Archives for 2017

Warm Wishes for the Holidays

Wishes for a joyful holiday season!

A Fiber Artist Approach to Holiday Giving

Every little bit counts!

Tis the season to share with others. It has always bothered me how after giving great thought to gifts for friends and family, I find myself often wrapping my gifts in paper that will quickly go in the trash. There are of course paper alternatives such as newspapers etc that can be recycled. But, this year I am taking a different approach.

My studio has a wall of fiber stash…..cloth, ribbons, thread that, at this point in my life, I try to use before buying new. For my Quilt Beyond Borders quilts, I use this stash. This year I decided to see if I could also use some for wrapping my gifts.

I found a wonderful site that gave me an excellent start for creating fabric bags: Longanberry Handmade. The owner of the site, Susie, lives in Los Angeles and promised that it would take only 5 minutes to make one of her bags. She was right! Her measurements are for small size wraps for things like gift cards:

However, once you have made one, it is very easy to alter size. For special gifts, any fiber artist can immediately see options for creating a fancier design — and I can imagine those with embroidery machines could enhance in all sorts of magical ways. I haven’t quilted any of my bags as it really isn’t necessary but  that would be an option too.

Options include contrasting tops or coordinating fabrics among gifts for someone.

I love this approach to gift wrapping. And, one might consider that it adds another dimension to your gift as the gift bag can most definitely be ‘regifted.’  🙂

Have fun!

Linking to Nina Marie Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what other artists are doing this week. She also has some great gift suggestions for quilters this week!

The Places We Go

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
Dr. Seuss

The past month has been a whirlwind of travel and play.

Early in November I was back at our home in Victor, NY and we discovered the Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame was giving a concert. If you ever have a chance to attend one of Peter’s concerts, do go. His music is timeless, his performance endearing, and his words uplifting. Towards the end of the concert, all ‘children’ were invited on stage to sing along to Puff the Magic Dragon…… can catch a glimpse of me in the rear to the left of a red checked shirt. 🙂

Next we were on to red rock country in northern Arizona to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 100th birthday. ‘Lovey’ is an amazing woman who still volunteers at the local high school.

Jerry and Mom

In the midst of all these travels, I have been keeping up with my fiber art….a quilt went out to Quilts Beyond Borders before I left:

I have continued to play with the online activities of Karen Ruane. She currently has two groups running  – a twelve month course in creating Artist Books and a short course on creating projects from handkerchiefs. I am participating in both of these and was able to carry along a needle case project to stitch away on in my down time.

Needle case inside

Needle case front

Composition for page in artist book

I also was honored to have two of my “ice” quilts included in the November/December issue of Machine Quilting.

And so, November ends with my studio filled with holiday projects and my heart filled with gratitude at the life I have been given.

Treasure Trove of Inspiration

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai

In late August, I traveled to the north of Scotland to visit the Shetland and Orkney Islands and finally a few spots in the Hebrides. I had always wanted to visit the Orkney Islands as I have collected the jewelry of an Orkney artist, Sheila Fleet, for many years. Couple that with my Irish/Celtic heritage and when my husband and I discovered our favorite travel group, Lindblad/National Geographic, had created a trip that began in Bergen, Norway, rounded the north of Scotland, and ended in Dublin, it seemed perfect for us. It was.

As is totally appropriate, before a trip begins, I never know what I will take away from it. I always hope for some special moments and this trip did not disappoint in that respect. In Scotland, we hiked or ‘Zodiaced’ in the most beautiful serene scenery that I have no doubt will be reflected in my art for the coming year.

In retrospect though, the highlight of the trip is one that I am still processing…..a visit to the Standing Stones of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. These stones were estimated to have been constructed between 2900 and 2600 BC. There is debate on the purpose of the stones…..some say they were a ‘prehistoric lunar observatory’ while others have proposed a relationship between the stones, the moon and a distant mountain range. The stones have become a popular tourist destination as became clearly evident when our small group reached the site. We were not alone by any means! Fortunately, buses dropped off visitors at one point near the site and then arranged to pick up their passengers near a Visitor Center that was not within view of the stones. Being a patient person, and having just had a talk by a National Geographic photographer the previous day on how to handle crowded venues from a photographer’s perspective, I knew to wander and wait to see if the site would clear. It did and when I then walked within the stones, there was a moment where the mystery of the site took over. I can only describe it as a feeling of energy as I entered the circle. The largest of the stones was overpowering and I felt, for a moment, that I was in a place of great reverence. My readings since my visit suggest that the site has always been a place visited, not a place of habitation, so I would like to think it has been a place of reverence for mankind throughout the ages and I was treated to an experience of its power.

