Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Urban Dwellers

Urban Dwellers
12" x 12"

I love this little quilt! I have made a small series, some with the little people, 1BdrmApt, Full House, No Vacancy, and 9 Houses. I hoped that they would sell in Houston, and they DID! In fact one sold before Houston, so I made another to take it's place. Then those 3 sold the opening night of the Houston Quilt Show. I was jaw-dropping-shocked-happy-elated!

I thought I might make a few more, hoping to sell them during the holiday season. I only got this one made. The other three are still sitting in a pile. I have been distracted a few big art pieces I am working on....ah hem....back to our story. It sold before I got to post about it! WOW EEEE! To a dear friend who came to visit.

While watching An American in Paris this week, Gene Kelly, playing an artist, talks about how hard it is for an artist to part with his works. I wholeheartedly agree. It is hard to pour so much of yourself, so many hours into a work and then let it go. It is entirely comforting and rewarding when the piece goes to a good home, as I now know that mine has gone. Peace and blessings!
Close up Urban Dwellers, inhabitants climbing up to the roof

Close up of Urban Dwellers,  showing the people tucked inside the pockets

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How Cairns Saved My Life

How Cairns Saved My Life
and our new group project

Many years ago, I was climbing in Yosemite Valley.  Ambitiously I had selected Royal Arches as my route of choice.  For many reasons it was simply the most perfect climb in the valley.  First, it was a number of levels beneath my skill level.  This means that I did not have to worry (constantly) about falling.  It was a long route, 16 pitches, which means that I would have to carry a lot of gear, food and water.  Being heavier is not a goal in rockclimbing! (lol!) For more information about the route, you can click here.  You can see things like the fact that the route is 1400 feet of climbing, and it shows which way to go and where to start, all vital information.  The photo below shows my crude sketch (in red) on top of my photo of the valley, it is to the left of the actual rock formation known as Royal Arches.
And, while the route may look a bit intimidating, the climbing is fairly easy, even with the extra weight of gear, and though the guide book says it's about 2-3 hours of climbing, that was not my experience.  It took about 8 hours to climb up.  There are huge pine trees all the way up the route.  Many of the belay stations were under the trees.  I had a view of Half Dome...all day long! I belayed my then-husband.  I am embarrassed to admit that I wanted to lead this route merely because I did not want to carry up our shoes for the hike down, and he happily agreed to let me give it a go!  Now, the crux of the story....getting down.

The guide book says to be very careful. DO NOT ATTEMPT AFTER DARK.  People HAVE fallen to their death attempting to get off this route.  We did not know when we started that if we had carried up two ropes, instead of just one, we could have quickly and safely rappelled to the valley floor.  We were left with the walk-off route which was not obvious.  We got lost multiple times, and it is not a place where you want to get lost.  And because we took so long climbing it, it was getting late.  And then I saw fresh bear scat and totally panicked.  The woods were filled with mosquitoes.  The exposed rocky descent was, well, exposed, and crumbly gravel...and we were up 1400 feet.  Not that it would make much difference if you fell.  After the first 50 feet of falling, it is sort of moot.... However, I didn't want to fall.  I wanted to LIVE!  And, someone, some very-nice-and-considerate-person (or persons) who came before us, left cairns to show the way.  This is the point of the story.  We are not alone.  We mentor those who come after us.  Show them the way. Teach, teach your children.  Be kind to others.  Learn from your history.
We have recently had an old member of our art quilt bee return to us, Susan Lewis Storey.  When she suggested a group quilt, cairns, I knew that it was right for me.  And in a way, a wonderful metaphor, because as in my last post I mentioned that art is a lonely business, as a group we support each other.  We teach each other new tricks and old tricks.  And so we move into our next group adventure!

