Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Word Wednesday


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Books on Sunday

Since I've been working on soy wax resists lately and choosing designs I would like to use on my fabrics, I pulled out a favourite title to look through.
1000 Patterns - Design through the Centuries edited by Drusilla Cole has been in my library for a few years and has proven to be an excellent reference book.

Divided into two sections of pre-industrial and post-industrial, the book is then further divided into geographical regions such as Caspian, Japan, Celtic and such for the pre-industrial whereas the post-industrial section is divided by time periods and style.
Image content ranges from textiles, ceramic tiles and other decorative surfaces, every colour and combination imaginable is shown and further enhanced by historical and ethnographic explanations.
I would recommend this book for any serious designer or artist interested in pattern design.
ISBN 9780811839792

Friday, October 26, 2012

Meet Vikki Pignatelli - Author and Quilter

I've seen Vikki's name in the quilting world for many years and recently heard that she had written a book that sounds like it should be a 'must read' for all quilters....and non-quilters too! Read about Vikki's fascinating story:

Tell us a bit about how you began quilting:

I never dreamed I'd have a career in any field involving sewing. I almost failed Home Economics in seventh grade because of sewing. In 1991, my sister, Augustine Ellis, asked me to take a beginning quilting class with her. The woman who planned to accompany her had to cancel. I promptly said “No” to my sister because of my dislike of sewing. However she coaxed and coaxed and I finally agreed to go. From the moment I started my beginning class, I quickly became excited and enamored with quiltmaking. Quilting is not just sewing…it is an exquisite art form and wonderfully therapeutic for the mind, body and spirit.

In 1994 my husband, Den, was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Worried about his health and other family issues at the time, I felt I was at my breaking point. Inspired by a tree in our front yard blowing violently in a spring storm, I became determined to create a healing quilt and drafted a pattern full of curved patches. I could relate to the tree as we both were fighting one of life's storms. With no experience in constructing curved seams, I experimented by trial and error to come up with the top surface technique I now teach today. I titled the finished quilt Breaking Point. I began to teach my new technique locally, then regionally. In 1994 Quilter's Newsletter published an article about my technique and my new "career" took flight. My husband is doing fine and now accompanies me on the road when I teach.

Engulfed by Vikki Pignatelli
Your emotions appear, often loud and clear, in your artwork and you may not even be aware it happens. It wasn’t until after I finished Engulfed I realized the quilt was symbolic of my current emotional state. I was feeling weary, overburdened and burned out. The hectic schedules and the constant busyness in my life were taking their toll. This quilt provided a sudden insight for me. It was a startling wake-up call to take more time to relax.
Your new book, Nurture the Creative Spirit seems to come from a different place. Can you tell us about your journey?

Anxious and stressed about Den, my deepest emotions and spirituality began to appear in my work with the creation of my healing quilt Breaking Point and continued with subsequent work. It's true when you work from the heart and soul in any art form, whatever is in you, everything that is in you, emerges. Your emotional state of mind affects your choice of colors and fabrics…even the progression and development of a pattern. Your feelings are reflected in your work.

Though unintentional, the quilts I created after Breaking Point revolved around spiritual themes or had a moral or story. Creating these quilts was very therapeutic and healing for me.


Over the years, my students have expressed an interest in my life, the symbolism behind my quilts and the personal stories discussed in my lectures. They urged me to write my thoughts and experiences on paper. Because of their encouragement, Nurture Your Creative Spirit was born.  As with my quilts, some of my most personal thoughts and spiritual feelings surface in the book.
To order Vikki's book, visit her website at:

How do you stay passionate about your work?

That is an easy question. I absolutely LOVE what I do!  I enjoy teaching, meeting and working with people…especially quilters. Art is…and has always been…a major part of my life. I live to travel. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to merge all my loves and share my work, techniques and stories with others. I feel it is my mission in life to help inspire and encourage others to use their artistic self-expression.

Do you have suggestions for building a good support network?

As I say in my new book, Nurture Your Creative Spirit, it is not only necessary, but crucial for us to have a good support system. A support system is a group of people who are your advocates. They believe in you. They encourage you. They advise you with constructive feedback and help you work through problems. They do not criticize, hinder or compete with you.

The persons in your support network can be family, friends, other artists or someone with whom you share a common ground. Above all, the one adjective that should describe your supporter is positive, positive, POSITIVE! An affirmative attitude inspires not only you, but your creativity and motivation. Your advocate should be honest and upbeat, a person you look forward to seeing and enjoy being around. Someone whose opinion you trust.

Your advocate should be someone you hold in high esteem, and one who respects you, your work, your ideas and your purpose. Your supporter should enhance you. By the same token, you must return the favor. Be his or her champion as well. Sources of support, comfort and camaraderie include family, friends, guilds, bees or gatherings of like-minded artists.

In the book I have a section titled "Critique and Criticism". All artists need critique to help them. Critique is positive. But no one needs negative criticism, which hurts and destroys self-esteem and creativity. Limit or avoid any contact with negative, critical people and do not ask their help or opinion about your creative endeavors.

You are the founder of Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition as well. What is that exhibition about?

Founded in 1999, Sacred Threads is a two-week national biennial exhibit focusing on the emotional and spiritual aspects of quiltmaking. The categories are joy, spirituality, inspiration, healing, grief and peace/brotherhood. As important as the quilt is the artist's statement: the story behind the quilt …the reason for the quilt's existence. We were the first show of its kind at the time. Other shows were based on workmanship or artistic elements.
Sacred Threads is open to all quilters in the USA and Canada whether professional or novice. The show is juried only for space and category relevance…it is not judged….as these types of quilts depicting one's emotions should never be judged. There is no time limit for the age of the quilts as they are timeless. What IS required is passion….quilting with one's heart and soul. Our artists put themselves into their work…thus the show is a deeply powerful and intense exhibition, reflecting human conditions and situations. Visitors to the exhibit spend hours reading the statements and viewing the quilts. They are encouraged. Comforted. Filled with enthusiasm. The quilts symbolize triumph of the human spirit.

Although Wendy Bynner (my co-chair, then chairwoman) and I both retired after the 2009 show, another committee member, Lisa Ellis, took the reins. Lisa, who lives in the Washington DC area, moved Sacred Threads to Herndon, VA, where the show is quickly growing and gaining wonderful support. Lisa is infusing Sacred Threads with new life and passion and merging her love of Sacred Threads with her personal mission of putting quilt exhibits into hospitals.

The next Sacred Threads will be in Herndon, VA from July 10-28, 2013. For more information, and to signup for the newsletter, you can check out the website at:

 I hope you will consider submitting quilts (call for entry is January 9 to March 9, 2013) and visiting the show. It's an amazing show to see and one you'll never forget.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Word Wednesday


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Using L Frames

Many of you may be familiar with using L Frames when designing art or quilts. They are used to isolate areas of interest and cut down on the distraction of the surrounding picture or design. You can see from the pictures below how important that can be:

If you have a large area and want to crop out or trial different areas, these simple frames are indispensable! They are simple to make from matt board or construction paper. You can make them in several sizes and you will definitely need several of them. Use an art knife and straight ruler for best results. Be sure to use black as it will further help to isolate the areas.
I've also heard of buying inexpensive matt frames and cutting them in half diagonally on two corners, how clever is that!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Gift of Time

For the past four months I've been working, almost exclusively, to prepare to film a DVD on soy wax resists. I've sent many, many hours experimenting with different techniques and applications, rinsed and wash endless yards of fabric and had so much fun, angst and downright joy exploring all the different ways to use soy wax and colour on fabric.
I was all set to begin filming tomorrow. My producer was waiting for an important piece of equipment to arrive from Europe, and waiting and waiting....
So we decided after a few phone conversations yesterday to delay the filming for a month. We've re-booked flights and hotels and made new plans.

What has this meant to me? Well, its given me an unexpected gift of time to use. I had cleared the week of any commitments so we could devote it to the filming. Now I have a few days that I can use for other things....
What shall I do? Well, already I've said I'll baby sit my grandson for a morning and afternoon, cuddles and playtime is fun and we can go outside for walks together. My studio is clean, in preparation for filming, I had cleaned the carpets upstairs in anticipation and I even had a manicure, since you have to have "pretty hands" for the close-ups!

Now I can work on some projects that had been put aside, some paperwork that needs serious attention, a few blog posts to catch up on, I've promised to get some curtains hemmed and maybe prepare for a couple new quilts I'd like to work on......
But I don't want to overfill this unexpected gift with all work so I'm going to enjoy the sunshine (when it shows up) get outside, maybe into the garden, go for a couple of walks and be thankful for all I have, even the unexpected!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why Henry Miller Could Never be a Quilter!

I subscribe to the Robert Genn newletter and he recently discussed Henry Miller, the author and a list of his "Commandments" or rules that Henry wrote by. I liked them, in fact I thought they were darn good reminders on how to work and generally good advice.
But there were a couple that I just couldn't swallow, tell me what you think----

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
So what do I do while waiting for the paint to dry, the dyes to batch? I've actually done a couple quilts from start to finish without starting another project. It felt good and I realized that its possible....sometimes
2. Start no more new books.

I take this as "don't start another quilt until the quilt from #1 is finished". OK, not a bad idea, most of the time.

3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.

I can do that, I'm rarely nervous except when facing 250 quilters at a lecture, then I'm terrified!

4. Work according to Program and not according to mood.

I read that as keep my head down and do the work, no matter how low my caffeine load is. Fortunately the coffee pot is just upstairs.

5. When you can't create, you can work.

Well, there's always the paperwork, the dyeing, the paperwork, the bindings, the paperwork, the blogging, the paperwork.....

6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.

I think he means work on the foundations every day, the free motion quilting, the designs, the colours and not be sidetracked by the bright, shiny things. Yeah, I do that a lot!

7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.

Right, after three solid days in my studio, its time to come up for fresh air and sunshine, hurray!

8. Don't be a draught horse! Work with pleasure only.

Be happy in my work? I am, almost always...........

9. Discard the Program when you feel like it--go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.

Focus, focus, focus...repeat.

10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.

I read this as "forget the quilts I want to make, focus on the one I'm making right now". Good advice, great  advice, fantastic advice. I think this is another "don't run after the "bright shiny things", I need a lot of reminders about this!

11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
This is a tough one, particularly as a woman with family and other commitments.  Henry probably had it easy. Oh, right he was married to Marilyn Monroe!
What do you think of these? What would you write as your commandments?