Here then are some scenes with my journey that I hope you will enjoy!

Fair Isle, Shetlands

Mull Head, Orkney Islands

Near Skara Brae, Orkney Islands

Isle of Staffa, Inner Hebrides

Sumburgh Head, Shetland Islands

The Stones of Callanish



Follow Your Heart

When in doubt,
follow your heart.

A simple trip to the Quilting Bee in Spokane to drop off JOY! for an upcoming local quilt show quickly turned my planned studio time this week upside down. As I was leaving the store, a Halloween display caught my eye.

A quick text to my daughter confirmed the images would make a perfect Halloween quilt. So, I picked out a few fabrics, did some quick guesstimates on yardage, and committed myself to sewing up a new quilt in the next few days.Soon my design wall was rearranged with ‘works in progress’ shoved over to a side while I contemplated design options. The ‘free pattern’ offered in the store was way too detailed if I was to produce this lap quilt in a few days.

I think all my efforts for Quilts Beyond Borders contributed greatly as by Wednesday I had a front and back cut, pieced,  and was assembling my quilt sandwich. 

Much to my own amazement (and selection of very, very simple big free motion quilting lines), I was able to quilt my quickie project in a day!

While the results are most definitely not ‘Houston’ standards, the most important ‘judge’ of my halloween quilt gave it a definite nod of approval.

Linking to Nine Marie”s Off the Wall Friday to see what other quilters have been up to.



The Cloth Shop

I am curious, I love making discoveries,
travelling, speaking with people, go shopping.
Maria Grazia Cucinotta

Another highlight of my recent travels was a few days in Dublin where I got to visit The Cloth Shop. The shop was founded in 2010 by mother and daughter, Deirdre and Sinéad. I was lucky enough to meet Sinéad on my visits. She is a totally delightful hostess.I first popped in to see what generally was available and found an exquisite selection of fabrics – but, more than that, what made me definitely plan to return was how welcome I was made to feel. I explained that I was just window shopping but it didn’t matter. They answered questions and gave me a card to be sure I could find them again. I did return and again, they were incredibly helpful. Sinéad and I chatted for quite a bit as she was as interested in my art as I was in their cloth. As weeks have passed, I have realized that  my time in the store is one of my fondest memories of Dublin.

I was particularly looking for cloth for my embroidery classes with Karen Ruane. Karen had given me The Cloth as a possible source of Liberty fabric in Dublin. And, wow, did they have Liberty cloth. One of a handful of worldwide dealers who receive liberty fabrics as they are first issued, the selection at The Cloth was amazing. I was delighted that when shopping in person you can buy as little as 1/4 metre and so I chose a number of cottons from the fall line.

What I didn’t expect were the silk Liberty fabrics available. Of course, I had to try a few of those too. 🙂

The Cloth offers many more fabrics beyond Liberty. They have beautiful Irish tweed and Irish linen, all dyed and woven locally, as well as  cashmeres from Italy, fine bead work from India and exquisite velvet and  lace. I saw some breathtaking modern Irish lace that I dream of someday going back to purchase.

If you have a moment, it is inspiring to browse their website, even better, if you happen to be in Dublin, check them out in person. You will definitely receive a very warm welcome.


A Weekend with Patricia Belyea

Always desire to learn something useful.

Last weekend I traveled over to Seattle for a two-day workshop by Patricia Belyea on piecing complex curves. I only attend hands-on programs every few years so this was a special experience for me. In the past year or so,  I noticed a real ‘urge to piece’ rather than relying upon fused appliqué in my art quilts. Couple that with an increasing desire to quilt children’s quilts for Quilts Beyond Borders and attending a program on piecing curves seemed a good idea.

I had met Patricia at a conference in Takoma, WA several years ago and liked her. I thought I could learn from her so I took the plunge and indulged myself. I can say that I was definitely pleased with the workshop. It was held in her ‘store’ in the basement of her house so the workshop space was small but, with only five participants, it was fine. Everything was provided from machines to lunch – we only were asked to bring fabric.  As if to enhance our learning experience, we were surrounded by shelves of the Yukata cotton that Patricia sells.