Sherri McCauley brought a bag of polished stones for us to play with while we visited.  These slippery little rocks were difficult to stack.  See the Nilla Wafer box in the background for scale!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our group blog

Our group blog

Last week I spent some time updating our group blog, Austin Art Bee.  It has had few posts and little traffic, so I am trying to remedy that here by giving it a little attention.  If you haven't already noticed, there is a link on my sidebar....
Since I first began making art quilts in 2003 (the first year I participated in the Journal Quilt Project), I joined the Austin Art Quilt Bee.  A lovely group of women!  We work collaboratively on group projects.  It has been a labor of love from the beginning.  I still remember meeting at Frances Holliday Alford's house for the first time.  I had been invited to participate on a group quilt that was already in full swing.  The project was called Leaves, and I was supposed to use neutral colors with green....well that's about all I remember at this point.  I was also given options of sizes of blocks to make.  I made a few blocks, quilted them, and brought them to the meeting.  Sherri McCauley, Yoshiko Kawasaki, Mandi Ballard, Niki Vick, Betty Colburn and Frances were all gathered in Frances' huge sewing studio.  Multiple conversations always going as we attempted to trim and put the blocks together.  Many things going right, a few things going wrong.  It was hard to make everyone's work look good in a cohesive quilt.  We argued, discussed, and took breaks.  One by one people started leaving because...well, the day was drawing to a close, and we had to return to our other lives.  I wasn't there, but I heard that at some point Yoshiko took rotary cutter in hand, and started chopping up everyone's blocks into 4" wide panels.  Then they rearranged what was left, and it completely came together!  It was beautiful.  It was successful in that it looked cohesive.  It had the group voice.  And it also maintained the individual's voice.  It is extraordinarily difficult to juggle the balance of the two, and this time the results were stunning! 

I remember thinking how shocked I was that day that Yoshiko did that.  Now, I think how brave she was.  She knew intuitively what needed to be done, and she did it.  And she changed the way we each looked at our own work, and ironically by working mostly alone, she brought our work together.  Amazing!

And as the years have passed and we have put together quite a body of work at this point, I look back on all the times we have had together.  How the group members have changed slowly over time, and how we have each changed.  I value the way the group process has helped me with my own individual work, and also how it kept me from starving to death of isolation.  Because being an artist requires listening to yourself and expressing it.  It is hard to do that in a group.  I find that I need to be alone. But being alone for too long is not good either.  The safety of the group and our projects together gives me the safety to be alone and create my own work.  It is all linked together, and I am so grateful for the day that Frances invited me to join in.  She has been a role model to me to invite others to join in.

And so I would like to invite you to stop in to see our group blog.  It was started when I wanted to share images with the group on those occasions when we couldn't all be in the same room.  And now, all the group members are contributors to our group blog. The blog has 3 pages at the top, Blog, Gallery, and Credits and Awards.  The Blog will be a place to discuss our projects, and inspirations.  The Gallery is page of images of our work.  And the Credits and Awards shows the names of participants for each project along with awards, venues, and publications of each quilt.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dedicated Spaces

Dedicated Spaces
I probably don't talk enough about how important it is to have a dedicated space to do art.  I am so very lucky to have an entire bedroom converted into my studio.  It is great to be able to just walk IN and have everything I need in easy access, and organized enough to find what I am looking for.  It is also great to be able to walk OUT of my studio, and leave the mess just as it is.
Last week I received my copy of Inside the Creative Studio by Cate Prato.  I am so happy to be included in this book!  It is awesome!  The eye candy alone is fabulous!  If you are considering re-organizing your space, check out this book.  It will unfortunately, probably leave you wanting more....more space, regardless if you work in a tiny space or a big one!  I love getting a glimpse into other artists' studios.  The creative process is fascinating to me. 
Of course, my biggest concern after having some dedicated space, whether its just a table top or an entire room, is the color that surrounds me.  It sets the mood to let the creative spirit unfurl.  And this is what you will see in my little section in this blues, and my purples, and it has spread throughout the house!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Put a PIN in it.

Put a PIN in it.

I have been home from Houston for about a week now.  I already have enough projects to work on, really I do!  However, instead of diving into the project I've been working on, I took a bit of a diversion, cleared my design wall, and started playing with blocks.  I love my design wall.  It is  made from foam core boards that are 4 feet by 8 feet, covered in polar fleece fabric.  And my fabric sticks pretty well when just thrown up.  It allows me lots of freedom to play with design, until I find what I like. 

On this particular day my heart was desiring something big.  I covered the entire wall with little blocks, about 1000 of them.  Which is fine, but I am not planning to work on this project yet, and now it is on my wall!!  Every time I open the studio door, or close it, or move too quickly, the wind gusts blow off the little fabric blocks.  So, I spent the next day putting pins in all the blocks.  I really thought I would have to buy more pins, but somehow I had over 1000 pins! Now it can safely wait until I have time to actually make the quilt.  And I have demonstrated the literal interpretation of "put a pin in it!"  :)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Honorable Mention!

