Family Heritage – Antique Quilts (continued)

Miller home - Seattle 2013 - reducedMy husband’s family has a strong fiber tradition, thanks to my husband’s Great Aunt Flossie Dean Barber, who is the sister of Dean’s maternal Grandmother, Jessie Dean Mason. Dean’s mother, Roberta (Bobbie) Mason Miller, has been living in a senior adult home for 5 or 6 years now, and her home has been empty except for visits from her children. She’s 100 years and 8 months old.

Flossie's red quilt top - reducedDean, his sister and brother have decided it is time to sell the family home. It is a little house on a lot with beautiful views of Puget Sound in the Ballard section of Seattle. Recently, Dean and I went up to Seattle to the family home to help clean out things that we would like to keep. I found lots of beautiful hand made linens with cut work, embroidery, fine crochet, tatting, lace work, etc. In addition, I found tucked away in an old trunk upstairs, two beautiful hand-pieced quilt tops. They have the same pattern, except that one is in cobalt blue and muslin fabrics, and the other is in red and muslin fabrics. They were hand-pieced probably in the 50’s or 60’s, mostly definitely by Great Aunt Flossie, as she is the only one that made any quilts in the family besides me. They are the size of twin bedspreads.

Flossie's blue quilt top - reducedSince they are hand-pieced, I think they should be hand quilted, too. So now I have two more quilts to hand quilt. I will put them in a safe place for future consideration of whether to quilt them myself or send them off to a nice Amish quilter to finish the hand quilting. Did I mention, they are in perfect condition!

Family Heritage – Antique Quilts

When my husband’s Great Aunt Flossie passed away, we became the lucky recipients of a beautiful antique Lone Star quilt, a stunning Mariner’s Compass/Pineapple quilt top, and 9 mariner’s compass blocks. Great Aunt Flossie Barber is the sister of Dean’s maternal Grandmother, Jessie Dean Mason. My original idea was to finish the quilts myself, which I have now had for over 20 years. However, I am now more focused on completing my own art quilts. So what to do about these quilt treasures???

Well, while I was at Asilomar, I was talking to Shari and Nancy, who work for Cotton Patch, and mentioned these old quilts of mine. It turns out that Nancy does repair work on old quilts, and Shari coordinates the quilting of old quilts with Amish women back East. Light bulbs went off in my head. I am excited to say that the quilts are now on their way to becoming completed. My plan is to give them to our grandchildren with their histories well defined. I have several letters documenting their origins, and I will document their later history.

Lone Star circa 1850 - reducedThe Lone Star quilt was given to Grandma Jessie when she got married in 1911 and sat in a cherry chest of drawers for many years. This piece of amazing needlework was made in the 1850’s and came from Grandma Jessie’s and Great Aunt Flossie’s mother’s family, the Perry’s. The actual quilter is unknown, but Flossie thought it was made by one person, as the stitches and fabric are all the same. It is possible that it was made by Ardie Carrie Perry prior to her marriage in 1884 in French Creek, New York.

The quilt is in pristine condition with beautiful quilting on it, except for the darker red fabric diamonds. This red fabric has blue flowers in it and some lines, but it has totally disintegrated. After I was given the quilt, I found a reproduction print of a red fabric with blue flowers and cream (muslim) colored lines in it. I also gave it a soaking in some tea to make it look a little older. I found a metal template that fits these diamonds perfectly. Nancy will take out the old damaged diamonds, replace each one with the new fabric and a thin cotton batting, and then re-quilt each diamond.

Compass and Pineapples circa 1850 - reducedThe second quilt top is made up of Mariner’s Compass blocks in the center and appliquéd Pineapple blocks on the borders. It is designed for a 4-poster bed and has the corners cut away. It is totally hand pieced and hand-appliquéd with the tiniest stitches I have ever seen. This quilt top had a note on it that said it was made by Lucinda Carrier Perry in 1851 in Otego, Otsego County, New York. I drew up how I want it to be quilted. Shari has an Amish woman who will do the quilting, so there will be only one type of stitching on the quilt. I will do the finishing by adding the binding to the edges.

Eunice Roberts

I was inspired to learn to quilt from a baby quilt that my husband’s Great Aunt Flossie made for our first son. It was such a beautiful quilt made from 1” grandmother flower garden hexagons. I tried quilting on my own by purchasing a ladies magazine with a how-to-quilt article in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really follow the directions very well or at all. I didn’t add the seam allowance to the pattern. I made ½” seams instead of ¼” seams. I used all kinds of fabrics together: calicos, ginghams, prints, corduroy (ugh), sail cloth, and lots of other odd fabrics. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but I wore it out using it! The one thing I learned was that I wanted to do more quilting.

EuniceSo I decided to take a class in quilting. I was so lucky to have found Eunice as my first instructor in quilting. She taught the adult school class on beginners quilting. She was not only proficient in the techniques of quilting, but she was also an artist. I learned so much from her. She encouraged our class members to form a quilt group which met for more than 20 years. She continued to provide instruction on various techniques, increasing everyone’s knowledge. She never asked for any payment for this instruction. I continued to learn from her mentorship for over 30 years and became close friends with her. She is now 93 and lives in a retirement home in Colorado Springs. Here is a portrait that I did of her in fabric and Tsukineko inks.

Website Changes

Obi No 2If you haven’t had a chance lately, check out the rest of the website. I decided to redesign my galleries and put in new artwork. I have included galleries for my mixed media art quilts, art quilts that are all textile and some paint, abstract paintings, watermedia paintings, and a series of quilts inspired by the trees at Rialto Beach on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. I hope you like the changes.

