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International Quilt Festival: Special Exhibits – Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative

Taking a short break from the competition quilts, I want to focus on the incredible work of one woman, Ami Simms, who started the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative back in 2006.  Ami began this journey after her mom, Beebe, developed the disease, and she struggled to find medications and treatments for this terrible disease.

Ami Simms, Founder of AAQI

Ami Simms, Founder of AAQI

Ami had this to say about AAQI, “When I created the AAQI back in 2006, I never expected it to become so successful! I also never imaged how much work it would take to keep it going. What began as one person’s response to sorrow and frustration has grown into a national charity embraced by a large portion of the quilting community. More than 13,000 quilts have been donated, turning sweat equity into over $973,000 for research as of the beginning of Quilt Festival. For many donors these quilts were healing works of art which helped them grieve as they stitched for the greater good. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the AAQI’s two traveling quilt exhibits about Alzheimer’s. Through this artistry came the realization for many that they were not alone on this journey of heartbreak; others understood, perhaps for the first time, what a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s really means.”

As some of you know, my own mom, Sylvia, was stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease and succumbed in November 2012 after and eight and a half year battle.  I have been active in the effort since the beginning.

Wednesday night, Preview Night at the show, the AAQI booth was hopping!

Priority Alzheimer's Booth 2013

Priority Alzheimer’s Booth 2013

And, by noon on Thursday, Ami and her cadre of dedicated AAQI volunteers topped their goal to raise $1,000,000!!!

“Together quilters have funded 17 research studies at universities and medical schools. More studies will be funded in early 2014. Because of the AAQI, scientists know a little bit more about Alzheimer’s than they did before. Hopefully this understanding will bring us all closer to a cure.”

Please check the link to the AAQI site to read more about Ami’s journey and that of all the others who have joined in the effort.  Way to go Ami and Co!

 

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International Quilt Festival, IQA Competition Exhibit – Art-Painted Surface Quilts

Septem Peccata Mortalia  (Seven Deadly Sins), by Christine Alexious, Unionville, Ontario, Canada

Septem Peccata Mortalia (Seven Deadly Sins), by Christine Alexiou, Unionville, Ontario, Canada

Another of my favorite categories, I seem to be drawn to art quilts.  I viewed and photographed these quilts before the awards ceremony when they were hanging together in the same section.

Septem Peccata Mortalia, by Christine Alexiou, won the World of Beauty Award, and a $7,500 cash prize.  On opening night of Festival, Christine was standing by her masterpiece and turning the pages of the oversized book.  Yes, there are several pages, at least seven, each of which is incredible in its own right.  Christine wrote this about her quilt, “Although inspired by illuminated manuscripts, the them tackles how little human nanture has changed since these manuscripts were first created.  I wanted to explore how these seven failings speak to something intrinsically linked to human nature; why we are, in all our seeming morality, still guilty of these sins”.

Zen Magpies by Helen Godden, Latham, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Zen Magpies by Helen Godden, Latham, Canberra, ACT, Australia

In Zen Magpies, an Honorable Award winner in the category, Helen Godden writes, “What is black and white and quilted all over?  Painted on silk sateen, the magpies sing their song with such joy and freedom.  They are surrounded by extreme quilted doodle-mania, an explosion of decorative free-motion fun.  With over 100 different designs, the quilter has found her Zen!”

Xcaret Orchid Blossoms II, by Andrea Brokenshire, Round Rock, TX

Xcaret Orchid Blossoms II, by Andrea Brokenshire, Round Rock, TX

“This is the second quilt in a series based on my photography taken during a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  My favorite thing about the quilt is how the light is captured.” wrote Andrea Brokenshire about her quilt.  Although not an award winner, this is a masterful quilt.

With so many exceptional quilts in the IQA show, just being accepted is an honor.

Carousel Stampede by Cathy Wiggins, Macon, NC

Carousel Stampede by Cathy Wiggins, Macon, NC

Cathy Wiggins wrote, “When I was young, which horse to ride on the carousel was always a big decision.  I would run as fast as I could to get the horse of my choice.  Which of these beautiful horses would you ride?  Beginning with white muslin, I painted the background and horses using textile mediums and oil sticks.  There are about 300 hours of painting, 250 hours of quilting, and 40+ hours to apply the crystals”.

