August 11th, 2016

The Heart of the Matter cropped

Well, it’s time to turn over a new leaf and pay attention to my blog. With that in mind, I am posting an artist statement that I wrote recently for an exhibit in Barre Vermont at Studio Place Arts. The exhibit is called Visionary Conspiracy and was advertised as an example of artists’ pushing back against the hatred, terror and violence that is widespread in our world. Here is what I wrote:

In a world where terroism, hatred, religious intolerance and racism seem to be everywhere, a person can feel very helpless and discouraged. Artists, often sensitive and introverted, can feel especially overwhelmed.

Some artists choose to fight back through their art, creating statement pieces to air their grievences, bring attention to important issues and educate the public. Others choose to do what they do best: combat ugliness with beauty, counteract discord with serenity; and use the talent they were blessed with to fill their small part of the world with their art.

At some time in our lives, each of us has to come to terms with our choice to be an artist. In a society driven by money, profit and the bottom line, art making is often not very lucrative and therefore not greatly valued. Not many of us get rich, or can even support ourselves, with artmaking. We choose to create art in spite of this, and for me, this meant acknowledging that art has intrinsic value for its own sake. Art enriches our world and our lives. One has only to imagine a world with NO art, to understand this.

As an artist, I make a decision every day to add something to the positive side of the ledger sheet—to put something of beauty and goodness out into the world. In times of turmoil, it is even more important that this be done. Each artist’s effort might seem insignificant, but together, we make the world a better place.

Studio Tour Time

July 23rd, 2014

Caspian Arts Studio Tour announcement

I’m very busy getting ready for the Caspian Arts Studio Tour. Cleaning the studio, printing cards, getting everything spiffed up. Hope to see you on Tuesday, July 29th!

Quilt Inn

September 14th, 2013

Every year from 1990 to 2011, a small group of quilters gathered in the village of Greensboro, Vermont to attend a quilting class with me. Classes usually had 15-20 students and were held in the small building behind Highland Lodge appropriately named “The Playhouse” but in winter it served as the ski shop and for several weeks in September, it was transformed into “The Studio”. Here’s a shot of the 2005 Quilt Inn group.


Two years ago, the Lodge closed and I was winding up my teaching career, but Quilt Inn had become such a tradition that it seemed a shame to just bring it to an end. So the event has morphed into a reunion/retreat, where students work under my guidance but I don’t actually teach. It’s now held in Maine and the group that attends is knowledgable about design and curved seam piecing techniques and needs only occasional advice from me.

As always, we started the session with show and tell. Here is Sarah with her project from last year, and Jane with a design she worked on last winter.

Sarahshowtell2013  Janeshowtell2013

Kristin made this lovely table runner just so she would not come empty handed to Show and Tell and Marilyn proudly shows the butterfly she designed in class last year. The photo doesn’t show it very well, but all those embellishments on the butterfly wings are pieced using many different colors and prints!

Kristinshowtell2013    Marilyn

Trudy and Kathy are a mother/daughter team. Trudy, ever the intrepid one, is showing the star design she pieced from lamé and cotton fabric. Small lights are inserted in the points of the stars to add a little twinkle! Kathy’s quilt, right, features fabrics she created using her own photographs which she sells on Spoonflower.

Trudyshowtell2012        Kathyshowtell2012

After getting caught up on the news from the year, a delightful dinner and show and tell, we retired for the night to rest up for the marathon quilting session that was to come. It turned out that meals for the week provided much of the entertainment. We either went out to eat, ordered meals brought in, or foraged, but it turned out that organizing and procuring food was an interesting challenge that provided much entertainment. And, of course, we did not starve!! We took notes so that next year we will be much better prepared and organized.

I provided a  number of small motifs that contained anywhere from 5 to 20 curved shapes. Everyone worked with the motifs that appealed to them, manipulating and combining them to create a larger design. It was evident by the progress made during the week that starting with the motifs really jumpstarted the design process. Here is Sarah’s project.


By the end of the four day session, she had half of her design sewed together and planned to spend the next day sewing while she waited for her family to pick her up. I can’t wait to hear if she actually managed to finish the piecing. If she did, it is certainly a Quilt Inn record!!

Here are Trudy, Kathy and Kristin’s designs. You can see that they are all wonderfully curvy and progressing very nicely.

TrudyQI2013  KathyQI2013 KristinQI2013

One of the advantages of not actually teaching during the four days is that I can work on my own project. For the second year in a row, I worked with only purple fabric as I chose to work on one of the paraments for church. I got it designed and had started sewing, so I made good progress also. I will show more of it in my next posts.