I was determined to make these changes myself, but I started to flounder. So I got a tutorial from my amazing web designer, Lisa Stambaugh, on WordPress and HTML. I was slow, and it took a while to complete the changes, but I got it done!

Here is one of my newest mixed media art quilts. It is called Obi No. 2.


I just love this time of year. After the rush of the Christmas season, it is the perfect time to play in my studio. The weather does not make it too inviting to go outdoors, but allows me to focus in my studio. There aren’t too many art shows going on that will take my attention away from creating art. I can try out new techniques and play with the products that I have. It also gives me a great excuse to buy a few new products as well.

In addition, I’ve got two workshops planned. The first one is with the Pixeladies, Deb Cashett and Kris Sasaki, starting the end of January. It’s an online course on textile design using Photoshop Elements. The second workshop is with Lonni Rossi scheduled for March of this year at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California. Lonni is a fabric designer and produces some of the most beautiful lines of fabric available. I am sure both of these classes will spark a new flurry of new artistic activity.

I have many other activities on my hit list to try out. First one is ice/snow dyeing. I promised my oldest son that I would make him some one piece pajamas (Union Jacks). Instead, I found a white cotton version from Dharma that I can dye. So I am going to do ice dyeing. Then I found a product for dyeing in the washing machine called Idye. (I don’t think there is a relationship with Apple.) Another process to try is marbling on fabric and possibly paper, too.

I am going to continue making papers for my collage projects. One of my favorite processes is to use tea bags (used) as the base paper. Then I stamp, paint, silk screen, spray, splatter, use molding paste, photocopy, etc. Once I have new papers and new fabrics to play with, I will focus on my mixed media projects. I know that it will be a great year!

Jasmine – My Constant Companion and Best Buddy

We had a tough Christmas season this last year. On the morning of December 28, 2012, Jasmine, my best little buddy and constant companion was put to rest. She was just over 11 years old. I will always miss her happy smiley face and loving personality. She got to spend her last week going on a motorhome trip (she loved to go camping in the motorhome) to see our grandchildren (her best little friends) with her tennis balls ( her favorite toys). Her ashes will be buried under her favorite jasmine bush.

Jasmine was a golden retriever, which is an incredible breed of dog. She was my constant companion in my studio. She would stay with me all day shadowing my every move, while I was busily working on my art quilts, mixed media work, and watercolors. She always seemed to like what I was doing and never criticized my work. She loved children beyond all understanding. Even if they pulled her hair or poked at her, she would never complain or snap at them.

Here’s a picture of her in the jasmine bushes.

The Closure of Gallery Concord

It is with great sadness that I let you know that Gallery Concord is closing this month (December 2012). We have had a long run in our current space, the Masonic Building, for about 8 years. The City of Concord has graciously supported our gallery for the last 4 years by providing funding for receptions, insurance, mailings, utilities, and of course the building itself. Prior to the City of Concord, a group called the Visual Arts Benefactors supported the gallery. This group was made up of former city council members of the City.

This closure is not a surprise, as we have known that the Masonic Building was donated to the Historical Society to be used as a museum. The City will be moving the building across the street for the historical society. Prior to our being in the Masonic Building, we were originally in the Willows Shopping Center.

Our gallery was established as a watercolor and water media gallery. We have had between 25 and 35 artists, who show their work in 4 quarterly shows a year. We also had guest artists who work in mediums other than watercolor.

The members of the gallery are hoping to set up a new gallery for all mediums somewhere in the near area. I will let you know what happens. I am very attached to this gallery, as I spent almost 4 years as a co-director with my good friend Cindy Sullivan for the gallery. Here’s a photo of us on the day we were taking down our paintings for the last time.

Abstract Critique Group

I belong to a group of women artists called Artists 7, and we did critiques once a month for a while. Unfortunately, after several members moved out of the area, we stopped doing them. So I have been looking for a critique group for several years. I feel that it provides a wonderful format for growth and improvement in my artwork.

A couple of months ago, I was sitting at Gallery Concord while the California Watercolor Association was doing a receiving for a show in Sacramento. I met a woman (Carolyn Warmsun) who had worked at Regional Offices in Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, and we struck up a conversation. I was working on some abstracts at the time, and she mentioned that she was looking for another person to join her monthly abstract critique group, which included another friend of mine (Juanita Hagberg). I told Carolyn that I had been looking for a critique group for quite a while and would love to try it out, if that would work for her. It’s in Oakland, so I have about a 45 minute drive, but I thought it would be worth it. I have now attended about 3 months. I have received some good input and have learned some new techniques and tools.

Sewing Advice from 1949

I thought you would get a laugh out of this sewing advice from a 1949 Singer Sewing Manual.  It is an amusing view of how women were given instructions during that time period.  It was probably written by a man who thought his wife only lived for his arrival at home.  Just for the record, I do not dress up to sew or to paint.  And I am totally enjoying my sewing without fear of someone coming over or my husband coming home.


Chuck Close’s Notes to Self

On Facebook, a friend of mine had a link to a video on Chuck Close about his “Notes to Self”, which is advice he would give himself when he was 14. This is a series of interviews done by one of the major networks. Chuck Close is an artist who does exceptionally large portraits. He happens to be a quadriplegic and cannot recognize faces. He had this painting in MOMA in San Francisco the last time I was there. His painting is enormous, probably about 15’ x 12’. He builds this painting out of small abstract squares. I read somewhere that his grandmother was a quilter. You can see her influence.

His comments definitely made sense to me. He said, “Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work. Every great idea I’ve ever had grew out of work itself. Sign on to a process and see where it takes you.”

The entire interview is worth viewing. The link to the interview is: