Busy, busy, busy

July 24th, 2012

For the last several months I’ve directed most of my energy towards a Caspian Arts event coming up on July 31. We are holding our first annual studio tour and art raffle. The idea is participants will visit one–or all–of the nineteen open studios and earn a raffle ticket for each visit. The tickets are then entered into the art raffle at the end-of-the-day wine and cheese party. The raffle features a piece of work from each of the artists participating in the tour. This is a great chance for folks to win a piece of art that they might not otherwise be able to own.

It is our hope that this tour will give our members some exposure and introduce the large summer community to the talent that is lurking in the nooks and crannies of our small towns! I was astounded when Caspian Arts was formed to discover how many artists live around here.

I’m hoping for beautiful weather–bright sun, but too chilly to be a “beach” day–the kind of weather that will entice people to take a ride and seek out a new experience. I visited one of the studios on the tour today. It was in an area that I had never visited before. The dirt road was beautiful–towering trees on either side of the road, lots of old houses and pretty gardens to gawk at! Hills to climb, creeks to cross, cows to greet. What could be more fun! Let’s hope there are many adventurous folks who will get in the spirit and join us for a fun day!

A busy, fun weekend

October 2nd, 2011

I’ve been part of the state-wide Fall Foliage Open Studio Weekend yesterday and today and have had lots of interesting visitors. I’ve enjoyed showing my quilts, explaining my process and answering questions. Many folks have never seen an art quilt before and my studio is a real eye-opener for them. Here I am with one visitor whose husband Steve kindly took this photo…….

By far, the biggest attraction is my stash! It covers one whole wall of my studio and is looking very neat and tidy after three days of neatening, fluffing and primping. People are fascinated by the sight of so much fabric and the first questions is always about how it is organized–or not! I don’t actually organize my fabric because rummaging through random piles is part of the fun and serendipitous things happen when you are looking, but are not quite sure exactly what you are looking for!!

I like to explain my process so that people can appreciate the work and creativity that go into an art quilt. I have on display a small drawing, the large master pattern and a design that is cut out and ready to sew, which allows me to talk about the design process and how I approach it. People are usually fascinated with the creative process and learning about how something is made gives them a true appreciation for the work that they are looking at.

Of course, I also have quilts for sale, and here you see a selection on the design wall. My studio functions very well as a place to work, but I didn’t really plan a place to display the finished art. So my design wall is doing double duty this weekend!

The only trouble with being a participant in Open Studio Weekend is that I can not go to visit other artists’ studios. I love to see how other artists work and how they have organized their space.

September 23rd, 2011

As you all know, we have had a lot of weather excitement here in Vermont in the last month. Here in Greensboro we were very lucky. Rain fell in buckets, but our roads were only mildly damaged and most of our houses were safe. But the heavy rains have pretty much put an end to the growing season, and the threat of the hurricane prompted everyone to take their boats out of the water and bring in the lawn and porch furniture, pretty much bringing summer to an abrupt close.

Our summer is so short that we always hate to see it end, and this year more than ever. The leaves are starting to turn and foliage season will be here and gone before we know it. As I was driving the other day, I thought about foliage. It must be Mother Nature’s way of softening the blow of summer ending–one last beautiful spectacle before the trees are bare and the ground gets covered with snows.

The long winters certainly makes one appreciate the warmth and beauty of summer. It also encourages one to appreciate the subtle color changes and muted beauty of the winter landscape.

About a month ago, as I headed home from a long day in Montpelier, I watched a magnificent sunset unfold. I pulled into the public beach to admire the magnificent colors and found myself desperately wishing for a camera. Suddenly I remembered my cell phone. Even though I had no idea how to use my iphone as a camera and couldn’t even figure out where the veiw finder was, I managed to take this photo!! Mother Nature was showing off that evening!!


August 10th, 2011

I’m not usually a procrastinator, but blogging seems to have brought on a severe case of it. The longer the time between posts, the greater the guilt and the more likely I am to procrastinate more. So I’m just going to bite the bullet and start blogging again.

I’ve had a busy year. I spent the dark snowy days last winter in my studio with my nose to the grindstone, preparing for a one woman show at RiverArts, a gallery in Morrisville, Vermont. Nineteen pieces were hung in the show and five of them were new. Quite an achievement for me as my production these days is not what it once was. Not only are there lots of distractions here in Greensboro, but I can’t sit for hours at the machine! I find as I get older I have to spend a significant amount of my time on body maintenance–walking, exercise class, relaxation and meditation–not to mention doctor’s visits and weekly therapy sessions. It sure does add up and leaves less creative time. So the five pieces represent a lot of discipline and focus on my part.

Here's a view of the gallery at Riverarts with my show hanging (end of April through most of May)

Riverarts is a very old building and has been carefully restored. As you can see from the photo, there are lots of windows in the gallery and the walls are painted a lavender color, which might have been problamatic, but wasn’t. My work looked great on the lavender walls, and the windows divided the space nicely, creating a distinct space for each piece. Forunately I had many pieces that were just the right size to fit in between the windows. There were also larger spaces for some of my bigger pieces.

It is always impressive to see all the work together, hung nicely and lit properly. The curator for my show was Paul Gruhler and he and I hung the show together, and he did the lighting. He’s a professional and really knows how to direct the lights to highlight the various pieces. When you entered the room you could see almost the whole show and it looked mighty impressive, if I do say so myself!! I tend to treat my work fairly casually when it’s at home with me, so it’s always a thrill to see it looking so impressive in a beautiful setting like RiverArts! Here’s another view…….


A Bird In The Hand

September 23rd, 2009

Have you ever held a hummingbird in your hand? I have, and the most recent experience was about a week ago. We have a lot of hummingbirds around our feeder in the summer and we enjoy watching them eating, fussing with one another and checking out the flowers in the garden. However, one will periodically get trapped in our garage. We have three separate overhead garage doors and one or two of them are usually left open when the weather is nice. The bird flies in and can’t figure out how to get back out. He will generally fly up to the large windows that are above the doors and exhaust himself trying to get out up there.

We have tried all kinds of ways to help the bewildered bird find its way out of the garage, but none seem to work. Trying to catch them with a butterfly net is often futile because the ceiling of our garage is very high and wielding a net at the tip of a long pole is difficult and not very effective. From experience I have discovered that it is best to leave the bird alone until he is totally exhausted at which time he will land someplace and stay there because he is simply too tired to fly.

Here’s where the cool part comes in. Once the bird is exhausted I can either catch him with a net or pick him up in my hands. It is an incredible feeling to have this tiny creature in my hand. He seems to vibrate, either from fear or exhaustion, but after awhile calms down and becomes still. When he is settled a bit I take him to the feeder and dip his beak in the sugar water. It may take a few tries before he figures out that it’s food, but once he takes a sip or two, he begins to perk up, looking around and gradually taking note of his surroundings. You would think the sight of a human so close would terrify him, but it doesn’t seem to. He actually looks interested in what’s happening.

A few minutes after taking some sugar water, the bird regains enough strength to fly away, either to the top of a light fixture or a nearby tree. I don’t know if he stops to rest at that point, or heads straight towards home, but I am always very relieved to see him airborne again. I also don’t know whether it’s the same bird getting caught in our garage multiple times, or many different birds. I do know that it’s magical having such an intimate encounter with a hummingbird and I feel privileged to be a part of it’s life for a brief period of time. This last time I wanted to have a picture taken of me with the little guy in my hand, but didn’t dare take the time to locate the camera and get someone to shoot the picture. It seemed more important to get him to the feeder so he could regain his strength.

It would be great if we could figure out how to keep the hummingbirds out of our garage. Until then it’s nice to know that these encounters don’t have to be fatal and that I can come to the rescue when needed. And maybe next time I can get a picture!

