Saturday, October 15, 2011


Consternation    15" x 20"
So here is my newest portrait quilt.  He certainly looks a lot different now that he is painted and quilted.  Especially around the eyes and mouth and nose.  I still struggle with noses but I think I am slowly getting better.

One thing that worked in my favor with this one was the great piece of hand-dyed fabric that I had to work with.  My dear friend and fellow blogster Jan was the artist who created the fabric with this type of quilt in mind (variation of color and value in one piece).  And the pattern of dye in one of the light areas was just PERFECT for the creases in this guy's forehead.  How excellent is that?

I am also sort of fond of his left ear - I guess it would actually be HIS right ear - but on the left of the quilt.  I like the way it looks like a real ear - if ears were bright red!

Anyway - he is finished in time for the HnH show, and he will also be entered in the SAQA regional show that is scheduled for next year.  More about that later - along with photos of the quilts that I will be entering.     barbara

I Need a New Face

Every quilt seems to have a story of some sort in the background.  I hadn't made a portrait quilt in many months and donated my last one (Blue Man) to an auction for a wonderful cause in Memphis (Advance Memphis).  I was totally thrilled when it sold because I love for my quilts to find new homes and new people to live with.

But I was also taken slightly off guard because Blue Man was a quilt that I had entered in our Hill 'n Hollow Quilt Show (which starts October 20).  Oooops!  I needed to make another quilt the same size as Blue Man so that it wouldn't goof up the design of the show.

So I did.  And this is what he looked like when the pieces had been selected and pinned to the paper pattern.  Sort of a stern looking face don't you think?  I was pleased with the initial appearance of this quilt - but if I hadn't made one before, I wouldn't have realized how significant the difference would be once he was painted and quilted.    barbara

Just One Pear

Just One Pear    16" x 20"
Here is the finished quilt - painted and quilted.  Notice how the shading of the pear is smoothed out compared to the unpainted version.  I think this is the true magic of this technique.  I added the light yellow portion that was too harsh in my original choice of fabrics by using paint - much nicer.

And I really like the border fabric that I found in my stash.  I had this fabric for years - never figuring out a way to use it - and then TA DAA - here was the perfect opportunity.  Perfect colors, nice linear pattern that contrasted with the round shape of the pear.  I used a quilting pattern that mimicked the wavy pattern of the border fabric.

I wonder what besides faces and fruit I can use this technique for?  Hmmmmmm.....  barbara

More Fruit

Where oh where has the summer gone?  YIKES!  Yes we had our favorite daughter Anna visiting for several months with her adorable puppy Amos - but the time just seemed to drift away.

BUT - I have now started working on quilts again and am having a wonderful time.  I am currently focused on practicing the technique that I learned in the class with Esterita Austin and this quilt of a single pear is an example.  This first picture is how it looked while still on paper - you can see the blue tape under the fabric.  Notice the dark patch on the lower right side and the bright yellowish patch on the upper middle portion.  Both looked like incorrect values once I stood back and looked at the piece from a distance.  This is the nice  part of this technique.  I just removed the yellow piece and changed out the dark piece.

The second photo shows how the changes affected the overall appearance.

Both of these photos are prior to moving the pieces to the background and adding paint - which will make a significant difference.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The REAL Dorothy

This is a photo of me and the real Dorothy with the quilt that she so charmingly claimed as a portrait of her.  I think that both the quilt and Dorothy sparkle!  (For more of this story see the post dated July 2).    barbara

Monday, July 11, 2011

Five Heads are Better than One

Inspiration comes from many different places.  A store in town was having a going out of business sale and selling lots of clothes - but I also found some styrofoam heads in a corner.  I knew that my friend Kay was looking for heads for a display and talk that she was doing about bonnets - so I got three for her.  And as I was gathering them together I started to think about what fun I might have covering the heads with paper or fabric or who knows what.  So I got three for myself. 

Then when I got them home, they looked so interesting when they were grouped together that I took their picture.  I am thinking of other places to pose them.... hmmmm..... not sure where yet.  I am thinking that maybe after I cover them I will add wild and crazy decorations sticking out of the tops - that could be quite interesting.  I will post some pictures if I actually DO it instead of just THINKING about it.      barbara

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chloe's Flower Quilt

My sweet granddaughter Chloe is visiting and designed a lovely Flower Quilt.  She designed the flower, and traced the pieces, and even cut out the very complicated flower design.  And she selected all of the bright and wonderful colors for the quilt and the design for the quilting pattern.  And then, after I helped by doing the sewing parts, she added glitter accents.  A very lovely design by a blossoming Artist.  She also made some lovely fairies using deconstructed silk flowers. Thanks for the FUN Chloe!!!  barbara

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dorothy and COOH

One of the greatest pleasure that I have is sharing my quilts with people - and seeing their reactions to my wild and crazy creations.  And I was able to do this at the Committee of One Hundred summer luncheon at the Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs on June 21.  I get nervous talking in front of groups of people but decided to be Very Brave and I am glad that I did.

The women in the COOH were so friendly and  gracious that I immediately felt at home and comfortable.  They were so receptive during my Show and Tell and had lots of interesting questions about Art Quilts. 

Art Quilting was the focus of my presentation and it is always fun to show new people the types of things that some of today's quilters are doing with fabric - based on the wonderful traditional quilting - but going new directions.

The quilt that is shown here is a quilt that I made a couple of years ago to highlight the use of embellishments on quilts.  If you look closely you will see colored paperclips along the hairline, sequins for the eyes (to make them sparkle), fuzzy balls at the ends of the wild hairdo, and silk cocoons for the earrings.  One of the charming COOH ladies had been looking at my quilts before the luncheon and told me that she was surprised to find that one of my quilts was a portrait OF HER!!  I was tickled to find that it was this quilt!  So I have officially renamed the quilt "Dorothy" after her.  barbara


After I tried the new Esterita Austin technique on several faces, I wanted to see if it would work on other objects.  Esterita has a great DVD explaining her technique and I watched it to remind myself of exactly what to do.  This is a photo of the finished quilt - small but lovely.  I forgot to take a picture before I painted it - but it looks amazingly different (and better) now.  The finished size is 15" x 13".  I kept the quilting very simple, and is used the same fabric that I used for the second (reddish toned) face in a previous post.  
I am really liking what I find when I take a photo to post on this blog - I think, looking at this photo, that I will go back and add a little more very dark paint between pear1 and pear2, at the bottom, to make pear 2 stand out more.  If I do I will post another photo.  barbara

Thursday, June 30, 2011


When I moved to this house over 3 years ago, I was thrilled to see that I had a shed.  I thought it would come in handy for all the overflow stuff that didn't fit in my studio.  I have now decided that it is a makeshift dye room.  The weather always dictates if I dye or die.  When summer is at it's hottest, I can dye, have a sauna and even a sweat treatment but Tuesday I woke to 68 degrees and thought it would be a glorious day to dye some of my silk.  I probably won't have another day like that until Sept. but I will be back in the sauna to dye again soon.  Thought you might enjoy seeing where I actually do my dyeing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Very Blue Man

Before painting
Have you heard of the Blue Man Group?  It is a theater performance that we saw years ago in Chicago - quite spectacular.  Several Blue Men (completely painted blue) performed various acts with no words ever spoken.  This new quilt reminds me of them a bit.
This was my next adventure with this new technique.  Can you tell that I am having a lot of fun?  And am obviously working in my studio again.  Hurrah!!
Anyway - I decided the next challenge was to take a photo and make a pattern for myself.  And see if the quilt would actually  work without the pattern from an expert like Teri.  Here is the process:  Find or take a photo with a lot of contrast in the light and dark areas, trace the photo on clear plastic and trace the different values areas and mark them with L (light), D (dark) etc., make the drawing larger (I used Rapid Resizer (a web application), make a pattern and then use Teri's technique.
After painting
I wanted to use a less than natural color selection so I used some of Jan's marvelous blue fabric.  I actually sort of like blue portraits even though some folks think they look like zombies.
Once I had the fabric pieces selected and fused to the background, I was rather worried.  It looked pretty disorganized and confused before the painting was added.  I am not certain that I could have ever learned this technique without the hands-on class and personal coaching from Teri because at this point - I started to lose confidence.
BUT - I kept going.  I like the finished piece (not yet quilted).  And I learned a LOT about pattern drawing - there are some definite areas that I will do differently the next time.  But I won't tell you which ones because then you might spot some of the problems instead of focusing on the overall effect. 

Same Face - Different Colors

I thought it might be interesting to see the two quilts together - instead of in different posts.  You can definitely see the similarities but they look like different people.... such different energy.  Hard to believe it was the exact same pattern.     barbara

Now Try Another Color

Before painting
I had finished the class project quilt but, quite honestly, I wasn't quite sure that I could do another one without the excellent advice of Teri.  Could I choose the right pieces of fabric to make it work?  Could I paint the right places in the right colors?  Sort of scary.....
In order to reduce the anxiety that I was feeling, I decided to use the same pattern that we had used in class.  Teri had made a pattern including all the value designations.  My good friend Jan (and fellow blogger on this site) had dyed some fabulous fabric for me to use in my experiment.  And it worked perfectly.
After painting
This one isn't quilted yet.  The pictures are before painting and after painting.  Amazing difference.  And I learned a whole lot by doing this on my own.  One of the things that I learned was how to use paint to draw the color from one piece of the fabric to the other so that the fabric choices for different values didn't stand out as glaringly different pieces - and were able to flow together visually.  At least I think that they do. Take note of the difference in the neck area between the before and after photos.   I am sure that my skills at this will increase as I practice.   barbara

Class Project Quilt - after quilting

So here is the finished project.  I did simple echo quilting on this one - but I think I will do something different for the next one.  I used the envelope technique with rounded corners and like this finish a lot.  It would certainly keep the quilt show judge from criticizing the mitered corners!  Ha!   

Class Project Quilt

Before painting - small photo is the inspiration
After we learned the basic technique, we spent two days selecting fabric for the portrait and piecing the fabric pieces together - well not actually "piecing".  They are fused with Misty Fuse and then fused to the background fabric.  Then we painted to add details, emphasize the shadows and highlights.  It is NOT easy.  In class Teri (that is what Esterita is called) helped each of us every step of the way  - which was critical to the learning process.
Since it was a three day class instead of a five day class, the pattern for the face was provided and this is the first one that I did.
After painting - note  the difference around the eyes and the chin
I chose one of my favorite fabrics - and it was horribly difficult to cut holes all over the place - but I like the finished piece.  I think it is dramatic.  The fabric that I selected made it more challenging to paint - but I think this helped me learn a lot.

Hot Springs Inspiration

I took a three day class in Hot Springs Village the beginning of May.  In April we had weeks of rain and about a zillion bad storms and tornado warnings.  I am deeply frightened of storms so I was a nervous twit by the time I drove to Hot Springs for the class.  But I am SO GLAD that I did.
I was so lucky to be included in this class because I don't know any of the people in the group that was sponsoring the class.... but they needed folks to come, and I have always wanted to take a class from Esterita Austin.  I am completely amazed by her beautiful art quilts.
Little did I know that not only would I be in a class with such a famous teacher - but I would meet some wonderful friendly artistic quilters.  And Esterita is a GREAT teacher - and lots of fun too!!
In the class we learned her technique to create portrait quilts paying special attention to value as well as color.  Check out the next few posts to see examples of what I did since the class....   barbara

Gone a long time - but I am BACK!!

When I started this blog  I was committed to posting new information frequently.  And I did that for a while - but I haven't posted since March 7.  I admit that I have been a "bad" blogger.
Where was I, you might ask?  I was in a great big glurpy creative slump.  Gloppy and Gooey and Glumpy.  Is that enough "G" words?  Anyway I think part of it was that we had many visitors (and that was wonderful but disruptive to my normal schedule) and then it rained and rained and - well I think I got sort of depressed and funky.
But now I am back - and creating wonderful new quilts and ready to be a good blogger..... so .... here we go!     barbara

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Quilting makes it art

I never like a quilt that I create until it is quilted.  I wonder how many I pitched before I learned that, without quilting, it looks like a flat color book page from kindergarten.  Thank goodness that I now quilt everything before I make up my mind if I like it.  If I don't, it is off to the silent auction for the Humane Society.  Great cause and they always sell. 

A little side story here.  I got a darling puppy from the Humane Society and he was so scared and sick that I wasn't sure he would live.  It never crossed my mind to inquire of the vet what kind he was so I just paid the bills and hoped he would live.  Little did I suspect that he was a Jack Russell!!!!  He has the stamina of a small elephant and recovered completely with more gusto than I thought was possible for a small dog.  In case you haven't heard, quilters and Jack Russells are like oil and water.  After he ate my roommates and my glasses, I blamed myself for putting them where he could get them.  One day I made a special trip to town to buy a queen size batt of wool for a quilt.  Set it on the bed while I put the groceries away and by the time that I returned, Jake the Snake had destroyed it.  Needless to say, he now lives on a large property with 2 other dogs for constant entertainment.  I see him often but he doesn't want to come home to this boring house.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

First try

After watching Teesha Moore's video's on creating journal pages, I jumped in to try my hand at my first page using her techniques.  I have done many pages before but they were more about thoughts and ideas and not just for the fun of creating.  This was a new way of doing art with paper just for my own pleasure.  This will be my go to creative way when quilting just isn't happening.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Product Envy

It is wonderful to have a friend that can jump start my creativity.  For the last week, I haven't been inspired to do anything creative until my blog partner sent me a blog to die for.  Went on Teesha's Circus and had immediate product envy when I saw all of her drawing supplies nestled in a really neat toter.  My first thought was how much did all that cost????  I opened the drawers that I keep mine in and realized that I had no reason to be envious.  I realized that I could give her a run for her money except that all my stuff was everywhere and half of my time was spent hunting.  I loved the tote that she carried all of it in but living in such a small town, I had no place to look for one or more.  When all else fails, create your own.  The theme song of living the rural life.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Journal Techniques Experiments

I am still feeling a bit out of sorts and looking for something to nudge me out of this overly quiet state of creativity.... so I watched Teesha Moore's on-line journaling videos - and they provided the inspiration to try something new with my journaling.
First of all, I changed to a very light wash of color using artist acrylics mixed with water - and I like the softer and lighter backgrounds that I achieved - and it was much faster to do.  Great idea.
Two page spread of journal
Then I took Teesha's suggestion to plunk borders completely around each page - to give more definition to the individual page and to add color and texture - and to start filling in the room so the blank page didn't feel as - well - as BLANK!
And then I cut out photos and used them as a place to start my characters - and then proceeded to "make them my own".  Very very fun.  So take a look and let me know if I am on the right path.
At the very least - I am having a lot of fun and starting to feel creative again.     Barbara

Monday, February 21, 2011

Postcards to Get Me Going

Even after working on the Art Journal, I still felt stuck in a creative canyon.  Or a lack of creative canyon.  I was sort of half heartedly working in my studio but not accomplishing much.  Is "accomplishing something" one of the boxes that I stick myself into? Maybe.  But anyway - I was wanting to do something different and not quite sure what that meant.  My solution when I get in this situation is to make quilted postcards.

The postcards are made with paper, are regulation size 4" x 6", can definitely be mailed successfully, and are quilted.  First I choose a little picture of some sort and then some words and shapes and glue them to an index card.  Then I add another index card on the back and quilt through the two layers to secure the edges of the glued objects.  Then I add another index card and a backing printed card with postcard information and sew around the edges.  A tiny little one-of-a-kind quilt!  Made of paper!  Very fun.

These cards are still at the glue stage with no stitching but I thought it might be fun to look at them.  They are mostly silly and rarely make any logical sense.   Hope you enjoy them!       Barbara

Am I in a Box and Two Ghostly Gals Journal Page

As you look at my work you may notice a certain tendency to use my favorite colors (like purples and blues and greens) and avoid other colors (like red and yellow).  That is because I am SO much more comfortable with those colors and SO challenged by the others.  So I decided that an art journal should require not just comfort but challenge.  So take a look at this page!

The critter on the right is the same design I used for the Everybody Counts! quilt.  She is sort of trapped in a box.  I think that my thoughts on this page will focus on whether I sometimes feel caught in a box - and whether this box is one that someone else is squishing me into or whether it is of my own making.  I am quite amused by the various thoughts that this journal is already starting to generate - even before I start writing.

The Gals on the left side came into being because I used a credit card to paint this page and it left some great white blobs of paint - and I decided to give those blobs some personality.  I really really like them a lot and I think that they will become quilts.  Or maybe a single quilt because they might get lonely if they were separated..... I wonder if they are sisters?  And what are their names?  Hmmmm.       Barbara

Grow and Sing Journal Pages

As I began adding collage bits to the pages I looked at other artists' journals and found myself thinking "How can I make my pages look like theirs - they are SO fabulous".   And I am really good technically so I probably could have duplicated or mimicked their work.  But then I thought "Wait!  This is MY art journal so why don't I use some smaller copies of the critters that I drew and have made into quilts?"  Mind boggling, don't you think?  Use my OWN stuff instead of trying to be like someone else.  Sheesh! 

Anyway - I did just that.  I made some copies of my own drawings and colored them in before adding them to the pages - this was a lot easier than trying to redraw them and get the colors light enough to show on the darker pages.

AND I really like the way that these pages are starting to look.  This first one has the word Grow and I think that my thoughts will center on how I want to grow - risks associated with growing - all that sort of thing.

This next page includes a bird on a fence and if you follow this blog you may recognize the critter as Alice Has Something to Say - or in this case perhaps Alice Has a Song to Sing!  Next to Alice is a pocket that I can stick various cards in.  That should be fun and will add a new dimension to the journal.  The music border on the far left is torn from an old book of Standards that I got from my Father-in-Law Roy.  He was a wonderful piano player and this places a tiny bit of him in my book.    Barbara

A Jar Full of Creativity, Some Flowers and Some Fish

Now remember as you look at these pages that they are In Progress and not even half finished.  The first steps require painting and adding collage bits to take away the scary Blank Page.  The paint that I use is just cheap old acrylic paint and I smear it on with old credit cards and with my fingers.  Very very fun.
I have a lot of weird photos that I have collected over the years and some great collage pages that I have purchased from various sources. This first page has a jar labeled Creativity and various stages of how I feel about creativity listed above.  The large pointer is attached so that it moves and can indicate various stages of creativity.  The next step is to add writing.

This page doesn't have a theme yet.  I like the combination of Zentangly flowers with cut out shapes for other flowers.  The crazy looking fish are from a collage sheet by Iktupilli.  She has great weird stuff on her site.  I made some dominoes for my daughter Anna with really weird spooky creatures.

Art Journals can be FUN instead of Torture! Really!

I have always and forever been impressed by the gorgeous art journals that are shown in magazines.  So I would buy a nice blank journal - and then sit and look at the blank pages and just about cry because I had no idea where to start.  Two things saved me:  Art Journaling - Pages in Stages (a Cloth Paper Scissors DVD featuring Dawn DeVries Sokol) and Teesha Moore's web site (her advice for making an art journal including directions for actually constructing and binding a journal).
 So even though these pages are only partially finished, I am going to share them with you.  After all what is the point of having a blog if there is nothing new to see when you visit? 
This is the outside of the journal.  I built it with book board covers so it will be sturdy and covered it with some really great paper.  It will have a title on the front and beads on the strings that you can see along the binding.  There are several signatures (a bunch of pages folded together) that are sewn into the Italian Book Cloth that acts as the binding holding it all together.  I used waxed polyester for the binding cord.  Barbara

Sunday, February 20, 2011

AGES since I added to this lovely BLOG -

So here is what has been happening....I haven't posted lately because my life has been fluctuating so wildly that my Creativity has slumped to an all time LOW and I am just sort of flopping around.  Why?  Because I have MORE time on my hands - not less.   And I think that my entire soul is sort of reorienting itself to the new reality.  Which is a really good thing - but strange. 
For the past couple of years I have been very involved in an environmental effort - but sadly it was eating me alive and I had no energy left to work on what I really love which is my Art.  So I resigned from the environmental effort - and have more time.  You would think (at least I DID) that this would make me just blossom in 16 different directions creatively - but alas it has not.  Instead I feel at loose ends and don't really have a focus.
When I don't have a focus and am not creating art - I feel frustrated and less than happy.  So in order to break out of this slump - I did two different things - both of which I will post photos of on this blog.  Check out the next couple of entries to see what I am talking about.      Barbara

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I am still in a strange place creatively so I decided to make a quilt that is from one of my little drawings, but that will probably be donated to one of the local groups that takes care of abandoned dogs.
I am including the first photo of the quilt when it was just fused together and then another photo once the quilting was completed.  My husband Bob is an excellent person to give me constructive comments on my quilts.  When I showed him this little quilt before the quilting - he REALLY disliked it.  Didn't like the color of the dog, didn't like the tail having three ends, didn't like anything about it.  I take his comments quite seriously but figured that I probably knew what I was doing, and continued.  Worst case, I figured I could just throw it away if it turned out really bad.

And then I started quilting.  I decided to do the quilting around the figure with a heavy zigzag stitch so that the finished quilt would look sort of like I had drawn a picture with a marker and then colored it in.  And I think it looks pretty good.  And I think the three prongs on the tail make it look like either the tail is wagging or is sort of fuzzy.  What do you think?   Barbara

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Free Motion Class Sample

I will be teaching a free motion quilt class in March at my Hill and Hollow quilt guild so I wanted to make a new class sample.  The circles and feathers are fused on using my hand dyed fabric.  The background is also my hand dyed fabric.  I used a small amount of metalic thread just to proove to the students that they can too.  The rest of the quilting is done with Rayon thread.  This is still my favorite part of the art quilting process so it gave me a lot of joy to do it. Jan

Hawaii Honeymoon

My wonderful grandson and his bride went to Hawaii on their honeymoon.  They tried to include the people they love by posting on Facebook as they enjoyed their experience.  As they were walking on the beach, Amanda took a picture of their shadows and posted it.  I thought that it was a heart warming image of where they were and the love that they share.  It just screamed to be a quilt for them.  When I printed the pix from Facebook it came out to be a little over 1".  I put it on Photoshop and enlarged it to 5"X7".  I traced it and used a program that I love,called RapidResizer, to print it to 18"X24".

I painted the background and fused the shadow onto the background.  It was embellished with real shells.  They should see it this weekend if the snow and ice allow a trip to see them.  From the beach to an ice-snow storm must be a real shock to the body.  Jan

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Everyone Counts

This particular quilt has had several names.  The original name was Counting Butterflies (there are butterflies in the border fabric).  But the border isn't really wide enough to see the butterflies clearly.  I shared the quilt at the Hill 'n Hollow meeting and a fellow quilter suggested using a math related name.  So I tried a bunch of those (like Counting is Confusing) but didn't really like them.  But I DO like Everyone Counts - it seems like a kind and gentle message.  So - that is the name - at least for now.
Some things about this quilt:  The numbers are those little stretchy "gummy" bracelets they sell for kids.  They stretch to go around your wrist, but then return to the original shape (in this case numbers)when you take them off.  They were not easy to attach but I think they will stay in place.  And I successfully used both metallic thread (around the glasses) and variegated thread (the quilting lines on the golden fabric) with NOT ONE SINGLE thread breaking!  I used that stand thingie that you put behind your sewing machine to hold the thread.

I think I will start another quilt today - so watch for more photos soon!    Barbara

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finally back from the holidays!

Has anyone else had a difficult time readjusting to REAL life after the holidays?  It seems the entire month of December just sort of melted away - it was a lot of fun - but NO productivity.  And it is taking me FOREVER to get started on being creative again. 
Scan of Chicago drawing
But I did make some new little critter drawings while we were in Chicago - and fell in love with one of them in particular.  Well actually with four of the new ones - but I can only work on one at a time. 
So here is the sketch - and the quilt is already in progress and should be ready to post soon.  The theme will have something to do with Butterflies!  And Numbers!  More soon!   Barbara

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hint from King Challenge

I have been working on the "King of Clubs" challenge and wanted to give a little hint as to the direction that I am taking.

I am always looking for a new technique to make something more interesting.  This is a window and I wanted to add "glass" so I experimented with transparency film.  Much to my surprise, it held up to the heat of the iron.  No melting or wrinkling.  I know that this doesn't look like much but when it is finished, I hope you get a kick out of the interpretation.

I will keep posting parts but the finished art piece will not be reveiled until after the May Renegade reveal.