Mark's Magnificent Marlin,  Murphy by Helen Godden, Latham, Canberra ACT, Australia

Mark’s Magnificent Marlin, Murphy by Helen Godden, Latham, Canberra ACT, Australia

Helen wrote, “The mighty marlin twists and turns and bursts from the deep ocean waves.  Created for my dear friend, Mark Hyland, celebrating his joy of deep sea fishing.  Hand painted with Lumiere Acrylic fabrics paint on black whole cloth, free-motion machine quilted.”

Winters Veil by Patt Blair Mt Baldy, CA

Winter’s Veil by Patt Blair Mt Baldy, CA

Winter’s Veil particularly captured my attention as it is an exquisite representation of a songbird during the harsh days of winter.  Patt Blair wrote, “I live in the mountains where winter cold hangs over the landscape for so very long and is represented here by this Snow Bunting standing trapped in nature’s harsh surroundings.  Pigment ink painting, free-motion quilting.”

Winter’s Veil won First Place in this category!  Amazing quilts by some very talented quilters.

Stay tuned . .  .

 

 

 

 

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International Quilt Festival – IQA Competition – Art/Naturescapes Category

I was fortunate to be able to look at the competition quilt at my leisure during the wholesale part of the International Quilt Market.  During these days, the aisles with the quilts are largely empty as shop owners and other quilt business folks are trying to either buy or sell the latest, greatest notion or fabric so that you will find it in a shop near you very soon.  But, while the aisles are nearly empty, making photography easy, none of the show winners are not identified as such until the International Quilt Association (IQA) Awards Ceremony on Tuesday night.  Because there are so many quilts that captured my camera lens with their uniqueness and beauty, I plan to show them over the next few days.  Clearly, the Art/Naturescapes category was one of my favorites.  Below are a selection of quilts from that section.

Autumns Early Light by Janey Argyle, Washington, UT

Autumns Early Light by Janey Argyle, Washington, UT

The quality of all the entries amazes me each year.  This year, I noticed an increase in the quality and quantity of machine quilting in many pieces, both those stitched on a longarm and those created on a home sewing machine.  When I photograph a quilt, I take the image of the quilt first followed immediately by a photo of the label, so I can be sure to give credit to the amazing artists that make this show so wonderful.

Janey said this about her quilt, “A photo of Canyonlands in southern Utah Haunted me for several years.  With permission of a photographer, the unusual rear lighting, early morning glw, and dancing tree in a confined colorful canyon provided a challenge that could not be resisted.  Beauty exists in unusual places, and this needed to be shared”.  Original design based on photograph by Robert Lefkow.

 Sunset by Shirley Gisi, Colorado Springs, CO

Indian Summer Sunset by Shirley Gisi, Colorado Springs, CO

Although, in my less than stellar photo of this quilt, there appears to be little quilting, this piece is beautifully quilted with stitching that complements the intricate graphic design.  It was an IQA award winner in its category.

Shirley says, “The landscape theme of the quilt utilizes straight lines and geometric shapes, including circles and semicircles.  Primarily pieces, the trees are machine appliqued.  White fabric paint gives the suggestion of snow on the mountain tops”.  Original design.

Night Bloomers by Beth Miller, Kambah ACT, Australia

Night Bloomers by Beth Miller, Kambah ACT, Australia

“The delicate, highly perfumed flowers of the cactus contrast strongly with the columnar and prickly stems.  The large flowers bloom only at night, attracting moths and insects, and last only from one sunset to the next.” Original design by Beth Miller.

Although my photo does not do justice to the quality of the piecing and quilting, this is an amazing piece.

Traces of Seasons Past by Roxanne Ferguson, Mayfield, KY

Traces of Seasons Past by Roxanne Ferguson, Mayfield, KY

“The machine quilted leaf images are stitched in spring green as upright buds at the top left and change to full-sized leaves at the top right.  The leaves take on fall colors and angle more downward toward the middle and, finally, are brown and drop vertically at the bottom of the quilt.  Original design inspired by Esterita Austin’s class.”

In the Bleak Midwinter by Ruth Powers, Carbondale, KS

In the Bleak Midwinter by Ruth Powers, Carbondale, KS

This masterful piece was “designed to use the hand-dyed sky fabric and was inspired by Kansas winters,” said Ruth Powers, “where even in the bleakest of times, there is color to be found”.  Original design.

Amazing quilt, stitched by some incredible artists!

Stay tuned . . .

