Quilter's Candy

Monday, February 15, 2016

If You want More Fiber in Your Quilting Diet--Try This!

I've taken a break for a while, no real quilting news (shame on me), even though Pittsburgh has had some great quilting weather including today which was -1 degrees. But just to show I haven't been completely dormant, you should know that my quilting aesthetic has taken on a new medium-- Silk screen. I've decided that it's ok for me to find new ways to "applique" which in this case means printing on printed paper with ink. Since it was Black History month I decided to take on an American icon--Mammy-- and I have printed her or several different print papers. After pulling that squeegee across the frame several dozen times, my arms hurt, like I'd been scrubbing floors. "OOOoooweee," as my great grandmother might say. But the results were well worth it. Never be afraid to take on another medium. Especially when it can lead you back to quilting. Paper is fiber, after all. I'll be doing this on fabric soon with support from AIR (Artist Image Resource) in Pittsburgh, who taught me the process. Maybe you have something similar to this organization in your town. Once it's printed on fabric, I'll bet you can imagine what I'll do next :-)

In other news about sore arms...my buddy "That Man Quilts?" who I like to check in on from time to time, has been refolding his quilted blankets. It's the annual process we quilt collector's MUST DO if we want to keep those nasty stains and odd colored lines out of our fab collection for all posterity. It also keeps you aware if moths, bugs or any larva may have somehow crept into your precious collection. Click here for Lane's story.   

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jeez, Louise--Thank you!

My art students at Beechwood Elementary w/ "Fiber Stories"

Thinking back on my now 20+ years as an artist, I recently realized I have one key woman to thank--Louise Silk!  Louise was my first formal art teacher, and though I hardly think she would had considered herself one--a true art mentor. Before her influence, not only did I not know I was an artist, but I didn't even realize what the possibilities of being an artist or having an art career were. Since early 90's when I took my first class at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, I have never looked back, and have built a nice reputation for myself in the arts world. I have been on several arts boards of directors, been archived as an historic African American quilter in Western, PA through the Senator, John Heinz History Center, been selected as a rostered teaching artist at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, acted as art curator for a local developer, helped several senior Centers create art for their common areas, and won an award from the Pittsburgh Arts Council for business and arts collaborations. I'm also the founder of the Geek Art/Green Innovator's Festival which has supported and showcased more than 300 artists of various mediums in 6 years as part of the "Unblurred" art crawl on Penn Avenue.

But I digress, back to Louise, without whom I would have never made my first artist venture. I can still recall my first fiber art class and being torn by which fabrics to choose. I was utterly frustrated. Everyone around me seemed so confident with their materials. I whined, "Louise, it all looks so wrong!" And she replied, "That you are scared is a good thing. It probably means it's all perfectly fine."

My first art teacher/mentor, Louise Silk
My jaw dropped. Perfectly fine? She was rightIt was. I completed the project with no further angst or whining. After that, I began to hang out in her studio and sit comatose in a chair so as not to disturb her mastery. She even managed to ignore that I eyed her every movement like a dim witted student looking through a microscope in awe of the wonders of science. What colors work with what? How does one decide how to start a project or decide how its going to look? When is enough enough. How do you work with a client? How should an art studio be set up for you? How do you talk to your family when they think they should get your art for free?

It took years before I truly understood that the journey of discovery was just as important to being artist as the final product. And that I should enjoy that journey every day of my artistic life. So everytime I create with abandon, think outside the box, color outside the lines or dive in a dumpster, I thank Louise. Ahhhhhh, the joys of an artful life!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

From My House to Yours

January 7th, 2014. It's soooooooooo cold! Record weather watches in 50 states. We're being warned: "Don't go out." So what does a quilter do in times like these? QUILT! My neighbors deserve a little post Christmas gift for watching out for me and my home, so I made them a wall hanging featuring their lovely home to reciprocate for the lovely wreath their young daughter made for my front door this past holiday season. I often enjoy watching their family in warmer weather: A father, mother and two small children. it so reminds me of my days as a young mother, raising my brood of three. The laughter, the songs, the running back and forth. They are like subjects in a Norman Rockwell painting, reminding me of what peace we have in America. I hope my gift becomes a part of their daily decor and happy memories for years to come. It's nice to know that as long as you can thread a needle, you can always make something by hand to show people how much they are appreciated every day of the year.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Get Your Readers on!

Another great post from "That Man Quilts?"
Called "House Guests and Hand Grenades." Click here.
What miniature house doesn't deserve a mini quilt?
Below, one of the miniature house bedrooms he creates. This one has wallpaper he created from photo copying and shrinking a life size pattern.

Gee's Bend Quilters Exhibit

Everyone knows my love of Gee's Bend and its quilters. Since attending a workshop in the historic community two years ago, I have still to let go of the magic that came from the experience. I was pleased to learn that the Arts Clayton Gallery (770-473-5457)in Jonesboro, Georgia,will host a showing of their work, and their artists on April 5th-May 13th, 2013. Go if you can!

Also read about Gee's Bend and my adventure, here.

The University Prep Quilt at The ZONE

Zone quilt at ARTica Gallery 2013 Geek Art/ Green Innovator's Festival

Detail of  Zone Quilt
The quilt in progress
The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts speaks to the city through it many art projects and programs that allow for local talent to work in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, City parks, and other educational institutions, who utilize their teaching artist program. I have been fortunate enough this fall and winter to be placed at U-prep (formerly Margret Milliones) Middle School where students are creating a fiber project which will one day hang at a community institution in their neighborhood. Meanwhile the students learn about  their communities historic places, the joys of quietude, pre-planning and a life skill that could one day save a pair of pants :-

The quilt aptly named "The Hill is Our Home" will be featured at the Geek Art Green Innovator's festival on April 5th, 2013 from 6 pm to 9 pm with guests Knit the Bridge @ ARTica Gallery 5110 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15224. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quilts in Court: Stitiching and Kvetching

When a quilter goes to court, she or he as to be pretty darn mad. I think to come out of the bliss of needle and thread domesticity to take on cold-hearted, corporate characters is well out of character for people who parlay such a calm, cool and collected past time as quilting. Still, when our livelihood and honor is threatened, like a mother bear, the quilter come out swinging. Take these examples of Faith Ringold who took on Black Entertainment Television for their misuse of her "Church Picnic" piece for 4.16 seconds, or a subject known only as Ms. Brown, who took on the abusive producers of the motion picture, "How to Make an American Quilt." Then there's the woman who legally slapped Couristan Carpet....and made them pay when their interior design team thought they could "lift" her designs. Read all about it here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Men Quilting.....REALLY?

     Hey, I'm no hater, but when a Facebook friend recently flashed his quilt online and asked what we thought of it, I said out loud, "wow!" It never occurred to me to put my unfinished quilt top on FB to be appreciated. It looked pretty good, too as you can see here, points and all. Calvin--that's what I'm calling him--called his quilt top a "face."  Never heard that one before. And it occurred to me that men quilters had to be different than women quilters, just as men are naturally different than women. Knowing how negative some of my quilting peers feel about the boom of interest from the male species in this female dominated industry, I decided it might be fun to explore that idea further. I fished through several online sites. 

     First, The Man Quilter, a blogger, who innocently titled one of his posts "The International Quilt Festival of Ireland." Nothing could have prepared me for the first opening line in which he mentioned "irritable bowel syndrome." He was referring to his stress level when quilting for a show. Just that phrase alone nearly made it impossible for me to read on. Still, I hoped for the sake of the post's less graphic title, that he might not continue in such an indigestible vein. He moved on--thankfully-- to a delightful mention of creating 11 (yes, eleven, he said) borders on a friends quilt block; he followed up with some great tips, too. Then just as I was growing comfortable, he told us blog readers how quilter Claudia Clark Myers can "kick a--" with her long arm, George Quilting system.

     Now I don't know how many of you consider yourself  kicking anything as you quilt, but that comes from being a member of the gentler sex. Surely, there is no Emily Post, or Dear Abby for quilting language. But several paragraphs later, I had to wonder if there should be.

     Having studied enough of Man Quilter, I checked out Manquilters, almost a direct play on words from the previously mentioned site. It had, however, a very different vibe. This one was much more metro sexual with videos extolling the--almost--latest euro fashions (a 2011 vid) as well as a slide show of men's quilts from the site's 150+ members. I admired the "badge" and links to 17 blogs as well as other videos. Some of these have nothing to do with quilting, but did encompass custom suiting, the making of luxury handbags by men for women, a denim symposium, dance techniques, and even a chat forum. If you know a man quilter, this is a must-see web address. It's like Irish Spring: A manly fragrance...but I liked it, too! Even if your man's into leather and bikes, let him know know: "There's a quilt YouTube for you, hon." Take it from Tim the Harley Quilter who gives men 10 good reasons to start quilting. My fav: "If you end up on the couch, at least you'll have a quilt."

    Next I took a glimpse of Adam Chenevert's Real Men Quilt. Adam is the quintessential quilt blogger. Straightaway a post on a wholecloth design and execution DVD and a link to his Etsy page. Finally, I checked into That Man Quilts?, a mixture of single parenting, gardening, cooking advice and good old traditional quilt values. "Quiltfool" had 259 followers until I joined, mostly women. Apparently the only problem with most men's quilting sites, is that some are just for men. But don't let that stop you from reading them. It's only natural they want to be a bit clannish, at first. Eventually, they'll let us back into our own club. :-) 

     So all in all Ladies, if you think having men involved in our art form will in some way taint it or somehow dissolve the sisterhood, I can safely say, I believe we have nothing to fear from these gents. Through history women have learned, if anything, men are domestic pioneers; ambassadors (however coarse), who will only make our art form more interesting as well provide another venue through which both sexes can gain mutual respect and appreciation. I say we encourage them. Let's grab a six pack and embrace them....so long as they are wearing deodorant.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the Committee: Round Robin Project @ Senator John Heniz Qulters Symposium Vol. 2

Another great year of being on the committee for the Quilting Symposium of the Senator John Heinz History Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate. With several stalwart quilters and  SJHC staffer, Erin Murray the fourth installation of this event did much to inspire Western PA quilters. Speakers included internationally renowned fiber artist Jan Myers Newbury. Next year our theme is "Quilts in Wartime." For Pics of the 2011 event check out the face book page:

My contribution was coordinating a round robin for a few days.with visitors who were eager to add a side or two of a block and relinquish their work to a fellow quilter. We even began a block for the History Center itself, which hopefully will be complete by the next quilt show in 2012. Here is a sampling the array of blocks that were done in various stages of completion.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working On Roberto

I was recently engaged to create a fiber piece for Pittsburgh Gateways depicting the image of the late, great Pittsburgh Pirate, Roberto Clemente. While it's still a work-in- progress, I find that I am falling in love with my work...not so much because its mine, but because Roberto is such a good-looking subject. I feel I can't make a wrong stitch, because THAT face looks amazing from every angle. Although always interested in sports, I'm not huge fan of any one in particular, but I found myself actually researching this great American from Carolina, Puerto Rico. Years after his untimely death, Clemente still has an active world-wide fan base, and was honored a few years ago by having one of the few museums on the planet curated (by Duane Rieder of Pittsburgh, PA) for one single baseball player. It could be the four silver bats he earned during his stellar career, or the the way he took time to pray on the mound before every game. I believe his actions may have set the stage for Hollywood's habit of coupling "heaven and baseball" that lasts to this day. It could also be because during his 18 years in the game, Roberto won every award possible in major league baseball. Sure, it could be a lot of things. But I'm just as sure that it was his clean cut looks and incredibly winning smile. I can only hope to do him justice! If you are ever passing through Pittsburgh be sure the visit the Roberto Clemente Museum. Well worth the trip and more filling that a bag of popcorn!

Paper Tiger/"Quilting With Alternative "Fibers"

Never underestimate the the mind of a quilter. We never know how or what we'll "quilt" next. I decided to take a gamble with paper and create some collages with the same "eye" I use for creating a fabric quilt--total improvisation and no thought to any specific design. It was a delightful experiment and has made a definite impact on all my future creative processes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Committee: Working with the Senator John Heinz History Center's Quilt Symposium 2009/ Vol 1.

My first year involved with the Quilt Symposium and Terri Blanchette, Community Programs Director at the History Center was wonderful...could my second year be any less? Already enthusiastic, I started the summer with a trip on July 7th, 2009 to study quilting among the women in Gees Bend with the Nia Quilters, a guild directed by Janice Parks of the Young Men and Women's African Heritage Association based on Pittsburgh's Northside. Ms. Parks has organized several trips to this historic Alabama region, where women in her group have made quilt tops that were prepared at a local rented residence, taken to the Gees Bend Quilt Collective; then quilted by both quilting groups in a good old fashion quilting bee. Nothing fussy or fancy. Just talking and quilting. Bettie Bendolph Seltzer, one of the collective regulars and I became porch buddies, having coffee and watermelon at her house every morning, where I learned more about her passion for quilts and the mystique that is Gees Bend. I learned how hard the residents had to fight to keep their land; how many times it was almost taken away through graft and greed; and how there wasn't a piece of dirt they could rightly sell or give-away, so strong was their love of community and heritage.

I wouldn't trade the time I spent with Ms. Bendolph for anything. It was an empowering experience, even for someone who thought she knew her way around a quilt square. I look forward to showcasing much of what's been done with these two innovative African-American quilting groups in an exhibit I will curate entitled "From These Rivers: Work Created by the Nia Quilters of Pittsburgh with the Quilters of Gee's Bend on January 23 and 24, 2010 during the Quilt Symposium at the Senator John Heinz History Center.

My Magic Moments @ the Red Bull "Can" Festival

Click here to check out out more Art of Can art!
Photos by Keith McCray

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Quilt That Red Bull Built

When I did the Red Bull Night at my Gallery, ARTica, I had no idea I'd actually have time to enter the "Art of Can" contest, let alone make the finals. Too, busy to even file my son's FAFSA for college, I managed to get it done, and now its in DC with a life of its own. The Show is in October...Keep ya posted!