing shawl, quilt, etc matters. What matters is the thought behind the form."

Jean M. Judd shares her Serenity Tree.

"In the center is a “Serenity” tree that is the place where we all can go for solace and peace during the troubled times of our life. The fabric in the tree top is a reproduction fabric from the William Morris Collection (1834-1896). It is heavily echo quilted.

Framing the tree is a white border representing the “fence” that keeps the atmosphere around the tree peaceful. Interlocking leaves are quilted in the white border. The next 2 borders are asymmetrical and represent the influences in our lives. The red is for the anger we experience sometimes in our life. The black for the dark periods we may experience.

Two opposing corners have pinwheels that represent the out of control feelings we have sometimes have, and the other 2 corners are the rigid “black and white” views that we encounter. The goal of the Serenity Tree wall hanging is to have you focus on leaving the bad influences outside of yourself and go into the peaceful, quiet, serene garden and sit under your Serenity Tree and rejuvenate your soul.

This piece is one of 40 that has been selected for the NQA quilt show in Columbus, Ohio this June. They are having a special exhibit of Tree Quilts."
Lisa Ellis pointed me to this site and I couldn't resist showing you just one of many quilts featured there. This one was made by Mary Pace of Arlington, VA. This Healing Quilt is part of the Healing Quilts in Medicine project started by Judy House who died of breast cancer but wanted to give people in her situation something to look upon and ponder while they waited for doctor's appointments, treatments, news of life or death.... This is one of several quilts that hang in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center's oncology areas and is named "In Memory of Judy."

Mary said, "The design I created focuses on the hummingbird flower (Bouvardia ternifolia) from which a drug is extracted to be used as a cure for cancer. An individual entering Walter Reed Hospital's oncology department now has more hope that a cure for cancer may be found. My quilt is a pathway of hope and a message of caring and love."

Chris Gilman sent a photo of the last of her 'sad' quilts.

She wrote: "I lost my wonderful husband a little over a year ago. Here is a photo of the last of the "sad" quilts.... I call it "The Blue Girl".

A trip to Chris' website reveals her quirky sense of humor and made me smile even though the inspiration -- like a diagnosis -- was a tough subject. I'm so sorry for your loss Chris and thanks for sharing your quilt.

Eileen Doughty sent images of her quilt: "In Fair and Foul Weather" that she made for a dear friend when she was in chemo.

Eileen described the quilt, "The tall flowers are her and her husband, their young daughters are the small flowers. If you look closely, you can see the tallest flower has a leaf wrapped around the stem of my friend's flower, to support it.

Originally I wanted to make something representing our long friendship, but it evolved during the sewing process to represent the support she has received from her family."

Karen Musgrave sent a quilt and a separate block for two valiant women.

Karen explained, "Donna Sue Groves went through a tough year. Shortly after being laid off her job with the Ohio Arts Council, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I made this quilt for her with the help of her friends. Donna Sue started the Quilt Barn/Quilt Trail project. She continues to have health issues." (How appropriate that her quilt is photographed on the side of a barn!)

Karen also said, "I've also included my block for Yvonne Porcella's quilt. Yvonne is battling ovarian cancer."

Michele Lasker shares her husband's healing quilt with us.

Jerry had retired in the spring of 2008, we went to Italy with the family over the summer, and then Jerry got sick that fall and was diagnosed with glioblastoma.

When Jerry was diagnosed in October 19, 2008 my friend Jessica had her ladies auxiliary at St. John's Episcopal Church in Tulsa make a healing quilt.

Jerry's favorite color was purple because he was hopelessly colorblind and thought that purple was blue! We used it on his bed in the hospital for the 3 1/2 months that he was there and when he came home from the hospital we used it at home. Jerry died on September 3, 2009 and now I have the quilt to keep me warm.

I am a middle school Gifted and Talented teacher and I am very new to Art Quilting. I converted my boys' playroom into an art quilt studio anticipating that when Jerry died I would have more time to work in my studio. I knew that he was going to die and I wanted a creative refuge. But, it's odd I have yet to use my new sewing machine or cut a single piece of fabric since he died. Needless to say my stash is enormous, my mixed-media goodies are growing, and I now have a vast library of resources.

