Friday, November 20, 2015

Catching Up

I'm back...I don't know why it's so hard for me to post to this blog on a regular basis, but I guess it's just part procrastination and part my feeling that I don't have a lot of interesting things to say.  In any case, I do owe you a few photos of quilts past and present.

First, I teased you about a commission I was working on a few months ago and I owe you pictures.  My niece was retiring from the Army this past May and I was asked to make a quilt commemorating her and her husband's service (he retired at the end of 2013).  They were both in a very special unit, called the Nightstalkers.  Michael was a Blackhawk pilot and Sandra served with the support team.  I'm not fluent in military speak, so if I've botched that, I apologize.  But, if you want to know more about the 160th, you should Google it.  Then, you'll know why I'm so proud of both of them and why this quilt had to be right.

I had in mind a wall-hanging/art quilt, but Sandra wanted something for their king-size bed.  Yikes!  I spent weeks worrying and thinking and, yes, procrastinating, trying to come up with a design.  She had sent me pictures of several quilts she liked, along with some of their patches and other items, but the one photo that I couldn't get out of my mind was a silhouette of a helicopter against a sunset sky with the ocean below.  I knew I had to have something like that somewhere in this quilt, but I was still struggling as to how to incorporate it.

 So, I did a smart thing.  I went to visit my friend, Linda, who also happens to be a terrific quilter, as well as the owner of a quilt shop.  Just showing her all the items and pictures and explaining a bit about who Michael and Sandra were and how special their service had been was the catalyst I needed to get my brain unstuck.

I showed Linda the picture of the helicopter against that sky and told her I had to make it part of the quilt.  She said something that just made everything else fall into place.  Her words were something to the effect that, no matter where I put it on the quilt, the helicopter/sky would be the focal point and what your eye would go to first.

It made so much sense.  This would be a giant art quilt.  The helicopter would be the center and the patches and other items would be secondary.  Linda also gave me an idea as to how to size this project.  I would make it so that the quilt covered from the bottom of the pillows to the edge of the mattress at the foot of the bed and it would hang over on the sides.  It ended up being 72" long by 108" wide.

I like the idea of using strips of fabric in varying widths, so the background was made of 1 1/2" (finished) strips of blues, aquas, oranges, yellows, and purples.  I decided to stabilize it with a layer of interfacing so the strips didn't end up being giant smiley-faces and would remain straight.  Then, I cut tons of strips and began laying it out in my studio floor.  That was the only place that would handle the width.  I put it together in sections the width of the interfacing.  I drew lines across the interfacing to help me keep the strips straight and I stitched the strips together and stitched them to the interfacing, one row at a time. 

It was a BIG job, but it worked out well.  I found a photo of a Blackhawk helicopter online and used that as my guide for the shape of the silhouette.  I couldn't use the original photo that had been my inspiration, as it was too small and indistinct.  But, I think I captured the feeling.

The hardest part was depicting the blades of the helicopter in motion, as they don't really show up in a photo.  I used black tulle and, with a lot of help from my husband, who designed tools for aircraft maintenance in his former life, I think I got the shape of the whirling blades.

Enough talking--here's the photos of the finished product.


It didn't have a name--another thing I'd thought long and hard about.  Usually, by the time I'm almost finished with a piece, the name has come to me, but not this time.   Then, I got another e-mail from Sandra and she included a photo of an item  given to Michael at his retirement.  It had a verse from the Bible that had the quote, "Here am I, send me".  It was perfect.  Our volunteer military doesn't question--they're ready to serve whenever and wherever needed. 

I got it finished and shipped in time for Sandra's retirement ceremony and I held my breath because they had not seen it until it was presented at the ceremony.  Sandra didn't want to know what it would look like and it was a total surprise for Michael, so I was a bit nervous about whether they would like it.

They did.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Travelling Time

For someone who stays pretty close to home, it has been a busy travel month.  The first of May, my husband and I drove to Lake City, SC for ArtFields 2015.  As you probably know, I went to the show last year with my daughter-in-law, Robin.  It was another great event.  We took an extra day this year so we were able to drive around the area and see more of the community of Lake City.  It's certainly bigger than I realized.

