Planet Textile Threads

October 30, 2014

Olga Norris

Despite the bottleneck

I should be concentrating on the final week of two courses, also the first week of a third, but what am I doing? - over-working a design, of course.
With the grid exercise in mind I looked through my photo files and picked this one of a window in Lacock Abbey.  But I am just not happy with the resulting manifestations of my workings.
I have had difficulty in leaving it alone, but I really shall have to do that now.
Time to focus my concentration elsewhere.

by Olga Norris ( at October 30, 2014 02:14 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - a 9th century poem for 21st century quilters

Tang costume (and cloth) (via)
Last week, writing about Po Chu-i (Bai Juyi), I found this nugget in the Wikipedia article about him; make of it what you will ... a wholecloth quilt? a quilt for a child leaving home? -

"Bai Juyi also wrote intensely romantic poems to fellow officials with whom he studied and traveled. These speak of sharing wine, sleeping together, and viewing the moon and mountains. One friend, Yu Shunzhi, sent Bai a bolt of cloth as a gift from a far-off posting, and Bai Juyi debated on how best to use the precious material:
About to cut it to make a mattress,
pitying the breaking of the leaves;
about to cut it to make a bag,
pitying the dividing of the flowers.
It is better to sew it,
making a coverlet of joined delight;
I think of you as if I'm with you,
day or night."

What might this cloth have looked like? It's described as having patterning of leaves and flowers; probably it would have been intended for making into a garment, most likely not an official's garment. (Here we read that officials' positions were distinguished by different colours: 

"purple was used as the garment color for officials above the third grade; light red, officials above the fifth grade; dark green, officials above the sixth grade; light green, officials above the seventh grade; dark cyan, officials above the eighth grade; light cyan, officials above the ninth grade; and yellow, ordinary people and those who did not live in the palace." - interesting that, centuries later, yellow was the colour reserved for the emperor. Sumptuary laws - who was allowed to consume, or wear, what - changed from era to era.)
The Tang dynasty was a time when women could wear men's clothing - read about Tang costume history here ... but the article is scant on information about the actual cloth. In any case, if the cloth was sent "from a far-off posting" it would have been something unusual in central China or mainstream culture. 

Perhaps the posting was in the southwest, an area affected by Indian and Persian influences, such as motifs on cloth. The hufu style of clothing - "foreigners' dress" - was a tight-fitting style popular in the early part of the dynasty (later, the ruqun, with the long, wide sleeves, was de rigeur...for women). 

Or perhaps the posting was in the south-east: "During the Tang Dynasty silk, was a staple textile. Sichuan, Jiangnan (South-east of China) and Henan/Hebei were the most famous silk-producing regions. Sichuan's colorful brocade, Wuyue's unusual faille and Henan/Hebei's silk gauze were precious silk products at that time.

"Silk from the Tang Dynasty is not only colorful and lustrous, but also very rich and beautiful in pattern. Birds were often used, including the phoenix, peacock, parrot, mandarin duck and hoopoe in embroidering, printing and dyeing. Sometimes they were mixed with bees, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, insects and so on. Beasts included lions, unicorns, tigers, leopards, deer, camel, and they were mainly used in the subject patterns of heavily colored brocade. 
Flowers and trees were often used also. The peony was first choice, while twining branches, crossing branches and a bunch of flowers were used together, ever-changing and very beautiful. Flower groups in crisscross and square designs were also found." (via)
If the posting was in the northeast, perhaps the fabric looked like this, a fragment from the Mogao caves, near Dunhuang -
Embroidered panel, Tang dynasty
The article goes on to say: "The textiles found in the Library Cave [sealed up in the 11th century] include silk banners, altar hangings, wrappings for manuscripts, and monks' apparel (kāṣāya). The monks normally used fabrics consisting of a patchwork of different scraps of cloth as a sign of humility; these therefore provide valuable insights into the various type of silk cloth and embroidery available at the time."
Keep in mind that the width of the fabric on a bolt of cloth would have been narrower than what we're used to now - the width of the loom was limited to how far the weaver could reach from side to side, or perhaps to the width of the reed through which the yarn is threaded. 

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 30, 2014 09:30 AM

October 29, 2014

Rayna Gillman

halfway there

Wednesday.  One more day and it's the end of the week. Wishing the week away the way we wish our lives away. Tsk tsk.

Today was a cleaning day.  I am embarrassed to say that I spent most of the day cleaning off the desk in the kitchen (well, not a desk you sit at, but I don't know what else to call it.)  Dumping ground. Tip.
It took me all day to decide what to throw and how to organize what to keep. 

There are still some things that don't belong there: a 1979 withdrawal slip from a bank that no longer exists, signed by my mother and father; a small box that says "my toy dishes" written on top in my mother's handwriting.  She was born in 1917 and the dishes are china, wrapped in tissue paper.  The box is falling apart, held together by rubber bands.  A match safe that I should nail to the wall, but since I plan to paint the kitchen it doesn't make sense.  The file drawers below are full, so I have a dozen manila envelopes with things I need to tend to.  Photos of the grandchildren.  Pens, pencils, a pencil sharpener; the phone.

The bulletin board is another story: tax bills that remind me our real estate taxes have nearly doubled in the past 18 years.(do I really need these?)  Prescriptions I need to remember I have. more photos. Cartoons that make me smile. (I saved it from 1983 because my father never failed to fall asleep in a concert).
 And this one.  We all know somebody like this woman.
Miscellany.  BUT - I can see the horizontal surface (at least for now).  There is still some stuff on my kitchen table, out of your sight -- but I'll deal with it tomorrow.  Tonight, I will go into my sewing room.
And I will ignore the fact that I can't see those horizontal surfaces, either:-).  The sewing machine is clear.

by (Rayna) at October 29, 2014 10:47 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

The Purple Moose Quilt Retreat

At the Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains at peak leaf season

At the Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH, in the heart of the White Mountains at peak leaf season

Most quilt teaching jobs are in the standard Grange or church basement, a basic rectangular box, often in a basement.  You reach it by going to an airport (ugh), flying to another airport (ugh), connecting to a third (or heaven forefend a fourth) airport.  Frequently with long layovers in loud seating areas with expensive coffee and stale food.   The quilters are always fun, but the getting there, not so much.  This time was GLORIOUSLY different!   I drove 5 hours from my home in Maine to the White Mountains in NH where Terri Sontra, of Purple Moose Designs, held her first (hopefully annual and then semi-annual) retreat.  Terri has been looking for the right venue for several years and finally found the Snowy Owl Inn nestled in the heart of the mountains.

The Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH

The Snowy Owl Inn, Waterville Valley, NH

I can tell you right now, I want to go back as a participant and just sew and play at a retreat–been far too long since I’ve been on one, Terri wants to do things RIGHT, the lodge owners were incredibly wonderful…well, anyone wanna come play?

Balinese Garden table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith

Balinese Garden table runner (c) Sarah Ann Smith  (Pattern available here)

Terri selected my Balinese Garden pattern for the Saturday teaching portion of the retreat.  We all arrived Friday afternoon in time for dinner.  Class, which was optional for the participants, was Saturday, but pretty much everyone ended up doing a bit of something I was teaching–FUN!  Saturday evening Alison Bolt came  and gave a humorous talk.  Sunday was more sewing–Terri invited me to stay the weekend (which happened to be the long holiday weekend AND peak color in New England for the leaf-peepers) but I needed to return home (fooey!), then folks went home Monday.  Like I said, I wanna come back as the not-teacher, too!  Several of the ladies went for walks in the woods nearby, and one took a free guided hour-long hike Sunday morning (put on by the town/center).

The students did fabulous work with my pattern–I love it when folks cut loose!  So I’ll salt in photos of what they did throughout this post.

Love the soft, spring colors in this.

Love the soft, spring colors in this.

What’s awesome is how she did it…

Ann wasn't feeling well and packed in a hurry to head to the retreat after work.  She tossed in this multicolored batik ad made all her leaves and flowers from it!

Ann wasn’t feeling well and packed in a hurry to head to the retreat after work. She tossed in this multicolored batik and made all her leaves and flowers from it!  That’s called making your fabric work for you!

Terri had some laudable (and achieved) goals for the retreat:  beautiful location, reasonable lodging fees, good and plentiful food on site (the Inn doesn’t normally run a restaurant full time, but they fixed meals for us and we snarfed), a FULL table per person, and the lighting in the room was REALLY good–no one needed to bring the usual array of extra lamps.  We had participants from Massachusetts, Maine, NH and Vermont.

As you can see, we had lots of room.  Terri had her booth stuff (she vends at quilt shows) set up at the entry with all sorts of useful goodies (including a great selection of needles and batiks, yes I bought some!).  I had the other end for my samples etc.  Each student had an entire table to use, and there were elevated cutting stations and ironing boards in the center.

As you can see, we had lots of room. Terri had her booth stuff (she vends at quilt shows) set up at the entry with all sorts of useful goodies (including a great selection of needles and batiks, yes I bought some!). I had the other end for my samples etc. Each student had an entire table to use, and there were elevated cutting stations and ironing boards in the center.  And in the lower left, the table with the drawings/prizes.  The swag bags for participants were to die for wonderful, too!  Even Alison (the lecture) and I got our own name tags and mugs!  Thank you, Terri!

Didn't this table runner turn out amazing?  When class broke for dinner on Saturday, she had maybe three flowers put together.  Came in the next morning and she had this DONE plus (see next photo)

Didn’t this table runner turn out amazing? When class broke for dinner on Saturday, she had maybe three flowers put together. Came in the next morning and she had this DONE plus (see next photo).   She even got some sleep, but she stayed up WELL past my bedtime!

She had these extra leaves to practice on as I suggested, since you play with thread colors and stitches on your machine  With a "spare to practice" you don't have to pick stuff out!

She had these extra leaves to practice on as I suggested, since you play with thread colors and stitches on your machine With a “spare to practice” you don’t have to pick stuff out!


Here’s a cheerful sample.  What I love is seeing students take fabrics I’d never think to use and come up with something they love!  Very cottage-y!

Love her blues.  Starr worked on several projects on Saturday, so glad she got so much done.

Love her blues. Starr worked on several projects on Saturday, so glad she got so much done.

The female half of the owners got to take the class, and I'm so annoyed I didn't get a photo of the finished top--I thought I had.  It turned out GREAT!

The female half of the Snowy Owl Inn owners got to take the class, and I’m so annoyed I didn’t get a photo of the finished top–I thought I had. It turned out GREAT!  Here it is in progress.

I love for how this student brought fabric that echoes my pattern and is using my process to enhance the fabric.

I love for how this student brought fabric that echoes my pattern and is using my process to enhance the fabric.  She is relatively new to sewing, but has a great eye and good design sense.

This student has a quilt/bedspread she made and wants to make a wall hanging to go in the bedroom.  She brought the fabric used in the quilt, so we figured out how to use some of that fabric in the top.

This student has a quilt/bedspread she made and wants to make a wall hanging to go in the bedroom. She brought the fabric used in the quilt, so we figured out how to use some of that fabric in the top.

She brought out the fabric to show her neighbor-table-mate, and we both said  BORDERS!  Make it bigger, use it as a border.  Isn't this FAN-flippin'-TASTIC?!!!!  I so want pics when it is quilted.  She bought some gold thread to use. Swoon!

She brought out the fabric to show her neighbor-table-mate, and we both said BORDERS! Make it bigger, use it as a border. Isn’t this FAN-flippin’-TASTIC?!!!! I so want pics when it is quilted. She bought some gold thread to use. Swoon!

Next year, Terri has Ami Simms booked.   I may not do the project/class, but I want to go and laugh!  If Eli’s cross-country season runs the same, I could leave after the meet on Friday, be in NH by bedtime, and spend the weekend…..hmmmmm……..

Anyway, if you are looking for a great getaway retreat, I can say hands-down Terri’s was great.  Now, can I really escape for a play weekend?  Since I began teaching a decade ago (a DECADE?  Already?!!!!!????) I haven’t gone away to play at quilting, feeling that I am gone enough.  But I’m taking next year off of teaching to be home for Eli’s senior year and sports.  So…..if I wait until after that week’s meet is over…….Terri, when do you start taking deposits?



by Sarah Ann Smith at October 29, 2014 07:29 PM

Virginia A. Spiegel

Celebrating Silver: An Exhibit, A Catolog, An Anniversary


Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) is celebrating their  25th anniversary and invited member artists to submit a portfolio of work to be considered for a “Celebrating Silver” exhibit. The juror for the exhibit was SAQA’s founder, the amazing Yvonne Porcella.  Artists chosen by Yvonne created new work for the exhibit after reflecting upon this statement:

Silver is indispensable. From industrial use to decoration, technology, photography and medicine, its unique properties of strength, malleability, reflectivity and conductivity make it an irreplaceable force in the global market. In addition to its physical properties silver is recognized as a symbol of love, insurance, and commitment for twenty-five years.

Brown450Reflections Reflecting – Peggy Brown.
I love the ethereal nature of this artwork and, as with all great artwork, wish I could see it in person to see all the details.

If you will be at the Olympics of the Quilt World, a.k.a. International Quilt Festival, October 30-November 2 you can catch the premier of this exhibit.  An exciting addition to the exhibit is a notebook that Curator Nancy Bavor describes as “documentation that included their sources of inspiration, photos, sketches, fabric samples and description of techniques.”  I love that sort of thing and wish perhaps a bit of it could have been included in the catalog.

McCabeJ450Jubilation – Kathleen McCabe
There is such dynamic power in such a limited palette in this artwork

However, if you like me, won’t be at Houston indulge in the catalog.  It’s hardback (silver, of course), 73 pages, and with all the great photography we have come to expect from SAQA publications. Each artist has a two-page spread with a large detail on one page with a short artist’s statement as well as a list of materials and techniques.  The artwork with title and dimensions is on the facing page.  I can now stop complaining about a lack of details!  Although never as good as seeing the work in person, those detail photos made the book for me.

Busch450Dance With Me – Elizabeth A. Busch
It’s always a good artwork when you need to ask, “How did she do that?”

Celebrating Silver is a traveling exhibit.  The schedule to date is here.


by Virginia at October 29, 2014 11:31 AM

Margaret Cooter

Playing with oil pastels

After the need to "play with materials" hit me, I dug out my venerable box of pastels (bought in Calgary in 1977 - they still have the $3.75 sticker) and picked up the nearest magazine -

False-colour version of an Aboriginal painting
- I learned that blending is the secret for rich surfaces
 Having plunged in, I then watched a few youtube videos of people drawing apples: layering and blending. Turning back to the magazine, I perversely came up with this page of Gandaus, funerary carvings from north Pakistan -
Overlapping colourful lines
Trying a thin, smooth paper
 Bravely I took the pastels along to the Wallace Collection -
Starting to get the hang of it
A "crowbill" cover from the oriental arms section 
And elsewhere -
After a work by Alfred Jensen seen in an exhibition
These two are from the art sketchbook walk course -

After a few days of "play" I was feeling happier with the medium ... even after finding a box of assorted makes of oil pastels, including quite a few Sennelier, which are veryvery oily -

They aren't half messy though! I used these rediscovered old pastels to scale up a small section of one of the pages done in a gallery -
Ah, the pleasures of playing! And all this colour, after working mainly with ink and monochrome, is rather refreshing. Further, lurking on my shelves were two boxed sets, unnoticed during the studio reorganisation. I've had them for years and never used them, just got used to seeing the boxes. The square sticks are Carbothello, watersoluble "coloured charcoal";  the other, Neopastel, is both blendable and "aquarellable" -

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 29, 2014 09:26 AM

Margaret Cooter

Tuesday is drawing day - 4

The Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood is like a great big barn, and all those hard surfaces make it very echoey, with nowhere to get away from noise. As it's half term, it was full of children - as you might expect!

I wasn't really paying attention to the kids, though some of the planned activities were rather boistrous. There was a seat in front of the display of children's clothes through the ages, among which were these petulant, wary, abashed, well-behaved dolls -
They are Lenci dolls from the 1920s, made of pressed felt, wearing what look to be hand-knit sweaters and socks.

After spending the entire morning drawing them (and trying out the "aquarellable" qualities of the Neopastels on the boy), I feel very well acquainted with them, and find their expression more interesting than the gaze-into-your-eyes, sweetly-smiley rather-sad dolls of today.
My box of Neopastels contained 10 colours, and no brown, which would have been very useful. Some liberties needed to be taken ... I rather like the inaccurate colours, eg yellow faces and purple in the hair (but am not happy with his clothes, and rather overdid the amount of her hair). It was pure pleasure, though, to mess around with the waterbrush - a new experience. A little colour goes a long way with these pastels.
At one point I heard a woman saying, "Girls, come over here and watch this lady drawing" - I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, "Madam, I am not an exhibit!" The girls, however, were delightful and we had a nice little talk about the dolls. They came back later with a friend to see how the drawing was getting on.

Karen had come along to draw; at 1pm we escaped from the acoustic and all those kids.

Next Tuesday (Nov 4) - V&A. The glass gallery is usually fairly quiet, but whether any sketching stools can be found remains to be seen.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 29, 2014 09:02 AM

Kyra Hicks

New book! Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries. What's YOUR favorite question?

Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries
What's YOUR favorite question?
How about a different kind of quilting fun? Just published is Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries.

I hope you enjoy this newest book!  Quilters Questions is perfect for quilters of any age or skill level.  You can explore topics ranging from quilter identity, creative inspiration, collaboration, exhibiting, fabrics, your quilting legacy, sex and quilts (yes :>) and more!

Quilters Questions includes 300+ open-ended questions. This engaging read provides hours of fun and conversation. And is great for you to answer on your own - or as a guild activity. With the holidays approaching, it's a great gift idea or stocking stuff for any quilter.

What kind of curious questions can you expect?
  • Would you accept $25,000 to stop quilting forever? What if the offer was only $2,000?
  • Would you consider sewing a hidden mini camera into a quilt to monitor someone? Why or why not?
I had a BALL working on this book and hope you enjoy it and share with a quilting friend!    Best, Kyra

Quilters Questions: A Book of Curious Queries
Black Threads Press
126 pages, $9.95
ISBN: 0-9824796-4-6

by Kyra ( at October 29, 2014 07:28 AM

Call for Entries - 9th Annual African American Fiber Arts Juried Exhibition

9th year of the African American Fiber Arts Juried Exhibition curated by Torreah "Cookie" Washington will honor the late Maya Angelou and focus on “How Maya Angelou made your artist’s journey more meaningful? What were her words that inspired you to keep keeping? How did she help you to RISE?," according the call for entry information.

You might remember that Ms. Washington curated the fantastic 2012 exhibit Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore: A Fiber Arts Exhibition. See this video of the Mermaids exhibit.

This juried exhibit will be installed as part of the North Charleston Arts Festival and on display at the North Charleston City Hall, April 30 - June 15, 2015. Several pieces will be selected for a traveling exhibit that will tour the lower Southern US states for one year. Quilts, wearable arts and dolls may be submitted for this juries show. Here are a few considerations, but contact Ms. Washington for a complete list.
  1.  All works must be made by the entrant but can be quilted by someone else.
  2.  Quilts must be at least 30” x 30” and not more than 60” x 60”. Group Quilts assembled or quilted by 3 or more people, such as row robin quilts, block exchange quilts, group hand quilted quilts are open for consideration.
  3. Dolls may be no taller than 18 inches.
  4. There is a non-refundable entry fee for each entry.
If you want to submit an entry for consideration, contact Ms. Washington at   Enjoy!

by Kyra ( at October 29, 2014 06:19 AM

October 28, 2014

Rayna Gillman


Actually, today is the third time since Saturday I have been in the City.  Saturday afternoon after my grandson Ben's football game, we headed into Greenwich Village to the FIlm Forum, which shows classic, foreign, indy, and all kinds of interesting movies.  The film was one neither of us had seen when it came out: Hiroshima Mon Amour.  A brilliant, beautiful, powerful film that I will not forget.

Sunday was Brooklyn. I usually drive in on a Sunday morning when there is no traffic, but we took the bus in because I was not in the mood to hassle with late afternoon traffic coming home.  Here was the view from the bus window in NJ, as the sun was setting.
Today I went into NY to meet my friend Penny and her husband Hank for lunch. They live in St. Thomas and were in NY for a special event, so they were squeezing in everything they could manage in a few days.  After lunch, I headed to the garment district to search for a linen/rayon blend similar to the shawl I recently dyed.  It's deliciously soft and  has the consistency of cheesecloth - but a bit heavier.  Here is the undyed original.  See the weave?  This is 45"x60" - a perfect wrap!
Last week I went into a fabric store near my studio and bought some cheesecloth, which I also dyed.
It is lighter weight than the above fabric and was only 36" wide.  It had the benefit of being cheap, though, so I could experiment.  It makes a sweet summer scarf at 18" x 60" but I'd like to see it longer.
I am going to look for heavier weight cheesecloth online. (below is the actual yellow of the above fabric). bleh.
Today I walked up and down 39th St in vain, looking for the linen/rayon blend.  I forget which store this was, but they didn't have what I was looking for.
 Finally, at Paron Fabircs, I found a linen/cotton blend and splurged on two yards, which should make 3 scarves @ 18"x 72".  This was 4 times as expensive as the cheesecloth and an only slightly tighter weave but I'm on a mission.
On my way back to the bus terminal, I passed this sign, which reminded me of the way 42nd St. used to be when it was gritty. I miss it.
There were about a zillion people on line at the TKTS booth on 47th and B'way, waiting to buy half-price theatre tickets.  It was such a warm, beautiful day that nobody minded standing for who-knows how many hours.  This was only one little bit on the 7th Ave. side.
By Saturday, when we will be back in NY to stay with friends, it is supposed to be freezing cold and I saw a forecast for snow. Snow? Again in October? Oy! Please let it be wrong.   In the meantime, my woods still look beautiful -- and the green is not ready to go yet.

by (Rayna) at October 28, 2014 11:48 PM

Margaret Cooter

Dogged (Bethnal Green Road)

Fluffy white puppies going walkies
(What happened next: the woman in black stopped talking
on her phone and made a big fuss of the dogs; she was a stranger to them)

How much is that doggie in the window?
(Taking in the warmth of perhaps the last fine day in autumn ...
but does a dog know that?)

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 28, 2014 09:30 PM

Terry Grant

Getting Started

Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to start a new piece? There is a lot of contemplation that happens first, but then the actual process has to begin and drawing and cutting fabric and all that. I don't know why those first steps from concept to something material are so hard— so much like a leap into a cold lake— but they are. And, to extend that cold lake metaphor—once you've made the leap it all begins to feel increasingly more comfortable and soon the hesitation is forgotten and you are happily immersed.

The next High Fiber Diet theme requires that we use mostly neutral colors. Groooooooaan! I like my colors. I have some thoughts and plenty of inspiration from our trip, but I decided to make something small and neutral first just to get my eyes and brain into neutral gear.


The day we went to the Prado in Madrid I walked and walked that day. Coming out of the museum after nearly four hours of the most inspiring art, I sat myself down on the front steps of the museum and this little sparrow-ish bird lighted on the step below me and he looked like a painting. Or maybe everything looked like a painting just then. So today Prado Bird seemed like a good place to start exploring neutrals. I can see he is too fat, but I think my shirt plaids are sufficiently birdlike enough to work.


The stitching is helping to blend the fabrics.

So, I have begun. It's a good feeling.


The Prado


by Terry Grant ( at October 28, 2014 07:47 PM

Olga Norris

Prolific enthusiast

J.M.W. Turner is a U.K. national treasure.  We are so fortunate that he spent so much of his time looking and capturing in pencil, watercolour, and oils so much of what was around him.  On Sunday we went to Tate Britain to see their exhibition Late Turner: Painting Set Free
Norham Castle Sunrise, one of my favourite Turner paintings was in the show.  I have known Turner's work for most of my life, but this exhibition showed me how superficial that knowledge is.  Familiarity is but mere acquaintance in this case, and my curiosity to learn more has been piqued.  It is interesting how recognising so many works has deluded me that I was familiar with them and their originator.  It is definitely time to find out more - although not this week as I have a bottleneck of online courses.  I shall start next week with the catalogue for this exhibition.

by Olga Norris ( at October 28, 2014 01:41 PM

Neki Rivera



still have warp to go, but have a feeling i'm repeating myself. maybe let it rest for some days and do something else?

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at October 28, 2014 09:30 AM

Margaret Cooter

Art at Imperial War Museum

Transport glitches meant we decided to go see the Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War show at the Imperial War Museum. We didn't expect there to be quite so many people - the museum was packed! - and later we learned that one of the train operators was offering special fares to families. It's half term, so the kids need entertaining...
After its £40m refurbishment, the museum retains its central space but has galleries round the edges. This view is from the back toward the entrance - to go to the upper levels, you either descend and cross the floor, or go through the bookshop and along the gallery, which turns out to be rather difficult in crowded conditions, as bits of equipment on display are sticking out, and the lighting is "atmospheric". So far, not a positive experience, but worth another visit on a weekday.

Fortunately the art galleries were rather less populated, and several had seating. The scenes depicted, and the emotional burden behind them, made for depressing viewing, but there was much to admire, and the labels cast new light on the paintings, the artists - and the shenanigans of the bodies commissioning war artists.
Anna Airy, Shop for Machining 15 inch Shells (via)
The shop for making shells in Glasgow was formerly the Singer Manufacturing Company, notorious for low pay - its turbulent history is indicated by the littered floor.
Percy Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled, 1919 (from here, which has a good selection of images)
Eric Kennington, The Kensingtons at Laventie, 1915
Kennington's painting shows soldiers arriving at their billet; one figure is a self-portrait. It's done in an unusual technique, painting on the reverse of the glass, which requires the paint to be applied top-down, as it were. It was painted when he was invalided out in 1915.
CRW Nevinson, Paths of Glory, 1917
The dead soldiers in Paths of Glory are British soldiers - this didn't go down well - it seemed to be ok to show the dead bodies of the enemy, but not of "our boys". Nevinson was a medical orderly and as he was an official war artist, the painting had to get past the censor - and was banned on the grounds of being detrimental to morale.

It might be worth going along to the hour-long gallery talk (at 11, 1 and 3pm) on the first Saturday of the month - the exhibition runs till 8 March.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 28, 2014 09:48 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Grinnell Glacier Trail Heading Back Down

 Weather was starting to roll in from the east as we headed back down the trail.  There are a couple of these big cairns along the trail close to the glacier.  It looks like people add to the pile as they pass by.  I added mine near the top!
 I love this picture with the trail behind me!
A little lower down - the clouds rolling in and the lakes below.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at October 28, 2014 06:00 AM

October 27, 2014

Gerrie Congdon

Around the World Blog Post

Seems every one is doing it or refusing to do it.  I was invited by the very talented and uber fun Pixel Ladies, Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki. You can follow their blog here: I first met them in person at the SAQA/SDA conference in San Francisco and enjoyed sharing a van with them when we did the studio tours. They are very active in SAQA – Kris is the president of the board and Deb is an active volunteer for SAQA. I am looking forward to seeing them in Portland for the SAQA Fiberlandia conference next year. I recommend their blog to you because it often has a great tip or tutorial for using Photoshop in your art.

To complete my task, I need to answer some questions for you and then assign the task to someone else.

1. What am I working on?

I should be honest and say that I am mainly working on getting my level of creativity back to where it was before we moved to our condo and my studio got seriously downsized. I went from a huge well-lighted daylight basement space to a room that is not quite big enough to be a bedroom for one person. I miss my huge design wall and my large tables on wheels where I did my surface design work. And most of all room to dance while I work!!

I am happy to be part of The Printed Fabric Bee which keeps me in the studio doing some fabric printing every month. This month we are challenged to do a 12 X 12 piece with a science theme. I chose DNA strands. This is my practice fabric where I test colors and prints.




I have also been working on rehabilitating some quilts that were rushed to finish and needed some help. I am quite happy with the change in this one which I call Taking Leaf of My Seasons. Here is the before. I scanned actual leaves and printed them on silk and just kind of threw them at my beautiful hand painted silk organza background. The realistic leaves did  not work well with the background and the placement was not artistic. So I patiently removed them.


I painted more silk organza which I fused together and then cut leaves for each season. I wanted a more artistic placement and I think I have achieved that. This is not a very good photo – which is another thing I lost when we moved – a place to photograph my quilts.


The problem is with the fall leaves that are too close to the color of the background. I am going to add some yellow and chartreuse paint to them.


I am also working on a design for a large quilt for a commission for a church here in Oregon. Not sure if I will get the job as they are considering two of us.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love to experiment with new ways of adding texture, color and design to my work. I don’t use patterns. I don’t do piecing. I am a fuser and I really like to use fabric like paint in composing an art quilt. I may have a quick sketch, but in general, I work more spontaneously, cutting and placing fabric and finally fusing into place.
3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Well, what would I be doing if I didn’t do what I do? That is the question. I am not one to sit around and read and watch TV all day. I must constantly be knitting, sewing, cooking, quilting, painting. This passion for creating keeps me healthy, mentally and physically.
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I think I answered that up there in question 2. I just plunge in and start playing with paint, dye, fabric, thread. I often play with an idea in my head for days until I can start working on it.

I have tagged my good friend, Judy Carpenter, who lives in Georgia. We have met in person over the years at conferences and workshops. She does beautiful dye work on fabric and creates the most gorgeous scarves. She also knits obsessively, making beautiful creations. Here is her blog: Judy in the Dyes. Look for her post next Monday.

by Gerrie at October 27, 2014 04:24 PM

Natalya Aikens


Playing in Photoshop is something I enjoy doing. So when the opportunity comes up and it's a commission too, how could I resist?

The client liked the dryer sheet prints in my Etsy store, but wanted something a bit different. You want images from two of of the most photogenic cities in the world? That I have a special connection to? And you want me to play with Photoshop and dryer sheets? Where do I sign up?

I thought I'd share a few of the images that I have been playing with. These are Photoshopped creations from my own photographs. This is the mid stage of the project as they will now be printed on the dryer sheets and will look very different in the end.

a detail of St. Basil's in Moscow
one of the towers of the Kremlin
detail of the Choir Singers bridge in St. Petersburg
The Mariinsky theater
A side entrance to the Hermitage
Hopefully next week I'll be able to share the final project. Now back to the studio!

by Natalya Aikens ( at October 27, 2014 12:29 PM

Neki Rivera

whoa woe

this gorgeous gifted silk knit.i thought i had enough for my shroud, but was proven wrong.

being extra careful as knits require i traced the top pattern in whole so that it could be cut in one piece. i thought that would also be a fabric saver, but alas no.

the skirt pieces;  2 pairs for the top part and two pairs for the bottom of the skirt. not enough for the 4 bottom pieces   (╯︵╰,)
have thought of two solutions

  • either knit a black piece myself and do a one to one on both the front and back or do the whole top or bottom with the knit. 
  • or hunt for a plain black knit fabric.

still have to decide. meanwhile the weaving proceeds.

neki desu
Creative Commons License 

by (neki desu) at October 27, 2014 09:00 AM

October 26, 2014

Margaret Cooter

Sidetracked, mapwise

Fluffing around in the studio, I got out the "map folding" project with the idea of making folders for some of the maps. At the CQ winter school, when I last worked on the project, someone pointed out that the map's folder needn't be plain, it could have its own set of decorations. Well I don't want to overdo it, but the idea of something that identified a particular map, allowing it to be retrieved [shades of call numbers on library books!] was intriguing.

So in addition to trying out ways to stiffen the edges of the folder, I was thinking about motifs or marks that would link in to the map.

In the end, five of the "maps" are now separately in rudimentary folders - sheets of A3 typing paper. One has "identification marks", and one simply has a border round the edge to stiffen it. (My first thought for the borders was to stitch something one, and that's still a possibility, but at the moment, glue comes in handy.)
Every map its folder; every folder its marks
It was while cutting the border from the cover of last year's City Lit catalogue that I got sidetracked. On the inside of the cover was a map, rather like the one I'd used to make monoprints for the little fabric/paper/print/stitch books in the summer. I couldn't resist cutting it out ... and given the effort involved, opened the catalogue and cut through a few pages at the same time -
This yielded a few street-grids, and some holes in pages, and rather a lot of incomplete cut-outs.

Starting at the "back" - the least complete cut-outs - I painted each page, sometimes shielding some of the cut-out areas below, to get a sequence of colours -
 culminating in a great mess by trying to paint too much at once, and having the thin structures stick and need careful lifting before the paint dried -
 The bottom layer ... and how the paint seeps under the page -
This started as a way of making a stencil to use in my next monoprint session, whenever that might be. It's all put away for now, to be revisited later. "Cutting through" was fun and has possibilities for the little books, and the sticky mess was a lesson in how not to do it. Using ink on a roller/brayer, rather than a paintbrush, would make things easier in that regard. I was being too hasty in applying globs of paint ... there are times when you need to work more slowly, carefully, thoughtfully.

Also it's a case of how playing around - ie, not thinking too hard about what you're doing - can open up new ways of working ... in this case a different approach to book structure, to include the cutouts and what shows beyond them, and how cutouts can interrelate the pages.

There's a balance to be struck between the playful impulse and the thoughtful execution; that's the tricky bit.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 26, 2014 03:06 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

Quilt Festival Houston 2014: where to find me and my work

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, Festival!  When you say “Festival” to a dedicated quilter, they know there is only ONE Festival that counts, the Big One In Houston.  Same thing–if you say Houston, we all know what that means–FUN, Friends, Quilts, all under one enormous roof.   I’m teaching again this year and will have four quilts in the exhibit area, plus two small pieces in a booth.  Read on!

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.  See Thursday and Friday October 30 and 31.

Sunday, Oct. 26:  Travel from Maine to Texas.  Provided all goes well, I will not only have time to check in to the Teachers’ Room, find my shipped items and get ready for my first class on Monday, I’ll be able to get to the International Quilt Market show (already have my credentials!) to visit some friends who will be there only for Market.

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, in the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit. (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul, in the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit. (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

Monday, Oct. 27:  I’m teaching Let’s Machine Quilt, my intro to Machine Quilting class.  Class runs from 9-5, with a two hour lunch break which I plan to spend on the show floor making more contacts at market.  When online registration closed, I think there were a couple spots left in this class.  If you’re interested, sign up at registration at Market.

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  First major presentation in public at lecture, Tuesday, How Did She Do That?

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014. First major presentation in public at lecture, Tuesday, How Did She Do That?

Tuesday, Oct. 28:  I’ll be giving my lecture, How Did She Do That?  It is a virtual trunk show of what I do and how I do it, supplemented with at least half a dozen real live quilts.   These lectures are in HUGE rooms so there is always room for more people.  I’m hoping to attend the lecture before me at 10.  Then at noon, I’ll be going to the luncheon and lecture (as will be many of the folks in my lecture).  Tuesday is the day the Market-only booths pack up and depart and the Festival-only booths arrive and begin setting up.  So I figure either the lecture will be full or empty (with folks having chosen to go off into the city or busy with booth set-up/take-down).  DO come–it’s so much more fun to talk to a room with people in it!

Haleakala Sunrise, (c) 2004 Sarah Ann Smith.  In the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit.

Haleakala Sunrise, (c) 2004 Sarah Ann Smith. In the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit.

Wednesday, Oct. 29:  Teaching Birch Pond Seasons, my third year in a row for this intro to art quilting and fused collage.  This is a no-sewing class and I’m thrilled to report it filled during online enrollment!  It’s my third year in a row teaching this class at Houston–so glad it works well for so many.  I encourage students to do their own thing–no copy-the-teacher stuff in my classes!

And some art cloth--this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style.  I wanted to have something totally "not me" though so that students get to try both representational and not!

And some art cloth–this is SO not my typical, but I could see playing with surface design, a lot, to make more fabrics to use in my more typical style. I wanted to have something totally “not me” though so that students get to try both representational and not!

Thursday, Oct. 30:  One of six presenters at Machine Quilting Forum (sold out) from 9-Noon.   Attending the lecture and teacher appreciation luncheon Noon to 2.  From 5-6 I will be teaching a mini-Whimsy Class at the Fiber on a Whim Booth, #144.  For more info, see  here and  here and here   There is no advance sign up–the first 8 people in line get in.  All supplies are provided by me.

In progress shot from The Nest, (c) 2014 Sarah Ann Smith.

In progress shot from The Nest, (c) 2014 Sarah Ann Smith, part of Sarah’s Whimsy Class.

Friday, Oct. 31:  From 11-Noon I’ll be teaching my mini-Whimsy Class (see Oct. 30 info and links).  Then from 5:30 to 7, I’ll be “on duty” in the Inspired by the Beatles exhibit.  In the evening, I’ll be enjoying diner the company of the marvelous artists in the Dinner@8 group.

Two of Us (c) 2013 Sarah Ann Smith.  Inspired by the Beatles challenge and exhibit.

Two of Us (c) 2013 Sarah Ann Smith. Inspired by the Beatles challenge and exhibit.

Saturday, Nov. 1:  almost first thing, I’ll be in the Machine Quilting Unlimited booth for an interview (who me?)!  I’ve written for them quite a bit back in 2008-9 and over the past 16 months.  This is one of the best magazines out there, especially if you love machine quilting, whether traditional, contemporary, modern, art….it’s a keeper!   Then I’m officially “OFF DUTY” and get to race around and see everything and everyone.

I’ve shared photos of my works on display throughout this post, but here they are in a list:

500 Traditional Quilts exhibit:

  • Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul
  • Haleakala Sunrise

Dinner@8 Reflections exhibit:

  • Eli, Cross-Country 2013

Inspired by the Beatles exhibit:

  • Two of Us (blogpost here)

Fiber on a Whim booth #144

  • The Nest
  • White-Gray-Black-Red-Gold artcloth




by Sarah Ann Smith at October 26, 2014 12:16 PM

Olga Norris

Another griddy avenue

There are of course baskets, and one of my favourite artists in this field is Dail Behennah.
Another place to see her work is here
Also lots of interesting basket work is shown in basket makers  Carol Eckert and Lois Walpole's blogs.

by Olga Norris ( at October 26, 2014 12:02 PM

Margaret Cooter

Motoi Yamamoto's salt labyrinths

The choice of salt as his art material is a response to the death of his sister from brain cancer at a young age. See more of his work at here and on his website.

As well as loose grains of salt, he uses bricks of salt - Utsusemi (2003) measures 2.8 x 7.5 metres -

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 26, 2014 09:09 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Here I Am!!


It has been a week since our critique group met. I have been busy, busy. Here is Taking Leaf of My Senses redux. I like it so much more. I need to take some yellow paint to the fall leaves as they are not showing up as well as I would like.

Here is Flight Through Sky Blue Pink redux. I lopped off the top so that the pink cheesecloth area is not in the middle. I think it works much better. You can click on either image to see them larger.


I met with the church ladies in Albany on Monday. I thought I was a go to get the commission and then I got an e-mail from them saying that the church requires to submissions so they were meeting with a second artist this week. Then they will take both proposals to the board  next month to make the final decision.

I received my copy of Women Who Come to the Table this week. It is a book about the Dinner at Eight exhibits that Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison have curated for several years. It is a nice book of images of all the quilts and photos of the dinners that have taken place in Houston.


I was honored to have my Hugs and Kisses quilt introduce the section about the An Exquisite Moment exhibit, last year.


I have been in 3 of the exhibits. I never got anything done for this year since I was busy moving.


I have been working on printing fabric for this month’s theme for The Printed Fabric Bee. The theme is science. Here is a sneak peak:


We just got home from a wonderful concert by The Oregon Symphony. Time to call it a day.

by Gerrie at October 26, 2014 05:36 AM

October 25, 2014

Sarah Ann Smith

Dog walkies and Autumn rains

When I go on longer dog walkies, we go to the end of the driveway, turn left and head either to this duck pond (no ducks at this moment) or to the corner where the blueberry field is.

When I go on longer dog walkies, we go to the end of the driveway, turn left and head either to this duck pond (no ducks at this moment) or to the corner where the blueberry field is.

Just a quick post to share yesterday afternoon’s dog walkies.  I think many of you on the other end of my ether live in cities, and don’t know how many of you get to hear things like this little video, so thought I’d share the glorious sound of life in Maine when it is soggy.  Here’s the little video, followed by a couple more photos.  I think I need image stabilization in my phone…not as crisp as I’d like in terms of photos.  There is a culvert under the road which you can see in the lower right.  When I pan to the left and zoom, you can see the blueberry barrens at the end of this part of the road (at the corner).

IMG 0032 2 from Sarah Ann Smith on Vimeo.

I head to Houston well before dawn–as a matter of fact I may be taking off as the sun rises!  Will try to Facebook from Houston, and have several posts scheduled to publish while I’m away.  Have fun everyone, and hope to see some of you at International Quilt Festival Houston 2014, the 40th anniversary.


My usual view on dog walkies....good thing I love the curled tail!

My usual view on dog walkies….good thing I love the curled tail!

More of the duck pond

More of the duck pond.  Right click for larger view.

by Sarah Ann Smith at October 25, 2014 03:51 PM

Margaret Cooter

Contemporary art sketchbook walk - week 4

The theme was collage, so we prepared some pages in our sketchbooks by gluing in coloured tissue paper, if we hadn't done so already... for trying various media on. Another suggestion was cutting through pages, which after seeing how well this worked in the Large Sketchbook course, I was tempted to do ... but haven't got round to it yet...
Collage session in Hoxton Square
Work by John Stark (at Charlie Smith) was rather lurid and dare I say schoolboyish. At least it gave me a chance to use pastels on top of inked paper -
After that, the paintings by Nogah Engler (at Mummery & Schnelle) were a delight to the eye - many layered ... but with a grim story of genocide behind it.
 In the same show, photographs by Ori Gersht (he of the exploding flowers), which gave me another chance to get out the pastels -
On to Flowers East, where Patrick Hughes was showing lots of his 3D paintings - as you walk past them, the perspective changes drastically, due to the construction of the "canvas"  and the use of shadows -
In a back room were a few pieces by Tom Hammick, using collage of Japanese printed papers as well as painting or linocut reduction -
 Coffee time - to The Bridge -
 with wonderful machines on the bar
 and a Russian tea-room feel upstairs -
 Then Lucinda took us to her studio [with views of industrial Hoxton...]. Her earlier work, semi-abstract houses "of personality" -
 has changed to semi-abstract mountainous landscapes, informed by walking in the Pyrenees -
 and is strangely related to the "mountains" of the London skyline -
At home I worked on the day's pages ... away from the subject, they could "become themselves" -
"After John Stark"
"After Ori Gersht"
Ready for a nice fat pen, next time

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 25, 2014 01:39 PM

Fabric or paint?

Syaw (Fish Net) 2008, by Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty. Her art career started to develop while she was studying to be a teacher, and she taught in remote communities for 10 years before turning to painting full time.

More photos of her work are here and here, including another "fish net" (2010) -

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 25, 2014 09:49 AM

Terry Grant

The "little old lady" syndrome


The worst part of aging is not what aging does to you, it is what younger people think it does to you. This is going to be kind of a rant. You have been warned.

A couple weeks ago I was volunteering, with a couple of other artists, at an art exhibit. I got talking to one of them, a woman probably ten or more years my junior, about her photography. She told me she was actually taking a lot of photos with her phone and editing them, using a photo app on her iPad. "Would you like me to show you how I do it?" she asked. Without waiting for an answer, she whipped out her iPad and proceeded to demonstrate photo editing, using an app called Snapseed. She showed me all this, as if I had never seen an iPad and wasn't aware that cameras no longer use film. She spoke slowly and precisely—so I could keep up, y'know. Irritating as this was, I kept quiet and followed along. " isn't that neat?!" she concluded. I agreed, and added that her app worked quite a lot like the Photogene app I use, but I was frustrated that I could not change the pixel size, with any precision, in Photogene and wondered if her app had a better resizing feature. I told her I need to resize my photos to use them most efficiently on my blog. "You have a blog?" she asked slowly. I could see something change in her face—perhaps she was actually seeing me for the first time. Perhaps she was no longer seeing a "little old lady" but a person with a reasonable grasp on technology and the modern world. We had a nice conversation then. (And no, as far as she knows, Snapseed isn't able to precisely resize photos either.)

I'm not a fool. Neither am I extraordinary. I am not telling you all this to brag about how smart and up-to-date I am—for an old lady. I am telling you that with a few exceptions ( which I'll get to—) my friends and I are pretty bright, capable and aware and know a hell of a lot more than even a lot of bright, capable and aware younger people might think. And, for what it's worth, I think we all get funnier and wiser as the years go by. I hate being treated like a little old lady. So generic. So boring. I started noticing it a long time ago. Somewhere around the age of fifty women become nearly invisible. It's not so much that we are treated badly as much as that we are ignored. And underestimated. And marginalized.

And it gets worse. We are being sabotaged from within.

I was at a meeting this week where we were told an absent member would join us via FaceTime. One of my contemporaries rolled her eyes and declared she had no idea what that meant, claiming she was "too old for all this new stuff!" Later in the meeting we were told about online resources and web site changes that were really useful to our group, to which this same woman gaily chuckled, "if you can find a young person to help you use it!" Tee hee. So I guess I can't blame people for thinking age makes it impossible to learn new things when people like this woman keep confirming it. But it isn't true. It is true that there are a few older people who haven't embraced technology, but it isn't because they are old and unable to learn. It is because they aren't interested, or haven't the need, or maybe just phobic about change, all of which are fine, but they use age as an excuse. And I wish they would stop it. They make us all look stupid.

(My all-time favorite New Yorker cartoon, BTW)

And if I had not posted my photo you probably wouldn't have known how old, or how young I am. And, to me it doesn't matter. How I look and how I communicate are unrelated. Isn't it ironic that technology and the internet may just be the best thing that has ever come along for leveling the field? Like the dog said, on the internet nobody knows you're a little old lady.

End of rant.



by Terry Grant ( at October 25, 2014 12:32 AM

October 24, 2014

Sarah Ann Smith

Two of Us: published again in Inspired by the Beatles

Looking back on it, this has been an exceptionally good year for getting published!   It has also been a bit of a challenge as I’ve had to keep three quilts and one watercolor unpublished for an extended time while jurying of exhibits was done or waiting for books to be published.  The first of the quilts was the one of Eli running during Cross Country season, which I wrote about here.   This is the second:  Two of Us,

Two of Us, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  Part of the Inspired by the Beatles challenge and an anniversary gift for my husband of 33+ years.

Two of Us, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014. Part of the Inspired by the Beatles challenge and an anniversary gift for my husband of 33+ years.  Of course, as soon as I gave it to him (late) I then told him he had to give it back for two years because it was going in an exhibit and book!

part of the art quilt challenge organized by Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto.  The recently released book is Inspired by the Beatles:  An Art Quilt Challenge.   You can read more about the challenge here and order the book or read more about it here.  Even better, if you are lucky enough to be going to International Quilt Festival in Houston this year, selected works from the exhibit will be on display there, including mine!

Donna asked participants to choose a Beatles song title, then make a quilt with that same title, inspired by the song perhaps, but careful NOT to use any copyrighted lyrics, images, etc.   I had been wanting to make a quilt like this for Paul as an anniversary gift for a couple years–he is notoriously hard to get gifts as he always says he doesn’t want anything.  I wanted a scrapbook feel to this quilt, similar in some ways to the kimono quilt (you can see it here) that is pictured in one of the photos on the bottom right which I gave to Mother for her 80th birthday.

Detail of Two of Us, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.

Detail of Two of Us, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.  These photos include the only two grandparents who were alive for  the boys to know, Paul’s dad and my mom.

I went through our photo albums and boxes of photos, picking pictures of us from the time we met until just recently.  Beginning in the top left corner, you can see photos of Bissau, in the west African nation of Guinea-Bissau, where I met Paul.  A bit of our wedding invitation, a wedding photo, our home on Capitol Hill in DC, from Canada, Bolivia, Machu Picchu, Gabon and our first generation of cats run across the top.  Moving clockwise down the right you can see our home in Arlington, Virginia (I still love this architecture more than any other home we’ve had), me preggers with Joshua, with the boys when they were little, pregnant with Eli, in the hospital when Eli was just a day old then the first ferry ride home, to our home on San Juan island in the bottom right corner.

Moving right to left on the bottom, pictures of the boys when little and life at home.  And up the left side, the boys as they grew,  moving to Maine, Joshua with his beloved guitar (and boy is he GOOD) and Eli, honor student and exceptional athlete.  Can I just say, Life is GOOD!

Here's to book, a 176 page hard-bound whopper.  Each quilt gets its own page (some get two), with a fun and extensive commentary written by Donna from our replies to her questionnaire that tell about our lives, inspiration and methods.  Click on the links in the first paragraph to learn more.

Here’s to book, a 176 page hard-bound whopper. Each quilt gets its own page (some get two), with a fun and extensive commentary written by Donna from our replies to her questionnaire that tell about our lives, inspiration and methods. Click on the links in the first paragraph to learn more.

The quilt is made with fused collage.  For the house, Paul, the pug and me, I sketched us on white cloth with colored pencils.  I hate to admit but since I made this over a year ago, I don’t recall for use WHICH pencils I used–either Prismacolor or Inktense.  I have since learned that some of the Inktense colors are not colorfast, so I HOPE it was prismacolor!  Total finished size, as required for all quilts in this exhibit, is 24×24 inches.

This is a typical two-page spread.  The book is organized alphabetically by title.

This is a typical two-page spread. The book is organized alphabetically by title.

And a shot of "my" page!  Artwork (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

And a shot of “my” page! Artwork (c) Sarah Ann Smith.

And since we are quilters, I must show you the back.  I did the threadwork at the top stage and did simple outlining around the photos.  But it is the letter and photo I want you to notice:

Paul and me on our wedding day outside the church, and a photocopy of the very first letter Paul ever wrote me.  Yes, we wrote snail mail.

Paul and me on our wedding day outside the church, and a photocopy of the very first letter Paul ever wrote me. Yes, we wrote snail mail.

You see, Paul was working in West Africa and I was in grad school at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy near Boston when we met.  The letter is hilariously “State Department-ish.”  Paul was acting Ambassador (Charge d’Affairs, ad interim) for the first time, so for his first letter to me, he wrote to thank the American (me)  for her part in improving morale at post, in particular that of the admin officer (that would be Paul).  Then he added a note saying this would probably be suitably framed in something tacky and hung in the bathroom.  I vowed upon receipt to do just that–in his first apartment when he was back in the US.  Little did I know that in less than 10 months, his first apartment would be OUR condo as newlyweds.  The original letter still hangs in a tacky metal frame from the drug store (which is sorta falling apart, appropriately), over the toilet in our bathroom.  The signature on the letter has faded to near invisibility.

So that’s the “Two of Us.”  Plus kids, cats, pug, and assorted stuff from all over the world.

by Sarah Ann Smith at October 24, 2014 12:27 PM

Olga Norris

Griddy meandering

On my way to the Post Office this morning I passed many grids, including a ladder which sent my thoughts off. 
I remembered a photograph by Todd Webb: a ladder at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu - the imagery is quite a cliché now, but this picture is one I still admire.  And of course there is the Georgia O'Keeffe painting
With these in mind, I also had the memory of a recent conversation I had had about flint mines and the ladders to get down having been reconstructed in a BBC programme like Dogon ladders.  This was summoned to mind as soon as I saw the dandelion leaves.
I was caught staring hard at them by a gentleman whom I regularly meet on the path to the Post Office - I was glad to have the other detail I had noticed as an explanation for my scrutiny: how fascinating that the leaf cuts range from extreme zigzag to almost no indentation at all.

by Olga Norris ( at October 24, 2014 12:59 PM

Natalya Aikens


I know that some of my blog readers don't belong to social media sites, so I thought I'd share somethings I've been posting on Instagram here. Instagram is an app and a social media platform on the smart phone that lets you apply filters to photographs and post them for your followers to see.

I think of it as rather fun and post not only my artwork related photos, but also nature stuff and general life stuff that comes my way. Here's just a few of photos I posted in last two weeks.
I made a flower out of fallen leaves and propped it up on a log.
A weekend later I was impressed that it was still on the log and dried beautifully.
Fun with mirrors and filters while watching a ballet class.
Sheep in a meadow and a watercolor app? How can I resist?
I've been stitching tiny pieces while in a waiting room and shared.
And this is the view on the worktable in my studio this morning as seen on Instagram and Facebook.
Hope you enjoyed my little social media tour. Instafun!

by Natalya Aikens ( at October 24, 2014 11:56 AM

Margaret Cooter

Frightening, somehow

Strangely chilling. All found on the same pinterest board.

Closer to home ... emerging from a drawer, these transfer-paint samples (a la Jawlensky) from a class taken some 20 years ago ... lurid, scary ... gone!
Centre to is an original; centre bottom is printed onto pale tights, the rest onto pelmet vilene
ps - seen in Shoreditch -

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 24, 2014 10:27 AM

Cross stitch coincidence

Union Street, London SE1 (spotted in passing)
Patria restaurant, Toronto (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 24, 2014 09:42 AM

Neki Rivera


going beyond clothes

have a good weekend

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at October 24, 2014 08:00 AM

October 23, 2014

Olga Norris

Stretched grid

Jude made a comment on my last post about stretching grids - and that suddenly awakened a memory: Shirazeh Houshiary's east window for the church of St Martin in the Fields in London.  There are several photos of the window on her website, under site-specific works. This pic. is from there.
It is just such a simply beautiful, appropriate work which says so much with so little - and yet leaves room for pondering and ambiguity.  Speaking of which, there is also an interesting TateShots video of her talking about her work here (not about grids).
Indeed, I was only thinking about this artist this morning over breakfast as I read about her sculpture in the latest Sculpture magazine.

by Olga Norris ( at October 23, 2014 05:39 PM

Rayna Gillman

Are you a robot?

I have set my blog to NO word verification. Nonetheless, it appeared today when I tried to leave a comment on my own blog from my iPad.  I wrote to Google, to no avail.  Please don't let it keep you from leaving comments if you get that thing when you try to leave one.  Just put in the numbers and know that it is there despite the fact that I have turned it off. GRRRRRRRR. Does anyone else have this problem with their blog?

On a more pleasant note: I received a package of Malaysian small batch artisinal batiks from Turtle Hand and opened it this morning. I didn't even know they produced batiks in Malaysia, but here they are.  Gorgeous!!  I can't wait to wash/iron/cut them and use them.  They remind me somewhat of the Indian batiks I love so much and they are totally different from the typical batiks you find in the stores.
I think they will go beautifully with the hand-dyes I have and I just hope I can get enough time in December (when I am actually home!!) to play.  Tina of Turtle Hand will have a booth in Houston at both Market and Festival and I suspect she will have an even more varied selection.  Yummy! Wish I were able to go to Houston this year but my teaching schedule just didn't want to cooperate.

by (Rayna) at October 23, 2014 04:14 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - The Red Cockatoo by Po Chu-i

Poster is available via ltmuseumshop
Sent as a present from Annam—
A red cockatoo.
Colored like the peach-tree blossom,
Speaking with the speech of men.

And they did to it what is always done
To the learned and eloquent.
They took a cage with stout bars
And shut it up inside. 

Po Chu-i (772-846), translated by Arthur Waley

(one of a set of "Chinese Poems on the Underground"; from New Poems on the Underground, 2006)

Also known as Bai Juyi, this poet lived during the Tang dynasty, an amazing time in Chinese cultural history - see a selection of its visual art here...horses, dancing ladies, and more! The Tang dynasty was a fertile time for poetry, too - 300 translated poems can be read here. The poets seemed to have a good time of it; drinking with friends in the moonlight was something they often wrote about.

Po Chu-i worked to develop a style that was easy to understand - the story goes that he would read his poems to an old peasant woman and would change any line that she didn't understand. A government official, he lived through the reign of eight or nine emperors. In 814 his writings got him into trouble when he overstepped his position as a minor palace official. He was demoted and sent into exile, which lasted till 819. Nor was this the only time he wrote contentious "memorials in remonstrance" with the current emperor.

A Buddhist, in 832 he repaired an unused part of the Xiangshan Monastery at Longmen, and on moving to this location, he began to refer to himself as the "Hermit of Xianshang". The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site - it is famous for its tens of thousands of statues of Buddha and his disciples carved out of the rock.

by Margaret Cooter ( at October 23, 2014 01:07 PM

Olga Norris

Thinking about grids

led me to thinking about deer fencing, and thence to the remainder of our fencing along that border.  The latter consists of now very old paling and wire fence which is more or less held up by the shrubs and ivy.  It needs replacing, but with the same, because although less effective, it is definitely more attractive than the straight grid. 
And that led to doodling a fence, which somehow with other thinking about grid structures, like baskets, led to this:
At this stage it is but a preliminary drawing - not much more than a doodle, but I do find it worth leaving in my files.

by Olga Norris ( at October 23, 2014 12:26 PM

October 22, 2014

Virginia A. Spiegel

Inspired by Autumn – New paintings and more

Changing300 Changing
Acrylic paint on canvas
SOLD – Collection of Carol Moore

I adore this time of year when all the plants and trees are winding down in a final burst of glory.  The skies are blue, the fields are golden, the air is cool – what’s not to love?  I hope you feel some of the dynamism of this time of year in these three new paintings and two assemblages.

Acrylic paint on canvas

Acrylic paint on canvas

BlueBird300BlueBird 1
Paper, acrylic paint, wood found object on stretched canvas

BlueBird2300 BlueBird 2
Paper, acrylic paint, wood found object on stretched canvas

by Virginia at October 22, 2014 12:53 PM