I was exceptionally stoic and strong during his year long illness and now that he is gone I am sad and at the moment don't feel so great. All that stress has finally hit me. It has been five months since Jerry died, and in that time our second grandchild Finn has is 8 months old, he stands, and has a few teeth and his sister Maddie, 2 1/2 has become a very big girl, knows her colors and numbers, loves to sing and play with her father's guitar. My son Jonathan and his wife Carrie, and my son Michael and his girlfriend Carrie round out the family, along with Abby our Golden Doodle.

The lovely quilt was made with love and friendship and is a reminder of kindness and love, adorned on the back with a cross for the church and a Star of David for Judaism, our faith.

A dear friend and VERY talented fabric artist, Gwen Magee, sent me this quilt explaining that it is a symbol of hope. It is also an astonishing quilt that took my breath away! So I just had to share it with all of you. She wrote, "Here is the image (and detail) of  "Our New Day Begun" - its a blazing sun that symbolizes hope. "

By the way, Derrol is doing better! Your prayers and good wishes are working their magic and reminding me to have faith!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day dear friends and fellow stitchers!

Many of you have generously shared your hearts with us and I added a few I couldn't resist from around the Internet. Enjoy!

QuiltBus offers a broad assortment of cat quilts and many feature hearts. But this one, That Lovin Feline, for some reason is my favorite. I hope to hang this in my house one of these days! A kind of upside down heart formed with the body shapes makes this a 'heart' quilt with a feline touch that makes my heart sing!

QuiltBus says, "These two cats are sitting with tails intertwined as they snuggle together under their parasol. That Lovin' Feline will melt the heart of any cat lover. This charming quilt measures 13" x 17". Pattern includes easy-to-follow instructions and full-size applique artwork. Order That Lovin Feline from Friendship Designs for 8.00 This pattern is eligible for the first class shipping rate.

Gerrie Congdon created these colorful collages. The first one was donated to a Hearts for Anna fundraiser.

Gerrie explained, "It is my own hand dyed and printed fabric. This was made for a person who works for The Artful Home. She had breast cancer and no health insurance.

They had a hearts for Anna auction and artists could donate heart related art for the auction. I made this with hand dyed fabric background with embellishments of silk and organza that are dye painted. I did some seed stitching in the brown fabric using a luscious hand dyed Perle cotton form Elin Noble."

Gerrie offers another heart collage that makes me think of a colorful butterfly's wings.

Gerrie said, "I made this last year when I taught a valentine collage class here in Portland.

Marilyn Napper offers a couple of hearts dedicated to and delivered to her beloved Gabe and Abbi. (See below.) She writes, "Here are the valentine's I made for my grandbabies. The purple frilly one is for my heart baby granddaughter who has had twp open heart surgeries (one at 5 months and one at 2 and 1/2 years) and is doing just great. 

The more manly one is for my grandson, who will care less cause he's only 14 months.

Judi Hurwitt painted a reclining heart drinking a fizzy cocktail on a fiber art postcard for Hearts For Anna last year.

Cathy K. made a heart as a treatment on a CQ block this year; it involves many techniques.

She explained, "First, a moleskin-type fabric was cut in the shape of a heart and appliqued onto the block. Then I beaded a heart (from directions found on the internet) and placed that in the center. The edges were covered with a trim, but it was a bit short, so I decorated the upper left corner with a button-centered yo-yo.

I added some stitches and beaded sequins along the inside edge for a little more bling, but not anything to take away from the bead center. The heart was placed in a position to take advantage of the ribbon roses I'd made to the lower right. The pearl-beaded heart, dyed heart lace applique and pink lace were also my work."

Here's a pic of a pink and ivory crazy quilt heart I made several years ago, Betty Pillsbury said. I believe Betty is rather modest about her work. This is so much more than a 'pink and ivory quilt. Such beautiful details and fine embroidery.

Betty will be teaching some classes along with Sharon Boggins and Allison Aller at An Adventure in Crazy Quilting in April.  

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Victorian hearts and hearts for a cause -- how divine!

Is there anything more romantic than this lacy embroidered and so beautiful crafted crazy quilt valentine square? It has everything and beautifully done.

Maureen Greeson, the creator of this gem, said it appeared on the front cover of some now defunct Crazy Quilt magazine and she at one time offered kits of this square.

Now she maintains her blog, an online shop and teaches at several venues. She, Sharon Boggon, Betty Pillsbury and Allison Aller are teaming up to teach: An Adventure In Crazy Quilting. The class is sceduled in Connecticue in April.

For more information check out Maureen's blog and give a pattern a try that she demonstrates to make an adorable antique bonnet pincushion.

She does Victorian so well!

Another heart art form can be found today among the ladies of the Amish.

This Amish hanging was made by Anne Carter in 2000. She got the idea from The Quilter's Guide to Amish Quilts by Jan Jefferson & Maggi McCormick Gordon.

It has very simple heart shaped hand quilting. And the trademark black paired with vibrant colored fabrics. I think Amish is such a great example of 'subversive' stitching. A way to combine beauty and utility and for the women to have a voice and even a bit of power in the community. The Mennonite quilt auctions speak loudly for how revered these quilts have become.

I must mention that Virginia Spiegel's Totes Tuesday has a special HeART package that you might want to check out and post a bid.

In addition to a dozen or so one-of-a-kind themed fiber-related totes for ToteTuesday on February 16, you will be seeing special artwork up for bid. Peggy Schroder asked well-known artists to donate artwork based on a heart theme for the HeART tote. These special artworks will be offered individually.

This is a photo from Elin Waterston’s Mi Corazon from the HeART tote. The mixed-media artwork is 6×5 inches.

Joining Elin’s artwork will be this highly layered artwork by Terri Stegmiller: Terri’s artwork is 10×10 inch on gallery wrapped canvas that was textured with molding paste. Then layers of paint were added along with stamped and stenciled designs.

A preview of all the artwork for ToteTuesday 3 on February 16 will be posted to my website on Monday, February 15 with the link posted here on my blog. A mini-preview of all the totes not yet up for bid is here.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society. We are over half way there with $5675 already donated and two ToteTuesdays yet to come.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hearts fit every need

Sometimes a heart is exactly what one needs for a fabric project. 

The following quilters used hearts for very different reasons and of course, just for fun! One chose the familiar shape as a first -- a beginning. Another picked it for utilitarian reasons and a third added it as embellishment. The fourth -- added to a collection of 'must do' patterns and projects.

Each certainly made good use of the dear little icon. 

You may pick up a few helpful hints and a new pattern to try. I particularly like Jacquie's Crazy Tumbling Hearts quilt for a baby quilt -- Dawn 

Jacquie Scuitto shares her first quilt, a crazy tumbling hearts pattern. She said she made this when she had limited stash and only a vague idea of what she was doing. I think she's a natural!
Jackie Campbell emailed in response to my request for hearts and asked, "Does appliqueing a small, bright pink heart onto the back to cover up the thread nest I didn't notice until it was too late count?  I did that recently, signed my initials on it, and the client thought that was just the sweetest touch.  I may do it all the time now, thread nest or no." 
Jackie, who at the time saw this as a dirty little secret did not take photos of the cute little heart. But because I like graphics, I picked up a photo from EnMart -- just in case you don't know what a thread nest is. I suspect that Jackie's little nest was not nearly so magnificent a mess as the one pictured here. But her tip is one to tuck away for future use. 
Thanks Jackie! 
 Michele Guthrie demonstrated how to make 'heart' fabric on her Textile Traveler blog
I believe this technique might be similar to what Nina Lise Moen explained on her website, only with the addition of painted graphic embellishments. 
After making the fabric, Michele then cut the fabric into ATCs -- beautiful work! 
She gives instructions at her blog. 

Diana Feit and I are both collectors of quilt patterns and books and ephemera with good intentions of making them all! 
She contributed this quilt pattern offered free at the Janome site. I am itching to get it made! I just love it. There's something about it that makes me smile whenever I look at it. Time to head to the sewing room. 
Thanks Diana and Janome. 
Love, love, love this pattern.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heart Quilts: Quirky and With a Story To Touch Your Own Heart

When I requested "show me your hearts," some quirky needlers took me literally and gave me the most dramatic reproductions of their human, flesh and blood hearts.

Alexandra Walters stepped out of her usual style to create this heart using blackwork embroidery stitches.

I like it!

You might want to check out her knitting blog. Ummm nothing says Valentine's Day like a knitted cap featuring humping deer....

Those knitters, what they don't think of ! 