Patricia is an organizer at heart as well as a designer and this was probably one of the most well thought out workshops I have ever attended. She provided excellent teaching materials which we could take home and spaced out the teaching elements over the two days. There was plenty of leeway for each of us to proceed at our own comfort pace and Patricia was always at our sides if we asked for help, or if she, almost magically, sensed before us that we needed some guidance.

I used Yukata cottons for the workshop – not a requirement – but since Patricia has focused on using Yukata in her own extensive work, I decided to follow suit while learning from her. I knew that would be a stretch for me  as my own tastes tend more towards batiks but it was a good decision as I discovered how easy the cotton was to work with.

We progressed over two days from sketching a curved pattern, transferring it to freezer paper, cutting and finally stitching using Patricia’s method. Each of us created unique well executed 18″ quilt blocks that lay perfectly flat. Since I remembered frustrations years ago with piecing  a sketch and getting it to lie flat, I was really delighted with my results. I think it is a mark of Patricia’s skill as an instructor that each of us experienced success.

For me the real test was could I go home and have as much success as I did at the workshop. I had completed two blocks and cut pieces for a third before I left Seattle. Since I returned home I have been able to stitch together the third block and also complete a fourth block competently.

What will I do with the four blocks and what is the real value of the class for me?  I suspect the four blocks will be transformed into a set pillows. This reflects the fact that I was focusing upon technique in constructing the blocks….when I create art quilts, I prefer to start with a vision or a message that the piece is meant to convey so I can’t quite envision the blocks up on one of my walls. However I did enjoy working with the cotton and looking through Patricia’s huge inventory in person, I did purchase a few as ‘they spoke to me’ so I am sure Yukata will be sneaking into my future projects.

The real value of the weekend is some new insights into piecing curves in a composition and taking the technique forward into other areas. We had a glimpse of the potential towards the end of the workshop as Patricia shared her efforts with inset circles and curvy lines. Without a doubt, this is what made the workshop a huge success for me. I know I have learned the basics and I am sure I can adapt the process to enhance my own art.

It is always exciting to be exposed to new ideas …….I firmly believe it is what keeps us young at heart. If you are interested in learning more about piecing with curves, I hope you will check out Patricia’s workshops. They sell out early so you need to plan ahead!

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other artists are up to.

SAQA Auction Surprise!

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.
Boris Pasternak

My last post a month ago included a reminder that the SAQA auction would be coming in September. Since that post, I have traveled and traveled and traveled. Future posts will share some of the special moments and teachings in those travels.  However, this morning I was greeted by the most wonderful email – a note from Martha Sielman, Executive Director of SAQA, that my auction contribution has sold!


There are still many, many beautiful art quilts available for bidding. The auction will run through October 8. If you would like to review and bid on a 12″ square art quilt, you can do so through this link. You can see the quilts that I selected for my ‘Dream Collection’ entitled tranquility base in my last post.

Happy bidding! And, I will return to post again after my travels are at an end.  🙂

Time to Recenter!

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the strength,
the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars
to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

There is a lot of synchronicity in this world if you just follow your instincts. I will be mostly off line for a few weeks and intended to do a post on the upcoming SAQA Auction before my travels started. I usually start my posts with a quote and since I intended to share my ‘Dream Collection’ for the auction, I googled ‘dream quotes’ to jog my memory on a good quote. Harriet Tubman’s quote popped up. It felt very appropriate to me for beginning this post after this past week’s events.  For those unfamiliar with Harriet Tubman, here is the opening paragraph from Wikipedia on her life:

Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped abolitionist John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era was an active participant in the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Harriet Tubman is a heroine from our county’s past. She used her home in Auburn, NY as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Auburn is not that far from where I lived for many years in the Rochester NY area.  A few months ago I wrote in a blog post about another heroic woman, Susan B. Anthony. I had created an art quilt based on a statue of her that is in Rochester. It seems these women keep leaping into my consciousness as if to remind of how hard our ancestors worked to create the country we live in now — I am not saying this country is perfect but people have worked hard to keep it growing in the right direction. Times like we are currently living through are unsettling and it is easy to lose sight of dreams and forget the power each of us has as an individual to keep us moving forward positively.

Seems like this is a good time for everyone to recenter — to connect with that place of stability in their being. And so, my Dream Collection for the SAQA auction are pieces that suggest tranquility to me, that offer a reminder to slow down, breathe, and refocus. If you appreciate the pieces I selected, they will be up for auction on the SAQA website, beginning on September 15. You can find information on the auction here.  I also have a piece in the auction in Section I which you are welcome to bid on as well.

Aspen III
Judy Warner

So, without further ado, here is my Dream Collection entitled “Tranquility Base”:

Linking as I often do to Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday blog.

Labor of Love

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.
~Welsh Proverb

I have had a pretty blessed life, full of love, but even I admit that grandchildren are special. Some of you know that I uprooted my life and redirected my path in ‘retirement’ when I learned I was going to be a grandmother. And, I do not regret my choices one bit. I know that I have laughed more in the past few years that I would have known possible and thanked the powers that be that I am able to spend as much time as I do with my now two grandchildren.

Needless to say, my devotion to said grandchildren has included creating all sorts of fiber articles for them — from knitted animals to art quilts for their rooms, clothing for stuffed animals, and, of course, quilts for their beds. Back in 2013 it was a relatively simple matter to stitch up an Elmo quilt for Judy Kate’s small bed
However, it is now 2017 and Judy Kate has grown a bit. In anticipation of a move to a twin size bed, her Mom suggested that I might consider a new quilt for Judy Kate. Her little sister, Miriam, would certainly be delighted to inherit the Elmo quilt.  Of course, I agreed. However, several years older, with a downsized Bernina, and having spent much of time in the intervening years quilting up smaller projects, a twin sized quilt was a bit of a stretch. But, can you ever say ‘no’ to a request from granddaughter for a quilt? Of course, not.

So, over the summer Judy Kate and I discussed colors and themes. I really could not get excited about spending hours on a Batman theme (her current hero) so we went with her love of oceans, Hawaii, and whales. I came up with a design, got approval, and decided that a block approach would perhaps work best with quilting on my smaller machine. I researched quilting each block separately but that approach didn’t lend itself to my design. I considered letting a long arm quilter take over for me, but I wanted my granddaughter to be able to look back at the quilt and know her grandmother made the entire quilt.

So, in July I did all the pre-work and then spent the past two weeks using any free time I had to quilt what I will call “Whale Tail”.  I quickly appreciated that I needed to let go of any expectations of ‘perfect quilting’. To say my stitches are not uniform would be an understatement. And, there are zigs and zags as I moved the quilt while I ‘fmq’ed. Fortunately, in my mind,  the design called for a relaxed, child like pattern of quilting so only an expert quilter would find fault with my endeavors. My granddaughter definitely will not!

What making “Whale Tail” has provided me with was an opportunity to share my love of fiber and stitching with my granddaughter, to contemplate how precious she is to me, and to be grateful for the life I have been blessed with! 


Having a Good Summer

Good things come to those who wait.

I have had a lot to be grateful for this summer in my art. Besides being blessed with time, good ideas, and sheer enjoyment in stitching, I have also been acknowledged by my peers. As mentioned in my previous post, I have had After the Storm in the Sacred Threads exhibit which just closed last week.

While After the Storm was on view, I received word that Oasis was accepted into the first show of the SAQA WA Region: The State of WA(ter) which will be on exhibit at the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner, Wa from August 2 – October 29.

Applique of Japanese Gardens, Spokane, WA

I am quite excited about this. The exhibit recognizes the complexity of the state of Washington when it comes to water. To quote from the Call for Entry:

Although nearly 5,000 square miles of our state are covered in water, the landscapes of the western and eastern regions could hardly be more different. Washington is a state shaped by extremes of water: the cool, rainy West contrasts vividly with the dry, more climatically severe East. Dividing the East from the West is the dramatic Cascade mountain range, itself a setting for a plethora of lakes, rivers, and glaciers.

SAQA members residing in Washington were invited to interpret these extremes of waters, either by representing the character of water in the east, west or mountainous region of the state.

I offered the following explanation for my entry:

The dryer climate of the eastern part of Washington State has created a deep respect for the role of water in our community. Why? Years with low seasonal rain/snow mean ideal conditions for summer forest fires. Spokane has historically demonstrated its appreciation of water through its planned use of water in the county. An example is the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden which was created in 1974 in partnership with Spokane’s sister city, Nishinomiya, in Japan. The garden, with waterfall and pond, continues to this day as an oasis of peace in the heart of this eastern population center. I chose to highlight the respect for water and its careful usage in the eastern side of the state through my depiction of the pond in my art quilt, “Oasis”.

I hope that my readers will have the opportunity to see the entire SAQA exhibit at the museum.

And, my good news does not end there! I was also thrilled to learn that my art quilt, Ground Zero Reborn, has been juried into the Global Murmurs exhibit which will be on exhibit in Rochester, NY this fall. I will be writing more details on this exhibit in a later post.

Hope that everyone is having a fulfilling summer too!

Sacred Threads 2017

Spirituality is meant to take us beyond our tribal identity
into a domain of awareness that is more universal.
Deepak Chopra

Tomorrow is opening day for the Sacred Threads Exhibition in Herndon, VA. I consider this exhibit to be one of the most meaningful quilt exhibits in this country. On display are quilts that people have made expressing their life’s journey in themes of Joy, Inspiration, Spirituality, Healing, Grief and Peace. I have to confess that I have an intuitive belief that quilts that we make because they speak to us about our life are among our most powerful quilts. Walking through the Sacred Threads Exhibit, it is clear that when one quilts from a deep felt feeling, others are touched by the message.

I am honored to be part of the exhibit again this year with this entry:


After the Storm

One very rainy March, we ventured down the east coast of Maui towards Hana. On one beach there was an enormous tree branch that had broken free and landed against some shore line rocks. I captured the scene in a photo which served as an  inspiration for this quilt.

As part of any entry for Sacred Threads, the artist is asked to explain why they created the quilt and what theme from the exhibition it represents. Here is part of my entry explanation:

This quilt was inspired by a photo I took on the Hana Coast in Maui after a long overcast day of rain. The broken branches reaching out and seeming to pierce the skyline represent emotions of angst and pain, reflecting grief I have felt in my life as friends and family have passed on. While grief dominates the scene, over in the upper right corner, the sky is beginning to clear, reminding that life goes on.

If you have the opportunity to visit the Sacred Threads Exhibit, I assure you that it will move you. You can find out more about the exhibit at this link. I am also listing some basic information below:

Dates of the Exhibit: July 7, 2017 – July 23, 2017

Location:Floris United Methodist Church, 13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon, VA 20171, (703) 793-0026,

Hours for the exhibit: Mondays – Saturdays: 11am – 5pm, Sundays: 1pm – 4pm

A bit of inspiration

True art is characterized
by an irresistible urge
in the creative artist.
Albert Einstein

Yesterday was a day off for me. How do you achieve that when you are ‘retired’? You create a day where you have no responsibilities for anyone but yourself! I spent the day in Seattle viewing art. It was great. I decided to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in downtown Seattle. Why I had never been there before, I am not sure. But, I am definitely glad I took the time on this trip.

I thought I would share some of the brilliant displays of color that I found inspirational. The photos are not really edited at all but give a sense of the amazing glass structures that this man creates. Taking the photos was an added bonus as it gave me an opportunity to play with my new camera that I need to develop a fluency in by a trip at the end of the summer. Fortunately, as I entered the exhibit, I spotted a man with a similar Canon and got up my courage to ask him for advice. He was wonderful and helped me set it up so I could capture some images in a challenging lighting situation. I am so grateful for his help!

I also took a few outside in the gardens – it was a brilliantly sunny day in Seattle so the light there was amazing too. This is one of my favorites.

And how could I resist this shot of the Space Needle as I was leaving the exhibit! 🙂

I hope everyone is having a great summer. I am working on several projects and documenting them on my Facebook artist page which you can view here. In my spare time, I am spending some time with one of my dear friends, Taj, who finally consented to stay still long enough for me to catch a selfie with him. 🙂



New month – New projects

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
Joseph Campbell

The past month has been busy with a fun trip back to our Victor home and the completion of another project class with Karen Ruane on Artist’s Books. Given my travels, my book still has some pages to fill but I am pleased to have gotten to the stage of filling most of it with samples of my work and hand binding it together.

Now that June is upon us, I have started another class with Karen and a new art quilt.

Karen’s class is called Studies in Stitch and will explore different stitches in depth with each of us choosing our own projects to create based upon our explorations. Our first focus is cross stitch. We have just started but I have put together some materials for a beginning sample –

and begun to to try my hand at variations on cross stitch. I am particularly pleased with how this sample is going as I have had a mental block towards tearing out waste canvas from any stitching I have done. The rows on the bottom are my first successes at getting the canvas out from under my stitches.

My art quilt, as yet untitled,  is based upon a photo from our spring trip to Maui with grandchildren. It has progressed from a sketch, through selection of possible fabrics, many of which I purchased at one of my favorite quilt shops, Ivy Thimble in Victor NY, to a background in process of being stitched together.

Progress on both of these projects will undoubtedly be slow. My life is blessedly full. Just today all stitch work paused so I could participate in the annual Festival of Miles put on by our friends, Paul and Brenda Gill of the Bloomsday Road Runners Club in Spokane. My grandchildren each participated in their own way — Miriam stood at the start of a 50m for Age 3 and under but a big seagull kept her transfixed in place till her parents helped her a bit to the finish – where, as totally appropriate, every child received a medal……Judy Kate for the first time in three years actually took off from the start of her 400m race and made it all the way around the track.

Still wondering where the seagull went!

Poetry in Motion

With distractions like these, I am sure I will be working for quite a while on my stitching projects. You are welcome to follow my progress on my Facebook artist page, Judy Warner, Fiber Artist, where I try to check in several times a week.

For now I am happy to link up with Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday so you can see what other artists have been doing.



Looking for my Art with Fabric Blog Hop post?

Due to the bugginess of the internet, my post for May 16, “Time for Tea!”, is appearing two posts below.

So, if you are looking for the post for the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, or just want to see my latest news, please scroll down or click on this“Time for Tea!” link.


To Fill a Design Wall!

With the completion of Ground Zero Reborn, my design wall looked quite blank. My plans for my next art quilt were uncertain so I wondered if perhaps I would be staring at a blank wall for a bit. Not to worry! Quilts Beyond Borders NW Regional Coordinator Susan Schmidt mailed me a collection of odds and ends that had potential for some nautical themed quilts if there was someone to pick up the challenge.

I can’t say that I would ever have purchased most of the prints but, hey, a challenge is a challenge. So, over the past weeks my design wall has been busy.  This first top used a number of blocks that had already been pieced. I was able to sort through the miscellaneous strips and odd remnants and come up with what I considered an acceptable layout:

The next top that I sent Susan used some of the fabrics that appealed a bit more to me. Once again, I received a few blocks and miscellaneous strips. These were accompanied by a large amount of that mini-anchor fabric. I instinctively would have preferred the border to have been some of the darker blue fabric but I needed to work with what was before me.

The next group of fabrics that I tackled were quite strange and I have not yet actually completed a top. However, I have a plan! 🙂

I have purchased some blue fabric that matches the blue in those mini blocks quite well and plan to fill in blue so those pictorials are surrounded by blue strips with those mini-blocks interspersed. I haven’t quite found the energy yet to tackle the math for cutting the needed pieces so this group is now sitting in a pile on my floor while I play a bit with Karen Ruane on a project called Artist Books (more about that in another post). There will be one more top at least, I expect, for Quilts Beyond Borders, using up the remaining fabric. It has been a good use of my time. I find the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi to be quite true: “For it is in giving that we receive.” I find great comfort in the thought that these functional quilts may bring comfort to children who are in difficult times.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can check out other artists!


Return to Center

There is no true path without center
With center, the mind, body, and spirit –

Passion and commitment unleash
A force that cannot be contained.
Thomas Crum

A visit to the island of Maui a few weeks ago reminded me of the importance of ‘recharge’ breaks in life for staying centered and nurturing my artistic spirit. Maui had been an annual stopping point for my husband and I for many years. A little condo complex perched on the western shore offered an easy resting spot for us where we could quickly slip into a laid back routine. However, life has a way of intervening and it had been three years since our last visit.

It did not take long after our arrival for me to remember just why we had spent so many years trekking out to the spot annually. It felt as though the crashing waves outside our lanai were washing away tensions in my body. As I sat watching whales frolicking in the ocean, I realized the inspiration for many of my art quilts had emerged in similar moments sitting on a Maui lanai. The setting was a vehicle for me to nurture my own centered state akin to recharging a battery.

Back home on the mainland, I continued to play with the concept of recharging center. I began to identify and more fully appreciate the places in my travels where that feeling of ‘recharging’ was strongest and that I intuitively longed to return. I found each conveyed a deep feeling of peace that nurtured my creativity even though the locations varied significantly in landmark characteristics. High on my list were two sites in busy Paris – the sculpture gallery of the Louvre and the restored home of Rodin that displays many of his works.

Louvre Museum

Rodin Museum

Other ‘recharging stations’ for me were in more remote destinations: a beach on the west coast of Ireland, the ice in Antarctica, a mountain top perch in western Colorado.

County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland

Rocky Mountains

Fortunately, these places are not the only way for me to recharge. Daily meditation is my ‘at home’ go to for starting off a day in a balanced and inspired state, and sites such as the Seattle Art Museum, much more accessible than Antarctica, are guaranteed to recharge and inspire me. However, my Maui trip has reminded me of the importance of scheduling visits to some of those more distant magical places as often as possible. In fact, next year is already booked!



Time for Tea!

I was very excited to be asked by Alida of Tweety Loves Quilting to join the Spring 2017 edition of the “Art With Fabric Blog Hop!”   If you are not familiar with the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, contributors are asked to create an art work inspired by a ‘conventional’ piece of art – it could be a painting, a carving, a sculpture from any era – that leaves choices pretty open for the contributor I would say. The ‘theme’ for the spring 2017 hop was women. We could choose an inspiration piece made by a woman artist… or a piece that displays a woman… or a piece that represents some kind of women related theme… How we were to include or interpret the theme was left completely up to us.

The invitation to participate came in a few days after the inauguration of a new U.S. president – a time where tensions in the U.S. were running high you might say. Hundreds of thousands of women had just marched to express concern about the future of women’s issues and rights.

As I accepted the invitation to participate in the blog hop, my mind went immediately to a sculpture that sits in a park in Rochester NY near the National Susan B Anthony House – the home of the legendary American women’s rights leader during the most politically active period of her life, from 1866 until her death in 1906. It is now a permanent memorial to Anthony and the cause of women’s rights.

The bronzed sculpture called “Let’s Have Tea,” created by Rochester sculptor Pepsy Kettavong, was erected in 2001 — at the behest of the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association. It portrays Ms. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, two early local champions of civil rights sharing a cup of tea. The famous suffragist and abolitionist were close friends who shared the common goals of social justice and civil rights.

I loved the sculpture the moment I laid eyes upon it. A cup of tea has special symbolism in so many cultures. In my Irish homeland, a cup of tea is often the first thing you are offered upon visiting someone’s home. In Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson wrote that in the high tension areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan any meetings of substance always began with sharing tea.

And, so, I chose Pepsy Kettavong’s sculpture for my inspirational piece. I created an art quilt, using the silouhette of Susan B. Anthony and called it “It’s time for Tea!” I can definitely visualize Ms. Anthony taking to task those who are attempting to govern the U.S. now, reminding them it is time to sit down, discuss, and begin to work together.

Please do check out the other artists in the Spring 2017 Art With Fabric Blog Hop who are posting their creations today:

Linking as well to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday………

Ground Zero Reborn

I spent much of my studio time in the early months of 2017 working on a new art quilt that I have titled Ground Zero Reborn. The idea for the piece came directly from a visit that I made to the Ground Zero site in Manhattan in early November 2016.

The financial district of Manhattan has always been important in my life as my parents met while working on Wall St. and my father worked for an investment firm for his entire career. After 9/11, I visited the Ground Zero site whenever I was near New York City. I remember peering through plywood walls in the early weeks, years later standing in line for hours to gain admittance to the reflecting ponds and finally on this last visit walking down into the Memorial museum.

In the weeks after my November visit, I realized that something had definitely shifted for me. I had gained some perspective and perhaps some reassurance that whatever was thrown at us as a country, healing was possible with time. I have no doubt that my feelings of hopefulness were due in part to the choice of white marble for the interior of the massive Occulus transportation hub which lies on part of the Ground Zero site as well as it’s amazing roof design that reminded me of a bird taking flight into the future.

Photo of the Occulus building taken in November 2016 from the memorial ponds.

