24 December 2013

New Work: "Honey Bee"

Bzzzzzzz!  Honey Bee is done!  I call it done even though it doesn't have a binding or hanging sleeve sewn on yet.  Details, details! 

I'll get those last few tasks done before I deliver the quilt for photography next month.  You can see this and all the "Then and Now" quilts at the Windham Textile History Museum this spring.


Finished size will be 35"h x 48"w.  Bits of pollen were created by hand sewn glass beads.

I have to say, I really like this one.  But I don't have time to savor the moment too long.  After a couple days of holiday fun I'll be back in the studio working on a commission for Yale New Haven hospital. I'll share more details on that when I can.

Until then, Happy New Year everyone!



17 December 2013

Then and Now, and then NOW

Those of you who have been following may know, I've been working on a quilt for the Windham Textile History Museum's invitational show "Then and Now".  12 artists were asked to create a contemporary art quilt inspired by an antique quilt from the museum. 

If you just joined us, my task is to create an art quilt to hang next to this quilt by Ruth Snow Bowen (1895-1983).  Ruth made over 300 quilts in her lifetime, all in the same pattern, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden”.  This one was made in 1981 when Ruth was 86 years old.  It’s about the size of a King Size bed, made with hundreds of 1.5” hexagon pieces – all hand cut, hand pieced and hand quilted.


Here's a work-in-progress photo of my first "Now" quilt, a bunch of tulips in a glass pitcher.  The idea was that since I'm not a gardener in ANY way, shape or form, the only flowers I take care of are usually in a vase.


However, after MANY MANY iterations of this design, adding flowers, changing the colors, chopping the border…. I just couldn't "click" this idea with my creative brain.  So I made kind of a radical decision.  I put this unfinished piece aside and started over.  I went back to the original "Then" quilt.  I studied it again, as if I were just starting the project.  The hundreds of tiny hexagons… the yellow centers for each flower… the picture of a honeycomb started to form in my mind.

With about one month to go before the quilt is due for photography at Windham Textile Museum, I had a brainstorm to go in an entirely new direction. 

Introducing "Grandmother's Flower Garden, Up Close".  My new focus - bees and other pollinators, the undervalued heroes of every flower and vegetable garden.  With renewed motivation and excitement driving me (I love bees), the composition is coming together quickly.  Here's a photo of the work in progress:


Not only does "Honey Bee" fit my own personal aesthetic more than the tulip composition, I think it works better as a companion to Ruth's quilt. 

Now the trick will be to get it DONE on time!  Smile


22 November 2013

New Work: Coffee Break 3


The latest in my little coffee break pieces.  Mounted on painted stretched canvas, it measures 10" x 10".  It's currently available for sale through the Slater Memorial Museum gift shop, along with other small artwork and handmade items.

The small works will be on display and for sale for the duration of the SAQA CT: Local Color and Fiber Revolution: Diversity exhibitions, now until January 14, 2014.


Three of my larger quilts are included in SAQA CT: Local Color (including "Bundled Up" shown here).  "New Year's Eve" is also featured in Fiber Revolution: Diversity.  I'll be there for the Opening reception Sunday December 8, 2013 from 2 – 4 pm

Please join me on December 8 to meet some of the artists and maybe do a little Christmas shopping.  If not, you can stop by and see the show from now until January 14, 2014.

Slater Memorial Museum
Norwich Free Academy
108 Crescent Street
Norwich, CT 06360

Museum Hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday: 1:00–4:00 pm
Sunday: 1:00–4:00 pm


13 November 2013

New Work: "Tattooed Boy" is Done!

Still working on a title for this piece, but here it is. My little darling is all stitched.

(For more back-story on this piece, read my previous post

TattooBoy_finishedMy original plan for the background quilting was to write a bunch of personal messages with free motion stitching.

Like some kind of desperate last-ditch effort to tell him everything he needs to know before he becomes an adult.