Nancy Hinds sent me her heart quilt "Have a Heart," which is a touching tribute to the courage of a newborn grandson and that hope and love that surround him. It documents the trials and surgeries of Jackson. Definitely a quilt with a message! And what a story behind it.

Nancy writes: "My grandson, Jackson, was born August 3, 2005, in New Orleans.  He has several birth defects, including half a heart (one atrium and one ventrical), no spleen, transverse stomach, one kidney, two superior vena cavas, and missing several pulmonary veins.   He had his first open heart surgery just 3 days before Hurricane Katrina, and was one of four babies in the PICU at Tulane Med Ctr in downtown New Orleans when the storm hit.

He was evacuated after the storm to Lafayette, LA, which was hit with Hurricane Rita.  He was then moved to Austin TX, but due to his extreme condition had to be transferred to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston for further treatment. 

In his short life he has had three open heart surgeries and three abdominal surgeries.  He is preparing now for the next step in open heart, which will hopefully bring more oxygenated blood to the lower part of his body because his oxygen levels run in the upper 70s.  The doctors will be building a channel that will come out of the lower part of his heart and go under and around his right side to the left upper lobe of his lungs.  (The right upper lobe has not had blood flow for years and is useless.)

This small quilt, Have a Heart, shows the drawing one of his cardiologists made of his heart.   I have beaded a "channel" to represent the surgery he will be having next.  This child is a treasure and has captured the hearts of everyone he comes in contact with.  This was just one small way I found of dealing with his unusual heart issues.  I will always remember what someone told me in the hospital...........after explaining Jackson's condition he said, 'Well, when he falls in love he will just have to say "I can only give you half a heart!'.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How I Heart Thee...Countless Ways

Several artists have graciously offered to display their hearts here at Subversive Stitchers during Heart Week. Love is definitely in the air and hearts still speak loudly in any piece of art. They tend to steal the scene, take center stage and turn our thoughts to love, romance, relationships and maybe just maybe remind you of that first love or at least that first heart-shaped box of candy! -- Dawn

Marjorie Holme wrote: "I have two pieces, both made for my sweetie (my husband of 30+ years). I generally make him a home made valentine each year--paper, a poem, or sometimes something stitched. I have a photo of one from 2008--heart-shaped yo-yos on a miniquilt. (see first photo)

The second is a design I developed originally as a Puzzle Piece for Pat Winter's "pieces of friendship" swap on her blog "Gatherings." My husband really liked this so I made him his own as a heart."

Loretta Alvarado offers two unique approaches. Stepping out of her comfort zone she crafts the first fabric art titled "Heart Strings" It has a real violin bow attached and strings (actually gold cording) and the edge is about 5 inches deep.

The second uses a more standard collage technique incorporating fabric choices that reflect the music theme thus Loretta titles it "With a Song in My Heart"
Music and romance -- can we really have one without the other?

Does a special song remind you of someone?

Julia Arden created her heart in a Quilt University class led by Linda Schmidt: Filament Fantasy. The blocks were her ideas, the heart arrangement and organza edging were mine.
Julia explained, "The Filament Fantasy class (QU, Linda Schmidt) uses hearts or any other simple shape to trial different threads, painted fusible web, foiling, snippets under tulle, applique, reverse applique, couching, thread lace, programmed stitches with decorative threads - in fact as many things using threads as you can think of! The blocks, which were quilt as you go, sat for a while, until I came up with the idea of trying to set them as a heart shape with some white fabric printed with holographic gold wavy lines, . I then used the wavy lines as a basis for the quilting. Rather than bind it, I twisted two kinds of organza into a loose ribbon and threaded it through some bar tacks, joining the ends into a rosette."
Ann Ruthsdottir chose a crazy quilt technique for her sweet heart which she calls 'Art of the Heart.'
She pieced and embroidered this as a gift for a dear friend in July of 2008. What a pleasant surprise to find this in your mail box no matter what month of the year! You'll want to check out the variety and diversity of Ann's projects from an egret mobile to crazy hearts and a 'heart warming' drawing of the sweetest baby.  
You may remember these last two quilts from a previous guest blog. But I love both of these quilts and with the maker's permission, I'm displaying them again during Heart Week.
Ellen Guerrant heads off in directions I could never imagine with her creations. These hearts first appeared with Ellen's Hurricane Warning quilt. So maybe they didn't get quite as much attention as they deserve. Enjoy them now! If you want a peek at her other quilts, check out her guest blog, listed in the right column. Just click on Ellen's name and enjoy learning more about her work.  This first quilt is titled "Hold on My Heart....Throw Me a Lifeline and is a 52” square. Made of commercial cottons and silk, it is hand painted and beaded. Created as a healing quilt for her family following the heart transplant of our son.
Her second heart We Fix Broken Hearts, a 51x63” collage, is pieced cottons and hand-dyed fabrics. Painted and beaded, too. It was created to honor those who heal.
Hope you've enjoyed this little gallery of hearts. It is only Wednesday in heart week -- lots more to come! -- Dawn

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Novel Quilt by Chris Boersma Smith -- Literally!

Chris Boersma Smith has the distinction of making a quilt that becomes an element in a novel. Her original designed quilt, Broken Hearts Mending, was featured in Marie Bostwick's contemporary novel "A Single Thread."

It is a story of a displaced Texas homemaker who moves to Connecticut and pursues her dream of opening a quilt shop. But, on the day the shop opens, the owner discovers she has breast cancer. With the help of her friends, the book has a happy ending.

Here's a scene featuring the quilt, compliments of the author.

Excerpt from A SINGLE THREAD

It was a beautiful quilt. Knowing how I love strong colors, they'd chosen a palette of bright greens and vibrant pinks with surprising accents of a white and black fabric that enhanced the depth and richness of the colors. Such happy colors. The design was bold, using a traditional theme - hearts - but giving it a fresh, modern interpretation. The theme blocks were patchworked hearts, strip pieced in varying shades and patterns of pink and then outlined, first in spring green and then again in the black fabric. There were eight complete hearts in all, scattered over the pieced green backing in an unpredictable pattern. Most interesting of all, there were several half-heart blocks, again sprinkled around the backing at irregular intervals, some isolated and lonely, floating in a field of green, others set near but not quite next to another half-heart, slightly off center, as if the broken halves were moving toward each other in varying stages of becoming whole again...

"I was thinking about us, you know, about our quilting circle and what it is we all have in common. That's how I came up with the idea. In one way or another, we've all had our hearts broken. At the same time, we've helped each other get through it. It's not like everything is better yet. We've still got problems to work through, but slowly we're helping each other heal. You know what I mean?"

"Yeah," I said quietly. "I know what you mean."

Chris comments on quilts and quilters in her life and how she came to have a quilt in a novel. "

My motto is “Reap As You Sew . . . Courage & Creativity, Wisdom & Wonder, Connection & Community.” Over the years, quilting has carried me through the rough patches (hey, I’m a 60 year old wife and mother) and allowed me to express my uniqueness in an art form that evolves as we do artistically. The rhythm of machine or hand stitching has slowed me down enough to listen and discern at the crossroads of life. Seeing the creations of “women armed with needles” never ceases to surprise and delight me. Yet, connecting with other women and building community top the list of rewards.

In my Wednesday Quilt Group, Karen Ingersoll was a quiet, steady, kindhearted soul, whom we loved and lost to breast cancer after a valiant, five-year fight. After her death, a friend of mine and now New York Times bestselling author, Marie Bostwick, asked me to design a quilt for her novel A Single Thread—which has become the first in her series of Cobbled Court Quilters’ novels. The result was the aptly named “Broken Hearts Mending” quilt.

Like the hearts quilt my friends and I made for Karen, it touched the recipient (literally and figuratively) throughout her ordeal and provided a way for the makers to focus their concern and love on doing something concrete to help a friend through her illness.

Reaching out creatively is one of the ways we "Reap As We Sew," and for me, that is a powerful act of love. I believe I'm called to help others grow spiritually through quilting, and I try to do that with my quilt art, my writing, and by putting on retreats and getaways for quilters—mostly in a beautiful ocean view setting at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Isn't it great that in honoring our heart’s desires, we can serve and bless one another?"

A free download of the quilt pattern is available to those who register as a reader at Marie's website.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bobbi Huelsmann introduces wood embroidery --really!

 Bobbi mentioned embroidery on wood and I had to know more. And then when I realized what she was up to, I had to know more! And then when I saw what she had made -- I asked her to share it with everyone here. What a cool Valentine gift or better yet make one of these little wooden boxes to store your Valentine loot in! Bobbi does a great job of describing this project. I hope you'll give it a try. -- Dawn

I have been quilting and embroidering for only 2+ years but have thoroughly enjoy diving into this hobby. Imagine my surprise when Dawn emailed me to write a guest blog on “Embroidering on Wood.”

