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A Word for 2014, and a song

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

So every year or thereabouts, the QuiltArt list has a discussion as we approach and dive into the new year.  What will your word be for the coming new year?   I could remember my word for 2011—-the worst of the years from hell:  breathe, and a more apt word I never picked!   But I couldn’t remember what word I chose for 2013.  It appears I forgot to pick one.  So here’s what I wrote to the QA list:

for 2010:  simplify
for 2011:  breathe
for 2012:  refresh
for 2013:  I missed it this year!
for 2014:  hmmmmm….

(and it’s a good thing I keep emails and can use the search function on my laptop…the only one I remembered was “breathe” for the year Mom died, our oldest hit the bottom of his pit–luckily not a deep one–and other insanity.)

Actually, maybe “hmmmm” **should** be my word for the year.   Musing.  I’ve been thinking things like “re-assess,”  “re-evaluate,” and so on.   New avenues?  or Pathways?  Meanderings?  Explorations isn’t quite right.  Walking (not in the literal sense).  Trails?  Review isn’t quite right either.  

Maybe I should just toss my cares to the wind and say “fudge” (yes, the chocolate, edible kind!)!  Oh, why limit myself, how about “Dessert!”   I think I need some whimsy!  Command decision made:  Dessert it is!  

I’ll close with a favorite t-shirt quote: 

Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first!

Cheers, Sarah

PS:  yes, art can be the dessert!

So there you go:  Dessert if my word for 2014!  Makes me giggle!  WOOT!

And in that vein, I’m planning on (decaf) Kahlua Coffee with whipped cream for tonight (since we have Kahlua and no Irish Mist), so here is one last song for the year:  James Taylor singing For Auld Lang Syne–love this!  The older I get, the more the song brings tears to my eyes as I remember those whom I have loved and are gone, those whom I love now, one of whom I fear may not be with us this time next year (send her healing power to southern Texas that she be among the three percent that survives this cancer), and the beauty of life.  Indeed,

“so here’s a hand my trusted friend
and give me a hand o’ thine,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet
for auld lang syne.”

Thank you for visiting me here in 2013.  Here’s to a healthy, loving, joyful, artful 2014 for all of us.  Hugs, Sarah

Rituals at Dinner@8 and Why Quilts Matter

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

What better pairing than a great exhibit  (of which I am proud to be a part) AND an opportunity to help “Kickstart” a great new chapter in the Why Quilts Matter series.

I’ve blogged before about my quilt, Strength and Calm, which has been juried in to the Rituals exhibit that will debut this summer at International Quilt Festival Long Beach then travel on to the mega-kahuna-mecca of quilts, International Quilt Festival in Houston (where I will also be teaching again! would love to see/meet some of you in my classes!).  Well curators Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal have been running a fun and fascinating glimpse into the lives and personalities of the artists who have made the quilts in this year’s exhibit.  Today is my turn!  So to read more about it, go here.  Thanks to Moore‘s Sewing and Havel (as in those wonderful scissors) for sponsoring the exhibits!

Speaking of sponsoring, I was starting to read some old QuiltArt digests, and discovered that Shelley Zegart has launched a new project, a companion guide to the WONDERFUL DVD series, Why Quilts Matter (click here to read lots more about the series).  I’m thrilled to say I’ve just made a donation to her fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.  You can click on the widget (the doohickie to the left) in the sidebar of my blog or go here to help support this effort and read more about it.

Joshua, the quilt in progress and done! #6

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

With this blogpost, we will end the series on how I made the quilt of my son playing guitar.  I had fun with the quilting, too.  Here’s the bucket and bag of threads I used for the quilting:

And here is the completed quilt; notice that the proportions have changed a little.  The finished size for the exhibit is 36 inches wide by 48 inches long, so I needed to remove some extra, especially in the length.  If the quilt hadn’t been in this exhibit, I might have let it go a little longer, but I think in terms of design and composition it is still fine the way it is.

While I was mulling over how to quilt the walls, there was yet another discussion on either QuiltArt or SAQA (or both?) about the line between traditional and art quilting.  As usual there were those who want nothing to do with traditional quilting.  I, however, am proud of our traditional roots and proud of this as an art form that began with women’s work.  As someone recently said to me, Quilt is NOT a four-letter word!

This discussion led me to the idea of using traditional feathered vines for the background quilting.  As you can see from this next photo, though I chose a thread I thought would show up on the background, it was too subtle.  I decided to echo-quilt around the feathered vines, then pencilled in the resulting space/channel to define the outlines of the vines with Prismacolor Pencil (which I later covered with a combination of a textile-friendly varnish and water to seal it to prevent it from rubbing off).

Here is a wider-angled shot of the wall area showing the feathered vines…I just love them!

This shows the quilted quilt with the threads distributed over the top where they were used:

Here are two close-ups of the quilting of Joshua’s face and torso:

I love the backs of my quilts, the line drawing look, so took this (alas blurry) photo–you can see the feathered vines clearly on this semi-solid background fabric, and that the entire quilt is stitched 1/4″ apart or close… a lot of thread!

And to end where we began, but arrayed nicely, all those beautiful threads ( all but one of them Superior Threads):

PS–I am reminded by the comments to add that Joshua –hallelujah!– actually likes the quilt!  Given how picky teenagers are, especially of pictures of themselves, I am so thrilled that he of all people likes it.  Hugs to my firstborn!  Now…. what will the years bring that I can do another quilt, this time of secondborn son?

Drawing, in the beginning

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Hi everyone!  Thanks to the wonderful response to my posts over on the Quiltart list, I have set up a new blog— See*Draw*Quilt*Learn (link is also on the left) — for anyone who wishes to join in working on improving their drawing skills.  To begin, I’m planning on working through the companion workbook to the New Drawing On the Right Hand Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.  If you’d like to participate, and/or if you ‘d like to be a contributor to that blog, surf over there and sign up by contacting me (but please read the first post to find out the general guidelines).


I thought I’d start things rolling by sharing my “pre-instruction” drawings from both the first time I did the workbook, in 2003/4, and the current one.  As I mentioned earlier, here, I think I could learn more by doing the exercises again.  The picture above is the 2009 drawing of my hand (photos are clickable for a larger view)… I deliberately worked (relatively) quickly, and didn’t do shading.  I think when I did my 2003 version, I had read ahead about shading and whatnot…. here is that one:


We were also to do a room/corner.  Since we moved, I couldn’t do the same corner.  Here is the living room corner in 2003:


and the corner of my studio in 2009:


The piece on the wall, next to the window, is this totally cool (and really challenging to draw) 3-D ish wool “window” by Frances Caple, who lives in the Hebrides.  She asked about a trade, and loved my Rites of Passage quilt.  I loved her windows, so she made this one special for me, and we swapped!  I’ll have to take a picture of my mini “art wall” to share with you… next post tho, want to get this one online.

Suzanne Riggio’s St. Mary’s School Quilt

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The first time I went to International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, was the first year for the Journal Quilt Project.  Two series in particular grabbed me and wouldn’t let me forget them:  Maria Elkins’ feathers and Suzanne Riggio’s rooftops.  You can see Maria’s here, and Suzanne’s here (hers are the second row down in the first “bank” of journal quilts on that page).  To see more of that first year’s journals, click here.  I didn’t know at the time how many glorious quilts Suzanne had already made, and clearly with more to come.

Recently when I posted to the QuiltArt list about my drawing, Suzanne saw my post and must have remembered my San Domenico quilt (here and here plus additional blogposts in late June 2006) and sent me this jpeg of her quilt for St. Mary’s school.  Since she doesn’t have a blog, online album or website, I asked permission to share it with all of you and the quiltart list by posting it here:


What is astonishing is that during the eleven years this quilt was in the making, Suzanne had severe back problems, surgery, is now in a wheelchair, and STILL the art will come out, and come out stupendously well!  I just get goosebumps thinking about the quilt, her affection for her school, her art…the whole kit and kaboodle!

Suzanne wrote to me that the quilt “will live is a two-sided glass case with oak surround in the new atrium at St. Mary’s School.  (The names of the graduates and the history of the school are on the back.)”   The new wing will be dedicated on May 31, with archbishops and all.  I expect there will be MANY looks of awe and dew-y eyes!

Addendum:  some new information from Suzanne:
FYI, St. Mary’s is not my school.  We came to St. Mary’s Church in 1996 from West Virginia (36 years).  I had a solo quilt show at St. Mary’s in 1998, and that was the inspiration for the commission to do a sesquicentennial quilt for their school, due in 2009.  I knew nothing about the school at the time and had to do lots of research.

It was a school started by the School Sisters of Notre Dame who got their start in Bavaria in 1833.  Milwaukee was mostly settled by Germans, especially Bavarians, and was a good place for a “mission.” The sisters continued to sponsor the school until 1913 when the parish took over.  But the sisters continued to teach and administer.  The last SSND principal was Sister Betty–the quilt is dedicated to her.

In the course of my work, I applied for and received a couple of grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board to make this work of art.

The work contains historic stained glass (prismatic foil), maps, buildings then and now, lots of text giving the history, a quartet of kids representing 1859 and 2009, the sacraments kids receive, monstronses, gardens and orchards, sunrises, the names of graduates on the back, and a lot more.

Thanks Suzanne for letting me share this incredible work!  The photo is (theoretically) click-able to view slightly larger.