Inspiration from Nature

One of my online friends, Chela, reminded me that nature is a great inspiration for quilts (as well as other art).  So here are some of my favorite nature pix.

I love plants and flowers of (almost) all kinds, so they are a frequent subject:

inspiration for quilts

Can you see the bee?

It’s a Jack-in-the-Pulpit right beside my back steps!

Kenilworth Ivy is a favorite, and I like the pattern against the rock wall

The forest floor on one of our hikes

Any nature picture is improved by adding a grandchild!

Like most folks, I take pictures when we travel, some for the colors, some for the general scenery.

The colors are monochromatic, indicating how this little guy survives in the Canadian Rockies (when he isn’t begging from tourists)

One of these days I’ll use this picture, made on the Blue Ridge Parkway, as inspiration for a landscape quilt

The colors in New Mexico are always fascinating, and the sky so big

The one thing I don’t do, and don’t intend to do, is print my photos on fabric and put them in quilts that way.  I use them for shapes, colors, arrangement of forms…but for the purpose of interpretation, not direct copies.

How do you use your photos in your quilts?


A Few Favorites

I’ve been thinking about what inspires my quilt designs, and the first thing that came to mind was the beautiful or fun or amazing quilts I see at shows, guild meetings, retreats, wherever.  Here are a few of my favorite quilts for inspiration.

I love the variety of bright colors and the tiny pieces in this one:


Quilt made by Jerri from TINY pieces of Liberty of London fabric

And this is a favorite because of the bright colors and eccentric design:

Cinco de Mayo, made by Renny Jaeger; pattern by Karen K Stone

This unusual design appeals to me:

Rena was given a circle cutter at the last retreat, and she went wild!

Pamela Wiley’s excellent workmanship and eye-popping designs make her quilts among my favorites:

art quilt, Pamela Wiley quilt

Outside In by Pamela Wiley

I like the use of color in this next one, as well as the movement generated by the curved piecing and curved quilting:

AQS Paducah

In the Marsh #2, by Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry

And this one reminds me of Maine, where we lived for a while:

art quilt

Coves and Islands by Carol Anne Grotian

What inspires your designs?

The Condom Quilt Goes Home

In case you haven’t been reading my blog long enough to know about the condom quilt, here is a brief summary:

  • A couple of years ago I wanted to make a quilt from a QR code in such a way that the entire quilt top could be scanned to open the target website. Since I was going to be putting in a lot of effort, I wanted a QR code that had some meaning for me.
  • At that time I was working in public health, spending much of each day helping patients cope with various problems that might have been prevented by appropriate use of condoms.
  • When I looked for a condom-related QR code, I found that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands (PPGNW) had developed a QR code to be placed on their condom packages. Scanning the code linked to PPGNW’s “Where Did You Wear It?” site.  The goal was to encourage safer sex through condom use.

PPGNW graciously agreed to let me use their QR code in my design.  I colorized their code and made my quilt, checking after construction of each section to be sure the whole thing still scanned correctly.

Asheville Quilt Show

This is the finished quilt. That tiny embedded QR code leads to my blog.

I showed the quilt anywhere I could.  (It isn’t just younger people who need safer sex.)  That included guilds, quilt shows, and the folks in my office.  After a year of showing it to anybody who would listen, I donated the quilt to PPGNW to be used in any way they wish.

I was very pleased recently to receive this picture of the PPGNW management staff with the quilt.  That funny looking guy is their condom mascot.

The folks at PPGNW report that the quilt has sparked discussion, especially about the interaction of traditional crafts and technology.  I enjoyed this quilt from start to finish and I’m glad it is now in its home.


Two Links You May Like

The Quilt Alliance auction of donated art quilts has started.  I’m sorry I didn’t get this announcement out last week, but there is still time to bid in Week 1 of the auction if you hurry!  My quilt is in Week 2, which starts November 27.  Check out the auction here:

This is the “promotional image” for my quilt, which is 16 inches square per the contest requirements:

But really, I encourage you to check out all the quilts.  There is one I really like (other than my own!) and will be bidding on.  If you don’t know about the Quilt Alliance, I encourage you to check out their activities here.

Second link:  My friend Melanie at Catbird Quilts recently pointed out a little research project she found.  Another blogger, Vicki Welsh, posted about testing a variety of methods to save a quilt that has been washed with bleeding of one (or more) fabrics.  The results are very interesting, and are also useful for those of us who pre-wash (at least some of) our fabrics. Check out Vicki’s post here.  Vicki encourages you to share her test results, and I encourage you to be sure to link to her original post when you do.

Have a good week!


Finally, A Finish

This quilt was started as a practice piece for a quilt I want to make using this “one block wonder” technique. Finally it is finished and bound!

one block wonder

Floral Fantasy, a “one block wonder” quilt

Here is the fabric from which these one block wonders were cut.  As you can see, it was pretty lively to begin with.

Sassaman fabric

Flower Fiesta by Jane Sassaman

The border for the above quilt is from a different Jane Sassaman fabric.

Here’s the quilt for which this was practice.  It is back in a box waiting its turn.Sassaman fabricsNext week I’ll show some more of what pushed its way in front of that quilt.

Meanwhile, if you want to try a one block wonder, here’s a link to the book.  And the fabric or both quilts is designed by Jane Sassaman, whose website is here.


Nothing Is Wasted

We recently spent far too many hours in the Greenville-Spartanburg (South Carolina) airport, but that situation lead to the discovery of this artwork in one of the terminals.

metal "art quilt" sculpture by Evelyn Rosenberg

South Carolina Quilt, by Evelyn Rosenberg 

Evelyn RosenbergThis is a metal “quilt” by artist Evelyn Rosenberg.  She has done other metal works that look like fiber art, and you can see pictures of a number of them by clicking on her name or here to link to her website.  (The website has better pictures than mine.)

As you can see, this work consists of a number of blocks making up 3 panels.  I’ve made pictures of each individual panel, shown below.

Left panel

Center panel

Right panel

Here are a couple of the individual blocks, showing a little more of how the blocks are made and the quilt is sewn together with metal cables.  I really enjoyed seeing this, so if you find yourself in the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, check it out 😉


Guild Program, Guild Challenge

Since somebody has to be in charge of guild programs, and this year I’m “it” for my modern guild, I’ve been publishing some ideas for guild programs and challenges. Hopefully, if you are in charge of programs and challenges for your guild, you can use some of these.

quilt, tessellation

The familiar “cat” tessellation

Nobody volunteered to do the program this month, so I read up on tessellations, starting with this post my friend Jean did for my blog a couple of years ago.  I found a couple of great books on tessellations, one by Jinny Byer (yes, that Jinny Byer!).  They are:

Designing Tessellations: The Secrets of Interlocking Patterns, by Jinny Byer

Introduction to Tessellations, by Dale Seymour and Jill Britton

And if you decide to develop a program on tessellations for your guild, feel free to e-mail me.  You can have my “class outline” and list of exercises if you want.

wonky house block

Wonky house drawn with Electric Quilt 7

The challenge for next month is to make a 12-1/2 inch (so it will finish 12 inches) wonky house block. I made up a couple of blocks to illustrate the idea and drew a couple of additional ones for people to take home for inspiration.

Another wonky house drawing for inspiration

I cut the pieces for this house freehand, with scissors, to make it really wonky

This one was made with fused fabric, using techniques I learned several years ago from Laura Wasilowski

We’ll vote on whether to have a “dirty Santa” swap or a drawing where one person gets all the blocks to make a quilt.  Seems like most of our members are really into the swap thing, so I’m betting that’s what happens!



Judge’s Choice! Woo!

My entry in this year’s Quilt Alliance contest was chosen by judge Linda Pumphrey for her Judge’s Choice Award! Here’s the quilt:

quilt alliance contest

For Quilt Alliance contest 2017, 16″ x 16″

And here’s Linda’s comment:

I love the graphic abstract and bold colors of this little quilt. The quilt is beautifully executed with strong visual impact.

Of course I am thrilled to be chosen!

All quilts entered in the contest will be displayed at QA’s “Quilters Take Manhattan” event as well as at International Quilt Festival in Houston. They will then be auctioned to raise money to support the Quilt Alliance’s many projects.

Here’s the link to the auction site, where you can see all quilts entered in the contest:

Quilt Alliance Auction 2017


Catching Up!

I’ve had several things going on at once, so this is a mash-up of several of them.
First, I was forced (OK, not) to buy this Lotta Jansdotter FQ bundle:

Just too cute to leave behind!  It started with seeing those funky cat faces, and after that it was a “must do” 😉  I’ll let you know when it’s a quilt!

The other thing I’ve been working on is getting ready for a class I’ll be taking with Esterita Austin at Quiltfest in Tennessee later this month.  It’s all about learning a technique for painting on quilts, so it will be quite new to me.  I love to learn new stuff, so I’m really looking forward to it!

I considered a lot of different photos as my starting point, but Esterita really, really, seems to like closeups of machinery, so this is what I settled on:

Steve’s Cement Mixer

And here are some of the rejects:

Personally, I’m much more into the nature stuff, but I make it a point to try the teacher’s way the first time around.  And I DO recall from basic design class that closeups of object sometimes make for great designs.  I’ll let you see what comes of this!



Another Experiment

In one of my modern guilds, several of our members have volunteered to teach techniques we want to try out.  Some of these may be more “art quilt” than strictly “modern quilt”, but what matters is that the members want to learn the technique, not how it could be classified.

pencils fabric use

One member who does some fantastic art quilts is going to teach us how to use colored pencils intended for fabric.  At the last meeting, she suggested that we get a head start by making a palette of the pencils we have so we won’t be wondering how the color will turn out when we do her project.  I had this grid-print fabric from another project, so I used it for my sampler

fabric pencils color

After reading an article in Quilting Arts about how to use pencils on fabric, I got some textile medium to try  textile mediumTo make the sampler above, I brushed a thin layer of fabric medium on the square, then applied pencil. The color went on smoothly while the textile medium was damp.

I haven’t yet tested how colorfast it may be.  The woman who will be doing the program applied her pencils directly to the fabric (without textile medium), then brushed with water.  The colors had a lovely watercolor-like appearance as they bled a little into each other.  I presume the textile medium will hold the color and prevent that bleeding.  That would be good for things where precise placement is needed, but of course sometimes fuzzy edges might look better.  More to come!