Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sacred Threads Exhibit

You have until July 4th to see this amazing exhibit located in Herndon, VA. For more info, check out their
There are over 170 quilts in the show that deal with grief, healing, spirituality, inspiration and joy.  It is a powerful show full of raw feelings.  The artist's statements made me really think about why some of us quilt.  It is our medium for expression.  You know that expression, a picture is worth 1000 words.  Sometimes I think we just can't express ourselves in words and quilting provides us with the means.  I know that for myself it isn't just the finished piece, but the journey of the process. 

I had 2 quilts in the exhibit.  One of them was  "Leaving Us" created to deal with my Dad and Alzheimer's.  The other was "Questions" which I created recently to channel the frustrations of dealing with cancer.

  I attended the exhibit last Saturday which was the artists' reception. I have to admit I did not get a chance to see all of the quilts.  I travelled 3 hours.  There were quilters that travelled from as far away as NC and OH.  It was an  intimate environment because there was so much chatting with both artists and visitors about quilts and inspiration.   I met so many quilters with whom I shared the same language.

Here is just a little taste of the quilts on display.  Enjoy.

I bumped into Lee Anna Paylor who used to belong to my quilt guild.  We are standing in front of "Leaving Us".

Deborah Baillieul and her beautiful quilt, "Talking Drums".
 This quilt was inspired by one of the many classes she has taken with Rosalie Dace.

"Howie" by Patricia Mikrut - A wonderful memory of her Dad

"Gotta Dance" by Susan Walen

I included this quilt for my friend Terry. 
It was made by Suzanne Kistler.

"We Are All Witnesses" by Julie Anne Benison.
 The small circles were made from men's ties from Safe Haven Ministries.

"Lemme See!" by Kate Themel
Check out the quilting in the background.

Artists' dinner with Jane Weaver and Sue Reno.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pat Sloan and Me On the Radio

Today's the day.  Actually in 2 1/2 hours.  I'm waiting for the phone call.  Pat Sloan is in NC and I'm in PA.  I will not be in her studio for the radio show, although I wish I was. (I guess it's called a podcast.)   Her producer will call me on the phone.  I'm trying to "get my head in the game"  I have surrounded myself with my quilts.  I have my book open in front of me and I have the e-mail from Pat.

I can't concentrate on anything.  I have eaten my lunch and many snacks.  Tomorrow night, I'm lecturing at Quilting On The Line in Delta, PA.  My car is already packed.  What else can I do, but wait? In the meantime, please listen and send good thoughts my way.  You can listen to me by clicking here:

And thank you to Betty Dix who introduced me to Pat.  Hope you're listening.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On The Radio

I am like a little kid bursting with excitement.  On Monday,June 27th,  I am going to be a guest on Pat Sloan's radio show on American Patchwork & Quilting radio. Pat is one of the rock stars of the quilting world. I don't know where her energy comes from, but if you check out her website,, you'll get an idea of what I mean.  She is involved in so many different things.   I am one lucky ducky.

You can listen to the show with your computer.  Click here: or you can subscribe by itunes (search American Patchwork & Quilting), or download to a player.

Show time is Monday 4PM Eastern, 3PM Central, 2PM Mountain and 12 noon Pacific

You can also get there from Pat's website, where you can also listen to previous shows:

Don't miss it and tell your friends. 
Maybe some of that rock star will rub off on me.
  I can dream, can't I? 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rejected, Dejected .....Road Trip

Rejection is never pleasant.  I submitted a small quilt for a magazine contest.  It was about putting text on a quilt and I thought this was right up my alley.  I love putting words on quilts and have many, many ways to do it.  This contest had my name all over it.  And all you had to do was send 2 jpegs (one a full view and one a close-up) and a brief description.  No entry fee and no paperwork. It only had to be 8 1/2" x 11".   Easy!  Plus, notification was only a few days after the deadline.  I couldn't resist.  The winning pieces would be published in the magazine.

How disappointed I was when I found out that they didn't choose my quilt.  What was wrong with it?  How could they not want it?  Frankly, it stung.  I could think of many reasons to rationalize the rejection.  But it still hurt.  Our quilts are such a direct extension of ourselves.  But I do know there are many reasons why quilts are rejected and I know it is not personal.  My brain just has to convince my heart. 

So here's my piece.  I call it "A House In The Country" and it's about how this type of life brings serenity to my soul. 