The art was amazing--so many talented artists and quite a variety of mediums.  I'm not sure I "got it" with some of the work, but it's always fun to see what's on other people's minds.  I'm just not sure I'd want to be stranded on a deserted island with some of them.  But, hey, if we all thought alike, wouldn't the world be a boring place.

I'll share a few photos from the show.  These are from some of our GA/SC Regional SAQA members.

Then, some random things that caught my eye.  This was pretty amazing.

The installations are always interesting.  The second one is made from parts of old VHS tape decks.  Can you say "re-purpose"?

The glass art was fascinating.

And, one I knew my grandson, Devin, would love.

Once again, my piece was hung in the library--a nice, safe place for it.

Also, lots of paintings, metal works, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Two weeks after ArtFields, I drove to Melbourne, FL with Kathy Ellis, a fellow SAQA member from the Atlanta area.  We went down for the Southeast Regional SAQA Conference.  It was a long drive, but having company made it a very pleasant trip.  We only got lost once when we missed the ramp from I-75 South to I-10 East.  It's really not very well marked and we breezed right by and didn't realize our error until we got to Lake City, FL.  Luckily, Kathy had her Iphone and she knows how to use it, so, not only did I have good company, but a great co-pilot and navigator.

The conference was an awesome experience.  It's very rare for me to be in the company of so many art quilters.  I met some tremendously talented artists and everyone was so willing to share their knowledge and experience.  Dr. Sandra Sider, who is the curator for the Texas Quilt Museum, was our keynote speaker and I also had the privilege of being in a critique session with her.  It was all very positive and I got some great feedback on my work.  I've already made changes to the piece and am much happier with it.  Oh, how I wish I had some fellow art quilters nearby to help pull me out of the ditch when I get stuck on a piece and I know there's something not quite right about it, but I've looked at it for too long and I can't see it anymore.  Another pair of knowledgeable eyes is invaluable.

There was an opening for the exhibit, "Southern Accents", at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts in conjunction with the conference.  This is located on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne.  I had entered two art quilts for consideration and one of them was accepted.  This is the first time I've entered a SAQA exhibit and it was exciting to be counted among so many talented artists.  And--surprise, shock, and thrill--my quilt was chosen for the cover of the catalog for the show.

"Downtown", my part of the exhibit.


There was a gallery talk by Dr. Sider during the conference and it was extremely informative.  Not only did she talk about how the pieces were chosen for the exhibit (she was the juror), but she also talked about how the show had been hung and the decisions that went into the placement of each piece.  It was fascinating.  Now, if I ever do another solo exhibit, I'll know a lot more about how to put it together.

All in all, a busy and enjoyable month.  Especially so, considering what the past few months have been like.  Next week, I begin my "wonderful grandmother" summer, when I plan to entertain each of my 3 granddaughters for a week--one at a time, so I can remain the "wonderful" grandmother, not the referee of sisterly squabbles.  I'm looking forward to some quality one-on-one time with each of them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The "C" word.

I haven't posted anything in several months, but this time, I have a legitimate excuse, as opposed to those other times when I didn't post for a long time just because I'm not as disciplined as I should be.

Since my last post, I have had several new experiences.  They include, but are not limited to, an ultrasound, a CT scan, a colonoscopy, a diagnosis of a malignant mass, major surgery to remove the mass, then another surgery to insert a vascular catheter (port), a PET scan, and last, but certainly not least, chemotherapy.  I was sailing right along through that list until I ran into the brick wall called chemo.  I've always thought of myself as a pretty tough cookie, but I've definitely met my match.  I called it a day after 4 treatments (was supposed to do 12).  My last session was 2 weeks ago and I'm already feeling much better.  So, now I'm ready to get on with the rest of my life. 

I haven't accomplished a lot over the last months, but for the past few days I've been working hard to finish a commission that's due next month.  I will take photos when it's finished and show you what I've been working on for way too long.  Normally, I'd have finished the piece by now, but only having a few days a month when I felt like going down the stairs to my studio has made this a very long-term project.

My take-away from this experience is a real appreciation for simply feeling good and being able to enjoy such basic things as having food taste good and actually wanting to eat.  I'm sure I will eventually regress to that state of taking life for granted again, as we all do, but for now, I'm savoring every day.

While I've been laying about taking it easy, my quilts have been working hard.  "End of Day" was juried into ArtFields in Lake City, SC.  The show opens April 24th and runs through May 2nd.  There were over 1,000 entries and 400 were chosen, so it feels really special to be a part of the show for the second year.


"Downtown" will be included in the Southeast SAQA Exhibit, "Southern Accents", and will be displayed, along with art quilts from throughout the Southeast at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Florida Institute of Technology, in Melbourne, FL.  The exhibit opens on May 15th and runs through August 22nd.


And, in today's mail, I received the latest edition of the SAQA Journal, turned to page 22 and found "Cowgirls Just Wanna Have Fun", which I had submitted several months ago for their consideration.  The theme was "Joy/Happiness".  I know I was happy to see my work there. 

So, even though I've been otherwise engaged, my "children" have been out in the world getting some much appreciated recognition.  I'll try to keep up with this blog a bit better in the future.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fair Time

The Georgia National Fair ran from October 2-12th this year.  Once again, I entered 3 pieces in the Fine Art competition.  That's the maximum number you can enter in one category.  I always enjoy going to the fair and seeing the art show, with all the different mediums represented.

There seem to be fewer and fewer entries in the Textile division each year and that's a shame.  Over 400,000 people come to the fair each year, and while they don't all visit the Fine Art show, enough of them do, so it's great exposure for any artist's work.  I even sold one of my pieces there last year.

My 3 entries this year were:

 "End of Day" 1st place

 "Simple Pleasures"  2nd place

"Downtown" 3rd place

I really wish there was more competition in the category.  I only saw 3 or 4 other entries--there may have been more, but there needs to be a lot more.  Having a large showing in a venue like this, where there are a lot of people who have never seen an art quilt, can only help make fiber art more accepted by a wider audience.  Of course, I won't hesitate to cash the check for the prize money.  But, come on, fellow art quilters, enter your work next year and let's crowd out some of those oil and watercolor paintings.

I have an upcoming trunk show for the Spirited Quilters Guild in Duluth, GA on the 28th of this month.  I'm looking forward to a good evening with them.  That will be my last trunk show for this year.  I'm debating whether to continue doing them.  It's a lot of fun, but, also a lot of work, and it usually involves a pretty long drive and a late night getting back home.

I submitted an entry to ArtFields this week.  That's the fantastic art show in Lake City, SC, that I attended earlier this year with my daughter-in-law.  We had a great time and plan on going again in 2015.  If you want to know more about it, I did a post with photos earlier this year.  Or, you can visit the website at .  I highly recommend it.  I won't know if my work has been accepted until Jan1, 2015.  The show is in late April- early May.   

Friday, September 19, 2014

On a personal note

I love dogs--big, long-haired, floppy dogs.  I'm not a fan of cats.  I've just never been able to make much of a connection with them.  But dogs are so easy to love.  They don't judge you, they're always glad to see you, and they love you even when you don't deserve it.

I've always had dogs in my life, but most of them primarily belonged to someone else.  Sometimes that was the choice of the person and sometimes it was the choice of the dog.  I remember we had a beautiful cocker spaniel once that we took in because its owners could no longer keep it.  I thought that dog was amazing and I wanted it to choose me as its person.  Instead, it trailed around after my mother, who didn't care for it at all.  It would cry when she left for work in the morning and bring her his toy to play with when she came home in the evening.  She was way too busy taking care of a family to have time for a dog.  I had lots of time and I tried and tried to make a connection with him, but he had given his heart to my mother and that was that.

