Improv Month

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of spending some time with two talented ladies from Gee's Bend, Alabama.  (If you don't know the history of Gee's Bend, I highly recommend that you google them.)  Mary Ann Pettway and China Pettway were there to guide several of us ladies as we tried to let go of our structural inhibitions.
This is Mary Ann with a small piece that she put together during those 3 days.  I feel that these women and their family members were instrumental in bringing art quilting and the modern, improvisational look to the forefront in the quilting world.  I will always be grateful to them and thrilled that their art was discovered.

What an amazing woman

Inspired by these women and by my local (Chattanooga) Modern Quilt Guild to try my hand at a modern look,  I took a break from patterning and had some fun!

small improv 1
11'"x 11 1/2"

small improv 3
11 1/2" x 11 1/2"

small improv 5
11 1/2" x 16" 

small improv  8
27" x  26"

Playing catch up

After returning from a lovely trip to the great northwest, I didn't have too much time to follow up on the fast and fun, cut and paste quilts that we played with in the Freddy Moran workshop. I did manage to get a couple more pieces pasted together and even quilted 2 of them!
sample to explore raw edge quilting on the pasted pieces
15 X 27

completed piece began on day 2 of the workshop
27 X 46  

more playtime
36 x 54
soon to be quilted 
Next I  was off to Italy for a few days.  What can I say, my cousin, Beth, twisted my arm to the point that I just couldn't say no to her offer to join her along with a group of other delightful folks.  Being my second trip in 2 years, once we arrived I felt more comfortable being able to set out on our own with a smaller group, and had a fabulous time.  From Montepulciano, to Rome, to Sorrento and the Isle of Capri, it was non stop gorgeous scenery, food and wine, and superb company.  I cannot wait to return.  Maybe next year?  I won't bore you with too many vacation photos.

We are so excited ~ having a burger at the airport ~
ready to go

View from our hotel in Sorrento


the beach at Sorrrento

Trevi Fountain ~ I tossed in lots of coins to assure my return

the highlight of the trip
seeing the Pope Francis up close and hearing his sermon
in St. Peter's square  

the Mediterranean Sea ~ ahhhhhh

Hope that wasn't too many photos to be boring

Back to Tennessee again, for a couple of weeks and I was off to Arrowmont.  I attended a workshop on shape resist and natural dyeing taught by Joan Morris.  I really can't say enough about this class.  Joan is a fabulous teacher and a world class artist.  She has been working with shibori/shape resist and dyeing for 30 years, and made it look sooooo easy.  And, all of the folks in the class were a delight to play with.  A hugely talented group, I must say.  I was so inspired and can't wait to do more.  Unfortunately, I was so engrossed in the class that I failed to take many photos of the class.  But here are a few of my results.

my karamatsu design
cotton backed silk, with tannin and mordent 

Pulled and tied off then dyed in natural indigo

the stitches are cut and pulled  

cotton side of the design after being ironed ~ a soft indigo color

the silk side of the design after being ironed ~ a shimmering blue green  ~
silk does not take natural indigo dye as well

more karamatsu ~ not yet ironed 


mokome on silk
not ironed.  
This is so intriguing and challenging. I didn't think I would ever return to hand stitching, but this has revived my interest. I want to make clothing using some of the designs and perhaps even incorporate it into my art quilts.  The fun never ends.  There is always something new around the corner.  Never say no to learning a new technique.

What a fabulous trip to Seattle, Mt Vernon, WA and on to Portland, OR.  The only problem being, that is was just a bit too short.  Of course, I didn't want to wear out my welcome, as I do want to return soon.  Last Wednesday my friend, Nifty Quilts, picked me up at SeaTac and we immediately headed out to the Seattle Art Museum to meet Tina for lunch and to view the Joan Miro exhibit.  I was inspired by Miro's use of color and style.  It is always much better to see fine art in person.  Photos can never do it justice. Right?

OK ~ I couldn't resist having my picture taken with some
of the other art before reaching the Miro exhibit

Lots of fun, food, fabric and friends for the next two days. And a tour of a the Theo chocolate factory.  All organic, and high chocolate content, with lots of free samples.  I highly advise anyone, whether you be a chocoholic or not, to make this tour a must when you visit Seattle.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, Nifty and I are off to Mount Vernon for a 2 day workshop with Freddy Moran.  This is the first time I had the opportunity to meet this legendary lady, and I came away even more impressed than ever.
"That is one cool rock and roll apron, Freddy".   I must have one.

Freddy with one of her originals.
Love that tree!

Stephanie, a delightfully energetic young woman,  hosted the event with  fabric, friends, and foods.  Check out her blog for some great photos at 

 I was able to create one piece and begin another with my twist on Freddy's collage methods.  I may really get into this instant gratification of cut, glue, & paste.  I can create a large piece ready to quilt in a day. That is movin' on for me!

in progress
unedited 40" x 48"

 in progress
unedited, 34-ish " x 54-ish "
Then it is on to Portland to hang out with my daughter, Casey for a few days.  My friends Tina and Mary drove me to Portland where we lunched at a new French~Norwegian spot named Maurice.  What can I say ~ other than exquisite.  Then it's off to catch up with Casey.

She had a busy schedule and I had to be on my game to keep up with her.  She was a host for the grand opening of the Madewell shop in Portland on Tuesday.  The shop will also feature items from local artists, and Casey created hand turned wooden vessels for ceramic pots filled with succulents that will be sold in the new shop.

cool - huh?
 Champagne brunch, shopping, and the grand opening gala at 6pm.  Food and beverage is the best in Portland, and Casey always chooses just the right spots to enjoy. As an added treat, the weather was very warm and sunny.  Perfect for walking around the city and enjoying the sights.  We did stop off at the Tanner Goods shop to see our collaborative quilts.  I must admit, I was thrilled to see them hanging in the shop.  Plus, the light fixture you partially see, was designed and made by Casey.

On Wednesday, my lovely friend, Bonnie, picked me up and we go for a deliscious lunch.  And off again to the 'burbs to meet with Bill Volckening and view some of his fabulous antique quilts. It was a treat to meet and talk quilts with such a knowledgeable person.  And get to see some of the quilts that he has made.  

Bill proudly shows his latest quilt

an antique quilt from Tennessee
Those are a few highlights of my week in the great northwest.  I can't wait to return.  There is always adventure around every corner.  

next up

This is a top that I made in preparation for a workshop with Ruth B McDowell in 2009.  I wasn't happy with the composition, so it never got quilted.  However, for several reasons that I won't mention just yet, it is time to become a real quilt.  

Yet, it will have to linger a bit longer, as I am off to the great north west to visit friends in Seattle and my daughter in Portland.  Got my bags pack and early to bed, since I'll be getting up in the wee hours of the morning to catch my flight.  I will tell all when I return.
 I am soooooooooooooooo excited.  

made my day in such a good way

It has been several years since I have entered any of my quilts into national shows.  However, the quilts are stacking up around here, so it was time to get them out in public again.  I entered a couple of quilts into the Mancuso's Quiltfest Destination Savannah.  I was delighted to have them accepted into the show and was even more delighted when they safely returned  to me along with nice compliments from the judges.  Opening the box and unwrapping the quilts, I was thrilled to discover a blue ribbon for 
Best Use of Color in the Innovative category.  

I blogged about her creation, but never added a photo once I had, at last, completed quilting her.  Introducing a completed Ms. Lantana 

54" x 70"
hand dyed and commercial fabrics
machine pieced and quilted

And More Progress

Bicycle 101
pieced and ready to quilt
@ 30 x 36

I had this next piece hanging on my design wall since August 2013.  It was done during a workshop with Elizabeth Barton at Arrowmont.  Elizabeth graciously complimented the composition, but all I kept seeing was the big CBS eye.  It began to make be a big crazy, as it stared at me day in and day out on the wall.  A few days ago, as I was cleaning up some the the piles of fabric from a project, I decided that I was tired of it's glare.  And I had exhausted all ideas of what to do with it.  This thing had become an intrusive monster.  I snatched it from the wall and hacked it up with my rotary cutter. There! I said as I tossed the pieces into the trash and went back to my cleaning.  Feeling much more relaxed.  

However, those pieces were still wimpering for help the next day.  I reluctantly salvaged  them from the trash and began to play with them again.  The results were very pleasing to my eye, and as it hangs on the wall today, I am at piece with it's rebirth.  

eye to eye
@ 20" x 28"


Working with my hand dyed fabrics, choosing colors and shading

Coming along, with a change here and there

All pieces cut and pinned on the design wall.
Well, almost all.  
Now to allow the bicycle to hang around while I mull over any changes that might need to be made.  Once I have decided that this is as good as it's gonna get, then on to piecing.  

Meanwhile, I have had interludes of quilting &
finished quilting the peacock.
Evie's peacock.
50" x 60" 

Now to finish quilting the nephew and bride quilt.  AKA, "Flight Patterns"