Framing Work for a Group Show


Getting ready for a group show I’m part of that will open this Friday at the Waverly House of Contemporary Craft, I’ve been trying some different ways of framing smaller pieces. The figurative pieces are sewn to stretched canvas and framed. This one is called “Cell Cat on a Date.”


Announcing ThreadLines 2008 Call for Entries


Finally after months of work on this project, I’m pleased to announce that my local group Uncommon Threads has teamed up with Missouri State University Art & Design Gallery to organize ThreadLines 2008, an exhibition of contemporary art quilts.

Our juror will be Jason Pollen — artist, teacher, and president of the Surface Design Association. Entries will be digital, due June 6, 2008, and the exhibition will be at the MSU gallery from September 5 through 26, 2008.

We are asking for work that is two or more layers, held together by stitching, but no rigid restrictions on materials, so this should be an interesting show. When I designed the logo for the show, I tried to graphically show two different ways that thread can be used, but also tried to stay away from stereotypes or preconceptions people may have of quilts.

We have put together a website that shows photos of the gallery space, background of the juror, and more, and plan to update this site throughout the year. You can download the prospectus and entry form from the ThreadLines website, and I’m hoping that many of you will enter!

Okonomoyaki Party


Our local PBS station replayed The Art of Quilting yesterday at noon, so Uncommon Threads had a lunch party celebrate.

Our newest member Christine hosted the party and made okonomoyaki which is a family-style Japanese dish, sort of like a big pancake filled with cabbage, meat, and shrimp, and topped with okonomoyaki sauce and nori (seaweed).


Since she was preparing Japanese food, I brought saki for a little toast. Didn’t get many takers on the saki, but the Asahi in bottles was popular.

Workshop Gone Awry

Yesterday we had a great workshop by Laura Wasiloski. If you don’t know Laura, she makes fun colorful quilts like this one with crazy little birdhouses. She gives very funny lectures about her quilt-making and sings her own hilarious songs about irons, scissors, quilts, and anything else you can think of. We were treated to TWO different lectures on Tuesday, and I still can’t get those songs out of my brain. I can’t sing them as good as Laura though.

The workshop however went seriously awry, but not due to anything Laura did. Apparently it started out smoothly, but I wasn’t there for the beginning. I had a hair emergency.Actually, it wasn’t a serious one, and to be truthful it wasn’t even an emergency, but that’s what I told the class so as not to seem impolite when I walked in late. It’s just that after my usual morning yoga and breakfast, I had a sudden urge to go south and listen to rodeo stories by my hair stylist.

After my hair emergency was over, I walked into class and it ran smoothly for about an hour. People were energentically fusing their rainbow hand-dyed fabric kits by Laura. And then it happened.

First I should probably explain what fusing is for those who don’t know. Fusing is ironing on a dry paper-backed glue to the back of fabric. After it’s ironed on, the release paper is peeled off, and you can then stick the fabric to other fabric by ironing it together. This class Laura was teaching uses lots of fusing which mean lots of ironing. In the photo above, Emmie is demonstrating the proper fusing technique. Notice the firm grip she has on the iron. Emmie’s a pro.

Anyway, so then it happened. All the lights went out. Not from too many irons on the system, but from a power pole that got knocked down in an accident. The whole block had no power, including our Guild workshop room at a spooky place called North Town Mall.

Although Laura assured us that in some primitive cultures, people used to fuse fabric with hot bricks, we had no bricks and no hot coals to warm them. So instead of sitting in the dark, we all went out into the atrium and practiced free form fabric cutting under a skylight. Then we went to lunch.

After a long lunch of Hibachi Chicken and sushi at one of my favorite places called Little Tokyo, we returned to the North Town Mall to find that our classroom looked like this.

So it was back out to the sky-lit atrium. This time Laura entertained us with more songs and a special display of art quilts on the vacant lunch koisk outside our classroom.

When I saw the vacant sign about Laura’s head I couldn’t resist embellishing the photo…”Laura’s Fresh Fused Quilt Snacks.” Get ’em While They’re Hot!

Finally the power did come back on, and we all worked furiously to get our “Woodcut Quilts” done. I didn’t have time between making mine and buying up a bunch of Laura’s wonderful hand-dyed fabrics and threads to take photos of everyone’s work, but some of the more entertaining concepts were Merrilee’s “I Artichoke The Person Who’s Talking Too Much,” and Maureen’s “My Garden Gone to Pot.” Then there was Lucy’s shoe bottoms…

I did a small quilt top about my Kokeshi dolls. Kokeshi are little wooden Japanese dolls that I collect. Actually I only have seven, but I’d like to get some more.

I’ve been taking photos of them and would like to do a series of little quilts about them, because to tell you the truth, I’m sick of cutting out PaMdoras. I need to add a few more flowers to the doll’s kimonos, but it’s a good start and now I’m off to Quilt National for the weekend!

Uncommon Threads – May Meeting

We had a great meeting last Thursday of our art quilt group, Uncommon Threads. Everyone seems to have been busy, both getting work done, getting into shows or getting commissions.

Above is Lucy Silliman’s piece that she did in a Yvonne Porcella workshop. We all loved the bright colors and Lucy’s great quilting with the rainbow thread. The stripped edge is a fused border layered under her binding. Lucy also has a quilt in the June 3rd opening of the Kansas Art Quilters “Layers and Upon Reflection.”

This is Emmie Seaman’s quilt (Emmie is on the right) that was just published on the cover of the Kansas City Star magazine for Block of the Month. I think she mumbled something about running out of white for the background!

Emmie also has a quilt in the Kansas Art Quilters “Midpoint” that opens June 2nd, and so does Susan Leslie Lumsden who is in the group but not at this meeting. But we know from her emails that she’s been traveling to lots of national art fairs to sell her quilts and she’s won several Juror’s Awards.

Merrilee Tieche just finished this quilt which is a commission for St. John’s Hospitals. Rhinestones simulate little air bubbles coming out of the fishes mouths. Merrilee calls it “He’s Got His Mother’s Eyes.” She’s got a great sense of humor that shows in her art.

Sadly, I had my “Robbery at the Lingerie Boutique” only half assembled for the meeting, but the group gave me such a vote of confidence that I could finish it in time to submit to the Viking competition, that I did indeed finish it the next day.

Just when I thought we’d tapped out all the talent in the area (this isn’t Chicago you know), some new people showed up and wowed us with their stuff. Above is Arleta Johnson’s quilt that’s an innovation of a traditional quilt pattern that I don’t know the name of.

Arleta said she had recently moved to the area and was looking for friends. We gladly volunteered. This quilt is a 9-11 quilt called “Aftermath: Fire, Smoke, and Ashes.” But the big surprise is the back….

Can you believe this is the back? Arleta seems to do this with all her quilts, says so when she quilts it, she actually gets two done at one time?????!!

Another newcomer, Dianna Callahan teaches fiber art at a college in a city near here. She’s active in our local Visual Artists Alliance, but I think was seeking more connection with other fiber artists. This piece is called “Fantasy” and used a wide variety of fabrics and found ornamentation from vintage clothing.

Unfortunately Lettie Blackburn was too late to make the meeting, but she brought her newest piece to show so I got a photo of it. I forgot the title, but on the back is the Robert Frost poem that inspired it. I cropped the photo so you could see more of the image, but the quilt is nicely framed with a white mat and sleek black frame. This quilt is in a local show at the Performing Arts Center, and Lettie also recently won a Juror’s Choice award at another show she is currently in.

Another member who couldn’t make Thursday’s meeting is Rosemary Claus-Gray. Above is one of her framed pieces and she is currently having a solo show called in Cape Girardeau, MO. You can see some photos of the exhibit here and here.

The group is all a-buzz because Tuesday we will be treated to two programs by Laura Wasilowski and on Wednesday, Laura will be giving her Woodcut Quilts workshop. Then Merrilee, Kathy Kansier (who will be the professional appraiser at the Studio Art Quilt Associates Conference), and I will be traveling on Thursday to Quilt National and the SAQA conference.

And the next week is the Surface Design Association conference in Kansas City which is only about three hours from here, some of us hope to make it to the shows there too. Stay tuned!

Uncommon Threads – March Meeting

We had our Uncommon Threads meeting today at the studio. It seems like everyone’s gotten back their energy (or is that just chattiness) since last meeting. I think then we were all still stunned and recovering from hanging the show and all the other hulabaloo.

As usual, Lucy Silliman showed up with more work finished than anyone else! Lettie intensely quizes her about her new Center Ring quilt. It had a nice hand-painted background with Seta-colors.

Lily Kerns showed off a gorgeous fractal print that she did at a Technology Conference at North Carolina State University. Up close, it had a shimmery appearance, I guess because it was printed on silk.

Cathy Jeffery had finished another tyvek piece with a nice use of colored thread. The back was as interesting as the front.

And another beauty by Lucy. I really like this one, maybe because it sort of looks Japanese to me.

Every one agreed that we should take Hawthorn Gallery up on the offer to have another fiber show next year. We also heard about Emmie’s trip to see the Gee’s Bend quilts in Memphis, and watched the end of the Women’s Work dvd that we had started last fall. All in all, it was a pretty good meeting.

Photos: Gallery Cloud Nine

The First Friday Art Walk fell on February 4th and on the second day of our show. Actually this was planned. I’m still wondering about the timing, but still think it was good to have the Artist’s Reception the night before. Although most of the out of town artists couldn’t stay over for Friday, I think it was better to have two nights of events to help build the buzz.

Things started early, the director of the art museum always hits events early, but through the night, I heard he was sending people in off the street to see my Sushi quilt. Above you can see a couple of young guys studying it. Wonder what they’re thinking?

On Friday we also had live music, as most of the galleries do wine, food, and some do music to try to spice up the event. Behind the musician is one of Lucy Silliman’s monster quilts. (my term for big)

Throughout the night I heard many wonderful things. That the display was arranged nicely to draw people through the exhibit. That the art made people smile. That it was one of the most interesting gallery shows in Springfield ever!

The head of the art and architecture department at Drury University even asked me to do a solo show at the new Pool Art Center next year. How exciting and terrifying! But I’ve already thought up a name for it…

I can’t list all the people who came, but I’m so grateful to everyone who did. In the center of the photo is the Mayor. Of course, I take yoga at 6 am with him and his wife in the basement of his downtown law building so I’ve been SUBTLY reminding them for a month to come see the show. He’s talking to our city manager who is ecstatic about the crowds downtown that night. We also had many family, friends, artist pals, art profs, business friends, kids of friends, twenty-somethings, and bar flies….

One woman even showed up with her work in progress. She had read the article in the paper and wanted to show me “Pies and Pets,” a self-portrait of herself with the title embroideried right on the quilt. Well, that’s not so different from what I’m doing, is it?

I wish I had thought to have Russ get a portrait of every artist in the show. Here’s a great one of Susan Leslie Lumsden in front of one of her quilts. She’s also having a solo show at City Hall this month, so we’re really saturating this town in fiber art!

First Friday is usually popular, but we were lucky to have an unseasonably warm evening. With twelve galleries participating it’s sometimes hard to get around to every gallery, but I’d say by the way the gallery was jam-packed all evening, everyone made it to the Hawthorn that night, probably between 400 to 500 people over the three hours. Several people told me they were coming back when it wasn’t so crowded so they could see the art!

Before the night was half over, gallery owner Steve Dlack was saying to me, “We are going to do this again next year right? The annual fiber show!….”

Uncommon Threads: Artists’ Reception

Lettie Blackburn points to the first sale of the show. After the newspaper article came out Thursday morning, people started coming into the gallery right after lunch. This piece actually sold before the reception.

You can see along this wall of the gallery that we had several smaller quilts framed. Laura also mixed other media with the art quilts to show people how our quilts could be hung with other types of art.

Since Lucy Silliman (center) drives from Kansas to our group meetings, the reception was the first time we met her husband.

Throughout the evening we did some demonstrations of machine quilting that were very popular. Here I’m working on a small piece with lots of bright hearts–since it’s February, I have valentines on the brain.

We had around 200 people attend the artists’ reception on Thursday evening, and after it all here’s a tired but happy Merrilee Tieche and Lettie Blackburn.

Uncommon Threads: Hanging the Show

I’m finally getting around to posting photos from the gallery show. It was a snowy February morning, but we got off to a good start on the first floor after hanging Lucy Silliman’s huge quilt. These wonderful photos are all courtesy of my “magic with the camera” husband Russ RuBert.

Gallery manager Laura Lacey hangs one of Rosemary Claus-Gray’s gorgeous sheers above a lighted case.

Rosemary shows me her small pieces that she has shrink-wrapped on matboard. Of course I had to buy one and can’t wait to frame it.

Gallery owner Steve Dlack takes a break on top of his ladder to watch everyone else.

Emmie Seaman hangs her tornado series. She did this series after a tornado destroyed much of her hometown last year.

I sort out some smaller quilts to hang in an alcove. There were lots of interesting spaces within the gallery to use. To my left is Emmie’s “divorce” quilt, and in my right hand is a piece by Diane Kelsay.

After filling the first floor, we moved to the lower level. We had 72 quilts and used every bit of space we could.

Getting goofy in the basement. It took eight of us working seven hours on Wednesday, and we weren’t completely done by the end of the day…

Hanging the Show

Yesterday we spent a LONG day at Hawthorn Gallery hanging the 70+ quilts for our show. Everyone pitched in a worked together beautifully, but still by the end of the day, my brain felt like the snow on the road home–like cold, gray mush.

One humorous moment at lunch at the retro Gailey’s Breakfast Bar, Merrilee and Lettie doing impressions of Lettie’s husband. Since Lettie has only been making fabric art for a couple of month, the phenomena is completely new to him. He came into her studio that was strewn with scraps of fabric and said, “Well this looks like a perfectly good hobby run completely amuck!”

Later I’ll post some photos of us hanging the show that Russ took. Once again, I reap the rewards of his Christmas present–a really nice new digital camera with lots of lenses and doo-dads that keep showing up in mail, even though it’s way past Christmas…