25 January 2011

New Work: Monastery at Kosljun, finished

This week I’m finishing up all the nearly-done pieces that will go into my solo exhibition at the Funky Monkey.  Literally tying loose ends… cutting loose threads…


“Kosljun” is the 3rd of the Croatia quilts.  I finished the quilting today and the rest of this week will be spent sewing hanging sleeves and bindings. 

So that’s it, the last piece for the “LIFE… So Far” exhibition.  You’ve seen them in progress on this blog in the past few months.  But please come to The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery during February 2011 to view them in person! 

Hope to see you at the OPENING RECEPTION on Friday, February 11, 2011 from 7 – 9 PM

The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery

130 Elm Street/ Watch Factory Shoppes

Cheshire, CT 06410

(203) 439-9161

Open Mon 9am-4pm; Tue-Thu 9am-8pm; Fri-Sat 9am-10pm; Sun 10am-4pm


24 January 2011

The ONIONS are back… Stick a fork in them, they’re DONE!

So I waited and waited to see if my "Onions & Garlic" would start to appeal to me. But they were still bugging me!

This week I took a drastic step. No, I didn't cut the piece up, as I had been considering doing. I decided that would not solve the problem. The problem was the onions’ skin. It just was not looking right. It was too flat and everything was too orange, if such a thing is possible.

In my obsessive way, for the past week I have been studying and observing real onions, up close. Their skins are semi transparent, but brittle. So there are all these little breaks and tears in the skin, revealing a deeper color inside. I could not think of anything that would imitate the flaky brittleness of the skin, but I found silk organza that reminded me of their translucence.

In an act of desperation, I gave the onions one more go. First, I cut down the Angelina fibers – they were too shiny and distracting.  Then I covered all my hard-earned layers of bright orange with sheer white organza. Then shredded and cut slices out of the organza to reveal an approximation of onion skin. The result is something I can live with, even if I’m not in love with it.


So here it is, "ONIONS". I dropped the “garlic” from the title because no one could really tell what they were anyway and the purple mostly serves as background. The organza mutes the color but that turns out to be closer to an onion's real color anyway.

At this point, I feel okay about displaying the final piece.   It works as a composition and the shimmery organza adds some pizzazz while toning down the overwhelming orange.   We’ll see what kind of reception it gets from the viewing public pretty soon.

Come to the Funky Monkey in February if you’d like to see it up close.  :-)

OnionsDetail_finished_SM (Detail)

23 January 2011

Opening of “Identity in Fiber” – A Night of Great Food, Music and Fiber Art

Last night was the Opening Reception for “Identity in Fiber” at the Windsor Art Center (WAC) 


What a night!  I’m always nervous before an opening; will anyone show up?  what will people’s  reaction be?  will we get another blizzard??? 

But last night was just about perfect.  WAC did a great job promoting the show and the opening was well attended.  Lily’s Soul Food Restaurant provided some of the food – delicious homemade Mac & cheese was a big hit.  And jazz music by the Trey Winston Trio, a group of young local musicians, played for about an hour.  They were amazing!

WINSDOR ART CENTER - SAQA 005 (2)(Images: upper right, guests are listening to Sam Hinckley of WAC’s opening remarks.  Cindy Friedman’s “Blue Stairs” can be partially seen in the background.  left, Rita Hannifin stands next to Sally Brown’s quilted art book “Forever Sisters”.  Photos by Catherine Smith)

The artwork looked beautiful and was hung with great care by the WAC hanging team.  I must send a BIG thank you to Diane Wright who collected artwork and brought it to WAC.  Diane and her husband worked all day along with Holly and myself, arranging the quilts.  This exhibition contained such a variety of color, technique and scale – it was not an easy job making sense of it all!  Thank you also to Karen Loprete and Betty Warner for collecting artwork and delivering it to WAC.

(Image lower right: Diane & Dave are pictured here in front of Diane’s kimono-shaped piece “Family Ties” and Karen Loprete’s “My Secret Garden”. Photo by Catherine Smith)

WINSDOR ART CENTER - SAQA 001 (2)Several of the “Identity” artists attended the Opening, including Carol Vinick, Sally Brown, Lisa Chipetine, Diane Wright and myself.  Diane and Lisa commented that visitors asked them very thoughtful questions about the work, beyond the typical small talk. 

Viewers commented on the quality of design and variety of techniques on display.  Karen Loprete’s My Secret Garden and Vivika DeNegre’s I’m Sorry had people marveling at the hand embroidery and combination of materials.  Some viewers were emotionally struck by Carol Vinick’s Tikun, with its stark imagery and metal wire combined with a fragile and delicate silver pendant of the Star of David.   Several visitors plan to come back another day to get a second look at everything.  According to Windsor Art Center Director Ina Foreman “We always get a big response when we have a fiber or textile show.  It really draws people in”.

