Stitching Stories




If you've ever had the impulse to tell a story through your art work, don't underestimate the power of stitch. While we textile artists often lose ourselves in the colors and shapes that make the bold statements in our work, the elements of stitch are no less important. I use machine and hand stitch both as textural lines on my work, but also as expressions of rhythm and energy and movement.


Stitching is the final layer of story that I try to tell. Think about it: do you strive for even regularity? For an all over even steven precision of stitch -- nothing wrong with that! Or do you let the speed of machine, the size of a by-hand seed stitch take on some of the emotional content and context for your art. I know that the second approach is mine. I gave up perfection long ago, and while I admire the skill that that kind of quilting requires, I don't even pretend to aspire to it -- I prefer my own rather higgledy pigglety kind of approach to stitching and it suits the kind of work I do.


If you'd like to know more about my approach to stitching, there's an article in the new issue of the electronic magazine In Stitches. Included is a short video interview and demo, as well as the step-by-step how-to of my process for making an art quilt. I can't share the link to the article, since that's the point of selling an e-zine, but I can share the links to the store for various platforms! If you do make the purchase (or subscribe -- I have found the e-mag full of great content) you'll find a variety of videos, step-outs, reviews and helpful and interesting stories. In this issue: articles by Janet Lasher, Carol Anne Grotrian, Jill Jensen, Norma Schlager, Cloth Paper Scissors editor and author Barbara Delaney, Carol Sloan, Kathyanne White, Eileen Lauterborn, and editor Jane Davila.


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Dinner@8 Exhibit in Quilting Arts

This missive from Leslie Jenison and Jamie Fingal was in the mail today:

We are thrilled to announce that the "Rituals" exhibit is prominently featured in the October/November 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.  Judy Coates Perez's work graces the cover which is a win-win for both Judy and d@8!  As a prequel to the article there is a Q&A with both of us about the history of d@8 and images of our Rituals quilts.  Between these two articles there are a total of 11 art quilts from our exhibit!

The quilts in the article were hand selected by Vivika DeNegre, using the Art Call site (where you submitted your entries).  We both agree that this coverage is yet another indication that we have a knock-out exhibit.  We are very grateful for the generous coverage of our exhibit in Quilting Arts!  Congratulations to all of you and the amazing work you created for "Rituals," and to the artists whose work is featured in this issue:  Judy Coates Perez, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Jeannie Palmer Moore, Susie Monday, Loris Bogue, Barb Forrister, Gerrie Congdon, Karen Rips, and Virginia Spiegel.  It has been such an honor to be recipients of QA's generosity for three years in a row.

There is an announcement and photos on the blog


Screen Printing Free Form Letters

This blog post is intended as a bonus for those enrolled in my More Text on Textiles online course that started on Joggles today. 

Now, it's not too late to join in the fun, so if you are interested in this 4-week, PDF based course (with an online forum during the next 6 weeks), head on over to this link for enrollment info --

It's an affordable way to get your feet wet with putting words, quotations, pithy comments and other thoughts (yours and others) on your art quilts, art cloth, wearable art or mixed media pieces.

Using letter forms for screenprinting stencils is another way to use your cut letters. P.S. This post assumes you have a basic knowlege of screenprinting. If not, go to this site to see a demo at This is a demo that takes you through the entire process, making your own screen. You can purchase them ready-made at many art supply stores. This demo shows all kinds of stencils, and you will be using your cut letters as the stencil. YOU don't need a clamped frame, I just move my small screen over the fabric. 

Because these letters will be used as a one time stencil, then thrown away, I usually just use old newspaper or sheets of newsprint, or recycled copy paper. Newspaper is really great because it is really thin and adheres to the screen and wet ink really well.

Any thin flat paper will work, but if you want a reusable stencil, cut your letters with contact paper (backing side up, the sticky side goes against the back of the screen).

 You can use any clean silkscreen for your tool. Occasionally I even use one with defects or blocked areas, for a distressed kind of print.

 Free-hand cut your word or words from your choice of paper (instructions are in the first lesson of More Text on Textiles). Then use small folds of masking tape (one or two per letter only), and tape your letters on the back (bottom) of the screen. Your words should read correctly through the screen unless you are intentionally reversing them. This is a great time to teach yourself to cut serif letters or letters that enlarge some iconic type (like those used by Corita Kent in her work).

Screenprint onto ironed flat fabric with thickened dye (see the Dharma catalog for easy instructions and supplies), textile screen printing ink, or other inks. Use a padded surface under your fabric.

Use your word as a repeat, or as a one-time print. When finished wipe down the screen, remove the letters and wash. Let textile ink prints dry, then iron to set. Thickened dye prints need to be batched, as with any dye painted fabrics.









Archetypes and Artist Identity

Above: Photo of Suzanne Wright Crain's altar in progress.

Deep work and deep play took all of us into wonderful work this past weekend. Here are some photos of artists at work -- some made altered books, some altars. Everyone, including me, found some insights pertinant to our particular time, space and needs.



Robin Early and Suzanne Wright Crain and Martha Grant work on their Archetype projects.

As we looked at various approaches to exploring our "inner teams," I had found some work by creativity coach and author Eric Maisel that shed light on the ways identity as an artist (or should I say identities) can both help and complicate our work, identity and paths. Am I artist the beautifier, artist the visionary, artist the businesswomen, artist the  producer, artist the activist...??

Recently an infographic came across my path that also informed this pondering:

Certainly teaching a workshop such as this Archetype workshop calls on my skills as teacher and mentor, while I also try to do my own work ast least part of the time as a way of modeling and demonstrating the processes and products involved.

Then, as the weekend came to a close, a friend called and told me one of my large textile pieces was included in a "home" section report in the San Antonio Express News. I called the collector and thanked him (and his wife Suzi) for giving the reporter my name (read the story for more info!). Ah, another artist identity -- published and out there. 

The dining room in the home of Suzi and Dennis Strauch, near Pipe Creek, has a quilted piece of fabric art on one wall. Photo: BOB OWEN, San Antonio Express-News / © 2012 San Antonio Express-News

The dining room in the home of Suzi and Dennis Strauch, near Pipe Creek, has a quilted piece of fabric art on one wall.

Photo: BOB OWEN, San Antonio Express-News / © 2012 San Antonio Express-News

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Exhibit at University Presby

I  have a small but, I think, quite nice, exhbit of work at University Presbyterian Church in the SOL Center. It will be up through Easter, and I will be doing an artist talk on the coming Sunday after services (noonish?).

The church is at Bushnell and Shook in San Antonio. And, as a born-amd-bred Presbyterian, it's an honor to be there -- there is something really satisfying about having more than one or two pieces of work in a public forum. It is a pleasure to see 15 or so pieces of work all on nice walls all in the same space. The work in the show is from 2009 to now, with quite a bit new work. I see it differently on a wall that is not my own.

I admit to having some misgivings about not being in a "proessional" venue with my work. There aren't many such available in this community; textile art is marginalized between art and craft. No excuses: I also am not the best at spending time and effort finding exhibit opportunities. Meanwhile, with the help of friends, this one came my way; the space is quite nice; I had lovely help hanging the show; it has an interesting and valued stream of people going through it for classes, events, church services and more. So if you get a chance, stop by. Ask at the church office if the Sol Center is locked. Ask for prices if you are interested in purchasing work -- 25% of purchase price goes to the church.

New Book: Texas Museum of Fiber Artists


And "I'm" on the cover. The agave detail (second row, third image from left) is from my FAITH IS A LAW art quilt that was part of the IQF exhibit last year on Text on Textiles. Then it was part of the Texas Fiber Art Exhibit last year, thus the inclusion in this catalog. I also have some other work in the book, compiled from the previous exhibits.


TMFA Fiber Arts Book Order Form

Name or company purchasing ________________________________________________________________________________

If gift: shipped to__________________________________________________________________________________________

Shipping address __________________________________________________________________________________________

City ____________________ State ___________ Zip___________

Quantity_________________ x $40.00 plus tax $3.30 plus shipping and handling $6.70 TOTAL

$50.00 per book

Multiple quantity sales and wholesale accounts invoiced with calculated shipping and handling.


And, speaking of which text-type topic,  brings us to my upcoming Joggles class on the same topic. You can get details HERE if you are interested in trying my very first "real" online class. I'm sure we will all learn a great deal!




Working in a Series, Lisa Call


If you've been reading me regularly, you'll know my word for the year is COMMIT (even if I haven't written it out loud!) I try each day to commit to what is most important, at the top of the list, and I put making art on that list (and at the top) as often as possible. Now in mid-February, it is remarkable to note how quickly the calendars fill up, how loud the competing voices for attention become, and how the realities of money, time and space make themselves known. 

But, just as I get a bit discouraged a lagnaippe appears (you know lagnaippe, right -- the free, unexpected, pat-on-the-back bonus, extra-cookie-in-the- box kind of surprise). Lisa Call featured four of my current series on her blog post today, and paid me great compliments, too.

Head over and take a look; http: at Lisa's blog -- //

Therapy Strips, Thanks to Rayna

Rayna Gillman's new(ish) book, Create your own Free-Form Quilts, has inspired me to try my very first all-pieced art quilt. Yay, Rayna. For an art quilter who has come to textile work from the art not the quilt world, this is a big and scary step for me.

But, thanks to Rayna, I now know: The 1/4" seam rule is not so set in stone. Sometimes crooked is good. A piece is a piece is a piece and it can always be cut and pieced again. 

That's just the start. Here are my "therapy strips" waiting to become something else. I also actually have a nice set of pomegranite "blocks" put together and am trying to decide if they are done or need to become my own version of a 9-patch. (And, they are very therapeutic, just the thing for me to do when I need studio time, but don't know exactly what to work on next -- or ever again).


Hurray for writers who take us out of our fears. Thanks, Rayna.



Trolling around, I found some wonderful textile art on the Internet today. I'm teaching a course at the Southwest School of Art the next couple of months -- Finding Your Path as an Artist -- and it's keeping me on my toes, looking for resources, finding interesting examples of artists' styles and series, and working with artists who work in a variety of media. However, these two (three) are working in cloth, in different ways, but with clarity, focus and commitment -- just what I am trying for in the studio.

First, A Bee, a collaboration - or collective, as they call themselves -- of two artists who work large, bold and beautifully:

And the artist who took me to them (a post on her blog about their exhibit at the San Jose Museum): Terry Jarrard-Dimond. Terry's is a name I had heard before -- I think we've even met here and there-- but somehow I had never before focused in on her stunning, disciplined, structural work.