Thursday, February 2, 2012

Uh-oh! It's That Time of the Month Again!

Yes, it's time to make a new posting, as it's the first of the month.  I must confess that I am way behind on just about EVERYTHING, so I am going to again post photos from the International Quilt Show held in Houston last November.  Not that those are second to anything else I'd post; I love the quilts that hang at the Houston quilt show - The show is overwhelming, wonderful, exhausting, unbelievable, and more!  In the meantime, before I post photos and comment on them, I promise to do better planning and more picture-taking in February so that on the first of March I can show you all of the things that I've been working on lately.

And one more thing...  I invite you to go back and take a look at the January posting.  Brenda Gael Smith was kind enough to give me some links that you might want to check out.  If you go to, you will find photos and artist statements on all 288 quilts in the Theme Series and Colorplay series.  These are 12 inch square quilts that are all nothing short of stunning in terms of techniacl merit, creativity, and design.  Both of these exhibits will be on display at the International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati April 13-15 of this year, as well as in Long Beach, CA on July 27-29.  The Theme quilts (144 of them, to be exact!) are featured in a book that contains extensive background information about the Twelve by 12 project.  You can check it all out at  These quilts will challenge you with their originality!

For now, though, let's take a look at some other quilts that hung in the Houston show.  These are all landscape and naturescape quilts - I love these quilts but rarely have time to do pictoral quitls any more -- though these quilts inspire me to make time!  This first quilt, below, is called Peaceful Sunset at Nara and was made by Michiyo Yamamoto of Chicago, Illinois.  She says that the sunset, over an early capital of Japan, "is amazingly peaceful.  Each second, it seems the sky changes to bright yellow, then orange, then red.  Birds cross the horzon on the way back home."  Michiyo dyed kimono silk to make this quilt.  I love how she reflects the landscape across the water.

In Butterfly Garden, Ellen Anne Eddy of Porter, Indiana, used free-motion embroidery, machine applique/quilting, and oil stick rubbing to make her quilt -- and includes hand-dyed fabric along with a wonderful assortment of threads to embellish the quilt.  Can't you just feel Spring bursting forth when you look at this quilt?!

In Gyotaku Fish, Karen Huggler of Columbia, Missouri was inspired by a Japanese technique of fish printing called gyotaku.  She used commercial and hand-carved stamps to make the stamped images, which were further enhanced with paint and threadwork, and then free-motion quilted.  Finally, bobbin work and decorative threads were added to complete the quilt.  Quilters like Karen are masters of incorporating unique methods into quiltmaking - from Lumiere paints, inks, couched threads and ribbons to photo transfer, trapunto, and an assortment of applique methods.  Her work showcases her multiple talents well!

Sara Sharp of Austin, Texas, chose to create a sun-printed fabric using bird feathers as the sky in Birds Sing Because They Believe in Spring.  Sara is drawn to bird images because, as a bird watcher, they always show hope for the next spring and inspire her with their graceful flight and freedom.  Note that Sara built the bird nest out of fabric "twigs."  The detail in Sara's bird is amazing!

I love this next quilt, by Suzanne Kistler of Visalia, California.  Through the Waters  was inspired by a 2006 Class V rafting trip where Suzanne thought she was going to die after falling out of the raft twice.  Her quilt thanks God for carrying her through the waters.  Notice how Suzanne captures the weight of those huge rocks and the wildness of the river while using minimal fabrics and piecing.  I believe that sometimes we tend to "overdo" images in pictoral art, and this is a perfect example of how minimal applique works well!  Suzanne added extensive beading to convey the sparkle of the whitewater.

In The Meadow, Betty Busby of Albuquerque, New Mexico, commemorates a trip to British Columbia.  She used silk painting, paint stick, turned edge applique, fused applique, thread painting, and machine quilting to make her quilt.  Again, here is an example of how simplicity captures the essence of a quiet meadow beneath a cloudy sky.   

Pat Durbin of Eureka, California, captured a scene and a mood at Glacier National Park in Lift Your Eyes to the Hills.  As in the quilt above, much of the quilt is painted.  I am always intrigued when a scene is reflected onto water-- everything has to be subdued and reversed.  In addition, Pat manages to portray the lake bed - that's not easy to do well!

If you've ever hiked the Appalchian Trail, you may have come across Mayapples.  In Mayapples, Terry Kramzar of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, builds a memory of the delightful surprise of blooms hiding beneath the canopy of Mayapple trees. 

In this close-up of Mayapples, if you look carefully, you can see how Terry has used a wide variety of threads and stitching to enhance her gorgeous quilt.  Threadwork like this does much to add meaningful texture to a quilt top.

Mary Ann Hildebrand of Comfort, Texas (I love the names of Texas towns!) took a picture of cypress trees along a creek and made Cypress Sentinels.  She used a scrunched fabric technique (which she learned in a Judy Sisneros workshop) and the styles of Cynthia England and Ruth McDowell in making this quilt -- and appliqued the leaves closest to the viewer to ensure they looked more realistic.  What makes this quilt so lovely, in my mind, is the definition she gave to the tree trunks (along with the uneven border at the top) -- the coloration of the trunks is wonderful - as well as the ground beneath the trees.  Good job, Mary Ann!

Here is another quilt that captures the texture of tree trunks and the rough bark.  In Grounded, Doria Goocher of San Diego, California, explored bias line design. In her words, "Grounded evolved from the idea of a tree's roots being strong, growing deep, and seeking individual directions while remaining part of the whole."  Consider how Doria captures the texture in her piece through a wide variety of color and prints in her trunk - and how she chooses to separate these with handmade bias.

Gay Ousley of Abilene, Texas, toured Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon, when she was being courted by her husband.  She had a photo of a waterfall -- and the colors called to her -- and the texture drew her in.  You can almost hear the falling water in this quiet quilt called Portland Reflection.

This next quilt is quite different in "weight" and style.  Carol Taylor of Pittsford, New York, used transparent organza leaves and berries, appliqued with satin stitching on a background, and quilted extensively to create more texture, in Bountiful.  I love the overlay of different transparent organza fabrics; it adds such depth!

Weeping Dorothea by Ann Harwell of Wendell, North Carolina, chose a 100-year old weeping cherry as her subject.  The tree is at the Dorothea Dix Hospital, founded in 1856 as North Carolina's first hospital dedicated to the treatment of mental illness.  It sits on a hill in south Raleigh, overlooking downtown.  The hospital is being slowly decomminssioned and the patients and staff relocated.  Notice how Ann has pieced the sky - isn't it lovely?  Whenever I hear quilting and mental illness in the same breath, I am reminded that the father of occupational therapy, Dr. Duntan, used quiltng as therapy for his "nervous ladies."  I'm not surprised; I've often referred to my quilts as my "therapy!"

Based on a photograph, Daphne Green's Looking West recalls a sunset seen on a 30th anniversary weekend vacation on Vancouver Island.  Daphne says the quilt reminds her of three things she holds dear:  her husband, trees, and ocean views.  Look at how Daphne has pieced the sky with squares set on point... and made the borders look just like an actual picure frame.  What I notice about so many of these naturescape quilts is that thread is a critical component of the composition - as is a combination of commercial and hand-dyed and painted fabrics. 

 Inspired by photographs, Peggy Spitzer and Lori Olek of Fargo, North Dakota, created Sentinels of Fall.  The quilt started with a hand-painted background and bindings.  Notice how the paint fades from gold to blue as your eye moves from left to right.  It adds a sense of the sun rising.  Also used to make this quilt were Tsukineko inks, water-soluble crayons, and colored pencils.  Lori used 28 different threads in quilting Sentinels.  I love the soft tones used in this quilt.

Melinda Bula of El Dorado Hills, California, says "I love to visit gardens whenever I am on the road.  I was teaching and lecturing in southern California and my friend, Nick, too me to Huntington Gardens in Pasadena early one morning.  The shadows on the water lilies' pond cast blue and turquoise reflections on the water.  It reminded me of Monet."  Melinda hand-dyed most of the fabrics used in this quilt.  Note the wavy lines of the water; they add so much to the vision of Monet's lilies.

Added to the wiggly-lined applique is Melinda's wiggly-line quilting that adds texture and a sense of movement to the water and a sense of texture to the lily pads.  I love the colors Melinda has chosen, too!

That's all for this month -- there are so many inspirational quiltmakers to see when you go to a quilt show.  I hope this little tour has inspired you!

Until next month, happy quilting.  I hope to show you some progress on a new red and green quilt I'm working on, as well as more quilting on my Sarah's Revival quilt and a (surprise!) quilt that I made for a quilt magazine article.  Also, blocks, blocks, and more blocks!!!!  It's not like I have been sitting still... I just don't have time to pull the camera up to snap photos!

See you in March -

(C)Susan H. Garman 2012


  1. Thank you for sharing these with us. I'm amazing at the degree of dimension some of the artists achieve with just fabrics!

  2. Hi Sue,
    Beautiful quilts. I have a question about an earlier post,do you or do you know any one that teaches stab quilt stitching in Woodlands area? I never thought I would do it but I have a very difficult fabric that I cannot quilt any other way. Thank you and I look forward to your next blog.

  3. In response to Janet's question, I have (blush) taught stab stitching in the past but don't have it on my current schedule and don't know who else teaches it. For situations like this, ask around -- somebody in the area surely does stab stitching and maybe you can join them at a bee or a guild meeting and have them show you how they quilt with stab stitching. It's pretty simple... I'm right handed so my right hand stays beneath the quilt top since that hand behaves itself; my left hand stays on top since I have to keep an eye on what it does . Keep your quilt top parallel to the floor, held tightly in a frame (i.e., no "bounce" to the quilt top). Push your needle straight down from the top, with the needle PERPENDICULAR to the floor; catch the needle with your left hand, turn it back upwards (I often catch the needle with my thumb and pointer finger and use my other fingers underneath to gently push the length of thread aside so I don't stitch through IT), and push the needle up through the quilt top. This is the most important thing to keep in mind: keep the needle perpendicular to the floor so that you know exactly where the point of the needle is going (and coming from) as that will keep your stitches even; when you push the needle up from the underside, it usually takes a first stab UP to see where the needle pops through, and then you have to adjust the position until it comes up where you WANT it to come up on top so that your stitches are even. When the stitch is where you want it on top, push the needle up and catch it with your right hand. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Practice will give you even stitches -- most of which will come with keeping that needle perpendicular as you send it UP with your left hand.
    Best wishes -
    Sue Garman

  4. Thank you Sue. I will give it a go. I am sure it will be very frustrating at first, but as you say, REPEAT,REPEAT REPEAT.
    As always I look forward to your next blog.

  5. Your comments add to our enjoyment and I am sure they are wonderful record for you, like a journal, for future thought.

  6. Hi Susan,
    Are you going to be selling the pattern to the new beautiful red and green quilt you are making? I am so taken with the pictures of that quilt, I just made sure my subscription to the magazine is up to date!!! One question, is this a remake of an old quilt or is it all original designs by you? They are just gorgeous. I am working on your Baltimore quilt and wish I lived in Texas again so I could be your protegee!!! Thank you for posting all of the photos for us to see.

  7. In answer to Unknown, yes, I will be coming out with a new pattern for the red and green quilt I am making - I assume you are actually referring to the pictures shown on my March 1, 2012 blog post. The quilt will be called Bed of Roses. The patterns are all new - not designs from an antique or vintage quilt, though I certainly recognize that many of my "original" designs reflect traditional blocks. As for the magazine subscription, the picture you saw as a hint is part of a block but it is in a different quilt -- I made a simple 4-block quilt with a new papercut block that is repeated in the quilt in a 4-block array. It will be in Quiltmaker - I'm glad your subscription is up to date!
    Happy quilting!
    Sue Garman