Archive for March, 2012

The Natural World: A Beautiful Book for Nature and Art Lovers

I love reviewing books, but I am always excited when I receive one authored by Martha Sielman, Executive Director of Studio Art Quilt Associates. Who knew Martha was a “Nature Girl” with a life-long affinity for flora and fauna with academic coursework in biology?

I hated reading the book in one go for this review and plan on returning to the book at my leisure. There is much to enjoy in the writing and in the gorgeous images. Nineteen artists are featured with additional galleries showcasing the work of more than 70 artists. I was happy to see that some artists new to me were featured in the in-depth profiles.The galleries are grouped under flowers, birds, water, animals, leaves, insects, trees, and textures.

There is a special section featuring interpretations of Wallace Stevens’ poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by the Fiber Artists Coalition. Take a moment if you are able and follow the link to read the poem.  That’s a poem with some power to generate powerful artwork. I could probably spend a year just thinking and making art about it. Kudos to Clairan Ferrono for proposing the poem theme to the group and for creating what I found to be the most evocative artwork from it.

As always, the artist interviews were revealing and one of my favorite parts. The artists chosen have explored the natural world in depth, often as metaphors for their own lives and circumstances. This book would be a great gift to a nature lover who perhaps is not familiar with the art quilt. The images are arresting, interesting, and varied. There is very little use of abstraction in the artworks showcased so the volume can be enjoyed by those who just like to look at nature in all its glory.

I will reiterate my comment made about Sielman’s previous two books:  Masters: Art Quilts, Volumes 1 and 2 published by Lark.  It’s fiber, not paintings, please show us details of the stitching or other surface design.

Of course, I’m going to name favorites:  Annie Helmericks-Louder (a distinct artistic vision backed by a strong environmental stance) and Katherine K. Allen (the aesthetic of growing materials used in the art is very appealing).

Art Quilt Portfolio:  The Natural World  is 192 pages and retails of $24.95.  It is available at the usual outlets as well as in the Studio Art Quilt Associates bookstore.  I look forward to the next book in this Art Quilt Portfolio series, People and Portraits.

Lark is celebrating the release of The Natural World by giving away a copy of the book here.




03 2012

Screen Printing on Upholstery Fabric


I’ve been down in the basement screen printing on upholstery fabric.  Usually I start my textile artwork by building layers on plain white cotton cloth.  It is inspirational to start with with a base layer of texture and color already present.  Everything I’m screen printing is destined for new artworks in the Formerly Present series.

This is a sampling of the upholstery fabric.  I purchased this most excellent selection from The Scrap Exchange which is a nonprofit creative reuse center located in Durham, North Carolina.

I’m using three different sizes of one screen and sticking to a very limited palette of earth colors: terra cotta, brick, grey, tan, black, white, and ochre with accents of blue and red. The Formerly Present series is all about the beauty in decay and dissolution in the built and natural world.


Details showing how the upholstery fabric changes the screen’s effect:


03 2012

Creative Quilting with Beads – A Review

Lark sent me a review copy of Creative Quilting with Beads by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader.  I’m happy to do said review and then donate the book to my local library where I know it will be a popular item.

The book is subtitled “20+ Projects with Dimension, Sparkle & Shine.”  I’ll say!  Fifteen artists, including the very well-known Larkin Jean Van Horn and Sarah Ann Smith from the art quilt world, have given directions for art quilts, pillows, aprons, magnets, card, and more.  Most of the projects are a step above those usually found in a collection of projects from many artists.  If you wanted to give beads a whirl, you certainly could find a do-able and, even more importantly, an interesting project to complete.

The opening pages include directions on not only beading, but quilting. The only addition I would have liked to have seen in the introductory “BASICS” section would have been a small photo chart of the the most common types and sizes of beads.  When faced with buying beads, it would be helpful to know how small exactly the different sizes of beads are, what different countries of origin mean for bead quality, etc.

There is a twelve-page gallery at the end of the book which is one of the features I liked best about the book.  It really shows to diversity and creativity of those working with beads and quilting and should provide even more inspiration to add beads to quilts.

Creative Quilting with Beads is 128 pages and retails for $17.95. If you go to the Lark Books page about this book, it will send you to where the book is currently selling for $12.08.  Even though we all love a bargain, don’t forget to support your local quilt or bead shop owner who will REALLY appreciate your purchase.



03 2012