 I guess the bottom line is that I had a lot of fun creating it.  I love the handwork.  Check out the polka dots that I added to the house with sequins.  I think I will use it as my piece for our guild's annual challenge to benefit the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

So what's a girl to do?  Go shopping for more fabric.  My buddies and I headed to The Little Shop in Haddonfield, NJ.  I did a book signing there a few weeks ago and I had to go back to pick up some of my quilts. I have to tell you that Debbie, the owner, has the most fantastic taste in fabric.  She loves clear colors.  Plus she has lots of unique patterns in addition to quilty ones.  I will return there on October 1st to give a workshop on 7 Ways to do Fusible Applique.  If you're interested, give her a call.

We had a great lunch at the restaurant next door called The Little Tuna and then spent some time checking out all of the wonderful shops.  My favorite shop was The Paper Trail.  They had wonderful stationery, cards and lots of nice hostess type gifts.  I put a dent into my Chanukah gift list.  I wish I could share, but the recipients read my blog. (No peaking girls.)

While we were in NJ we decided to hit one more quilt shop - Needles and Pins in Swedesboro.  None of us had been there before.  We all were enchanted by the Gees Bend hand dyed solids.  Here are the ones I bought.  (I realized they looked a lot like my little house piece.) I haven't used solids for a while, but they really show off embellishments.

So the moral of the story is that shopping is good medicine for the aching soul.  But you already knew that!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Experimenting with Bobbin Stitching

This is a challah cover that I created in 2006 for a gift from the outgoing Sisterhood president to our synagogue.  I used silk dupioni and fusible applique.  It measures 16"x20" and the edges are beaded.

Challah is a wonderful egg based bread that looks like this:

It is traditionally eaten on Friday nights.

The challah cover has been on display in one of the offices since 2006.  Just a few months ago, I was gently informed that the Hebrew words were not quite right.  It was supposed to say Shabbat Shalom.  Well I was mortified and felt like melting into the ground.  WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME BEFORE???  But I guess it was one of those typos that not many people noticed, because I was recently asked to make another challah cover as a gift for our retiring Cantor from the Sisterhood.  (A cantor is the person responsible for bringing music to the temple in many, many ways.)  They wanted it to be just like the original one.

Duplicating a quilt or quilt type project is very difficult.  Although my mind wanted to do something different, I needed to "stay the course" based on time constraints and their request, but since 2006, I have changed how I do some things. One thing I have changed is instead of quilting after I finish putting applique on a piece, I now try and do it before.  So I quilted the white silk dupioni with a piece of batting.  Then I added the leaf vines with free motion quilting.  The problem was that the vines were hard to see since they were added on top of the quilting.  This is a sample of what the vines looked like without quilting.

I had 3 options:
  • Start over
  • Stitch over the vines by hand with multiple strands of embroidery floss
  • Try bobbin stitching
I had never done bobbin stitching and at this point I figured, what the heck?  I had seen it done and I thought I had nothing to lose.  I had this heavyweight Wonderfil thread called Razzle and I filled my bobbin with it.  I was able to use the automatic bobbin winder on my sewing machine and did not have to wind it by hand.

Bobbin stitching is done from the back.  I experimented with a sample.  I wanted to stitch over the vines I had done previously.  Since they were hard to see, I drew over them with a blue washable marker.

Then I dropped my feed dogs  and using an embroidery foot I just followed the lines.

When I turned it over, this is what it looked like:

I was certainly happy and proceeded to use this technique to emphasize my vines.

It really looks like handstitching and gave a nice thick line. 

 I used my embroidery machine to add the Hebrew on the first challah cover.  I no longer have that machine and decided to add the words with handstitching.  Since I couldn't see through the batting to trace the letters, I wrote on a water soluble product, Solvy (tm), pinned it in place and then stitched with blue rayon "Razzle"  thread.  Then I removed it in smaller pieces.  I didn't need to wet it.

The Solvy tore right off and I didn't have to use water to remove it. 

So now I had to fix the first cover.  I took out my seam ripper.  After spending hours and hours and hours trying to remove the stitches, I gave up.  Where I had picked them out, there were holes in the silk and a slight tinge of magenta from the removed thread.  Plan B:  I created an applique flower to cover the whole mess.  Done!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Charleston Charm

My husband and I took a mini vacation and went to Charleston for a few days.  Such a charming city!  It is definitely  a place to go if you love to eat.  I have never seen so many restaurants before.  We had one place that we knew we had to visit - The Peninsula Grill.  We had seen a Bobby Flay Food throw down  show.  This is where he travels to different parts of the country to visit an iconic type of food and challenges the person to a cook off or as he calls it a throw down.  He had visited Charleston for a coconut cake challenge.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I love cake.  So we went to the Peninsula Grill for dessert.  I am posting this photo for all of my Foodie friends. It didn 't look like coconut cake, but it certainly tasted like it.  Suffice it to say, it was worth the trip!  Yum.

There was also a great little quilt shop with a great selection of fabric.

 Beautiful old houses lined the picturesque streets.  It felt like I stepped back into the 1800's.  Lots of inspiration for future quilts.  There were two recurring themes for me - window boxes and ironwork.  Enjoy the Charleston charm

I love the caladiums.  They were everywhere.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Jewish Ritual Textile Art

I have been thinking about all of the items that can be created from fabric to celebrate Judaism's rituals.  I am surprised at how many items there are.  So far, this is my list:
  • Ark curtain (see last post)
  • Torah cover
  • Tallit
  • Kippah or yarmulke
  • Challah cover
  • Chuppah
Here are photos of 3 torah covers that I have made.  They are made from silk dupioni and each of them tells a story.  The beauty of using silk is that it glistens under the lights illuminating the ark.  

The torah covers or mantles enrobe the scrolls covered with the hand scribed hebrew words on parchment paper.  What gives me goosebumps is that every year on the same day of the Jewish calendar, no matter where in the world you are located, we are all reading the same portion of the torah in the same language of Hebrew.    (As an aside, the Jewish calendar is a lunisolar calendar.  The current year is 5771 and it starts with Rosh Hashanah which takes place in September or October.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Summer of My Jewishness

Summer has arrived in Pennsylvania.  Only a few more weeks until the official start of summer.  But it is really summer for me.  I sent off the manuscript for my next book.  I can't reveal yet the topic of the book, but let's say it will be more of a technique book than a project book.  I spent the last 3 months writing and creating practically 7 days a week.  So now that it is winging its way to Washington state, I am free!  Actually free to start on my next project. 

It is interesting that this coincides with the airing of my episode on The Quilt Show.  One of the segments was about Jewish ritual textiles and my Oy Vey! patterns.  I received quite a few e-mails that showed an interest in learning more.  Let me say it right here that my knowledge of Judaism is more through tradition than study.  Anything I write about is from my point of view.  My challenge when working on a piece of Judaica is to find inspiration.  Sometimes that's from a story, a symbol or a ritual.  In the past the inspiration has come from such Jewish tenants as "healing the world", the "tree of life"  and "from generation to generation". 

My next project is an ark curtain for a synagogue in Easton, MD.  I have already made 3 torah covers for B'nai Israel.   They must like my work because they have invited me to make the "parochet", the ark curtain.  The ark is the place in a temple where the torah(s) is kept.  Traditionally the ark has this curtain covering the opening.  Sometimes the curtain is behind wooden doors and sometimes in front of wooden doors and sometimes there are no doors.  Basically there are no rules.  The ark is often the centerpiece and focus of the synagogue and you can imagine that it should be majestic because it holds the scrolls with our story.

So I am making this the summer of my Jewishness. I want to immerse myself in learning about the stories that make Judaism such a rich and ritualistic religion.   I want to soak in all of the Judaic art that I can.  I need to design and create an amazing ark curtain.  So I need to read and study to develop my inspiration.  I will share this journey.  And in the process I hope to make an ark curtain worthy of gracing the ark of B'nai Israel.

Monday, June 6, 2011

1st Friday

Haddonfield is a bucolic little town in NJ.  You leave the main highway and drive down their main street called Kings Highway that doesn't look at all like a highway.  It is lined with the most gorgeous houses that are not quite mansions, but are big and stately.  They have a first Friday celebration starting in May and the wide sidewalks are lined with invited artists and many of the resturants have outdoor dining.

Friday night was an absolutely perfect night.  Warm enough for short sleeves.  Not too hot and a bit breezy.  I was invited to do a booksigning at a quilt shop, The Little Shop.  I had only been there once a few years ago.  It is almost an hour from my house.  The owner, Debbie, likes to choose her own talent to hang out in front of her shop.  We hung a few of my quilts on a quilt rack and draped another over the table.  I really enjoyed sitting outside signing books.  The only problem was that the delicious smells from the various resturants was making me so hungry.

(Oops!  This is where the photo is supposed to be of my quilts outside of the shop.  I inadvertantly erased it from my iphone.  Arghhhh!)

Debbie asked me if I could leave the quilts for a while to help sell more books.   I immediately said that I could.  She didn't know that I had an ulterior motive.   I can't wait to go back to her shop to buy fabric.  She has a great selection of current fabric, lots of buttons and trims and tons of unique patterns - lots of cute children's things.  Plus the town itself had a bunch of shops and restaurants I'd like to check out.  Would I mind leaving my quilts?  No problem!