Quilt Inn 2009

September 23rd, 2009

Quilt Inn 2009 (held at Highland Lodge here in Greensboro, Vermont) is over for this year, and a good time was had by all. The weather was fine, the food was great, and we got a lot accomplished in between meals!! There were nine returning students and one newbie this year. That may sound like an unfair advantage, but the newbie definitely held her own!! In fact, Sara was a good influence. Because she is an MD, we declared medical talk off limits. As you can imagine, this cut down on the level of chatter dramatically (after all, with the average age being somewhere around 73, our health, or the lack thereof, is an endlessly fascinating subject)! The benefit of the relative quiet was that everyone in the class was more productive than they might otherwise have been!! Grin! Sara was also a diligent student and set a good example for the rest of us. Here she is, experiencing machine quilting for the very first time.


Our “studio” was extra pleasant this year because the sun shone almost every day, making it bright and cheerful. Here is Elsie, the super dog, guarding our fabric while we are away eating lunch.


Most of the students came to class with an idea for the project they wanted to tackle in class, but every one participated in the design exercises the first day. The projects that emerged on the second day were very diverse and exciting, but were all kept to a manageable size, with one notable exception. Below is a photo of Jane with her master pattern. She came to class with the design already drafted and had only to paste it to the poster board to create her templates. It took all four of us to accomplish this!!


This second photo shows Jane pondering how to begin cutting the hunk of templates she has isolated from the rest of the pattern. Jane’s project was inspired by a photo she had taken in Cambodia. Although this will be a massive undertaking, I have no doubt that Jane will finish it. Last year at Quilt Inn she also worked on an ambitious design. Not only did she finish it, she made a second one from the same pattern!!


Karen (below) cuts those pesky curves with her trusty rotary cutter.


Carol and Kristin fine-tune their drawings before preparing the master pattern.


Trudy shows Robin a work-in-progress.


Juanita concentrates on removing wrinkles from her fabric.


One of the best things about taking a class is that you can share ideas with the other students. Here Jane explains to Judy and a few of the other students exactly how she intends to deal with her design.


Of course, fun is also a big part of class. Robin and Sara  may look as if they are sniffing glue, but they are actually laughing at themselves as they try to glue the tracing paper and poster board together for a master pattern. Because it was starting to rain, they found the children’s play house the perfect place for this task!


One afternoon we took a field trip down the road to my house where we did a little fabric dyeing. Here you see the results. It looks as though Louise is having trouble remembering which piece is hers!!


We found ourselves missing Sherry, a special friend who had attended Quilt Inn for ten years prior to this year, so we decided to make a postcard for her. Everyone contributed a piece from their project and I put it together in a collage manner and quilted it. At first it seemed that the individual elements were too diverse to play well with each other, but eventually it came together. I think it looks very folk arty. Sherry was very please with her postcard, which actually has her address, messages and a fabric stamp on the other side.


All in all, it was a very productive session. Here are Robin and Arlene hard at work. Note the concentration exhibited by both!


It seemed the theme this year was determination. Everyone  was very focused and eager to make a lot of progress. Plans for  next year are still up in the air, but I will post information here as  soon as it is available.


Curve Unleashed Follow-up

September 22nd, 2009

My show in July was very successful which made all the preparation work worthwhile. I spent a long time preparing the smaller quilts for the exhibit. They were mounted on silk-covered foam core which could then be popped into a frame. I felt they looked more interesting and professional this way and I guess the public did too because a lot of them sold.

mounted piece

The best news from the show is that I raised a significant amount of money for the Greensboro Arts Alliance. This is a new organization in town which has brought theatre productions and readings to the community. This summer the biggest attraction was a staging of Peter Pan, complete with a professional stage manager from NYC, direction by Sabra Jones (founder of the Alliance), and flying equipment so that Peter could fly. I am proud that the proceeds from my show helped put on this production! However, the best part was that my friends and neighbors got a chance to see my work. Everyone in Greensboro knows that I am a quilter, but very few of them know or understand exactly what that means and this was my chance to show them. There was a steady flow of people through out the whole weekend and the reaction ranged from pleasure to astonishment. One of my friends (a male friend whom I have known since we were both in our teens) made the BEST comment. He was obviously surprised by my work and said so, then added, “I had no idea it was so….hum…hem…(searching for the right word here)….hem….ARTISTIC!!!! Thanks, Kevin!! What a great compliment!