Packing up and leaving yesterday was hard. We build such a feeling of community as we work. We hear about each other’s families and the happenings of the previous year. We encourage and consult about the work we are doing and basically build strong friendships and creative partnerships. Kristin and Kathy both decided they needed to make a trek to Keepsake. They hardly knew each other when they took off together (Kathy was at Quilt Inn for the first time), but after five hours in the car and a delightful hour shopping for fabric, they came back as buddies.

Such is the life of quilters. I noticed on Facebook this morning a post and link about the “health benefits” of quilting. The article grandly announced that physical exercise was not the only way towards good health–mental and emotional health are also essential and quilting promotes that.

Well, DUH!

It’s All About Not Freaking Out

June 11th, 2013

After a brief discussion on FB about the “How does she do that???” factor, I decided to post some photos of a work in progress. This is the second of the green hangings for my church. The green hangings are used during the “common time” of the church season. Common time is basically all the time between the dramatic seasons, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentacost, etc. It is a time of contemplation and nurturing, a time to focus on growing your spirituality and strengthening the church and community. Thus any imagery of nature and/or growing things is appropriate.

I decided on a simple vine/leaf design that I drew one Sunday during the sermon. I had been fiddling around with various leaf shapes, and curved lines, but had not made much progress until this design just popped off the end of my pencil in less than 10 minutes. That’s often how it happens. You spend a lot of time getting nowhere, just building up a lot of frustration. Then, suddenly a beautiful design materializes. It seems effortless, but that’s because you quickly forget all the frustration that came before.

green 1

green 1

Here you see a close-up of the leaf design. Note the tiny, narrow stems. Quite a challenge. They are doable, the trick is just not to freak out and get intimidated. Just sew them together the way you would any two pieces. Try to forget how tiny they are.

green 2

I’m making good progress on getting the piecing done However, as often happens with this technique, I am faced with a long, quite curvy seam.
green 3

There always seems to be a long seam like this at the end of the project. Again, don’t freak. Just sew it. You can pin the whole seam and then sew it section by section. Or you can pin just a small section, sew it, then pin another section. The trick is to tackle it section by section so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

green 5

Here is the entire seam pinned.

green 6


And here it is, sewn to first one side, then the other, joining the two sections. I have just one small section to go and then you can see the entire design. Tomorrow maybe………..

Difficult Day

April 19th, 2013

I’ve been listening to the TV as events unfold in Boston. So much death and destruction, not to mention fear, in that area today. I’m trying to focus on the positive and am working on something green to remind myself that spring is coming, this situation will eventually be resolved, and peace will be restored. Trying to focus on the positive…………IMG_0620

The Color Purple

February 6th, 2013

My granddaughter and I share a passion for the color purple so I decided to make her a purple bed quilt for her fourth birthday. I occasionally make baby quilts and I try to keep them simple and utilitarian in hopes that they will be used and loved until there’s nothing left but scraps. But this quilt, I decided, was going to be big enough for her bed, and beautiful enough that she would love it forever. And of course, it had to be purple!

I used a design I had created 15 or 20 years ago that I have always wanted to revisit. I scaled the design down a bit, so I wasn’t quite sure how big the quilt was going to end up. Luckily it turned out to be perfect for a twin bed! I would like to think that I intuitively knew that would be the case, but it was probably just dumb luck. Msth is not one of my many talents!!! Here’s the quilt:

Adrienne's Purple Quilt

Adrienne’s Purple Quilt

I started the quilt at the September 2012 Quilt Inn Retreat and finished it just in time to hand deliver it to Adrienne on her birthday, mid-December. Adrienne can be a bit of a drama queen, but in this case, her reaction was just what I had hoped for: she threw her arms up into the air in delight, gasped dramatically, and then grabbed the quilt and proceeded to wrap it around herself and roll on the floor in delight. I alway tell her parents that they shouldn’t worry about the dramatics–she’s obviously in training to be Bette Midler when she grows up!!!

cropped detail


Here is a detail so you can see the quilting. Also note the narrow inner border. This is fabric I created from some of Adrienne’s artwork. I thought it would be cool to have something she created as part of her special quilt.

On the left, below, is the finger painting she did when she was about three year’s old. I was very taken with the way the colors are blended and the fact that she obviously took great care to fill the whole page with color. Most finger paintings I’ve seen consist of a few streaks of color on a white page, so I was impressed with her persistence, if nothing else!

Adriennes finger painting fabric

I scanned the painting into my computer and printed it onto fabric (above right). The fabric is prepared by backing it with something stiff. In this case I sprayed a piece of card stock with spray adhesive and adhered the fabric to it. The only hard part is making sure that the edges are clean with no threads or wrinkles that could jam the printer. Some of the printed fabric came out with more muted colors than the original painting, but that was OK because it worked well with the quilt.

fabric strips

When the fabric was cut into strips, the difference in saturation just added variety. The colors worked perfectly with the other fabrics in the quilt. I stitched a sentence in that narrow border indicating that Adrienne’s artwork had been used to create that particular fabric. Hopefully she will come to me someday and ask exactly how that was done!


It’s been a long time since I’ve made a bed quilt. This one is a bit sophisticated for a four-year-old, but I figure it’s never too early to expose children to beautiful things.I hope that she will keep this quilt for a long, long time and learn to appreciate it in different ways as time goes along. At least I got it finished BEFORE she decided that purple was no longer her favorite color!!

Colors in the Kingdom

January 24th, 2013

Apparently I forgot to post this last fall. I will do so now, if only to remind those of us suffering through the sub-zero temps here in the NEK that the cold won’t last forever. 
We Vermonters wait all year for Foliage season. Our winters are long. Our summers are excruciatingly short. We mourn the end of summer and its almost as though the beautiful fall colors are intended to soften the blow of summer ending. One last blaze of glory before our landscape is blanketed in white.

But this year, foliage season was disappointing. We had a stretch of foggy, rainy days that made it almost impossible to see the colors. The mountains were shrouded in clouds and the mist made it impossible to see beyond the first tree line.

When I went out with my camera, I focused on colors that were close. The reds are the first colors to show and are my favorites.

The color was gorgeous! I think the early reds are so dramatic because they are set against the greens. The red just glows!

 Here are a couple of beauties!


And then there’s that iridescent orange!

And now we move onto Stick Season!!

Happy Fall


October 26th, 2012

I’ve been doing some stitching on a piece that I started several years ago. I originally pieced together a bunch of hexagonal shapes, then embellished them with rather bright, slightly wild floral images that I cut from chiffon fabric. Then began a long incubation period!! I found it a few weeks ago and have been working on it sporadically when I need a break from my current piecing project.

Luckily I had already adhered the chiffon to the background with invisible thread (a most irksome task) so when I rediscovered the piece, I realized I could just begin “quilting”. However as you can see in the photo, the stitching is more than just quilting. It’s more like drawing with the machine. My goal is to add detail and depth–it’s similar to the process of inking in a sketch.

Here’s a close-up so you can see the stitching in detail.

I’m using a slightly variegated thread which is mostly black and purple, with just a touch of burgundy. Variegated thread is perfect for this technique because the color changes add interest, but I always use thread that is darker than the fabric I’m working with so that the line of stitching looks like an inked line.

I outline stitch motifs in the background fabric also. This has the effect of drawing the background upwards and integrating it with the floral motifs.

You can see the piecing lines in this image. Hopefully when I am finished stitching, those seams will not be so noticeable.

This piece is kind of wild and I don’t know quite how it’s going to end up. But I’m having fun doing the stitching. It truly is like drawing with the sewing machine!!

Quilt Inn 2012

October 11th, 2012

Since I am no longer traveling to teach, Quilt Inn this year was more of a rereat than a seminar. Highland Lodge (my family’s lodge here in Greensboro where Quilt Inn was held for more than twenty years) closed this year, so ten seasoned Quilt-Inners gathered in Kennebunk, Maine in mid-September. We enjoyed four days of beautiful, sunny weather, intense designing and sewing, and the companionship of fellow quilters. We each worked on our own project and much was accomplished in four days!


Carol, above left, spent some of her time piecing a project from a previous Quilt Inn session. Carol is fearless and tackled some curved seams that even I would not attempt. One of the seams took an hour to pin and sew!! But she persevered and I can’t wait to see her finished project. Karen (middle) did a lot of markinga cutting and will sew her project by hand. Kristen, on the right, worked on a devilishly small and intricate bird design.


Sarah spent some of her time working on a scene of Hardwick. There’s a lot of detail in this piece and it’s fun to see it come alive as the work progresses. She also designed and started to sew a Curved Kaleidomosaic design, seen in the photo on the right above.


Louise, above left, worked on several small projects and Pat, right, finished a free-form colorful design and began work on a multi-block project. Pat used all her own hand-dyed fabrics in her work. Pat owns Cherryfield Chocolates, and kept us supplied with chocolate snacks the whole time we were there. What a treat!


Jane always works on a large project and this year was no exception. Her design features a large flower nestled amidst leaves and other foliage and here (left) you see the flower coming to life. Marilyn, right, is another quilter who is not afraid of a challenge. Her large butterfly design required a lot of time working on the pattern because there were many little pieces. She got half of the butterfly designed and up on the design wall. Luckily, the second half is a mirror image of the first, so finishing the cutting/designing stage should be relatively easy. Hopefully Marilyn (and everyone else) will send me photos  as their projects progress so I can post them here.


The photo of Trudy, above left, captures her trying to remember how to thread this machine, but she must have figured it out because she got three wedges of a Kaleidoscope design sewn together, no easy feat!! Notice the chatting that’s going on in the background. One of the best parts of any quilting event is the chance to enjoy the company of other quilters. Although we do a lot of talking about quilting, that is by no means the only topic of conversation. I’ve been amazed over the years at the topics that come up in today’s version of the quilting bee. No subject is off-limits! I know that quilters have given me a lot of good advice over the years and who knows how many important problems have been solved over the whir of our sewing machines.

Here is my project for the week–a quilt for my granddaughter. She is only 3 1/2 and this quilt is to be a present for her fourth birthday. I know she’s a bit young for such a sophisticated quilt, but I’m hopeful she will grow into it. And I know she will love it because it’s purple. Keep tuned to see how this quilt progresses.


Of course, we are not serious all the time. We do a lot of giggling and fooling around in between heavy-duty stitching times! Taking pictures is always popular. As our time together draws to a close, the cameras start to appear as everyone tries to capture a little bit of the experience to take home with them. The memories of times like this sustain us throughout the year. Just looking at the photos brings a serge of energy and creativity. There is nothing like the collective energy that is generated when a bunch of quilters get together and that energy can keep us all going for a long time. I know I tap into it whenever I need a creative boost.


Carol did some interesting experiments with colored pencils and inks on various textiles (left above). The piece tacked on the board was done on velveteen which gave the image an interesting soft texture. Kristin (above right) got frustrated with her bird pattern so she switched gears completely and worked on a simpler circular design that offered some intriguing possibilities.

As I write this post I get a wonderful feeling of nostalgia and an overwhelming desire to be back in that room again with my nine dear quilting friends. Every time I work on my purple quilt, I think of our time together and enjoy remembering and reliving our time together.



Summer 2012 Comes to an End

September 18th, 2012

It’s been a busy and interesting summer up here in the Boro. It kicked off with our Funky Fourth of July parade, fireworks, chicken BBQ and the annual gathering of the clans. Our family was here for the whole week, so we were busy trying to keep up with both our community obligations and our family doings. The parade was a funky as ever–the walking ladies won third prize and Caspian Arts kicked off its promotion for our mid-summer event, a studio tour and art raffle.

Caspian Arts members Diana Griffiths and Nancy Schde in the Greensboro 4th of July parade 2012

Caspian Arts is a new organization in Greensboro. Here are some of the members–your friends and neighbors:

As president of Caspian Arts, it was my idea to organize an event that would introduce our residents, both summer and year-round, to the talented artists who live and work in the area surrounding Caspian Lake. A studio tour offered visitors the opportunity for both entertainment and discovery, while allowing the artists to showcase their art and explain their inspiration and process.

The day of the tour, July 31, was beautiful, and many folks followed one of the three routes described on the map. I had 63 visitors in my studio between 10and 5 which kept me hopping all day. Everyone seemed to be having a marvelous time and all seemed to enjoy seeing my wallhangings, the “wall of fabric”, and my many sewing machines. I always enjoy the opportunity to talk about why I make quilts and to explain how I create a full size pattern, meticulously cut, pin and sew each and every piece using a method I developed myself. For many first time visitors, seeing my quilts is a real surprise. They are thinking squares and triangles and are surprised to find curvy lines, undulating shapes and painterly colors.


At the end of the day, artists and visitors gathered for a celebration party and the art raffle. Each of the nineteen artists participating in the tour donated a piece of art to be raffled. The visitors collected a raffle ticket at each of the studios they visited and these tickets were placed in the raffle. Several of the visitors actually visited all nineteen studios! Excitement was high as visitors viewed the donated art and waited for the drawing to begin.


Happy raffle winners went home with valuable artwork that included paintings, silver jewelry, ceramic pieces, encaustic work, gicleé prints and a quilted wallhanging.  But all who participated declared the studio tour and raffle a great success. Now we look forward to planning a similar event for the summer of 2013!