I had just posted a blog on the “TQS” website showing my first project on this subject. I am not the originator of this form of embroidering, the idea came from a “TQS” show, episode #507 with Rebecca Kemp Brent. For those of you not familiar with “TQS” it is “The Quilt Show” with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. In the show there was a box with a lid that had embroidery on the lid. Now that fascinated me, so I ran with the idea.

My first embroidering on wood project was taking a 4x6-inch piece of balsa wood that was 1/16-inch thick and embroidering flowers then laminating to the top of a box lid. But how to go about doing this, since you can not hoop the wood.

Light bulb came on, use self-adhesive, tear-away stabilizer, easy.

Next step, pick a design that will fit within the wood but not get close to any of the edges. Now hoop the stabilizer, center the wood on the stabilizer, and start stitching. Once the embroidering is done remove the excess stabilizer. Now you are ready to laminate the piece to the top of your box lid. (Photo: 1/16-inch wood test embroidery)

We, meaning my darling husband and I, used Loctite Spray Adhesive, Heavy Duty Permanent spray on the box lid and the back of the embroidery project. Follow the instructions on the adhesive spray for when the two pieces get put together. Allow to dry thoroughly, sand the edges and you are done. We determined using a water soluble contact cement would be much better than a spray, less mess and you get an even layer of glue.
If you want the piece of wood or box to be stained, make sure you do this stage prior to any embroidery being done. Again make sure it is thoroughly dry.

Since creating this piece, I have test embroidered on several different thicknesses of wood to see how they would hold up. (See photo tiger on 1/32-inch, note the bend in the wood above the tiger's back)

I also used different needles and thread. A very dense pattern was used for the testing. I can say the denser the design the more the wood will separate so choose your designs with this in mind.

Someone responded to my “TQS” blog that they might try free motion quilting on wood. I don’t see any reason why this could not be done but I’m not even close to being a pro on free motion quilting. All I can say is try it.

It is highly recommended using Balsa wood rather than any other type of wood. The main reason is due to the denseness of the wood. The denser the wood the harder your machine has to work to push the needle through plus a greater chance the wood will crack-- not something you want.

I’ve checked with several people in the industry and all stated balsa wood is the best option for this type of craft. Now, the thickness does make a big difference.

I’ve tested 1/16-inch, 1/20-inch and 1/32-inch thick Balsa wood. (See photos above in the 1/16-inch, and 1/32-inch thickness wood. Last photo outline stitch ) The best for holding up to the serious abuse the wood takes is the 1/16” thick wood. The 1/20” thick can handle the work as long as it is not a very intense stitching whereas the 1/32“ cracked and warped.

I imagine if you were doing only an outline type embroidery the 1/32-inch thickness may hold up but definitely not anything of intensity. In all cases make sure the stabilizer is supported with the entire hoop and make the piece of wood as big as possible. The bigger the piece of wood the more support. If you are embroidering a very dense design the wood will have separation points. This is something you will need to determine if it is acceptable to what is being done.

Once the work is done, hold the piece up to the light and see how much shines through. The lamination stage will be the final determination. You do not want any glue coming through to the top. My first pieces of Balsa wood were purchased from JoAnn’s. But to get something wider than 4-inches I had to order the wood. The place I found was “Specialized Balsa Wood, LLC out of Loveland, Colorado.

The best needle I have found for this type of embroidery is a titanium coated, size 75/11 or smaller. All other types, got through the project but became dull towards the end and ended up separating the wood more than necessary.

Several types of embroidery thread were tested, Madera Polyneon, Foriani and Isacord with using Bottom Line for the bobbin. All brands worked fine with my Baby Lock.

Once you are done embroidering make sure you tear off the excess stabilizer carefully. This step could cause a weak point in the wood to crack so please be careful. Removal of the excess stabilizer is important. The stabilizer sheet could separate from the embroidered wood after lamination, thus giving you loose sections, again not something you want.

Now you are ready to laminate the piece to your main wood piece. Follow the instructions of the glue product you choose to use. Once the glue is dry then you can sand the edges to a smooth finish.

Congratulations, you are finished.