Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meet the Artists!

Friday, February 27, is Troy Night Out, a chance to visit some wonderful galleries, boutiques, pubs, and restaurants in historic downtown Troy.  And if you stop by the Fulton Street Gallery between 5 PM and 9 PM, you'll get to meet the artists who are exhibiting their works during "Fibers: Strings and Vines," a show which runs until March 25.  This classy and contemporary collection includes pieces by Linda Bacon, Francelise Dawkins, Maria Hull, Dawna Johnson, Renata Memole, Joanna Monroe, Kris Gregson Moss, Pat Spillane, and myself.   I hope you'll come in for the terrific fiber art, the delicious refreshments, and the lively conversation among fellow artists and collectors.  It promises to be a night of fun -- please join us!

Pictured below are two quilts available for sale at the gallery's gift shop.  They resulted from a challenge I gave myself a few years ago to create one small quilt every week; my goal for each piece was to try a new technique or experiment with a different design process.  The collection is titled The Notebook Series, both for the size of each quilt (8" by 10") and the idea that each tells a story of my inspiration for that week.

Notebook Series: #4 (above) resulted from an exercise in arranging elements in a symmetrical, monolith-shaped design, using techniques taught by quilt artist David Walker

Robbi Joy Eklow's technique of shadowed layers served as the starting point for Notebook Series: #7 (above).  Where two elements overlapped each other, the shape created was constructed from a third color (ideally, the shade which results by blending the first two colors on the color wheel).  I didn't always succeed at reaching the ideal, but I had a lot of fun trying.  lements.  The resulting quilts comprise the Notebook Series, named both for their sizes and the idea that each tells a story of my inspiration for that week.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Does Anyone Remember . . .

 . . . a song by the Statler Brothers from the '60s with the following lyrics?

"Counting flowers on the wall,
That don't bother me at all.
Playing Solitaire till dawn
With a deck of fifty-one."

That song has become an ear-worm for me every time I work on a piece from the series I call "Wallflowers" -- I find myself humming it against my will as I'm cutting and stitching.  The only way to get rid of it is to turn on the radio and tune into the classical station -- and even then, those catchy lyrics do not go away easily.

However, I applied a new technique to the latest piece in the series while those lyrics whirled around in my head, and I liked the results.  Each strip of the flower was traced onto freezer paper; the template was ironed to the fabric; and a quarter-inch seam allowance was added before it was cut out.  I folded down the top edge of each strip and layered all of them in order onto the master pattern (above).  I used polyester monofilament to stitch each strip to the one above it; then the side edges were folded over and the entire flower was stitched to the background.
I left the freezer paper in the piece for three reasons: (1) the quilt will never be washed; (2) I cut away the background behind the flower to eliminate the bulk; and (3) I couldn't pull the paper out without tearing the stitches (reason #3 was the most compelling).  The result is titled "Wallflowers: #3" and I hope to display it at a future gallery show.  It's available for sale, too; just contact me at and I'll give you the details.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Show Time!

A new show begins today at the Fulton Street Gallery, 408 Fulton Street, Troy, entitled "Fiber: Strings and Vines." Owner Colleen Skiff has assembled two- and three-dimensional fiber pieces from nine different artists in the region, and the diversity in style and color is wonderful to behold.  We were like children on Christmas morning as each artist unwrapped one of her works to hang on the wall or display on a pedestal at the installation on Sunday, and we took as much time as we could in between the hammering to examine each others' pieces up close.  Trying to describe the form and beauty of many of these works would not do them justice -- you simply must see them to appreciate them.  The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 12 PM to 4 PM, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6 PM to 8 PM, and you can meet the artists at a reception to be held from 5 PM until 9 PM on Friday, February 27, during the monthly Troy Night Out.

(Pictured above: "Shades of Gray," available for purchase at the show) 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Second Time Around

I made the top to this piece several years ago, when I took my first class with Caryl Bryer Fallert, and I was really happy with the way it turned out.  Because I had done very little free motion quilting at that point, I procrastinated about finishing it -- I was certain that I would ruin it.  I finally realized that, no matter how many practice sandwiches I had completed, I had to bite the bullet and quilt a "real" piece.  Thinking I was being very smart, I decided to use monofilament thread in the needle and black cotton thread in the bobbin, to match the solid black backing;  this way (I told myself), my mistakes wouldn't be so obvious.

I was never happy with the finished result, so when Colleen Skiff of the Fulton Street Gallery requested this piece for her upcoming show, "Fiber: Strings and Vines," I decided it was a sign from the Quilt Gods: I had to re-quilt it.  My sweetheart-of-a-husband was drafted into the process of ripping out the stitches (remember: they were made with INVISIBLE thread on the front and BLACK thread on the BLACK backing), and together we removed them all (not too much grumbling occurred -- I consider myself a lucky woman).  I used King Tut 40-weight variegated cotton with a coordinated 50-weight cotton in the bobbin, and I was so pleased with the way it turned out . . .

 . . . that I went a little crazy on the label. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What Inspires Us To Create?

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong."

I recently purchased "The Relatively Pain-Free Artist's Statement" by Alyson Stanfield and traveled through the process of reworking my artist statement.  As I followed the steps outlined in the workbook, I found myself searching through my memories of creating art and really analyzing the reasons I have been drawn to do it.  One thing I learned about my process is that the medium itself serves as inspiration to begin an art quilt.  I discovered that I love the anticipation of pulling fabrics off the shelf and tossing them onto the table to see if they will play well together.  The tactile nature of this type of art perpetuates the creation of it: It is so exhilarating to touch the fabrics, to cut them into shapes, to watch the shapes form a composition under my direction. Sometimes the result is far less than the masterpiece I'd hoped for, but I am still moved forward to try again.

What inspires you to create your art?

(Pictured above: "Rhythm of the Night I," private collection)

Monday, February 9, 2009

And the Winner Is:

Congratulations to Carrie Martin, the winner in my recent blog giveaway!  Carrie, if you'll send your address to, I'll send you Ornamentals: #5.  I hope you enjoy it!  And many thanks to all of you who participated in the celebration with me -- I'm grateful that you read my blog and I truly appreciate all the very supportive comments.  I plan to have another giveaway in the not-too-distant future, so please stay tuned!

There are some wonderful art shows opening in the months to come.  The Fulton Street Gallery is sponsoring "Fiber: Strings and Vines," an exhibit of two- and three-dimensional works by nine area fiber artists.  The exhibition dates are February 18 through March 25, and if you visit the gallery's web site (, you can get a preview of some of the pieces that will be on display.  Stop in on Wednesday, February 25, to meet the artists between 5 and 9 PM, and view beautiful and diverse creations that are sure to delight the soul.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

First Friday: Two Reasons to Mark the Date

First: Tomorrow, Friday February 6, is the last day to enter your name to be eligible to win the fiber art piece shown at right, Ornamentals: #5.  For all the details, please see the post from January 25, below.

Second: Tomorrow is also a First Friday celebration in downtown Albany.  If you've never been to this event, pull on your boots and come out for an evening of fun.  One of the venues will be the Broadway Art Center, featuring a fantastic and diverse exhibit by members of the Colonie Art League. The center will be open from 5 PM until 9 PM to give those of you who are busy during the day an opportunity to view and purchase some wonderful artwork.  For a complete description of all the happenings, check out  Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's In A Name?

There's an interesting discussion going on in the world of "art quilts" -- or is it "studio quilts"? -- or is there yet another, more descriptive name for this medium??  In the February 2009 issue of AmericanStyle magazine, writer Pat Worrell asks, "Just what exactly should we call these quilts? . . . The jury is still out."  She goes on to say that, for the purposes of the article, it was decided to use the phrase "'studio quilts,' a term adopted by the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, upon the recommendation of well-known quilt artist Michael James."  Nancy Crow states, "You wouldn't say 'art painting,' so I don't use the term 'art quilt.'  I am a contemporary quiltmaker."

I sometimes find myself searching for the right phrase when someone asks me what I "do."  Mention the word "quilt," and people may tune out or, more often, respond with a story of the wonderful bed quilts their grandmothers used to make; it takes a bit of explaining to describe to them how my work is different.  So . . . what do you think we should call ourselves and the art we create?

[Fellow quilt artist Pat Spillane contributed to this post  (thanks, Pat!) -- visit her at]


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