SAQA members Rita Hannifin, former CT Rep Susan Ferraro, Catherine Whall Smith, Phyllis Small and Betty Warner came to show their support, catch up with friends and see the artwork.    

DSCN2653Recent SAQA President and media guru Lisa Chipetine created a live podcast of the event. 

Click on this link to view the video:

(Image: From left to right, Vivika DeNegre’s “I’m Sorry”, Lisa Chipetine’s “Flowers for Allah” and Debbie Bento’s “Life’s Path”. Photo by Kate Themel) 

All in all it was a fantastic night.  Of course I went home kicking myself for all the things I forgot to say in my welcoming remarks.  Oh well, that will teach me to write things down!  

As I met & talked to people I was sure to remind them to come back on Saturday, February 12th for the SAQA Regional Meeting and Gallery Talk, to find out more about the pieces in the show and the artists who made them.

The Identity in Fiber Exhibition will be on display at Windsor Art Center until March 5, 2011

Windsor Art Center

40 Mechanic Street

Windsor, CT 06095

(860) 688-2528

21 January 2011

I’ve been invited to exhibit work in Japan!

I’m VERY excited and happy to participate in this show:

Quilt Challenge for Japan 2011VanGogh_12sunflowers

Hiroko Matsuda from The Kagoshima Quilters Association in Kagoshima, Japan has invited 15 quilters from the USA to take part in a challenge for next year’s show.  Artists are asked to draw inspiration from one of Vincent Van Gogh’s many “Sunflower Series” paintings.  (Example, Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers III, Munich” pictured on the right.)

Artists can use the flowers, the colors, the feeling, any fabric and any technique. This is wide open to be interpreted in whatever way the artists choose, as long as the finished quilt is 20” x 20” square.  It should be interesting to see how many different ways Sunflowers are presented!

SewCraft is generously sponsoring the US artists, and will arrange to ship artwork from the USA to Japan this fall. 

The exhibition will be on display in Japan in December 2011.

Stay tuned for more details and photos of my show entry, coming soon…

20 January 2011

A Wonderful Meeting with Farmington Valley Quilters Guild

2605367140104478330FeCapp_ph I had a wonderful time last night giving a presentation and sharing my art quilts with the Farmington Valley Quilters Guild.  Event planners Lisa Salvatore and Phyllis Small took me to a lovely dinner at the Iron Frog Tavern before the meeting - I recommend the Frog's chicken pot pie.  Yum!

The guild meeting took place at Eno Memorial Hall in Simsbury, CT. 

About 80 of the 150 guild members and non-members braved the impending bad weather to attend; some traveled from Massachusetts to be there!  The crowd was bigger than I expected and I was pretty nervous at first.  But it helped to see some familiar faces - fellow SAQA members Judy Ross and Diane Cadrain were there.  Diane showed off her beautiful commissioned banners during the Members’ Show & Tell part of the meeting.  

This month also happens to be the group’s 20th Anniversary as a guild, so the night included refreshments and a giant sheet cake to celebrate the occasion.  After a little sugar rush it was time for my presentation as the guest speaker.

SelfPortrait_SMI shared all the finished and almost-finished work that I had on hand with the exception of "Dandelion" and "Ode to a Kiss".  I also ran a short slideshow and described the typical life cycle of a quilt (I used my self portrait “Kate at 40” as the example).  The slideshow began with the original photo that provided the inspiration, to the sketch I developed on my PC, progressive photos showing layers of fabric being added one at a time, and finally some close-ups of the quilting. 

Once I get going talking about making art quilts I usually loosen up and have fun.  The audience was friendly and interested, asking questions, sharing insights – they put me at ease quickly.

As I talked from a podium, guild members carried my quilts around the room so people could see them up close.  Although many of the members may work in a traditional style, the Farmington Valley Quilters were open to new ideas and seemed to enjoy my out-of-the ordinary quilts.  All in all, it was a fabulous night... and there was cake, too!

Thank you Lisa Salvatore, Phyllis Small and Guild President Carrie Bacewicz for inviting me to speak to the Guild, and all the fiber art enthusiasts who made last night so much fun.   Hope to see you again soon!

“Identity in Fiber” Reception this Saturday! Windsor Art Center, Windsor CT

SallyBrown_FS_blog Wolfe_fishinthemoon

The Windsor Art Center (WAC) exhibition team has been hard at work hanging all the artwork for “Identity in Fiber”.  In the main gallery, 25 beautiful wall hangings of varying sizes and colors are on display, while the two smaller galleries showcase 30 framed postcard quilts by Fiber Revolution and a large quilted art book made by Sally Brown (image, top left).

(Other images: upper right “Fish in the Moon” by Martha Wolfe and lower right “Cosmic Mix” by Carol Ludington)

I’m excited to see all the work together at the Opening Reception this Saturday January 22nd from 5-7 PM.  I hope you’ll join me! 


Come see the wonderful fiber art and meet some of the artists, and enjoy other special events WAC has planned: 

SPECIAL DRAWING: Fiber Artist and teacher EdJohnetta Miller is coming to Windsor Art Center in February.  She will lead her popular one hour workshop making greeting cards with fabric, but space is limited to 12 students.

  • TO REGISTER for EdJohnetta’s workshop you must fill out a card at the “Identity in Fiber” Opening Reception on Saturday January 22, 2011 at Windsor Art Center. 
  • Twelve cards will be pulled from a hat during the Opening Reception. 
  • The actual workshop will take place on February 26th, 2011.

Food by Lily’s Soul Food Restaurant

Music by The Trey Wilson Trio

In case of a weather cancellation , the Opening Reception will be Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011 from 3PM – 5PM

17 January 2011

Feb. 1 – 28, 2011: New Work on Display at The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery (Cheshire, CT)



“Life… so far”

An Exhibition of Fiber Art

by Kate Themel

On Display February 1 – 28, 2011

at The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery


The show’s title refers to my journey so far – literally and creatively.  Compositions such as Safe Passage were inspired by the miles I’ve travelled and trips we’ve taken as a family.  But beyond that, I feel this collection of work illustrates an artistic style that is distinctly my own and has taken many years to develop.

“Life… So Far” will include all my newest art quilts such as self-portrait Kate at 40 and Lemme See! (featured on the show postcard) and selected work from 2009 and 2010.  You’ve seen them on the blog but they are much better in person!

Please come to the OPENING RECEPTION

Friday, February 11, 2011

7 – 9 PM at The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery 

130 Elm Street/ Watch Factory Shoppes

Cheshire, CT 06410

(203) 439-9161

Open Mon 9am-4pm; Tue-Thu 9am-8pm; Fri-Sat 9am-10pm; Sun 10am-4pm

14 January 2011

New Work for SAQA Trunk Show

Themel_LukasEyes_SM My little baby is 6 years old today!

… and the inspiration for this 9x9 quilt “Luka’s Eyes”, my submission to SAQA’s 2011/2012 Trunk Show. 

Both my sons were blessed with long eyelashes and big gorgeous eyes.  I’m not just saying that!  :-)

But Luka’s eyes have this striking color.  The right one is all blue and the left is a rare and beautiful combination of half brown/half blue.

I chose solid fabrics in shades of gray for the face, and used only colored thread for the eyes.

You can see a detail photo of the two-toned eye, below.


08 January 2011

Work in Progress: “Kosljun”

Themel_Kosljun_SMThis is the 3rd in the Croatia series: inspired by the Monastery at Kosljun, a tiny island in the Adriatic Sea, near Pag Island.  I'm really enjoying the precision required for this piece - using a ruler and drawing lines of perspective. It lets me use the mathematical part of my brain. 

Kosljun_SMWhen we visited the monastery there were potted plants and flowers everywhere (photo, right).  Right now I’ve blocked most of the big areas of color and gotten the general architecture in place.  But I prefer the simple brown & blue color pallet.  It does seem a bit stark & cold but for me the exaggerated contrast works with the piece – crisp lines, archways, marble. 

The finished piece will be slightly “softened” as I add some sketchy quilting lines and texture for the weathered stones. 

As I add more details in the next few days I’ll test out some greens & see whether it works or distracts from the overall composition.

Opening Reception Jan 22, 2011 - “Identity in Fiber” Windsor Art Center (Windsor, CT)

KThemel_WeighingOptions_finished_BLOGWindsor Art Center Presents:


An Exhibition of Fiber Art

January 22 – March 5, 2011

Opening Reception Jan. 22nd,  5-7 PM

at the Windsor Art Center (WAC) Gallery

40 Mechanic Street

Windsor, CT 06095

(860) 688-2528

Through art quilts and fiber sculpture, artists share the memorable experiences and traditions that have shaped their identities.  Meet some of the artists and enjoy light food, music and a special drawing at the Opening Reception on Saturday, January 22nd.

SPECIAL DRAWING: Fiber Artist and teacher EdJohnetta Miller is coming to Windsor Art Center in February.  She will lead her popular one hour workshop making greeting cards with fabric, but space is limited to 12 students. 

  • TO REGISTER for EdJohnetta’s workshop you must fill out a card at the “Identity in Fiber” Opening Reception on Saturday January 22, 2011 at Windsor Art Center.  Twelve cards will be pulled from a hat during the Opening Reception. 
  • The actual workshop will take place on February 26th, 2011 at Windsor Art Center.

Food by Lily’s Soul Food Restaurant

Music by The Trey Wilson Trio

In case of a cancellation due to weather, the Snow Date is Sunday January 23, 2011 from 3PM – 5PM.