31 July 2011

New Portrait: “Under Stress”

Themel_trialsSMSo this week I have been watching the news… feeling a mixture of anger, fear, disgust and helplessness.  I needed to break away from the TV and do something constructive!

When I entered my studio, this portrait was right in front of me.  It has been on my design wall for a few months, pieced together but not quilted. 

So I took a second look at it.  It was mostly red and black. Stark. Ominous.  Looking like a person who is preparing for the worst.

It seemed like a good place to work out my anxieties. 

I used blue threads to represent patience, listening, meditation and thought, as a way to “cool down” the hot colors in the fabrics which represent conflict, noise, anger and fear.

I like the way the colors seem to vibrate next to each other.  It looks uncomfortable and jumpy.  Like a person who is quietly freaking out.


Finishing this portrait gave me a sense of accomplishment and control.  In the end, I felt a lot better.

Of course the same problems remain in the world, and I still have anxieties about the future.  But at least I didn’t spend all day stewing about it.  If nothing else, I occupied my brain for several hours with lines and colors instead of worry and frustration.  Good therapy!

29 July 2011

Show & Tell Time: Update on “Iris”

Iris_finishedpiecing (6)

So here we are at the end of Phase 1.  All the fabric pieces are in place, the background is quilted with big meandering stitches to give it some structure and strength as we move to Phase 2, quilting.

I was able to get quite a bit of detail with the pieces of fabric, partly because the composition is so large overall and I didn’t have to cut very tiny pieces.  The finished work will be about the same size as “Dandelion”, roughly 3ft x 4ft.

Also, the hand dyed fabrics provide a lot of energy and variation within each color.  The fabrics are doing a lot of the work for me.  I love working with tie dyes and batiks, its like painting with watercolors.

Thinking of titles for the finished piece… 

If you know my work you’ll know I don’t get all that fancy with the titles.  I’m pretty literal most of the time. It makes it easier when I’m talking about a specific piece because people remember what it looks like, not the stylish name I made up.  For example, I thought of naming this “The Day Before the Big Storm” because that’s when I took the original photo.  But in the end I know everyone would end up calling this the Purple Flower quilt, or Japanese Iris.  So maybe I’ll just go with that.   It’s easier to put on a title card anyway.  :-)

I know this flower is in the Japanese iris family but to be truly accurate, I had to look it up.  Yes I have botany books in my library.  Why?  I never successfully cultivated a flower in my life (unless you count the Peace Lily that a friend gave me 10 years ago that I managed not to let die).  But I love looking at flowers and learning their names – they have such cool names!  I’m pretty sure the species I have in my yard is actually called “Iris sanguinea” or “Blood Iris”.   Gardeners out there – any thoughts?

Stay tuned for updates on Phase 2 – detail stitching!

17 July 2011

Trip to DC for Sacred Threads

Worth the trip!  The Sacred Threads exhibition this year was incredible.  To really appreciate the 170 quilts on display, you had to set aside at least a few hours.  Unlike a typical art exhibition, the artist’s statement was included along with each piece.  Learning the story behind each quilt was enlightening, powerful and at times heartbreaking.

I got to meet the lovely Lisa Ellis, who took over management of the show with Christine Adams after founders Vikki Pignatelli and Wendy Bynner stepped down.  I also talked to Luana Rubin, owner of (where I buy almost ALL my fabric and thread).  She shared a few of her own quilts and talked about the design & creation of her fabrics.

I was thrilled to participate in this unique show, and plan to enter again in 2013. 

Here are a few photos from my visit:

DSCN3314My sons Graeson and Luka admire their portraits.

DSCN3322Here is my sister Megan next to her portrait, looking much happier in real life.

DSCN3328Luka’s favorite quilt in the show was Arlene Wagner’s piece called “Make Me Smile”.  Guess it worked!  I asked Luka what he liked about it and he said it made him think of playing.

DSCN3340I love this one: “Primary Chairs” by Jeanette Thompson.  To see it in person, you notice that one leg of the chair is broken, and different objects are placed on it to balance it out.  For some reason it just spoke to me.

DSCN3332The “Walking in Love” special exhibit was amazing.  I admired the beautiful, sheer drapery and individual panels made by various artists.  My brother-in-law and husband noticed the awesome hanging system, specially made for this exhibit.  I never would have seen the spiral-shaped copper pipes if they hadn’t pointed them out!


You can see more examples of Sacred Threads quilts on their website: