Making The Comfort Last

The hardest part for the customer is to decide which shirts to put in the quilt. The number of shirts determines the finished size of the quilt and they are all individual.  Usually, I receive 20-30 clean shirts. The images on the shirts determine the size(s) of the blocks. I combine smaller images such as pockets into larger blocks. The shirts are cut down, interfaced and the top designed and sewn together. The design is the hardest, yet most creative part for me. I like to find ways to make the quilts interesting such as pockets made to look like flag banners or the Cubs baseball shirts set on point as diamonds. Then, the backing is chosen and I have the quilting done by a long-arm quilter. This is a person with a large machine used solely for this purpose. I get the quilt back and trim and bind it by hand.

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Threads of Resistance

Threads of Resistance

The Threads of Resistance art quilt exhibition was organized by the Artists’ Alliance.

Our statement begins:

“Art has always expressed both the hope and fear of its time. As artists speaking through our quilts, we come from a long tradition of political activism. The first known fundraising quilt supported the abolition of slavery. Quilts through the past two centuries have spoken to many causes, including the Temperance movement, women’s suffrage, nuclear proliferation, and AIDS awareness.

Just as quilts are traditional symbols of comfort and healing, our art can help us unite as Americans. Our quilts let the fearful know they are not alone and isolated in their struggles. Our quilts can inspire us to be greater and braver than we think we are. Our art speaks for those who are oppressed and have no voice.”

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Stencil Play Day

Stencil Play Day

I was excited when I got my stencils from Stencil Girl. I’ve loved expanded square designs for years, but to see them transformed into stencils was a little surreal. I was excited, but then I was slightly intimidated. I usually cut my own designs, so how were these going to be different?

I cleared a weekday so I’d have plenty of time to fool around. Playing without a plan is a good way to start anything new, and that was my goal. Little did I know that at the end of Day One I’d be brimming with ideas– and ready to engage the help of my husband, Wayne. (He’s way more capable of being careful and meticulous than I am!) So we got the best of both worlds. (a little messy and a little clean) So can you. Muck around awhile and then zero-on on details, if that’s what’s in order.

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Hold The Vision

Last October, a friend showed me a book by an oil painter whose work I didn’t know. My heart flipped when I looked at the gorgeous layers, all effervescent color and pattern. My mind leapt back to glorious days immersed in surface design. Days when that’s all I did because nothing else had happened to me yet. I was bankrupt and a single mother.

The images in the book stuck to my mind like glue. I planned a December studio retreat for my artist self. I didn’t want to copy what I’d seen. I wanted to be inspired. I felt on the brink of a shift in how I thought about my work, and a deep desire to manifest an important “next step” in my artist’s quest.

December came and went. No work time. Life intervened. A holiday trip I’d not foreseen. A work schedule that ramped up instead of down. My younger artist self might have despaired. But not now. Deep breath. Let’s see about January.

January rolled by. After all, there were classes to prepare. February brought students and lessons and plenty of studio time teaching and sharing. A wonderful studio tour for my students. But no work time for me. Grrr.

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Experiments in Steaming

Someone wrote recently, inquiring about the soy wax dye pastes we introduced in January. She had questions about the colors not being as vivid as what we show on the website and wondered about the amount of steam or timing and pre-soaking her fabric. For those of you who don’t use dyes, in order for fiber reactive dye to bond to a fabric, there has to be a mordant or fixative. When a plant fiber, like cotton, is the fabric content, soda ash is used as the fixative. If a dye bath is the application of choice, soda ash goes into the dye bath. But if the application is painting or working with my soy wax crayons or pastes, then the fixative usually goes onto the fabric first. This is accomplished by soaking fabric in soda ash and water and then letting it dry.

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