Here’s the most exciting news

July 8th, 2009

In just about a week I’m having a show of my work at the Lakeview Inn in Greensboro, Vermont. A champagne reception for” Curves Unleashed: Judy B. Dales’ Fiber Art” will be July 17 , 4:30 – 6:30 and the exhibit will be open Saturday, July 18 and Sunday, July 19 from 10 – 5.


Floral Forms II

Floral Forms II

This exhibit will be a benefit for the Greensboro Arts Alliance, a new organization that is bringing theatre productions and readings to our community. I will donate a percentage of any sales, the door donations and the proceeds of a silent auction to this fledgling organization.

Woman of Vision

Woman of Vision

The piece that is being auctioned off is Woman of Vision which is 34 x 34 inches. It features a woman’s silhouette and a glimpse into her mind. She is surrounded by various images of flora and fauna from our world and her concern for these things is symbolized by the teardrop shapes on the right. Her mind is whirling with concern and anxiety, but imbedded deeply within is the faint image of a dove holding an olive branch representing this woman’s strong wish for peace. The auction will start at the opening reception and will continue until 4:30 Sunday afternoon when the winner will be announced.


There will be more than two dozen quilts hanging and other smaller pieces on display, most of which are available for purchase. In addition there will be a new portfolio book for sale which features images and descriptions of nineteen quilts. I will be in attendance for the entire time and will be demonstrating some of my techniques, if time allows. I’m excited to be showing some new pieces for the first time and, as always, pleased to be sharing my work with friends, family and my community

The Lakeview Inn is a charming historic building here in my hometown that has recently been purchased and is now available for various functions. My work will be displayed in the larger public rooms. If you visit you will have the opportunity to enjoy the lovely gardens and Vermont Daylilies, a business situated at the rear of the property. If you come to the Champagne reception you could dine afterwards at the Highland Lodge which is just up the road (call for reservations: 802-533-7733) or at Claire’s, the new restaurant in Hardwick that is creating such a buzz. Highland Lodge is also famous for their excellent lunches and Brunch on Sunday! So, if you find yourself wandering around in the Northeast Kingdom, please come to the Lakeview. It is situated on Breezy Avenue which is the main street into Greensboro and should be easy to find.

I wasn’t kidding!

July 8th, 2009

When I said check back in a year, I wasn’t kidding. It’s actually only been six months, but here I am again. I’ve finished the round piece, which is now square (almost). I think it’s actually an inch wider than it is long. I’m very pleased with the piece.
The fabric that I chose to surround the circular part of the design is a decorator fabric that has been in my stash for a long time. It has a wonderful sheen and enough pattern to make a really great border. It was a bit sleezy and raveled a lot, but otherwise is perfect for the job.

The method I used to create the central portion of this quilt produces such wonderful results. I love the wispy color and the delicate nature of the design. I used slightly darker thread for the quilting which adds definition to the pieces but doesn’t alter the subtle affect of the color.

Moon Dreams, ©2009 Judy B. Dales

Moon Dreams, ©2009 Judy B. Dales

Whenever I finish a piece using this technique I always wonder why I don’t make more pieces in this style. I finally decided that the process is so intense and unpredictable that it scares me. I also realized that I avoid this technique because it is so difficult to find the transparent fabrics for the overlays. However, now that I have tried dying my own silk, chiffon and gauze, I will have an unlimited supply!


I used a photo of this quilt on the cover of my new book. This is a small portfolio book that I have self-published using www.blurb.com. You can see the book there, and buy it if you wish!

New book!!

New book!!


The book was created to accompany the show I’m having in a few weeks . It contains photos and descriptions of 19 pieces, some older and a lot of new pieces. Click here if you would like to check it out: www.blurb.com


It was a new experience, working with blurb.com. I had a few frustrating moments at the beginning, but once I calmed down and took a deep breath, things improved. The program’s response time is not as fast as what I am used to. I suspect that is because it autosaves everything as you go along. It’s nice to know everything is saved, but I had to curb my impatience and give it time to do its thing. Once I got accustomed to the pace, I found the program easy to work with. I have yet to see the actual book, but it looks great on line.

A New Year, ALREADY??!

January 17th, 2009


I can’t imagine what happened to all my good intentions regarding my website and blog! I’m embarrassed that I have been so negligent. But I am here now and still have all those good intentions. And it is a new year…..

Way back in the fall, I pieced and appliquéd this circular design. It’s actually the second time I’ve worked with this design. The first effort was my Fine Focus 06 piece. It was very small, dark and transparent. I liked the design so much that I decided to work with it again, but larger. 


Quilt in progress

Quilt in progress


Here is the piece in progress. I started by cutting the curved shapes from light value fabric and laying them out on my design wall. Then each piece was individually embellished with layers of chiffon and tulle which added the soft colors. The transparent fabrics were stitched to the background pieces with invisible thread and then all the pieces were assembled. 

The overall effect is very subtle, but I plan to add lots of detail with the quilting which will be done with darker thread. Lots of quilting! Sounds like a plan, right?

The only problem is that I seem to be paralyzed with indecision at the moment. I don’t want the quilt to be circular, but I can’t decide how to square it up. I’m thinking of making a square border of slightly darker fabrics and extending a few of the curved shapes out into the border, but working them in lighter values so the extensions create a positive/negative effect. That description is probably as clear as mud! I can see it in my mind’s eye, but I can’t really describe it. I’m also contemplating positioning the circle off center which would have the effect of making the square background more important and better integrated. Of course, the only real problem is how to force myself to walk into my studio and get to work. I seem to have lots of distractions.

I also have lots of ideas and potential projects. I’m mulling over ideas for a stole for a friend who will be ordained this summer. I also have a small drawing that has been enlarged, patterned and the templates are just lying in the studio waiting for me. My sons signature wedding quilt awaits my attention. Ditto for my nephew’s wedding quilt. 

I used to give a lecture titled “Patience, Persistence and Perseverance”, but right now I think I could write the Great American Novel on Procrastination! I seem to be quite the expert! Tomorrow is a “free” day–no doctor’s appointments, no scheduled exercise, no shopping, errands or meetings. So, we shall see………

One of the things I have noticed is that I am less productive now, when most of my work is done on the machine, than I was back in the days when all my stitching was done by hand. I used to carry my work with me and fill every idle moment with stitching. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish working that way. Now I have to be in my studio to be productive.

My husband was recently in the hospital for 23 days. The hospital is a two hour drive from where we live, so after the first few days I went down there and stayed. As I dashed out the door I grabbed a baby quilt that needed quilting and even remembered to bring the batting, backing, my sewing kit and a hoop. Only forgot the thread (but that’s another story!) It was the perfect project for the circumstances. It required very little concentration so I could put it down and pick it up again forty times a day, if need be. And I rediscovered how calming and therapeutic quilting is, and I now remember why I took up quilting in the first place–I really like hand stitching!! 

I’ve decided that I need to incorporate more handwork into my quilts, but now the dilemma is that I really like the look of machine quilting. Because the machine stitched line is much more visible than a hand stitched one, it has more impact and adds an additional design layer to the finished quilt. But machine stitching is not relaxing for me, nor is it portable. So what’s a person to do?? I tried carrying an appliqué project with me for several years. The finished quilt is lovely, but appliqué doesn’t soothe me the way quilting does. I need to give this issue some thought………..

So check back in a few years and see how I’m coming along with my circular design…………………..!