Tag Archives: SAQA

Books Beside My Bed

When I can’t get to exhibits, shows, or talks I like to refresh my design sense with books that feature artists. Right now I have three in rotation by my bed: “Art Quilts Unfolding: 50 Years of Innovation,” “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern,” and “Quilt Artistry: Inspired Designs From The East.” The first two are recent publications, while the last is from 2002.

I’m about halfway through “Art Quilts Unfolding,” a large (about 350 pages) SAQA publication that aims to celebrate the emergence of the art quilt movement from the 1960s on. The growth in each decade is described, individual artists representative of that decade are interviewed, and there’s a gallery of representative work. The sequestering by decade falls apart somewhat in the sections that feature individual artists as examples of their work is shown over the decades. I’m sure it’s no surprise that most of the work is by SAQA members. I’m finding the interviews with individual artists to be superficial, more like magazine profiles. I would prefer a discussion of the artist’s thinking for a specific quilt. That said, the diversity of artistic visions is staggering. I appreciate the effort to include artists from outside the U.S.

Jean Laury, “Tom’s Quilt”

The Georgia O’Keeffe book focuses on how she dressed herself and her homes, and is lavishly illustrated. It goes with the current museum exhibit of the same name, but stands very much on its own. So far I’ve paged through to gawk at the photos, but have made little inroads on the text. I did learn that she sewed many of her early clothes, and was a meticulous seamstress. O’Keeffe had a knack for posing effectively, possibly due to lessons learned from her husband, the photographer Alfred Steiglitz. Like the SAQA book, it is long (320 pages) and heavy.

Wrap dress from the 1960-70s. O’Keeffe had several of these.

O’Keeffe in New Mexico wearing Calder pin

My third book is by Yoshiko Jinzenji, a Japanese quilt artist who I learned about recently. She began quilting upon seeing Mennonite quilts when she lived in Toronto, expanded her interests to Indonesian textiles, and came full circle with the textiles of her native Japan. Her process begins with dyeing thread, making the cloth, then sewing and quilting it. Her aesthetic is spare and minimalist, and she combines synthetic fabrics with natural dyes. She also combines hand sewing with longarm quilting. The quilt directions she gives are more like suggestions. I can’t see me ever making work like hers, imagine spending days boiling freshly cut bamboo, but it does me good to explore a different way. The staging of the photography is gorgeous.

I’d love to learn about design books that inspire you as I have access to most libraries in Ohio and know how to use my library card.


Filed under Books

Random Bits From My Inbox

You know those websites or articles you come across and think, people might be interested in that? Here are the ones I’ve been saving up.

First, I came across this article directed initially at textile artists, though it speaks to all kinds of artists. I recognize my own tendency toward being a technique junkie. The lesson here is learn to do a few things very well in a way that serves your art. I’ve been sharing this one with the groups I belong to. Thanks to Ellen Luckett Baker for bringing this to my attention.

Ellen also drew my attention to the website for Sewn Together, an exhibition of Alabama quilts. I enjoy the site’s pairing of vintage and more contemporary quilts, and the historical perspective on the quilts shown. I’m sure it was great to visit the exhibition, but the archival information adds so much. You can learn about the work of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, which co-sponsored the exhibition. There’s even a curated Spotify playlist of Alabama musicians who represent a wide variety of musical styles from the period when the quilts were made.

Next, I came across a series of YouTube videos put together by Craftsy called The Midnight Quilt Show. Angela Walters is the refreshingly breezy host of these videos that show her putting together some fairly basic quilt patterns. Angela’s essential tools include popcorn, chocolate, and wine. The mistakes stay in. You may recognize some of them. I did find my heretofore hidden inner quilt police coming out when Angela didn’t press before sewing. Ditto her use of a ruler that was way too short. But it sure beats those deathly earnest quilting shows that are guaranteed insomnia cures.

For visual candy here’s a collection of spiral staircase photography by Nancy Da Campo, all in Barcelona. The We and The Color website is a great resource for striking photography.

If you’re interested in printing your own fabric or purchasing fabric custom designed by others, then check out the new Spoonflower digital catalog. Lots of ideas there for creating wallpaper, clothing, baby items, and home dec.

Finally, here’s a slide show of the SAQA Two by Twenty exhibit now touring with the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo. I recently represented SAQA at the Cleveland, Ohio, stop of the expo. (That means I chatted with viewers about the show and promoted the organization.) It was great to see how much even very traditional quilters enjoyed the work displayed. Some may have gotten the push to venture into original work. Really, folks, it doesn’t matter if you can’t draw.

Here’s one of my favorites from the exhibit, Everglades by Deda Maldonado.






Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

I See Three Themes

I had some time to kill at the dealership while my car was being serviced, so I looked over the 430 small art quilts on offer at SAQA’s annual auction. The dealership seemed proud of its free wifi service so I put it to use.

The online auction runs from  September 16 to October 9, with quilts divided into three sections. Each artist donated quilt is 12 inches square, per the rules. Bidding on each section runs for a week, and the prices go down each day from the starting price of $750. I think any quilts left are offered for sale in the SAQA store.  Proceeds go to SAQA programs.

No, I didn’t make an auction quilt. For one, I have trouble working at that size to make anything worthwhile. For two, I don’t think I’d handle the ignominy if no one bought my quilt. Pity purchases by close relatives don’t count.

As I examined the pages of quilts I began to see some patterns in the subject matter. I decided to note the number of quilts with three subjects: birds, flowers/foliage, and trees. By my back of an envelope calculations 23 quilts featured birds, 29 featured trees, and 39 featured flowers or foliage. That came to 91 quilts or 21% of the 430 auction quilts. Birch trees, poppies and crows were especially popular.

hebert-messenger conrad-a-walk-in-the-woods miller-poppies welsch-lakeside-birches

ba16-mauann-t ba16-weinao-t

I suspect that abstract quilts were also well represented, but I zeroed in on the big three because they are used so often in art quilts. I’ve noticed the same subject choices in my master class. And yes, I’m also guilty of using foliage and trees. I draw the line at birds and flowers, however.

My lesson learned was to think twice before choosing overused subjects, unless I present them in a fresh way.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

Shopping With The Sewistas

I spent April fools day booth sitting at the Original Quilting and Sewing Expo held at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio. First, I gave out information about the October 22 Mutton Hill Quilt Show sponsored by the Summit County Historical Society, and finessed answers to questions about how to launder old woven coverlets.  I urged caution. Then, I moved to the SAQA booth to talk up the Celebrating Silver exhibit on display and SAQA membership.

While the expo had quilt exhibits and many classes, the meat of the event was shopping. I skipped all the machinery heavy and twee applique pattern booths to concentrate on unusual fabric displays. Vogue Fabrics had bolts of garment fabrics. I admired many, but didn’t partake. Another vendor featured garment woolens, something hard to find nowadays.

I was tempted by, but didn’t succumb to, unique garment patterns. Many were designed to cover figure flaws associated with over abundance of flesh. I thought those styles might overwhelm me, plus the prices started at $20. When raw materials and my time are factored in, the cost seemed too steep. It’s back to the consignment shops for me.

I parted with money for fabric scrap bags at SewBatik and Laura Murray. The latter had bags of kimono silk scraps that had been overdyed. While pawing through my booty I realized that I love scraps because the intimidation factor is gone with them. Give me 2 yards of pristine fabric and I’ll hold onto it for years for fear of “ruining” it. Scraps are leftovers and my thrifty upbringing impels me to use them for something.

Imagine yourself in a sea of determined women bent on the best bargains and the latest specialty rulers, watching demos of various arcane products. And not just sewing products. Vendors hawked jewelry, replacement windows (really,) lotions, and back pain relief. When classes let out the sea became a tidal wave, and lines to the bathroom wound around the escalators. For reasons that may lie in the building’s original incarnation as a Ford assembly plant, the most obvious ladies room had only three stalls, though there was room for three more. Tucked away in a back corner was a much more spacious, and empty, ladies room. You found it if you took the time to seek out the quilt displays around the perimeter of the sales floor.

Except for some modern quilts from the latest QuiltCon, the quilts were displayed away from the hubbub which was nice for viewing them. I see from the program there were 12 exhibits, but I recall only Along the Spice Route, Fall Leaves Quilt Challenge, Summit County Historical Society, Modern Quilt Guild, and Celebrating Silver. These exhibits were well worth seeking out.

Since I spent three hours looking at them, I’d like to share some of my faves from Celebrating Silver. First, here’s the Jennifer Day piece that garnered the most attention.

JenniferDaySAQAI admire the skill that went into this piece, but find the subject cloying. Now for some palate cleansers.

SAQA Celebrating Silver


These silver miners were formed with cheesecloth and many other materials.

Moonshine-300x291 Elena Stokes

This kimono-like piece by Elena Stokes is serene and minimalist.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

The Year of Slowing Down

2015 was to be the year I put more thought into each piece I made. I hoped this would translate into fewer but better pieces. What did I mean by better? Work that was more thought out, more polished, appealing from a distance and close up, and reflective of my experimentation with different media.

I certainly achieved fewer pieces.

Other changes I can discern:

I’ve stopped buying a lot of printed fabric, but have collected more hand dyed looks. This means my local quilt shops haven’t seen my face. One jelly roll (the first I ever bought) of Caryl Bryer Fallert Radiant gradation fabric has seen me through at least two projects.

Color Slide

I’ve stepped up my thread purchases, especially for hand sewing. I now own at least 30 different colors of perle cotton.

I’ve tried to refrain from just sewing fabric scraps together. Some spontaneous sewing still crept in, but I rationalized it as a base for free motion quilting practice.


I’ve done more hand stitching (I hesitate to call it quilting) on pieces.

Arcs edges finished

I’ve made peace (sort of) with free motion quilting. I’m never going to turn out gorgeously intricately quilted work, but I can do enough FMQ to fake it. Just don’t ask me to FMQ something big.

I’ve begun to back away from quilt show rules for how I finish work that’s meant to be hung. I still finish working quilts for durability.

Yellow Jacket detail

I’ve gotten over the modern quilting movement. There are some practitioners who I admire greatly, but lately modern quilting seems to be more about commodification – patterns and fabrics, etc. – with a loss of focus. Modern traditionalism, anyone?

I’ve learned to let ideas gestate, often for months. Slabs of fabric I may use in a winter landscape quilt lived on my design wall for over a month. The design is drawn, but I’m now reconsidering whether I want to go a lot more abstract.

IMG_6721I’ve entered shows that aren’t quilt shows but are art focused. One of my pieces was accepted for a SAQA Concrete and Grasslands traveling exhibit. Two others are in a local fiber and pottery show. I’ve also entered a traditional quilt show where the judges liked my work more than the viewing public did. Judy Niemeyer ruled in popular opinion.

I’ve explored tissue paper fabric. Yes, spray inks and dyes are something else to spend money on. Luckily, you can over spray colors on the paper so you don’t need more than 6 or 7 little spray bottles.

MackJoannaAllFallDownFinalOn the social side of quilting, I now participate in two small art quilt groups and one traditional guild, and I’ve joined SAQA, a national art quilt organization. I think the modern quilt group I belong to is dead. We haven’t met for some months.  Some friends got together for a fabric fun retreat in June and enjoyed it so much we’re repeating it next June. Akron experimental quilters will try to get a small group together in 2016 to try new techniques and learn from each other.

I don’t know if I’ll make specific quilting related resolutions for 2016. After all, I’m still working on the ones for 2015. So, in 2016 I’ll repeat paragraph one as needed.



Filed under Commentary

A Show That’s Just The Right Size

I will happily go to any exhibit of quilts, any size, any style. I’m fortunate to be friends with other quilters who share this passion. Our latest exhibit road trip was to take in the SAQA Piecing Together A Changing Planet traveling exhibit.

The 26 art quilts in the exhibit shared a common size and theme – the effects of human activity on our national parks.  Beyond that, they diverged wildly. Because the artists packed so much detail into their quilts my friends and I spent considerable time with each quilt, examining techniques and making guesses about how certain effects were achieved. The Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center, which hosted the exhibit, considerately made white gloves available so we could check out the back sides as well.

It’s a good thing there were only 26 quilts. Otherwise, we would have had to take a sitdown break every so often. And our brains would have popped trying to take in any more quilts.

I’m going to present photos (which were allowed) of details only. Click on any one for a slide show. The height at which the quilts were hung made each one look narrower at the top than the bottom in my photos. I thought it threw off the visual effect.


Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

Bonus Exhibit in Athens, Ohio

In addition to taking in Quilt National 2015 on our recent jaunt to Athens, Ohio, my friend and I stopped by the Kennedy Museum of Art to view SAQA’s Earth Stories traveling exhibit. This is a small (24 quilts) but choice group of art quilts chosen for SAQA’s 25th anniversary.

After winding our way up a hill that overlooks the Hocking River we found the museum to be a large red brick Victorian mansion the Munsters would be happy to call home.

KennedyMuseum_OhioUnivEarth Stories is spread over two floors, but we took advantage of the elevator to save our breath for oohs and ahs as we studied the pieces.

Here are our favorites.

Source of Life In The Dead Sea20150812_103942_resizedGreat color and movement in this piece about extracting salt from the Dead Sea.

Cynthia St. Charles20150812_103314_resizedWe liked how the swirling quilting gave movement to those windmills.Cooking With The Sun Jennifer Day

20150812_10460020150812_104636While the composition of this one is somewhat pedestrian, the thread painting on the individual panels is amazing.

Upstream DownstreamWe were amused at the crocheted doilies used in the panel on the left.

AliciaMerrett_Habitat-Species++Alicia Merrett does maps brilliantly, as shown in Habitats: species.

EARTH-HawkinsP_ForestsEnigma_full_lgSince I just missed a forest fire at Glacier National Park, Patty Hawkins’ depiction of life returning to a burned out area (Enigma of Forest Fires) struck a chord with me.

Here’s a link to thumbnail photos of all 24 quilts. If you click on one you’ll be treated to a much larger photo. The exhibit will make the following stops after it leaves Athens on September 6:

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, November 6, 2015, through February 28, 2016
Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV June 25, 2016, through October 2, 2016
Erie Museum of Art, Erie, PA January 20, 2017, through June 11, 2017

Why see it in person when you can see it online? The photos cannot do justice to the subtleties of coloring and quilting. If you tour the exhibit with a friend you can have some lovely chats about what impresses you and how the artist achieved her effects.




Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows