Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alzheimer Quilt Exhibit

This is one of the greatest honors I have ever had - having a quilt in the traveling exhibit, Alzheimer -Forgetting Piece By Piece. It started almost 4 years ago. Ami Simms' mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. For those of you who don't know who Ami is, she's an internationally famous quilter known for her great sense of humor ( In her energizer bunny kind of way, Ami wanted to do something to both raise money and awareness about Alzheimer's. She worked in the medium she knows best - quilts. She called it the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative.

So she first put out a call for quilts that would help to educate the public about this terrible disease. She chose 52 of them to put together a travelling quilt show. I was so thrilled when I found out that mine was one of them. My father, Leonard Krisel, died in 1998. He passed away from a heart attack, but he had Alzheimer's. It was a blessing at the time. Mentally and physically he was in terrible shape. Making this quilt was an opportunity for me to honor my father and revisit his life. "Leaving Us" was designed as a 3 panel quilt, depicting 3 stages of a person's life who has Alzheimer's. A tree full of life and family is the first panel. As the dementia starts to take hold, cognitive functions are lost. And at last, the only thing left is a shell of a person, who is still a father, a grandfather, a human being.

I made the quilt using dupioni silk and spent lots of hours sitting at my sewing machine, thinking about my Dad, and blanket stitching all of the leaves. I used a gold paint pen to write on the leaves. The poignancy of my quilt led Ami to choose it for the cover of the CD depicting all of the quilts. I was beside myself with joy.

Ami's belief in this project, led her to invest lots of her own money to self-publish a book - Alzheimer's - Forgetting Piece By Piece. (All of the profits are donated to Alzheimer research.) It is a wonderful art book with all of the quilts and the authors words about their creations. (You can purchase a copy at Ami also started on-line auctions for small quilt pieces to raise money for research. In all. she (along with the help of many people) has raised close to $300,000. Impressive! (Unfortunately, her mother passed away at the beginning of November, 2008).

Initially, the quilts were supposed to travel for 3 years and then return home. But there were more and more opportunities for them to travel. When asked if I would mind letting her keep the quilts for a longer time, my answer was YES! Who would see my quilt if it was sitting in my closet?

I was reminded of all of this recently, when I found out that The Upper Cumberland Quilt Show in Tennessee ( was hosting the Alzheimer quilts in September and they were using my quilt as the poster. MY QUILT IS FAMOUS and it makes me so proud to be part of this group and to keep my Dad's memory alive.

So many of us have been touched by this cruel disease. You don't need to be a quilter to relate to these quilts. Check the schedule ( and bring a few tissues with you.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Wonders of Rick Rack

A little while ago, our quilt guild ran a bus trip to NYC. The plan was to go to the garment district and The Americna Folk Art Museum. We used Paula Nadelstern's website,, for our shopping plan. We pretty much stuck with her abbreviated 3 hour version and walked our feet off. With side trips to the folk art museum, The City Quilter (, lunch and Magnolia Bakery for cupcakes (, featured on Sex And The City, our day was packed.

Our favorite stop was Daytona Trims ( on 39th St. Kelly Meanix, queen of rick rack turned us (Christine Kamon and me) on to this wonderful and fun trim. Daytona had yards and yards and yards of rick rack in teeny tiny widths to giant widths in every single color you could think of. You would tell the store employee which one and how much you wanted and they would measure it right off the spool, cut it and stuff it in a plastic bag and record the price on the outside of the bag. It was intoxicating - 5yds/$1, 3yds/$1, up to $2/yd. We bought an assortment of colrs and sizes. We were giddy with joy! (I know, we need a real life.) Between the 3 of us, we sepnt over $150 on this old - but new to us - embellishment.

Our brains were working a mile a minute. Where could we use our new discovery and did we buy enough? Oh there's always mail order, if we run out! The wonderful thing about this rick rack is that it's cotton. It's got a nice soft feel to it. And it's behavior is bias-like. It curves nicely. Check out the swirls you can make. I can't wait until I can find the time to try it with other circular/wavey applications I have used it in a quilt that I am working on. And guess what? I did run out. And I had to call Daytona Trims to send me more. This is a block of the quilt called "Bubblegum Kisses".
Christine had a ball using many of the colors she bought on a quilt she made. I have posted a cropped image so you can get a feeling for the variety of rick rack she used. The quilt is called "Buttons, Beads and Rick Rack". The rick rack really curves nicely around the circle.
You can buy packaged rick rack at JoAnn's. They do have it in a variety of sizes and colors, but it is polyester and is a little stufffer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Inspiration From Mexican Folk Art

Everyone finds their inspiration from different places. I have always looked around me for my inspiration. Whether it is from a building detail, a wallpaper design or a photograph. My current inspiration comes from Mexican folk art. My husband and I went to Cabos San Lucas last year for a week's vacation. One day we took a bus to San Jose del Cabo. Well, I thought I died and went to heaven! There was eye candy EVERYWHERE! The ceramics and tiles had designs galore. The handstamped silver just called out to me. The idea of milagros (charms for good luck, usually associated with illness) and the retablos touched my soul. And there were these wonderful little tin shadowboxes, some painted-some not, that are called nichos. And Frieda Kahlo's face was everywhere. She is their heroine and is much loved.

I usually do not come home with many souvenirs from vacation. But we definitely needed that extra fold-up suitcase that we brought. I couldn't pass up this beautiful bathroom sink for $60. It fit into one of the carry-on bags and we protected it with clothes. I carried it like it was a baby. When we got to the airport, I was a little nervous going through security. As it went through the X-ray machine, I heard the security guy call over one of his co-workers. He said to him, "You know how I say that people try to carry on everything but the kitchen sink - well look at this lady's bag, she brought the kitchen sink!"

I couldn't wait to create a quilt based on my Frida nicho. I had been thinking about making a shrine quilt. It's called "A Shrine To Planet Earth" and reflects the admiration and wonder that I have for this amazing planet of ours. The quilt also sends a message to preserve and protect. I used lots of cotton, silk dupioni, organza, buttons, beads, and metallic threads. This quilt hung in the Museum of the American Quilt Society ( this winter and will be on display at the Quilter's Heritage Celebration in Lancaster,PA ( at the beginning of April.
My husband, Don, and I are off to Mexico again next week. We're going to a town called Puebla which is famous for making Talavera tile and is the place where mole sauce was created. We're taking some cooking classes, so maybe I'll have a recipe or two to share upon my return.
Hasta luego!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Reveal

My small art quilt group, "Layers" had our 2nd challenge. There are 6 members in our group and everyone eventually will have a turn to create the challenge rules. This time the subject - :
"Everything Old Is New Again". The rules :
  • Size:40"x40"
  • Quilt must contain a square in the design
  • Quilt must be a charm quilt with no solid fabric
  • Quilt must have some form of applique
  • Applique can be fused or hand done
  • Quilt must contain the colors:pink,red,blue,yellow,brown,orange abd turquoise in any amount
  • No whining or crying
  • 3 months to complete the challenge

Coming up with a design was easier for some people. Some of us definitely broke the whining rule. (me being one of them.) Until I had my brainstorm for my idea, I had an issue with the size. I usually work on smaller wallhangings. I was on vacation for a month in Key West and had about 1 month left to go before the challenge was due and I did not have a plan yet. I was on my daily morning walk and looking in the window of one of the art galleries. I saw a print with peace signs on multi-colored backgrounds. Eureka! The peace sign - it's new again. Brightly colored batiks - Key West colors - 10" blocks - applique. It all worked and fit the rules. The result is my quilt titled: "Peace Comes In Many Colors". I embellished it with buttons and as many peace charms as I could find.

I sewed the buttons on with my sewing machine. I put the buttons in place, dropped the feed dogs and adjusted the zig zag stitch to the hole separation distance. I zigged and zagged 10 times. For the placement of the buttons for the peace sign, I drew the peace symbol with a Sharpie marker on a piece of water soluble stabilizer. I pinned the stabilizer to the quilt and sewed on the buttons. The solvy actually ripped off cleanly with having to resort to using water.

The members of my group agreed that I could introduce them and share some of their quilts. Kelly Meanix, in charge of the challenge, had the most difficult time. About a week before the challenge was due, she was inspired by her husband, Bob. Bob uses his creative material (wood) to make notes. So, Kelly decided she was going to use her creative material, fabric, to write on to voice her frustration with the challenge and to make her daily "To Do" list. You can see that the entire quilt is covered with her writing.

Christine Kamon tapped into her stash of rick rack, much of which she purchased on a road trip to the garment district in NYC. She used every size from a petite to the giant.

Jane Hamilton was lucky enough to work on her Bromeliad creation while visiting with her cousin in Tuscon. We had to go on a treasure hunt to find her square.

Lisa O'Neill and Terry Kramzar ( were also participants. Wait until you see their creations.

What's exciting about this entire process is that we all worked from the same set of rules. It was amazing that the end results were so entirely different. Stay tuned for exhibit locations.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Derivative Art

There is a great new exhibit at The Philadelphia Museum of Art called "Cezanne and Beyond". It is not just an exibit about works by Cezanne, but it's about how he has influenced other artists. I went with my friend June, last Friday. When I bought the tickets, I didn't realize that it would only be the 2nd day of the exhibit.

There was good news and there was bad news. Good news for us, because it wasn't that crowded, so it was easy to enjoy the art. I love the headsets they give you. I enjoy listening to curator commentary while viewing. It compensates for my lack of formal art education.
Anyway, back to quilting. I have heard quilters turn up their noses looking at some art quilts, calling them derivative. What does that mean? Does it mean copied? In the style of? The same point of view? This exhibit is completely about how artists were not just influenced by Cezanne, but copied him. The first comparison that you are hit with are paintings of a male bather- one by Cezanne and the other by Hartley Marsden. Then continuing on, there are still lifes by Picasso and Matisse and Braques that were copies of paintings by Cezanne, And then the landscapes - paintings of Mont St Victoire. There was even a groupings of works that I believe were by Matisse. They showed that he actually traced a Cezanne and then drew 5 variations of it changing it slightly each time. Copyright???
My take on it. Derivative is when you use someone's style to create your own work of art. It becomes yours when you create the same topic in your style. Or does it? It brings to mind the current controversy over the Obama poster by Shepard Fairey. A lot to think about.