 

 

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Color and Contrast in Quilting – At Quilt Festival 2013

Students work on exercises at Color and Contrast in Quilting 2013

Students work on exercises at Color and Contrast in Quilting 2013

One of my favorite classes is the half-day, Color and Contrast in Quilting.  In this class, there is a lecture about the use of color in making successful quilts, but especially, there is discussion about the need for contrast in a good quilt!  Then, students critique a number of samples that I provide, figuring out why it is that one works well and another does not.  Moving right along, each student is given 16 random fabrics and a limited amount of time to cut and glue their very small project into the workbook.  We had time for three exercises in this year’s Houston Class.

Color Exercise 1

Color Exercise 1

In the first exercise, each student worked on a line drawing that appeared to be a nine-patch.  They were told that they had to use at lease 3 different fabrics.  They also were told that they did not have to ‘color within the lines’.  Check out the wide variety here.

Color Exercise 2

Color Exercise 2

In Color Exercise 2, you can see that more students departed from the traditional 25 patch line drawing.  In fact, none of these small works even resembles a 25 patch block.

Color Exercise 3

Color Exercise 3

By Exercise 3 we were running out of time!  Students had only 10 minutes to work on their final exercise.  I think the designs are pretty imaginative!  Below are a few of my favorites.

Color Sample 101

Color Sample 101

I loved the abstractiveness of this little design which shows the very effective use of the Zinger fabrics, the lime green and the light rust.

Color Sample 102

Color Sample 102

This design is effective both in contrast of color, but also the use of scale in the combination of the hearts, dots, and solids.

Color Sample 103

Color Sample 103

This very creative piece is simply adorable, from the flower cutouts to the mountains and sun.  This student went event further in her 10 minute proejct, by using a marker to draw in the window panes.

What a creative group of students!  This was a fabulous class and everyone was a STAR!

 

 

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A Life Well Lived

It was a really rough week last week, one of those where just getting through every day is a chore.  None of the posts I intended to write every made it to the ‘publish’ stage either.  Normally, I only post about quilt-related material on this blog, but I also know that many of you, if not all of you, have heard stories of my beloved “Trouble”, the American Kestrel that lived with me for the past 19 and a half years.  She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last week after a sudden and rapid decline that began as soon as I arrived home from a teaching trip to New Jersey.  I hope you will enjoy this post about my love affair with a very special bird.

The Christmas Kestrel

The Christmas Kestrel

In the spring of 2014, we will celebrate the 20th birthday of Hawks Aloft, the organization that I, and other founded in 1994.  It seems like yesterday; we were the new conservation organization in town, running on a shoe string budget thanks to our initial funders, Blue Sky Natural Beverage Company, the Frost Foundation, and our main benefactors Jerry and Sally Mayeux.  We had a fledgling education program, a full-time educator, and a part-time director – me. We also hoped that, someday, we would be paid to conduct research. But, with few documented research credentials, we began our program with the help of volunteers and organization founders, Jerry Hobart, Jim Place, and Chuck Brandt. That was the beginning of the Raptor Monitoring Surveys in the Rio Grande and Estancia valleys, conducted entirely by volunteers then, and still an all-volunteer effort – 20 years later.

We borrowed raptors from others for our education programs and set about acquiring the necessary permits. We extend a big thank you to Shirley and Jack Kendall, who helped us submit the paperwork, and build the first outdoor flight cages that would become home to the educational ambassadors that captivate children and adults alike.

Trouble at the Cabin

Trouble at the Cabin

Shirley called one day to tell me about a fledgling American Kestrel that had been found alongside a ditch in Albuquerque. The kestrel, a female, was placed with other young kestrels in a large flight cage at the Kendall Rehabilitation Facility in Corrales, where all would be provided with live mice so they could learn to hunt and hone their flight skills. But, this particular falcon had little interest in earning her meals. Instead, she begged loudly and plaintively whenever Shirley went out to feed the growing brood. It became obvious that this young female was a human imprint and would never be releasable.

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

She became our first official education bird, coming to live with me.  A friendly little chit of a bird, she and I bonded immediately,as only and imprinted raptor can, chirring sweetly when I offered her mice or mealworms. It wasn’t long; however, before I noticed broken feathers and fault bars (or weak spots) in the ones that remained. Soon, nearly all of her feathers were broken at the tissue level, leaving her unable to fly, and similarly incapable of being outdoors, exposed to the elements.  We named her Trouble, because her troubles were caused by a thoughtless human.

After the Bath - Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

After the Bath – Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

At age one, after a year of proper diet, she grew good, strong feathers and a matching attitude. She learned to fly inside my house!  Jack built her a 20’ long flight cage outside my kitchen window.  She spent her days out there, but every night around dusk, she returned to the window to be let in, flying through the house to the bathroom, where she put herself to bed on the bathroom door.

Where Food Comes From

Where Food Comes From

By then, she also had decided that we were an ‘item’, and I was a precious resource to be guarded at all times. Over the years, Trouble took out her wrath on our hapless educators and unwary visitors to my home, waiting silently on a high perch until their backs were turned, whereupon she launched the stealth attack, whacking them on the back of the head. Trouble charmed school children with her striking beauty, her unfortunate situation caused by humans, and her larger-than-life personality.  She was, indeed, a legend among all who knew her.

Guarding the Mouse from me!  The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Guarding the Mouse from me! The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Although I knew that eventually the time would come to say good-bye, the little kestrel princess seemed to defy death time and time again. She escaped twice but was successfully recaptured both times after several anxiety filled days. We retired her at age fifteen, about three times the normal life expectancy for any American Kestrel. Still, she continued to thrive, coming indoors at night and hunting for mealworms in their plastic tub.  One night last week, she came to the window as she always did, and I dutifully delivered the mealworm tub, but she refused to eat. It was then that I noticed her ragged appearance and brought her indoors.  After a rapid decline, she crossed over the rainbow bridge the next morning.

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble won’t be with us for our 20th Anniversary celebrations next spring, but will live on in our memories – one remarkable falcon – the kestrel princess!

Thank you for bearing with me on this painful post. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Story Themed Quilts by Jill Monley: A New Challenge for Your Group?

The Royal Roost by Jill Monley

The Royal Roost by Jill Monley

I first met Jill in my class at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in 2011.  It was the five-day design workshop, Flying Colors, where each student designs their own project.  Jill told me with enthusiasm about the story book quilt challenge that her guild was running.  The Princess and the Pea was the story that inspired the above quilt.

Jill says,  “Usually, there are 8 to 25 quilts in each challenge.  The chair of the challenge for that year figures out some sort of challenge.  The year of the Princess and the Pea, the challenge was children’s stories/books.  There were/are very few rules. The quilts are kept totally secret right down to turning them in.  They are delivered in a brown paper bag and then displayed.  Members vote, not knowing the maker of any of the quilts.  The winning quilts best meet the intent of the theme, workmanship, best quilting, etc. Princess and the Pea was the winner that year. Then these quilts become a special exhibit at the Guild’s show, and sometimes at Sisters Quilt Show in Sisters, OR.”

On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jill Monley

On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jill Monley

Jil says, “On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a a delightful story in the early 1940s  set in Seattle WA.  It is about a young Chinese boy and a young Japanese girl.  It was a good read!”

“Our small book group reads two books a year, on which we base a quilt.  One is done in conjunction with the local library which annually chooses a ‘community read together’ book.  The project receives a lot of publicity and 6,000 people in our area participate. The author is brought in to town for a week of lectures, book signings,gallery visits, book group visits and a variety of other events.  Many artisans here are now making pieces, paintings, sculptures and, in our case, quilts based on things that spoke to the artisan about the book. ”

Mozarts Requiem by Jill Monley

Mozarts Requiem by Jill Monley

“Last year 67 quilts were made.  The author was blown away!  As a matter of fact, all the authors have been very moved by them.  Those of us in small book groups talk about the book as we are formulating ideas.  We bounce ideas off each other and share partially completed work.  I’ve found that synergy in the design stage to be very insightful and helpful.  And, to some level, it’s skill building as less experienced quilters try new techniques or products and we talk about them.

Lumbys Bounty by Jill Monley

Lumbys Bounty by Jill Monley

“The second book is one that our small quilt group selects.  We meet monthly at someone’s home and have cookies and tea. In the selection process, we each bring a book for suggestion and pass it around. We make a decision and then each of us makes a quilt based on that book. The quilts are generally small which is appealing to a lot of people. Our hope is for all of us to try new techniques or new approaches. We talk about the book as we read, about ideas that strike us or that maybe that no ideas are striking us. It is so rewarding to me to see the quilters gaining confidence in their skills.  At the end, we have a big reveal which is not a surprise for the most part, but we put on clean shirts and have a little upscale evening of fun.”

“Then the quilts become an exhibit that hangs almost annually in the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, generally in the library, in our guild quilt show and in the gallery of the local quilt shop.”

“Some of us the book as inspiration to make a quilt for a ‘need’. One gal owed a quilt to a fellow who had done a lot of favors for her, soshe found some batik with big crows in it (his favorite bird) and made him a pieced quilt using that fabricas that year’s book mentioned crows throughout.  This quilt was outrageously beautiful and masculine!”

“I sold one of mine to the author’s uncle and it hangs in a public building.  Last year, I gave mine to the author, a young gal from Alaska.  It was her first published book.  She loved the quilt so I gave it to her!”

As we all look for inspiration for our local groups, I just love this idea.  Perhaps it would be a good challenge for your group too! If you do sponsor a challenge like this, please send photos to me of your finished quilts.  

 

 

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Home Sweet Home at Thimbleweeds

There’s No Place Like Home!  My favorite things include the wonderful quilters that make up the Thimbleweeds group.   A while back, I was thinning out the old patterns that I had stored in the garage for the past 20 or so years.  It had become obvious that they just weren’t going to sell.  Plus I needed the space.

Homecoming (c) 199

Homecoming (c) 1990

So, I donated all the parts to my Homecoming pattern, written in 1990, sans directions, no bags, not assembled into any sort of order and bundled them all off in Donna’s minivan.

Thimbleweeds Homecoming Devotees

Thimbleweeds Homecoming Devotees from l-r:  Colleen Konetzni, Marlene Walker, Holly Plugge, Mary Moya, Judy Aronow, Ann Driscoll and Anne Townsend.

Imagine my surprise when I showed up at Thimbleweeds and there, along one wall of their meeting room, hung row upon row of Homecoming Quilts in Progress.

Who am I #4

Holly Plugge

Each quilter had made the blocks uniquely her own.

Who am I #2

Marlene Walker

It was great to get to see all of the variations they had created from the base pattern.

Who am I #1

Mary Moya

Each reflected the personality of its maker, like this version in bright colors.

Who am I #3

Judy Aronow

But this version by Anne Townsend gets the prize for the most embellishment.  It is simply enchanting.

Little House with Little Owl

Little House with Little Owl

This little house was so altered from my original design, that all I recognized was the walk.  Check out the owl house!

Little Owl

Little Owl

Complete with a cozy nest hole for the neighborhood owl.

Anne Townsend's Quilts Yes there is more than one!

Anne  Driscoll’s Quilts. Yes there is more than one!

But the prize surely goes to Anne Townsend, who made not one, but displayed two.  This threadwork version is still in progress, and she also showed another that she made from the original pattern, way back in the early 1990s!

Gotta love those Thimbleweed girls!

 

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Thimbleweeds to the Rescue

Lynn in her classroom in Berekuso, Ghana

Lynn in her classroom in Berekuso, Ghana

It seemed like such an easy thing to do!  After all, school was just starting in Albuquerque and every store in the world had school supplies on sale.  I was scheduled to give a lecture for my very local quilt guild, Thimbleweeds.  It had been started by my good buddy, Donna Barnitz, some 20+ years ago.

Donna with her Birthday Quilt, made by her Thimbleweed Friends

Donna with her Birthday Quilt, made by her Thimbleweed Friends

Donna is so full of energy and enthusiasm!  Her favorite sentence begins with, “I think we should . . . ”  And so it goes.  For 22+ years we have been friends and she has greatly enriched my life.  So, when she asked if I would do a lecture for Thimbleweeds, I was proud to say, “Of course” even though I am well aware that, as an arm of the City of Rio Rancho, their group has no funds to pay for visiting speakers.  Instead, Donna asked if there was something else that they might do to show their thanks.   Immediately, if not sooner, I asked for school supplies for Lynn’s school in Berekuso.  Donna spread the word and by the time I showed up to speak the supplies were mounting on the table in the back of the room.

School Supplies

School Supplies

And, they just kept on coming!

Thimbleweeds Donation of School Supplies

Thimbleweeds Donation of School Supplies

In the days and weeks following that meeting, members kept on dropping off school supplies at my home.  Some of my Hawks Aloft friends also contributed to the cache.  In the end, I shipped some 12 or so boxes of supplies to Lynn who will now have some tools to help her African students learn.

Lynn will be collecting supplies until early November when she will ship a container of materials to Ghana for her use when she arrives.  I am proud to be a part of this effort.  And, I am even prouder of my Thimbleweed friends who are so generous!

Please contact me if you would like to contribute to the effort.  I can send you contact information to contribute directly to Lynn.

 

 

 

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