Honorable Mention!

I am happy to announce that my quilt, High Rise, won an Honorable Mention this year in Houston! Even more delighted to actually see the show and how many outstanding quilts that were in my category. I have no doubt that the judges had a tough time picking winners for this category!

I am also really proud of all the attention our Artists' Village (and here) has received. IQA (or was it Quilts, Inc.?) went above and beyond to make the display an awesome one! They built an entire stage to set it on and draped it with black fabric. The lighting was perfect! And the height of the stage was just right to see all the details of the houses. I absolutely LOVED it! And I enjoyed seeing the project connect with so many people. A labor of love!
Artists' Village with Kathy York, Sherri McCauley, and Barb Forrister
Artists Village with Kathy York, Sherri McCauley, Jamie Fingal, and Leslie Jenison
 It's hard to believe that I spent four fabulous days in Houston and still did not see all the quilts. The ones I saw were simply fabulous and too many to list, but of course, I have to mention the Twelveby12 exhibit.  I got to meet a few of the artists, which was a blast.  After following their work (take a peek at their blog and see the group photo that I wish I had taken!), it was great to see the pieces in person.  Such an inspiring project!  I love the way it enriched each of their lives and their work and also how it connected them as a group. Even better, is how it has gone practically viral and other Twelveby12 groups are springing up.  Yes, I bought the book.  Can't wait to read it!

I made the small mistake of depending on my iphone for photos. And while it takes relatively good photos, it does not have a flash, and it needed one! Next year, I will take my camera!! duh! Meanwhile, it seems like there would be plenty of time to see everything, but no. And not for the obvious, that I spent too much time shopping the vendors. The main reason for me was that I kept running into people that I only see in person at the quilt show. I HAVE to stop and visit. It is the most wonderful use of time and I wouldn't trade it for a minute. Maybe I should just plan to spend even more time in Houston if I want to see all the quilts in all the exhibits??

Jamie Fingal, Rachel Parris, Frances Alford, Judy Perez, Kathy York, and Leslie Jenison

Frances Alford ,Sherri McCauley
Behind this glass wall is Spencers, our meet up spot for dinner
Kathy York, and Frances Alford

Jamie Fingal, Judy Perez

Rachel Parris, and Sherri McCauley

Jamie Fingal and the Girls

Jane LaFazio
One of my favorite activities at the show this year was doing Open Studios for Quilting Arts Magazine. I met so many wonderful people there and had a great time demonstrating the simple techniques I used to make the 3D buildings seen on several of my quilts. The funniest story I can share with you .....I had a hard time setting up my demonstration. Though my hands are almost fully recovered, I have lost flexibility and a lot of strength. The Bernina sewing machine, so graciously donated for use by Bernina, was still in the box. I started having a minor panic attack when I couldn't get it out of the box. Pokey Bolton happened to be standing on the other side of the curtain and heard that 'special tone' in my voice and came bounding through the curtain like Wonder Woman! And poof, in a flash, the machine was quickly extricated from it's box. My jaw hanging open and eyes popping out, she disappeared just as quickly before I could even say, "Thank you!".
Jamie Fingal, Kathy York ,and Rachel Parris in front of Blue Towers at the Space Between exhibit
I was lucky to have so many quilts in the show this year, especially considering that I lost half the year at least half the year in recovery. I had my quilt, Blue Towers, in The Space Between exhibit, curated by Dinner @8 Artists (i.e., Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison). I had already bought the book and was looking forward to seeing the quilts in person. The photos are always so awesome, but they never do the quilts justice. Seeing them in person is such a richer and fuller experience. I got to meet the cover artist, Susan Brubaker Knapp, and hear her story in person. Very touching! The quilts were simply amazing. I could stand in front of them for hours!

I had two entries in Tactile Architecture, Central Park and the Artists' Village. I had two entries in the Judged Show, High Rise and a group quilt, Artists Garden. I had five quilts in the book, Lone Stars III, two of mine, A Few of My Favorite Things and Little Cities, and three group quilts, Cosmic Curves, I Sing the Flower Eclectic, and Group Conversations. Three of these were at the Houston Quilt Show in the Lone Stars III exhibit, and two are at the new Texas Quilt Museum. The exhibit in Houston of the quilts in the book was phenomenal! The layout of the exhibit had traditional quilts and art quilts interspersed. I thought the effect was wonderful!