My new art quilt, Ground Zero Reborn, reflects my perspective now, in 2017, on the Ground Zero site and the journey of the site since that fateful day. It does this through three separate but joined art quilts.

The lowest quilt in the grouping, Remember, speaks to the horrible carnage and destruction of that fateful day when the towers came down. It is essential in my world view that we never forget horrific world events caused by mankind and that we learn from them so hopefully they will never be repeated.

The middle quilt in the sequence, Respect, honors the nearly 3000 victims of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 and 2/26/1993 as well as all those who risked their lives to help save others. It underscores the important place of respectfulness in modern society. It is my fervent hope that in paying homage to those who lost their lives, we will be inspired to commit to living our own lives at a higher level as we have the privilege of life.

The top quilt in the group, Rebirth, acknowledges the steps forward that Manhattan has taken to rebuild and revitalize its damaged community and population. I see in the image the spirits of those lost on the site soaring to the heavens. The piece truly embodies my hope that we will learn from the past and work towards a future without violence.

The three art quilts that are Ground Zero Reborn were created using multiple fiber techniques as appropriate to each quilt. Much of the stitching was done by hand with care and loving thoughts for those that lost their lives on the site.

Exhibiting with a Good Friend

I was honored to receive word a week ago that my art quilt, After the Storm, has been accepted into the 2017 Sacred Threads exhibit.

I have always loved the Sacred Threads exhibit. It is held bi-annually in Herndon, VA. The website for the exhibit describes its purpose as “a positive influence on the human spirit, giving joy as well as addressing concerns of the soul and mind.”  In my journey as an art quilter, I immediately flagged the exhibit as one that I would love to be part of. I have been fortunate to have been previously accepted into the 2013 and 2015 exhibits. My 2015 contribution, JOY!, has been part of the Sacred Threads traveling exhibit.

After the Storm depicts a scene on the Hana coastline of Maui in Hawaii. It had been a day of torrential rains. We had been on a day long tour of the coastline and had pulled over near a viewing point. The remnants of some branches that had blown against some rocks caught my eye. The sun was just beginning to break through the clouds.

I entered After The Storm into the exhibition under the category of grief. For me, the broken branches reaching out and seeming to pierce the skyline represented emotions of angst and pain that I have felt in my life as friends and family have passed on. The sky, beginning to clear, served as a reminder that life goes on.

The 2017 exhibition will be July 7-23 at the Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon. If you are in the area this summer, it is an exhibit definitely worth seeing. In the meantime, I am linking to Nina Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday blog so you can see what other artists have been up to this week.

A Feeling of Closure

A sense of resolution or closure at the end of an artisitic work.
Definition in Google.

I have been working fairly intensely on a project for the past two months that revolves around the Ground Zero site in Manhattan. I revisited the site last November and wrote about it in a post on this blog. As I wrote in that post, it was not my first visit to the area but this last visit was meaningful in that I began to see past the horrors and the sadness  and to recognize new life or rebirth in the area. It was that experience that prompted me to create an art quilt that captured my perception of this transformation.

I am still in process on that work and documenting the steps in its development on my Facebook artist page. I realized though this past week that I had reached a turning point in my process – from design to mainly execution.   It created a true feeling of closure that I promptly celebrated by cleaning my studio whose floor was covered with fabrics and sketches. I will save you from what my studio looked like ‘before’ but here is a peak at the after. You may not think this is very ‘open’ so just imagine every place where there is carpeting filled with piles of paper and fabric. 🙂

That large case that you see is for my new Bernina 765 machine that I purchased a month ago to celebrate my birthday. I had decided that 2017 would have a mantra of ‘simplify, simplify’. I have owned an 830 for many years, along with the embroidery attachment that I simply could never get excited over. My 830 was finicky…….it did a beautiful job of free motion quilting once I had the tension just right. But, I had come to realize that my needs were simpler than an 830. My 765 sews for me instantly, whenever I need a straight seam. And, when I want to quilt with it, it does so without any objection. I am in love with it and wondering why it took me so long to change.

Getting closure on projects has proved quite simple with my 765. And so, I retrieved my UFO Aspen III that I wrote about last year and finally faced and labeled it. As a result, I am pleased to be an early bird for the 2017 SAQA Auction.

                                                         Aspen III

I am looking forward to finishing my Ground Zero quilt and moving on to other projects. Hope that you are all moving forward too!