When I was 11 years old, we got a border collie puppy.  Her name was Princess and she was beautiful.  Best of all, she chose me, and she was my best friend until she died when I was 18.  After that, I got busy being a grownup and, like my mother, I didn't have time to spend with a dog.  My husband had several Brittany Spaniels over the years, but he was their person.  I was busy with work and children.

When we moved to the country in 1997, we had a miniature poodle.  I had purchased him to keep my husband company after he retired and I was still working.  He was our first indoor dog and I loved him, but he was pretty high maintenance and my idea of a great dog was one who lived outside and didn't need to be taken to a groomer every couple of months.

Then, one morning Sasha came into our lives.  My husband discovered her on the doorstep, scared and alone.  It was love at first sight.  The vet estimated she was about 8 weeks old and she was the most adorable puppy I'd ever seen.  She looked like a little teddy bear and I almost named her Bear, but decided that she deserved a more sophisticated name.

We could tell by the feet that she was going to be a big girl.  She was so soft and cuddly with a curled up tail.  Who could have resisted that face?

Well, she absolutely took over our lives and seemed to love both of us equally, though, I think she always really cared more for my husband.  I was the one who nursed her through a cracked pelvis that she got when she ran into a tree while chasing a squirrel, a snake bite that, luckily, was not severe, though it was delivered by a copperhead, and a severe cut to her head, which we never did figure out how that happened. 

She was adventurous and very protective of us.  She hated snakes, squirrels, cats, and armadillos.  She was afraid of thunder and never liked loud noises.  One of us would usually sit with her during a thunderstorm.  She loved cold weather and snow made her deliriously happy.

Sasha died last night.  She was almost 14 years old.  She devoted her whole life to loving and taking care of us.  We will miss her terribly.  Wherever she is, I hope it's snowing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I haven't posted in a while.  I don't know why, but every time I come to the computer with the intention of writing something, I find a million excuses not to.  Where has my Motivation gone?  It has been a stressful Spring and Summer personally and I have come up with every possible excuse not to blog.  Similarly, I have produced little fiber art over the past couple of months.  I need a swift kick in the rear, so hopefully, this post is a start.

The trip to ArtFields that I wrote about in my last post was definitely the highlight of the year.  It was incredibly stimulating, but somehow that energy faded much too fast.

The piece I created for our regional SAQA exhibit at the Savannah Quilt Show, "Downtown", was my entry into the Columbus Artists Guild Member Show in July.  It was awarded a blue ribbon, which was a real surprise.  I'm the only fiber artist (art quilter) in the guild and I'm never quite sure how the other members view my work--is it art, or is it craft?  Everyone is very nice, but I don't go to many meetings, since they're held in the evenings and it's a 100 mile roundtrip.  So, it's a nice validation of my work when I receive recognition in that show.  There are some very, very talented people (almost all painters in one medium or another) who display their work every year.

I hate pictures of myself, but when they include my work with an award attached, I can deal with it.

I attended a 3 day class in Atlanta last month, taught by Esterita Austin.  If you're not familiar with her, check her out on google--she has a website.   There were about 15 of us in the class--all part of the GA/SC regional SAQA group.  It was a great experience.  We all had to bring large, close-up photos of ourselves to do a self-portrait.  It was really hard to look at that 11 x 17 view of just my face, but the class was very interesting and definitely took me outside my usual comfort zone. 

We were given a yard of multi-color, hand-dyed fabric (think purple, blue, orange, yellow) and told to use that to complete our portrait.  It was an exercise in looking at value and not color.  If you go to Esterita's website and look at the portrait section, you'll get the idea.  It was amazing that they all ended up looking like the person.  We did rely on fabric paint to do the eyes and highlight some areas and blend others.  I'm still working on mine.  We are supposed to finish our pieces by the first of February and put together an exhibit.

My 3 entries in the Fine Art Show at the GA Nat'l Fair were delivered to Perry last week.  They include "Downtown" (shown above), "End of Day", and "Simple Pleasures", which is my latest big project.

"End of Day"

"Simple Pleasures"

    I have a trunk show coming up October 28th, with the Spirited Quilters Guild in Duluth, GA.  I'm looking forward to that--it's always a fun time, and I'm looking forward to finding my Motivation.  I'm sure it's around here somewhere.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to travel to Lake City, SC to experience ArtFields.  It's a ten-day art show that includes work by artists from several Southeastern states.  There were 400 pieces exhibited and one of them was mine.  It was quite a thrill to have my work juried into such a large show.  It makes me feel like maybe I am a "real" artist.

Lake City is a small town about halfway between Columbia and Myrtle Beach in an agricultural area that once produced a large percentage of the green beans in this country.  That crop changed over to tobacco and now I'm not sure what the major crop is.  There's a wonderful old downtown area with small stores and shops--everything from motorcycles to musical instruments to shoes and clothing.

The art was displayed all over town.  My piece was in the library.  There was one huge building--an old warehouse with brick walls that housed a large group of art works.  Everything was first-class.  The art was displayed professionally with great lighting.  The art itself included every kind of medium imaginable, from the sublime to the ridiculous.  It was wonderful to see the diversity and to think about the different ways people choose to express themselves.

The big draw for artists to enter this show is the possibility of significant prize money.  The awards are decided by a two-tier system.  There are 3 judges with some pretty prestigious credentials who choose the top prize winner--a cash prize of $50,000.  Then there are 2 prizes awarded that are a combination of the judges selections and a vote by viewers on their favorite--$25,000 each.  Finally, 2 prizes are awarded that are strictly viewers' choice--$12,500 each.  So, you can see, winning one of these prizes could be life-changing for an artist.

 An interesting installation in the warehouse.

 One of my favorites--love the rust.

 My piece, "Best Friends Forever" in the library.

 Beautiful tapestry--one of the $25,000 winners.

 An incredible painting--another $25,000 winner.

 Last year's top winner.  The artist uses denim from old jeans--very cool.  Somehow we missed this year's top piece.

 Street scene.

 The bike/motorcycle shop with art hanging on the walls.

Outdoor stagewhere we enjoyed live music.

One of the real bonuses of my trip was the fact that my favorite (and only) daughter-in-law, Robin, went with me.  We left on a Friday afternoon and took the scenic route, staying off the interstate as long as possible.  We saw some beautiful countryside and even stopped to take pictures at an old mill on the side of the highway.  Thankfully, Robin is an avid photographer, so she didn't think I was crazy when I pulled off the road and circled back to get some shots.  We were both busy with our cameras.  A lot of people I know would have been embarrassed by our behavior, but Robin is a kindred spirit.

After spending the night in Columbia, we arrived in Lake City on Saturday morning and spent the entire day walking and looking at the art.  Even though we worked hard at it, we didn't see everything.  Somehow we missed the big winner and I'm still not sure what it was about.  I can't tell much from the photo on the website, so we'll have to wait til next year to see it.  (Yes, we're already planning next year.)

One of the most interesting things we saw was the portrait contest.  Apparently they started with about 2 dozen portrait artists and some volunteer "subjects" from there in the community.  The artists had 1 hour to complete a portrait of this person (everyone was working with the same model).  Then the judges chose who would move on to the next round, where they would start again with another model.  We didn't get there until the last round.  There were 6 artists remaining in the contest and the model was a 90 year old man from the area who had been a tobacco farmer.  It was fascinating to see each artist's vision and the way they worked.  They each used their different mediums and methods (oil, acrylic, pastels, etc.) and each captured the subject, but their end results were so different.  I could have watched that all day, but then we wouldn't have seen nearly as much of the other art.

The evening ended with a champagne reception for the artists, then live music at the outdoor stage and the announcement of the winners.  We were exhausted, but both agreed it was a great time.  We spent Saturday night in Sumter, SC and drove home Sunday. 

If you have any interest in the show, you can get all the info and subscribe to the newsletter at  I would encourage everyone to consider a trip to the show next year.

Some shots from the portrait contest.