Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jackie's Art Quilt

When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt.  
--Henry J. Kaiser

I am very fortunate that I am surrounded by many talented art quilters.  As I mentioned earlier this month, I am part of a group mixed media art exhibit at a local gallery.  One of the other exhibitors, Jackie,  is a retired art teacher and over-all extremely talented woman.  I love using her hand-dyed fabrics in my work.

Jackie has an outstanding art quilt in the show (a piece of art that definitely speaks for itself!) that she made from using the gelatin/fabric paint printing method. Below is her final piece and a close-up (the piece is approximately 60" tall by 36" wide).

So, so beautiful! The color is amazing! Makes you feel like you are at the bottom of the ocean with all of the beautiful sea life.  I am not sure if my pictures show it clear enough,  but the quilt is made of of smaller individual quilts that were assembled into the large quilt. 

Jackie has spoken about the fun she had creating the colorful pieces with the gelatin process.  Conversely, she talks about how time consuming and frustrating  it was to sew a satin stitch around the edges.  I have had the same problem with satin stitch edges.  I was fortunate to find an inexpensive sewing machine foot that fits my sewing machine called Satinedge.
Below is the foot on my machine.  There are two things that make this such a handy tool:
  1. The white arm on the right, as you look at the foot, is the guide to make sure your stitching is  aligned up with the edge of your fabric.
  2. There is a wire that goes down the center of the foot.  This wire stabilizes the edge of the fabric so it does not pucker and it also creates a smooth edge of stitches.

Below on the left is stitching without the specialty foot.  You will notice that the stitches are inconsistent and the fabric puckers a bit at the end.
Below on the right is the stitching using the Satinedge foot, a much more consistent look.
The first picture below is the top of the foot; the second one shows the bottom of the foot and the wire that goes down the middle of the foot.

Thanks so much to my friend Jackie for letting me share her fabulous piece of art!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sewing Sisters

Memories are sewn together with heartstrings. 

Have you ever met someone for the first time and immediately knew you were kindred spirits?  It has happened to me a few times and it is pretty magical.  This happened about eight ears ago when I was in Huntsville, Alabama at a Martha Pullen week-long class.

The first day a met a woman named Vanese and our friendship began.  Here is where you may think this is a little the past eight years we have not seen each other nor talked on the phone, but to this day I feel a strong connection to her.  I am so thankful  for Facebook because it is now easier to keep in touch (versus our annual Christmas cards).

Recently, I know my friend has been going through a tough time so I thought I would post a picture of us to boost her.  This photo was at Martha's house where we presented her with a quilt that our group made in our free time during the week.

After I posted it, guess what Vanese said?  OMGoodness! Kathy, you made my day! This pic is on a bulletin board next to my sewing table. I LOVE seeing it when I see. It is also a great memory for me. Thanks.

Funny, eights years have come and gone and we both still have the same photo displayed in our studios.

Do you have a Sewing Sister?

Friday, March 23, 2012


Apart from yoga, meditation, reading, needlework has to be one of the most serene things to do. Don't lose your needles though, that can create a severe lack of serenity.  
--Carole Berman/Jennifer Lazarus The Needlepoint Collection 

The first quilt I made was in a class.  I remember how proud I was of it; I also remember once I had the binding stitched around the front of the quilt, I was shocked and dismayed to find that I would have to hand-sew it to the back of the quilt.  My fellow classmates had the same feelings; we kept inquiring if there was anyway around this hand-stitching aspect of the project.  I bit the bullet and painstakingly finished it.

                                    Fast forward fifteen years and it seems like hand-stitching has become my primary method of creating my works.  Now I cannot imagine a day without picking up a needle and thread to sew. 

As my love of hand-sewing grew, so did my collection of embroidery thread.  I soon found that I had embroidery threads tucked everywhere in my studio.  Alas, I found a cabinet from DMC that solved my problem perfectly. I now feel organized!

Below are photos of my cabinet and my embroidery stash.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inspiration Wednesday (Puerto Vallarta)

A few years ago my sister, brother-in-law, husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on vacation. We fell in love with the boardwalk on the shoreline in downtown; all along the walk they have statues made by different artists. 

Our favorite statue was  called 'Searching for Reason' by Bustamante (above).  My husband uses this photo as wallpaper on his computer. 

 So inspiring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Design Seeds

All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites. -Marc Chagall

I am always in search of new color combinations for my work; I have my color wheel handy, challenging myself to test different colors than my usual palette.  My new go-to tool is the website Design Seeds.  Each day, Design seeds send me three different color palettes.

For the color palettes that intrigue me, I 'pin' them to my Pinterest board.  I am the design phase of a new project and am at the stage where I went'shopping' on my Pinterest board for my color scheme.  I will let you know how this goes.

How cool is this!?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My First Gallery Show

As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life- John Lubbock 

I am one of 14 mixed media artists showing at the Carnegie Center for the Arts in ThreeRivers, MI through April 14.  This is the first time that I have shown my work in a gallery.   I am not sure what I expected, but this experience has exceeded even my wildest dreams.

The two organizers of the show, Angelica and Gail, treated all of our works of art with such dignity and respect. I dropped my artwork off on a Saturday, where the majority of the artists gathered to meet and share our work. On that day, it was amazing to see range and depth of this collection of art; what I did not realize that day, was the magic was yet to come.

Last Sunday (a little over a week after we dropped our artwork off), The Carnegie held the opening of the show. When I walked in, I was delighted to find that collectively, our individual  pieces of art had been transformed into a beautifully flowing show. Our organizers definitely used their 'magic' putting it all together.

The electricity in gallery escalated as the rooms filled with spectators. It was fun to hear could people discussing the different pieces of art. "How did someone make that?",   "I wonder how long that would have taken to make?",  "Breathtaking". 

Life just doesn't get better.....

PS...Thanks to my friend, Carolyn, for sharing her photos so I could place them on the blog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday (Hoover Dam)

My husband and I visited Hoover Dam when we were in Las Vegas.  I was pleasantly surprised with the Art Deco flavor in the architecture.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sarah Lawrence

I was sad to hear that Sarah Lawrence passed away at the beginning of December 2011.  Though I never had met Sarah, she inspired me through her books and her on-line store CraftyNotions.

I have most of her books.  In my library, I have a shelf of approximately 10 books that are my absolute favorite books.  Included in this stack is Sarah's Silk Paper for Textile Artists.  If you do not have this book, I would definitely recommend getting a copy.

She also has a book that was just published- Stitch, Cloth, Shimmer & Shine.  I just received my copy and am going to take extra care reading it.

 Textile artist and Sarah's friend of 15 years, Liz Welch, gave the eulogy.  Click on the link to read the words Liz said the day of Sarah's funeral...I am confident that you will also be inspired by Sarah's life.

Friday, March 9, 2012

One Man's Trash is NOT Always Another Man's Treasure

I am  excited to be returning to Valley Ridge Art Studio in Wisconsin this summer to take another workshop.  The last two years, I have taken classes from Beryl Taylor and have had a amazing time.

If you are not familiar with Valley Ridge Art Studio, here is more information about it:

Definitely worth the travel and time to get there.

This year, I have decided to stretch myself and more away from the textiles.  I am excited to be taking a class from Michael DeMeng.  If you are unfamiliar with Michael Demeng, here is his website:

Here is his blog:

I own both of his books and they are enjoyable to read (he has a wicked sense of humor!).   This is the one that I am reading to get ready for this summer:

OK, now to the funny part of the story...I have thought about what I could make for this fun class and came up with an idea.  Hubby and I happened to be downtown Kalamazoo so we went into our fabulous restoration store.

Upon entering the store, the owner asked if he could help us find anything.I said, "Just looking for some junk".  The owner was not happy with this and said, "We do not sell junk, we sell recycled items."  Oops!  I did not mean to insult the man  AND if he knew me, he would know that I call all of my treasures, JUNK!

Hubby and I began to collect items and I would ask the price of things.  He would say $5.00 or $6.00 or $10.00.  By the time I got my collection, I figured I had $30+ in goods (not junk!).  I went to the register to pay and tried to add a drawer from an old vanity; when he saw the drawer, he told me that he does not sell drawers, he uses drawers to store items in, he would not sell it to me and promptly put it behind the counter. OK, I have time to find a replacement.

Now comes the magical part, he says, "What are you going to do with these items?".  I ask if he is familiar with Michael DeMeng and relay that I am taking a class in Wisconsin this summer and began to explain how the items would be used...the spring will be hair, the casters will be feet, etc.  He stopped, put the drawer back on the counter, placed all my items in it and said, $10!

Moral of the man's trash is NOT always another man's treasure.  In this case, we both say it as treasure AND I will never call it "junk" again (well at least I won't say it in public!). 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday (Bathroom Characters)

Last summer we stayed in Wisconsin at a small cottage.  These photos were painted all over the wall of the bathroom.  It was delightful AND inspirational.