But I decided that would just create more "noise" around him, and I already have the idea covered with the BLAH BLAH BLAHs.  Instead, I decided to just include one text message, right around his ear, like a whisper. 

I figured out there's only one message I want him to get from me, even if he remembers NOTHING else I've said in 17 years. And that is

Themel_TattooDetail"I will always love you".

27 October 2013

New Work: "Daughter"

Full disclosure, I am not a scholar of ancient Irish language so if there are any out there reading this, please allow me some artistic license.

Daughter9The hash lines you see along the right side of this composition are Ogham letters, which spell CATE INIGENA IOSEF MUCOI OBRIEN.

Roughly translated it means Kate, daughter of Joseph, of tribe O'Brien, the full title of this piece.  As I saved my-work-in-progress photos that name was too long, so I started referring to it as simply "Daughter".

Daughter is my first challenge quilt for Viewpoints 9, cycle 2. The challenge was to interpret the idea of passing time.  I chose the idea of ancestry and generational lines as a way to mark the passage of time.

The image on the left is my interpretation of an ancient Irish stone carved with Ogham letters. (This particular one was found in County Kerry but has since been moved to Adare, County Limerick). 

I used black sharpie markers to draw the image onto light-colored fabric. I densely stitched the dark shapes with black thread, to resemble the pits and carved areas of the stone. The lighter fabric was left unstitched, to create a sort of shallow relief.

You can read more about this and all the Time Challenge quilts on Viewpoints9's new blog:


22 September 2013

Finalizing details

Last update on "Tattooed Boy" work in progress.  The next photo I post will be the finished piece.

First, let me say that I really appreciate the number of parents who contacted me and shared their stories about kids leaving the nest.  I feel so NORMAL now!  ha ha


Progress report: You'll notice right away that the red/orange background is missing.  I didn't change my mind about the fabric, don't worry.  It's just on it's way to Carol Eaton's workshop. 

The beige background drains some of the "life" out of it, I think.  Can't wait to get the finished background back!

As you might have also noticed, I added some detail in the pants and belt, and I've changed/added some pieces on the face. I also changed some of the pieces on his arms and front.  This one has a more accurate sense of light coming from behind him to the left, and it brings out more of his muscle structure. Overall, the skin is pretty close to being done.  The rest of the shading and details will probably be added with stitching, after he's attached to the background. 



Side Note: I'm really loving these black and white fabrics!  I made a simple tote bag with some of the left over pieces - black and white on the outside, lined with orange fabric.  Who knows what I'll use that for, but it was fun to make.

17 September 2013

Work in Progress: Leaving a Mark

I've made some solid progress on a project that is near and dear to my heart, tentatively titled Tattooed Boy.  Here's where it stands so far, just finishing up with his "skin".  I still have more work to do on the pants and belt.  And maybe a bit more contrast in some of the shadows. Carol R Eaton and I have further plans for the background fabric as well.  But I'm really happy with the black and white tattoo/ink effect right now.


The Idea:

I've had the broad concept for this piece for almost a year, when I started thinking/ worrying/ panicking about my oldest son starting college next fall.  I'm sure I share this "milestone anxiety" with many other parents.  That weird sense of excitement and pride mixed with sadness and loss we feel as our kids become more independent.

My son is 17 years old.  I can remember the day he was born, vividly. I really can. Partly because the anesthesiologist was running late and I ended up doing an unplanned "natural" childbirth.  So I was more clear-headed than I really wanted to be. The elation I felt when Graeson was born was probably 80 per cent relief from pain plus 10 per cent gratitude just to be alive and 10 per cent stereotypically sweet, mother-child-bonding, inspiring musical score, Hollywood cuteness. 

I remember the crushing reality that this little baby was completely dependent on me for his life, and he only vaguely knew who I was.  He might not have even been aware that we were suddenly two separate people.  But from those very first days, I started preparing him to eventually NOT need me. My job was to teach him to survive on his own.  Even though it went against my primal instinct to keep him protected and connected to me forever.  From cutting the cord to weaning to potty training to college fairs…. those milestones felt like a series of small cuts to my heart.  The pain of "losing" him was only eased by my unconditional love for him and the joy at seeing him succeed and watching him become such a wonderful person.

He'll be out on his own soon. Maybe once he goes to college he will find a new home and never come back here. Does this mean I am done raising him? Have I given him the right tools to go and build a life of his own?  Or am I overestimating my impact on him, as a person?  I'm sure it can never be as profound as the effect he's had on me.  I wonder how much of what I said actually "stuck".


In Tattooed Boy, the black and white shapes and lines are metaphor for the boy's mind and spirit.  Things that left a mark – emotional, psychological or even physical scars – and the personal meaning he attached to those things, ultimately shaped him as a person.

But only he knows exactly what these marks mean.  I can remember more years of his life than he can.  But I can't look inside him to see how or why certain words or experiences affected him very deeply while other things rolled right off.  This of course triggers my sense of loss and separation, even as I celebrate (truly) his independence.

I don't know how other moms deal with this anxiety.  For me, I escape into my studio.  Focusing on art helps me channel that nervous energy; it gives me a way to deflect the constant questions plaguing my brain:
What if he forgot all the times I was right?  or loving and kind? or unusually wise?  What if all the hard-won experience and advice I shared with him was drowned out by the noise of everyday life?  Or worse, what if he remembers the words I wish I never said?  Words yelled in anger or impatience, or things I said that turned out to be all wrong?  Or the times, whether accidentally or as an act of tough love, I let him get hurt?

These questions are the demons that keep me up at night.  It takes some real effort to turn them off.  Sometimes I have to actually tell myself to just SHUT UP and let it be.  My son is a terrific person.  He is intelligent, strong, talented, not to mention clean and polite. Let that be enough to say "Job well done, Mom".   

For all the learning curves we both had to navigate, we ended up in a good place.  Now I have to trust him to make good decisions and good mistakes (the kind that build character but don't cause any serious permanent damage).

I will practice letting go, just like when he took his first steps or the day he started Kindergarten. And I will RESIST the urge to write his name and "I love you from Mom" in permanent marker on all his clothes, towels and sheets to take to school.

I'll resist.  Not promising.

26 August 2013

New Work: Red Fox, Blue Fox


For the 9th Viewpoints9 challenge, I remembered how much fun it was (still is) to open a new box of crayons, knowing I could use those 64 colors to bring drawings to life, going inside or outside the lines.  I love the smell of Crayola crayons and the names they give the colors, like Melon, Chestnut and Periwinkle.  I don't know what Sienna is, but apparently it can either be Raw or Burnt.  No one knows how to cook sienna properly, it seems.

The real Northern Red Fox's color varies from a light tangerine orange to a dull reddish brown. How about a Cornflower Blue one?  Sure, why not?  And why stick with the regular green grass when we could go with Magenta and Fire Engine Red instead?  No problem, thanks to Carol R Eaton's fantastic iced dyed fabric.


This was a terrific way to wrap up the first cycle of Viewpoints9. Not only did I get to play with fun colors, but I came back to one of my favorite genres – portraits.

The structure of the fox's face is different than my usual human subject, but he definitely has a personality. I think I see a slight grin – or a smirk? – under those whiskers.

Thank you, to the 9 artists who joined this group and shared your thoughts and your artwork! I've learned so much from you, and look forward to continuing the journey in "cycle 2". 

See all the latest challenge pieces on Viewpoints9 blog:

14 August 2013

"Fragmentations" Opens Sunday Aug 18 at the 919 Gallery

This morning I helped install the Fiber Revolution: Fragmentations exhibition at the 919 Gallery in South Windsor. The artwork looks beautiful!  Please stop by if you can.

I'll be there this Sunday for the Opening Reception at 12:15 in the Community Room. 

The exhibition will be on display Aug 18 - Sept 22, 2013

Gallery 919
Unity of Greater Hartford

919 Ellington Road (Route 30)
South Windsor, CT 06074
(860) 289-8963


My piece in the show "Weighing the Options" (left), along with Jutta Halpin's "Fourth Dimension"


To the right of the door: Wen Redmond's "Bird in Arms", "Archeology 37" by Carolyn Vehslage, "Fragments" by Judith Plotner and "Urban Landscape" by Katharina Litchman


The rest of the installation team trio: Barbara McKie and Diane Wright. Artwork from left: "Cosmic Fragments" by Rachel Cochran, "Agate 1" by Sarah Schepps, “Kgale Hill Shadows” by Cindy Friedman, "Strata" by Debbie Bein and "Archeology Fragments #5" by Kevan Lunney


"Fragmented Nature" by Barbara McKie, "Breaking Out: Fractured Nature" by Deborah Schwartzman and "Refracted Lily" by Gloria Hansen

For more information about Fiber Revolution, check out their website:


27 July 2013

Update: Pottery

As promised, here's a photo of my finished & fired pottery.  I was so excited to see it!  The green (I hoped) would match my kitchen perfectly and I spent an hour adding all those decorative dots.  I couldn't wait to show it off while serving up some snacks to friends and family.


When we showed up to pick up our pottery, I told her the pieces we had done.  "Oh yes" she said, "I remember that beautiful dog bowl".

(cue record scratching noise) 

DOG bowl???


12 July 2013

Side Track

Summer is usually a less-than-productive time for me.  With school out and the kids home all day, I find it hard to concentrate on studio time.

Instead, I use summer vacation as a time to get back in touch with my inner child.  Making wizard robes, light sabers, magic wands… who knows. Today's creative activity – paint your own pottery.

readyGlazeFireI took my niece and younger son to Ready, Glaze, Fire! just down the road from our home in Cheshire, CT.  One of the fun things about painting pottery (like dyeing fabric) is that you don't know what the finished product will look like until it's "cooked". 

The glaze colors are always kind of muted as you paint it on. Depending on how many coats are added, you can get a variety of color depth.

We have to wait a week to see the true colors of our ceramic creations.  Stay tuned!

02 July 2013

Happy Independence Day! "America the Beautiful" Opens July 5 at the Texas Quilt Museum

Celebrating the Fourth of July in Fabric…
Texas Quilt Museum debuts “America The Beautiful”
uly 5 - September 29, 2013

Curated by Dr. Sandra Sider, the exhibit will feature a total of 50 quilts by 15 artists.  Quilts of different styles and themes celebrate the red, white and blue of our Nation's flag as well as America's natural beauty, as expressed in landscapes, seascapes, and floral displays.

…Including 3 from yours truly! I'm proud to have 3 of my pieces in this show: Magnolias III, Sunflower (shown below) and Copper Lily

Photo Dec 10, 9 28 54 PM

Please visit the museum if you can!

The Texas Quilt Museum
140 W. Colorado St
La Grange, TX 78945

Teresa Barkley - Maplewood, NJ
Melinda Bula - El Dorado Hills, CA
Barbara Confer - Petaluma, CA
Grace Errea - Laguna Niguel, CA
Pat Gould - Albuquerque, NM
Patty Hawkins - Estes Park, CO
Vita Marie Lovett - Maryville, TN
Katie Pasquini Masopust - Santa Fe, NM
Kathleen McCabe - Coronado, CA
Velda Newman - Nevada City, CA
Melody Randol - Loveland, CO
Kate Themel - Cheshire, CT
Eileen Williams - Cedar Point, NC
Marianne Williamson - Miami, FL
Martha Wolfe - Davis, CA

26 June 2013

New VP9 Challenge: Preconceptions

The Challenge: "Have you ever had a situation about which you formed an opinion that was later disproved? … What was it like? How did it feel? I invite you to consider one of your past preconceptions and depict your experience in an art quilt."

This challenge stumped me.  Even though I had a couple scenarios and memories to draw from, I could not imagine a way to put them into a visual design.  So instead, I decided to use the process of making this quilt to challenge my own perceptions.

I'm a planner.  Especially in the studio.  I never cut fabric or start sewing until I have a vision of what the completed piece will look like. (or at least what I hope it will look like).

This month's challenge, for me: create a quilt in such a way that I'd have NO IDEA what it would look like when finished. The result would a surprise to me, and maybe the viewer too.

So how did I end up with this?  Read more about my thought process and see more artists' responses to the eighth Viewpoints 9 creative challenge:

2013June 018

09 June 2013

Finished: New Work, “Dogwood II”

2013-06-07 01.43.50

Here she is.  I’m happy to report Dogwood II (finished size 20”H x 38”W) is headed across the country to its new owner.  This one, along with Magnolias III (summer is the time for sequels), satisfy my self imposed May 30th’s deadline.  I’m counting them as one major work, since they are at least 36” x 36” put together.

Dogwood was inspired by one of the trees in my front yard, which happens to be in bloom these past few weeks.  The quilt is made with hand dyed and batik fabric, as well as a few layers of plain white for the flowers.  Details were added with free motion stitching.  I used a variegated brown-gray-black thread for the branches.

2013-06-07 01.39.15

So what’s next on the design board?  I should go back to the “Then and Now” challenge and finish those tulips.  But all these flowers lately, I’m kinda longing for another city scene!

Just in time, City Quilter just announced a design challenge based on Grand Central Terminal.  Deadline is August 21, 2013.  Hmmm.  That would coincide nicely with my next major deadline.  But then again, I still have this tattoo theme running in the back of my mind.

So many ideas, so little time…!

04 June 2013

Work in Progress: "Dogwood II" (unquilted)


So here we have "Dogwood II" assembled with fabric, unquilted.  This is not the best photo; just a quick pic with my phone.  It's a bit darker than the real quilt, but it's enough for my purposes right now.  I'm taking an "eyeball" break, before moving onto the detail stitching. 

Often at this stage, I put the piece up on the design board and take a photo of so I can see the image on a small screen.  (A trick for artists who don't have a large studio or workspace.  Seeing it smaller kinda fools your eye into thinking you're seeing the piece from a distance). This helps me decide if the overall composition is working and running on all cylinders (color, visual balance, contrast, movement etc).  If anything needs to be changed, it's better to see it now rather than after everything is sewn down.

When I'm done with all the quilting, I'll square up the edges and probably crop it a bit more.  I'll share a better quality photo once Dogwood II is complete and approved by it's new owner.

Thanks for visiting! :-)

26 May 2013

“Morgan’s Flight”: Quilt National ‘13

Now that Quilt National ‘13 is officially open, I can finally share a photo of Morgan’s Flight (which was completed in 2012). Thanks again to Morgan Kaolian for inspiring me with his aerial photos of Bridgeport.


So now we’re back from Athens, Ohio. The whole weekend went by in a flash. What a fantastic experience.  The show this year is incredible!  It was such a thrill to see all the artwork in person, and meet many of the artists during the opening weekend.


Check out the Dairy Barn’s Facebook page to see photos of Quilt National’s opening night.



22 May 2013

Finished! “Magnolias III”

MagnoliasIII (4)After sitting on the bench with an injury this past week (cut my thumb pretty badly with a rotary cutter), I finally got back into the studio yesterday to finish Magnolias III.

The rotary cutter incident happened as I was trimming the sides of the finished piece, getting it ready for a binding.  Stupid mistake, a moment of distraction, and the next thing you know I’m heading for the walk-in medical center.

The good news: I’m fine and this will heal completely.  The bad news: It will take a long time before my thumb doesn’t look completely gross.  Definitely not in time for Quilt National this weekend. :-/

Onto even BETTER news:  Here’s a photo of the finished Magnolias III, which will be sent to the Texas Quilt Museum next week for the “America the Beautiful” exhibition.  The show will be on display from July to September 2013.

Next project: “Dogwood”
Stay tuned for updates and photos!

MagnoliasIII (3)

13 May 2013

Work in Progress: Magnolias III

MagnoliasIII_wipWhen I got back from the SAQA Conference in Santa Fe, I was delighted to see our Magnolia tree in full bloom.  I had to take a few photos of it, since I knew that in a matter of days, the beautiful white and pink flowers would turn brown and litter the front lawn.

This is my 3rd homage to the Magnolia, a short-lived celebration of spring.  When it’s finished, Magnolias III will travel to the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, TX.  It will be exhibited along with Copper Lily and Sunflower in the “America the Beautiful” exhibition.

The flowers were created with cut pieces of hand dyed and plain white fabric, shading was added using silk paint, and now I’ve started adding more detail with free motion stitching (detail photo below). 

Next up on the design board: a commissioned piece featuring Dogwood flowers which will be about 38”W x 20”H.  Along with Magnolias III (17”W x 36”H), these two compositions will count as “Major work #3”, due May 30.

I will post photos of the finished pieces in the next few weeks.

26 April 2013

New Work: “Celtic Geometry”


This piece is a celebration of my Irish heritage, for the Viewpoints9 challenge “Image from Tradition”

Although my original inspiration was the “Book of Kells”, I quickly found that I could never duplicate the Celtic monks’ precision and geometric accuracy… and I didn’t have 8 years to work on this challenge.  It felt wrong to make a sloppy, amateur version of one of the real pages in “Kells”.  So I decided to go with a simpler design that included elements of Celtic illustrations from the Middle Ages: compositional balance and near symmetry, lack of negative/blank space, bold color, interwoven shapes and lines, elongated or stylized animals, flat perspective.

You can read more about this piece and see all the finished “Tradition Challenge” quilts on the Viewpoints9 blog.


25 March 2013

Progress: “Then / Now”

Here’s a look at my work in progress for the “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” piece. Part of the WTHM challenge is to use our own style and perspective to interpret an older quilt. 

I’m really not a gardener… at all.  The area around my house is decorated by what I call “Survival of the Fittest” plants. Whatever can survive on its own with no help from me.  I’ve managed to keep one Peace Lily (houseplant) alive for over 12 years, which is my greatest gardening-type accomplishment. Other than that, the only plants in my life come from a grocery store or via FTD.  My experience with tending flowers is to put them in a vase full of water. 

Tulips_WIPSo I decided that was where I should focus my ‘interpretation’. Plus, you know how I love a shiny object. I couldn’t resist the challenge to create (in fabric) the illusion of water with its surface distortion, the reflections and transparency of glass – how fun!

Ruth’s Flower Garden quilt is mostly blue and pink, with little yellow centers in all the hexagon “flowers”.  Maybe because we’re so close to Easter and springtime, I thought of tulips. I’ve always liked their clean lines and wide variety of colors.  I decided to go with a few pink and a few yellow. 

The bright green is all me.  It may not totally coordinate with my “Then” quilt, but that color makes me happy. Green makes me think of living gardens, plants, fresh vegetables, the first buds of spring.  It was a little sad to cover so much of Carol’s fabric, but I felt like the bouquet needed to fill the space.  And I think the green balances nicely against the mostly pink and burgundy background.

I have the bare bones of the fabric “structure” done. You can start to see the outline of the pitcher and the stems in the water.  It still needs a bit more definition.  But soon I’ll be moving on to the final stage – free motion quilting.  The next photo you see will probably be the finished piece.  Stay tuned!


12 March 2013

Work in Progress: “Then and Now”

For the past few weeks I’ve been working on curator duties for SAQA-CT “Local Color” like a full time job. This exhibition has been a goal for Diane Wright (co-curator and co-SAQA Rep) and me for almost 3 years. I’m happy to put in the hours and very excited to see the light at the end of the tunnel – the show opens May 4, 2013.

Still, planning, organizing, logistics… all this stuff is behind the scenes and invisible.  It’s all based on the trust that things will come together and work out in the future.  Being away from the studio so much, I miss that sense of getting something done that I can SEE. Right now.

So this weekend I did the whole “Do Not Disturb” and “Hold My Calls” and isolated myself on my little fabric island.  I let go of all other issues, doubts and questions, postcards, fees, schedules, show books, emails...  I just started stitching.

Ahhhh… the gentle chugging sound of my sewing machine.  I missed you, buddy.

The project I worked on was my interpretation of this quilt by Ruth Snow Bowen (1895-1983).  Ruth made over 300 quilts in her lifetime, all in the same pattern, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden”.  This one was made in 1981 when Ruth was 86 years old.  It’s about the size of a King Size bed, made with hundreds of 1.5” hexagon pieces – all hand cut, hand pieced and hand quilted.


My task is to create a companion piece to hang next to Bowen’s quilt at the Windham Textile & History Museum in Willimantic.  The show is called “Then and Now”, scheduled for January 2014.  Twelve fiber artists will interpret 12 antique quilts from the museum, using their own personal style and techniques.

Here’s where I started:

20130312_48A gorgeous hand dyed yard of fabric made by Carol R Eaton.  I bought it because it reminded me of a flower garden, and it had a similar color palette to Ruth’s quilt. 

But the more I looked at the fabric, the less I wanted to cut it up!

So I decided to use the whole thing, uncut. I referenced Ruth’s more traditional quilt by adding a white border, using a print with a tiny white-on-white floral pattern.

Next I began to stich in the background quilting. and stitch. and stitch. 

The whole thing is about 50” x 60” right now, all quilted and ready to be used as a background for the next stage. I filled in the white border with basic meandering quilt lines.  For the middle part using different pastel colored thread, I kind of went along with the petal-y, flower-y, organic shapes created in this fabulous ice-dyed fabric.


It’s easier to see the stitching from the back:


By the end of the second day, I was happy to be able to step back and take a look at my work.  Despite my red eyes and sore shoulders, I felt rejuvenated and relaxed.

Yea, progress! 


03 March 2013

Celebrating Connecticut with “Local Color”

I’m very excited to announce that 3 of my art quilts have been accepted into SAQA Connecticut’s juried exhibition “Local Color”.

Themel_SciCtrSeen here, Science Center was created with the Local Color show specifically in mind. 

My other 2 accepted pieces are Bundled Up and Blood Iris.

The Local Color show will premiere at Western CT State University (Danbury, CT) on May 4, 2013.  It will travel to several other venues including the Legislative Building in Hartford, and the Guilford Art Center.  More venues will be announced soon.

See SAQA-CT’s blog for more information and a complete list of exhibiting artists.


28 February 2013

Reception Tomorrow: “Artistry of CT Craft” at Brookfield Craft Center (Brookfield, CT)

The Brookfield Craft Center presents:
“The Artistry of Connecticut Craft”
March 1 – April 14, 2013

Opening Reception Friday, March 1st from 5 to 8pm


I’ll have 5 pieces of fiber art in this multi-media show and sale, including “New Year’s Eve” (detail shown here).

Participating artists include Robert Dancik (jewelry), Andy Pyle and Leslie French (glass), Ann Mallory (ceramics), Missy Stevens (fiber art), Patty Storms, William Trowbridge (forged iron), Brian Walters (sculpture) and Joy Wulke (sculpture).

Visit the Brookfield Craft Center’s gift shop and gallery for beautiful handmade gifts and fine crafts.

Gallery/Gift Shop Hours:
Monday – Saturday 11am – 5pm
Sunday 12pm – 4pm
and by appointment

Brookfield Craft Center
285 Whisconier Rd
Brookfield, CT 06804

For more information call (203) 775-4526 or email

26 February 2013

New Work: “Café in Istra”

Challenge 6 for Viewpoints9 was written by Australian artist Sue Dennis.

“…I invite you to take a journey!
It can be actual or via the armchair, but you must travel to a country other than your own. Once there look around, observe, take in the sights, sounds and smells. Experience the humidity or cold, generosity or indifference of the people.
Have fun exploring and discovering what, to you, is the extraordinary in the ordinary.”

My inspiration: a small outdoor café in Groznjan, Istra, Croatia. 

In this tiny town of 785 people, accessible only on foot, you can find half a dozen tables set just like this.  Even on a picnic table over wooden benches, you’ll find water and wine glasses, plates, silverware, and of course olive oil and balsamic vinegar


You can read more about this piece, and see all the artists’ interpretations of the “Ordinary/Extraordinary” challenge, at Viewpoints9 blog:


03 February 2013

Opening Feb 7, 2013 - Two Exhibitions at W.Hartford Art League

In the Clubhouse Gallery: Out of the Loop
As the juror for "Out of the Loop", I was impressed by the imagination and variety of artwork submitted for Out of the Loop.  Some of the pieces really surprised me with their approach to materials and broadened my own view of fiber art.  It has been inspiring for me, as an artist.  I hope visitors enjoy the show.

Out of the Loop features fiber art created with a broad variety of materials and techniques.  Crochet, weaving, felted garments, dolls and art quilts co-exist in this beautiful and colorful show.

Down the hill at the Saltbox Gallery: Fiber Art by Kate Themel
I'll be exhibiting 18 pieces from my own collection in a separate exhibit.  This portrait "Under Stress" and my newest work "Science Center" will be on public display for the first time.
Themel_UnderStressSM (image: Detail, “Under Stress” by K.Themel)

Both exhibitions will run from February 7 – March 3, 2013.
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 7, 2013 from 6 – 8 PM
West Hartford Art League
37 Buena Vista Road
West Hartford, CT
(860) 231-8019

Gallery Hours:
Thursday - Sunday: 1 - 4 PM or by appointment

27 January 2013

New Work: Hartford Provides Inspiration for CT Local Color

Done and submitted!  I went a little beyond my self-imposed deadline of January 20, but my latest major piece is complete.  “Science Center” as I have so creatively named it, is one of 3 entries I’ve submitted to SAQA-CT’s Regional Exhibition “Local Color”.

Themel_CTSciCtrSM(Science Center, 33h x 39w)

If you live in Connecticut you’ll probably recognize the unique architecture of the CT Science Center in Hartford, which was the inspiration for this piece. 

Themel_CTSciCtrDetailI used colorful, geometric batik fabrics to represent science, medicine and technology, and to convey the fun our family has had playing (and learning) at the Science Center.

I used acrylic tulle to approximate glass for the center part of the building (see detail, left).

This is a bit of a departure for me.  There are no solid color fabrics in this piece, other than the black binding.  I’m a LITTLE obsessed with patterns and batiks as of late.   And with the exception of window pane lines, I didn’t use the quilt stitches to add realistic details like reflections or texture.  Most of the stitches are done in coordinating thread so it blends into the fabric.  I wanted the patterns of the batik to show through and shine on their own.

Attention SAQA Members in Connecticut: Don’t forget to enter your work into Local Color.  Entry/Registration is open until February 15, 2013


14 January 2013


For the past year and a half, my co-Rep for SAQA Connecticut Diane Wright and I have had the dream of creating a State-wide exhibition of fiber art.

LogoTomorrow, we are one step closer as registration for “Local Color” officially opens!  I’m very excited and nervous, hoping people will get multiple entries in right away. 

I, of course, am still working on one of my entries.  Did you think I would NOT wait until the very last minute?  Don’t you know me at all? 

But in my defense I will be entering 3 pieces.  I have 2 done and almost ready with the 3rd.

Fortunately I have until February 15, 2013 to enter, using SAQA’s on line system.  I’m sincerely hoping most of our members in Connecticut will be better than I am and get their entries in before that date!

Wish us luck!  And if you live in CT please consider entering “Local Color”.  More details can be found on our Facebook page: