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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Book Review: Thread Magic Garden

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Thread Magic Garden

Thread Magic Garden
Ellen Anne Eddy
C&T Publishing; $28.95

Award-winning quilter Ellen Anne Eddy is well known for her free-motion thread work. In this book, she teaches you how to thread paint your own beautiful garden of flowers and some surprise creatures. At first glance, it’s clear that Ellen is a teacher. Using simple step-by-step instructions, you’ll learn basic skills that build upon each other, for example, special stitch techniques, building edge-to-edge color and progressive shading. Then she offers more than 20 floral studies to understand the shapes of the flowers. She notes that you cannot create a flower through fabric without first seeing and studying a real one, so she includes close-up photographs for this purpose. She also includes a good discussion on color theory. If you are interested in learning or expanding your skills at machine embroidery, you’ll enjoy this book and appreciate Ellen’s attention to detail.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Appliqué & Embroidery Fundamentals

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Applique and Embroidery
Appliqué & Embroidery Fundamentals
Janice Vaine
Landauer Publishing; $27.95

With 45 years of sewing and needlework experience, Jan Vaine starts you in the classroom where she teaches you her Perfect Placement Appliqué method followed by lessons on the appliqué stitch, reverse appliqué and a variety of stitches. The instructions are complete and the illustrations are very large, a plus. The bulk of the book includes the letters of the alphabet each encircled by a floral wreath. Jan’s goal is for you to learn new embroidery and embellishment techniques as you work your way through the alphabet. She then offers 18 additional stitches and six additional projects for using the skills you’ve learned. I appreciated the supplies shopping list at the beginning of the book, too.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Exploring Dimensional Quilt Art

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Exploring Dimensional Quilt Art

Exploring Dimensional Quilt Art
C. June Barnes
Interweave; $26.95

Since I talked about challenging your thinking, that’s what June Barnes does in this book. Most quilt art is two-dimensional. She urges you to create more dimension in your work. Some of what you’ll learn are folding techniques, stacking, curling, pleating and gathering. She includes some fascinating quilted pieces. I can’t call them quilts, because they are not flat. These include crescent-shaped pieces, prisms, cylinders and orbs. The book includes a gallery of work by fellow British quilters and textile artists. June attributes the increase in dimensional work by quilt artists to the introduction of categories such as that of Quilt Creations at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. She also includes a section on finding inspiration and a list of verb command prompts, such as squash it, make it obvious and be unrealistic. A great reference for expanding your art.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to  Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


Meet Pamela Allen, 2012 Quilt Teacher of the Year

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
What standards of workmanship do you require of your students? What do you do if they don’t attain them?

This makes me smile, as I may be somewhat of an aberration when it comes to traditional workmanship as defined by the standards of a quilt show judge. The focus of my teaching is always the making of art that just happens to be stitched fabric. I believe that any construction method and any technique is appropriate so long as the piece has structural integrity. I help students to find a resourceful and personal way to solve technical problems and often demonstrate techniques and share helpful hints that may be useful to realize their idea.

How do you encourage creativity in your students?

I’m a believer in lots of discussion and lots of visual stimulation. When I set up the classroom, I try to make it look like a working studio with lots of artwork on the walls and, when possible, a U-shaped plan for the tables so students can see one another. I also like to have a common pool of fabrics, donated by the class and me, to encourage each artist to try materials they may not normally choose. My instructions to students are more about attitude than technique in that there are no patterns, very few rules and only general parameters for each exercise. I talk about the idea that a new work is like a stream of consciousness, where what has gone before will dictate what comes next, and I support any number of solutions to a given problem. Thus the student isn’t pursuing a narrow avenue towards a fixed goal, but rather an expanding highway with many exits and entrances. This allows the student to choose her own subject matter and personal content and encourages a meaningful attachment to the work. As a work progresses, I ask for the work to be put up on the wall, and the student and I have a brainstorming session about problems or where to go next. Other students benefit from this as well because they may be having the same issues and can learn by sharing.

How do you encourage students’ further growth in quilting, beyond the formal class?

Building confidence is an important element for further growth.  This is why, throughout the class, I try to focus on the students’ strengths and encourage them to build upon those. Often all it takes is to overcome a self-conscious reticence, and the artist can make the leap into the unknown with wonderful results. I encourage the students to conduct their designing by asking, “What if I do …?” With a growing confidence, the artist can answer by actually trying a solution without fear. Another reassuring phrase I repeat is, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I try to share my own experience of revising less than perfect work or cutting and reassembling it into a new idea. I suppose it is related to my idea of being flexible about the direction a work may take. Humor is a big part of this process as well, and there is often much giggling and hilarity when the solution turns out to be a very funky potholder!

Why do you teach?

I confess I really enjoy teaching! I like meeting new people and going to new places. I love it when I can see a student take some risks, try something new, and then have a eureka moment as the reward! I enjoy hearing from former students that they have been juried into some national show or won a prize at their local guild show. Some have sent me photos of the class quilt that they have gone on to finish, and I can “read” the pleasure they have taken in it. It is not a one-way street either. I have learned things from my students as well. I was not the greatest sewer in the world at first, and it was a student who sat me down and showed me that making bindings wasn’t that hard after all!

You can read more about Pamela in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter, the journal of the International Association of Professional Quilters. The journal is available to members, and you can join here.

Please share your thoughts below.

Book Review: The Natural World

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

The Natural World

Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World
Martha Sielman
Sterling Publishing; $24.95

The first in a series, Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World showcases art quilts inspired by nature: flowers, water, birds, animals, leaves, insects, trees and texture. More than 450 artists submitted nearly 1,200 works for consideration in this volume. The book includes the work of more than 70 artists, as well as an in-depth look at 19 featured artists and their work in a diversity of techniques. The featured artists offer essays about their creative process. I always find the personal stories offering a glimpse into the artists and their passions fascinating to read. The book is a visual delight and a wonderful read. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: A Bountiful Life

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Bountiful Life

A Bountiful LIfe
Karen Mowry
Kansas City Star Quilts; $27.95

More than 150 years ago, an anonymous quiltmaker designed and appliquéd what is today regarded as one of the masterpieces of American folk art. Bird of Paradise, that quilt top, is now held by the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Folk artist and quilter Karen Mowry has created her own version of the quilt top, and, like the inspiration, it is now in the same museum collection. While the story behind the quilt top is unknown, Karen does offer some speculation as to meaning of the blocks and the top. I enjoyed the small bit of history behind the quilt and its bits of whimsy, e.g., the inclusion of an elephant named Hanible. The book includes full-size patterns for the 20 blocks in the book and the border.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


Book Review: Create Your Own Dream Feathers

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Book of Days

Create Your Own Dream Feathers
Peggy Holt
AQS Publishing; $26.95

Feathers. Everyone appreciates the elaborate look of feathers across their quilt. Peggy Holt’s take on feathers goes a step further than the standard feather and it did come to her in a dream. The dream feather builds upon itself or another shape and is independent of a spine. They are not as formal as the standard feather, but they are just as elegant. In her book, Peggy covers three concepts: the standard feather, the dream feather and using base shapes to help unify your quilting designs. Once you have all the concepts, she shows you how to embellish them with furls and flourishes, borders and swags, folded paper applications, medallions, and butterflies and hearts. While Peggy is a longarmer, the designs can be used for domestic machine and hand quilters.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


Book Review: Beautiful Botanicals

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Book of Days

Beautiful Botanicals
Deborah Kemball
C&T Publishing; $29.95

Are you looking for a way to add more beautiful flowers into your life this time of year? I know for many of us the only place we see fresh flowers this time of year is at the florist. Deborah Kemball offers a wonderful way to bring more beauty into your life. Her book offers 14 sophisticated floral appliqué projects, varying in size from pillows to quilts. She includes templates for 45 different appliqué flowers, two butterflies and five borders. The book is also filed with wonderful tips to make your work a success, e.g., fussy-cutting fabrics for some of the flowers. You’ll enjoy mixing the various flowers to create your own individual project.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Book of Days

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Book of Days

Book of Days
Maggie Bonanomi
Kansas City Star Quilts; $14.95

Since we are starting a new year, I thought Book of Days: Create Your Own Primitive Book Full of Days would be a fun suggestion to capture activities, insights or gratitude notes. Maggie Bonanomi teaches you how to create a basic 6″ by 9″ book using wool and chipboard for the covers and card stock for the pages. Each month uses four pages and you can add photos and appliqué. Once you have five pages done, you stitch them together into signatures. When you’ve finished five signatures, you stitch them together and add a wool binding. While Maggie’s book has a primitive look, yours can reflect your individual style.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: The Printed Pattern

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Buttonwood Farm

The Printed Pattern
Rebecca Drury and Yvonne Drury
Interweave Press, $24.95

Do you want a more personal touch to your fabrics? Mother-daughter team Yvonne and Rebecca Drury specialize in hand-printed fabric at their East London studio. This book is your guide to designing and creating handprinted patterns for any surface – not just fabric. You’ll find step-by-step for relief printing, using potatoes, linoleum blocks, erasers and woodblocks; stencil printing; and four methods of screen printing. In addition to the how-tos, you’ll also find information on how to create and develop your own designs and the basics about your supplies. An added bonus is the collection of seven playful stencil designs that you can use. I was inspired to go look for the linoleum block prints from my college art classes.

Look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


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