I was also given a minor presence in Libby Lehman's Lecture (though I unfortunately did not get to see it), and in Stitched which showed on Saturday morning. And if that is not enough, by complete surprise I found that my winning quilt High Rise is featured in the gallery section of On the Quilt Scene!  It looks beautiful!  Thanks Quilting Arts!!!!

Two other events definitely worthy of mention were the Alliance For American Quilts Save Our Stories and the event for the quilters in the book Lone Stars III. Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes hosted a wonderful event with fabulous food, drinks, and an interesting introduction to her book. We signed each others' books and then went down to view the exhibit. These two events are interconnected this year because quilters who were in the book were invited to share their stories through a recorded oral interview.  I was asked to bring a touchstone object, which I selected my quilt, Fifty, Female, and Fearless.  The interview lasted about 45 minutes and will be available after it is transcribed.  It is such an honor to be a part of this project and to be a part of history!  I am in awe of both the project and the number of volunteers who contribute their time to this worthy project! 

And last, I had three small quilts, 9" x 12", at the SAQA booth for sale. These did not get to be viewed for long though. One sold before it got to hang on the wall. The next two sold quickly on Opening Night. I was beside myself with excitement that the quilts sold and it has motivated me to make some more that I will offer for sale on my blog.
Full House
Nine Houses

You might have to wait to see these though because, sadly I always catch a cold in Houston, and this trip was no different. Fortunately, I made it through three days healthy, and got the cold on my last day. Now, I am trying to rest....which is really hard after Houston because all the creative juices get flowing! like just looking at the exit stairs to the Parking Garage for the George Brown Convention Center.

And, to end on a good note, I leave you with these two photos of my cats. The first is before I leave on a trip, the second is when I return. I suspect that they are happy I spent my first day back with a cold and in bed all day...part of the reattachment process. :)
Cats before my trip..."if we just stay on top of her suitcase, she won't be able to pack it!"
Cats after my trip....
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts 1986-2011

Lone Stars III:  A Legacy of Texas Quilts 1986-2011
by Karey Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes

I haven't seen it yet, but I heard it's a good one! I can't wait to get my copy! The quilt on the cover is stunning!!  You can read a lovely review on Virginia Spiegel's Blog, here.  I have two individual quilts included and a number of group quilts.  My two quilts, Little Cities and A Few of My Favorite Things, arrived in Houston this last August.  Quilts, Inc. is having an exhibit with as many of the quilts from the book as they could arrange for the Houston International Quilt Show. 

Karey Bresenhen's enthusiasm and support for quilters is widely known, so it should come as no surprise that she has a starring role in the development and opening of the new Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, TX.  The opening of the museum is timed perfectly with the Houston Quilt Show and will have part of the Lone Stars III exhibit will be there.  I am so pleased and honored that Little Cities will be at the Texas Quilt Museum.  From the museum's website, "A not-for-profit entity, the Museum will operate under the aegis of The Quilt Institute.  It will be housed in two historic 1890s buildings, which will provide a fine showcase for both antique and contemporary quilt art with their high ceilings, brick walls, and original hardwood floors." 

The group quilts are:  Cosmic Curves, Group Conversations, and I Sing the Flower Eclectic.  I am a bit sketchy on the details about which quilts are going where....And, I am a bit behind on my record keeping for photos of the other two.  I'll need to research that a bit.  Suffice to say, I am pleased as punch to be a part of this historic undertaking and celebration of quilting!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good bye Clothworks

Good bye Clothworks

It is with great sadness that I tell you that I will no longer be designing fabrics for Clothworks.  It has been a fabulous experience for me and I love dearly all the people at Clothworks!  Like two friends who's paths diverge, and so it is with us.  I like to think that there will be new opportunities for me.  I have been creating lots of new designs, but I am not ready to market them yet.  And I don't know why.  I mention this now because Quilt Market in Houston is coming up soon, and I will not be going for the first time in a long time.  I will miss the excitement and the friends I always see there. 

Meanwhile, my kids are both in school now, and as I say goodbye to homeschooling, I say hello to time in my studio.  I have been richly rewarded.  My enthusiasm for creating my art quilts is in full swing.  I wake up each day excited about what I will work on for the day.  Yesterday, it was in, see my blue arms where the gloves leaked?? Today it was a fun filled morning with our art quilt bee, catching up and dreaming of new projects.

And a little tribute to my long ago launched fabric collection, Urban are some new pincushions (see above), designed and built just like the buildings on my 3D quilts like Central Park, and Little Fish in a Big City.  I will be showing how to make these at Quilting Arts Open Studios at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.

And...who can forget this image?  It was the number one all time occurring hit on my blog.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Full House

Full House
9" x 12"
Yeah, my fourth in the series!  I love these little house quilts, especially the little worry dolls tucked in the circular pockets (they are held in place with stitching too!).  Three of them will be on sale at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this year at the SAQA booth.  I will be volunteering at SAQA on Thursday, Nov 3, from noon to 2 pm.  Come by and see me, or come by and see my quilts. 

Before the tenants moved in!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Houston Quilt Show

Houston Quilt Show

I invite you to come and see me at Open Studios in front of the Make It University/Quilting Arts booth at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  I will be at Open Studios on Thursday, Nov 3, 2:50 to 4:50 demonstrating how I made the buildings on my 3D quilt, Central Park.  Central Park is in the Tactile Architecture exhibit this year and I am really thrilled that it got in!  I will also show how to use this technique to make a wonderful pin cushion!  See ya soon!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

One More Day for Giveaway!

One More Day for Giveaway!
I am delighted to have two postcards included in a postcard set by C and T Publishing, called The Art of Quilts Postcard Collection-Architecture.  As a promotion, they are doing a giveaway on their blog until 6:00 pm tomorrow (Sunday).  Sorry for the late notice, I just found out.

The two postcards of mine are:  Long Legged Bird with a Tale to Tell...
and Little Fish in a Big City...

 And, if you want to buy a set directly, you can get one here.

Nine Houses

Nine Houses
9" x 12"

Building on a theme, I am busy creating some smaller works.  I am hoping to sell these little gems at the Houston quilt show.  There is a special opportunity for Texas-SAQA members to exhibit and sell their small works, I am hoping to send in the maximum of 3.  You may recognize the fabrics I have been working with?  See this post!

I am completely dazzled by the simple shapes and colors of this little quilt.  It is mesmerizing to me!  And what is not so obvious from this flat photo, is the texture of the little quilt.  Each black circle is a little hole in the house block.  The hand-stitched circles literally stand apart from the black background creating a small amount of real depth.  I just love it!  And the embroidery floss is such a nice complement to the heavy machine quilting.  It adds a certain texture and warmth to the pieces....a theme you will see repeated in many of my quilts as I work with these original batiked blocks.

p.s.  Thanks for stopping by!  I am struggling with a good name for this little quilt, maybe something more interesting than Little Houses?  If you have a suggestion, please drop me a comment.  I will definitely consider it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

No Vacancy

No Vacancy
9" x 12"
This one is made like High Rise.  I originally made High Rise to accommodate these little worry dolls. It was the intention of having the cut out holes forming the little pockets inside. However, when I finished it, I liked it just the way it was.  So, I made this little mini-quilt to try out the idea of putting the people inside.  I LOVE it!!  Too cute!

Embellished with satin stitch, hand embroidery, and made from my original batiks, don't you love the crackle lines on this detail shot?

Friday, September 23, 2011


9" x 12"
This next little quilt is all about happy color!  Playing with my new batik stash, I arranged these blocks on batting and backing and then machine quilted them.
Next step...cut out the circles and whipstitch with embroidery floss.  Then decorate some more with satin stitch, and cut the blocks out.

Add to this quilted underlayer....
And you get this wonderful, fun, cheerful little quilt!
(I also faced the edges and turned them under, and added a hanging tube on the back.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011


29" x 45"
Yeah, I have finally finished this little art quilt that I started the summer of 2010! It has been patiently waiting it's turn to be completed, and 4 more are waiting in line.  I sincerely hope that you will like it too! This quilt is inspired by recent events and some not so recent events.  It is simply amazing to me what can be accomplished when we work together.

This quilt was made with what I call artist created fabrics. The blocks are made from dyed fabric which is batiked, then bleach discharged, and eventually overdyed. I like using lots of combinations of colors with a mostly bright palette. The blocks were fused in place and then machine quilted. I used a lot of hand embroidery in both the flowers and the stitching around the apartment blocks. The thread is all six strands of embroidery floss and requires a rather large needle to pull through the entire quilt sandwich, a bit physically taxing, but totally worth the effect.   Enjoy!