Monday, November 16, 2015

The Quilt Show: Behind the Scenes (and a link to the show!)

There are two parts to this post.

1.  The "Cut to the Chase" section
2.  The "I'd Like a Behind the Scenes Glimpse of a 'Quilt Show' Podcast Taping" section

Part 1:  For the "Cut to the Chase" Folks:
The segment I taped for "The Quilt Show" is currently being aired.  Normally, the podcast is only available to those with paid subscriptions.  But, the nice people at "The Quilt Show" send their guests a link to share with friends and family.  

The show is #1710 (Conquering Abstract Fears)...and you can watch it by clicking below:   

(Note:  this link is only active until November 22, 2015)
I appear in the last segment of the show, talking about my photomosaic quilts.  I am lucky enough to be preceded by two extremely talented women:  Libby Lehman and Lyric Kinard.  Their segments are wonderfully inspiring and exciting.  Feel free to share this with whomever!


Part 2:  For the "I'd Like a Behind the Scenes Glimpse of a 'Quilt Show' Podcast Taping" Folks:
It didn't begin on "a dark and stormy night," but rather on a beautiful, cool sunny morning in the mountains of North Carolina.  

The taping occurred at the NC Governor's "Western Residence" in beautiful Asheville.   It's rather lodge-like...very cozy and comfortable, not pretentious or over-the-top lavish (as a NC taxpayer, I was relieved).  It's used by the Governor as a retreat and rented out for functions at other times.   

Governor's Western Residence:  Outside View
Inside the Residence:  Alex Anderson and Lilo Bowman (Logistics Manager for The Quilt Show)
On scene were hosts Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson, producer Shelly Heesacker, logistics manager Lilo Bowman, Quilt Show photographer Greg Chase, and Alex's husband John (who manages and coordinates the Quilt Show's business and technology tasks).  The studio film crew didn't travel to North there were three local stringers doing sound and videography.

Ricky Tims arrived with his new drone and tried it out in the clearing behind the residence to get some aerial shots of the home.  Not surprisingly, he got plenty of "boys-with-their-toys" ribbing about it.

"Official" Quilt Show Drone piloted by Ricky Tims
There's no formal make-up or wardrobe "stuff" or "diva" behavior.  Folks wear street make-up (or not) and wardrobe guidelines are simple:  no white or busy print tops;  go for solid, bright colors (Alex had a small suitcase with casual tops that she could coordinate with guests' outfits).   And I was eternally grateful to get a heads up about hand close-ups...I had enough time to get my nails in I-don't-have-to-hang-my-head-in-total-shame shape for the taping.

Taping for our episode took place on the patio...with Lyric leading the way:

l to r:  Shelly Heesacker (producer), Alex Anderson,  Lyric Kinard - setting up for Lyric's segments

Lyric with her quilts on the patio

Camera and sound crews set up on the patio;  Alex Anderson in foreground

Those who know Lyric won't be surprised by her terrific segments.  She's a wonderful teacher, with lots of experience on camera...and it shows.

And then my turn....

My photomosaic quilts set up for taping

A reminder for the hosts:  the guest's name and the gist of the interview taped to video equipment

Talking about my upcoming segment with Ricky Tims
Some Observations:

1.  No taping is without its challenges...

At 8:00 AM, the setting on the patio was idyllic:  cool temperature, lush greenery;   birds chirping in the background, leaves rustling in the breeze .

By 10:00, a different story:   still air, hot and muggy (plus heat from the lights);  the whir of leaf blowers and the screeching of chainsaws.

We stopped multiple times to wait for a pause in leaf blowing or to reshoot a section drowned out by the chainsaws.  And we also stopped for little "blotting" sessions.  (confession:  I turn red and "glow" on my face when I get those pauses were mostly mine;  I gave up on my hair...which began to look poodle-like.) 

2.  It's all about the people...and they were warm, welcoming, and wonderful.  What you see on air with Alex and Ricky is exactly how they come across in person.

A quick story:  I followed Lyric's very professional taping and felt a little nervous as Ricky and I were about to start mine.  I turned to him and joked "Well, now it's time for amateur night at the Roxy."  He turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and pointed to himself, "If you look like an amateur, then it's my fault...just follow my lead and you'll do great."   What a gracious thing to say. 

3.  When I was first approached about doing the segment, I had long conversations with the show's extraordinary producer, Shelly Heesacker.   At one point she asked me this:  "What would YOU like to get out of you want to do more trunk shows and lectures, have more commissions?"
I gave it a lot of thought.  Trunk shows, lecture gigs, and commissions would certainly be lovely.  However, what I REALLY wanted was the adventure of being on the show, getting my own behind the scenes view of the people and the process, and having some good stories to remember and tell.

Mission Accomplished....   

Alex, Debbie, and Ricky:  It was a wonderful adventure
 PS:  It helps to have someone taking photos.  All photos:  Joal Fischer

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Of Websites and "Quilt Show"s

I confess...I've had a pitiful, woeful website for way too many years.  I always intended to revive it out of its incomplete, neglected, and moribund state.   But somehow, my intentions never got moved from back burner to front.       

However, now it's been done and the new website is online: 

So what kicked me into action?

 It all began last spring with a message asking whether I'd be interested in taping a segment for  "The Quilt Show," a podcast hosted by Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson.  I had some lovely telephone chats with Shelly Heesacker, a fascinating and fun woman who's the producer of the show.  And in July, I found myself discussing my photomosaic quilts and taping a segment for the show on the patio of the Governor's Residence in the mountains of North Carolina.
As I prepared for taping, the awful thought occurred:  what if folks wanted to google me after the segment aired?  Holy cow, there I'd be, with my pitiful, woeful website.  That definitely lit a fire under me.

So the time has come...the podcast began this week ( #1710:  Conquering Abstract Fears) and I'm honored to be in wonderful company:

Lyric Kinard and Debbie Langsam (photo: Gregory Case / The Quilt Show)
Fiber artist and award-winning teacher, Lyric Kinard is there sharing some of her extraordinary pieces and providing tips for working with foil on fabric.

Plus the show starts out with a visit to Libby Lehman - a much loved internationally renowned quilt artist, author, and teacher - who shows her spirit as she continues to recover from a devastating brain aneurysm and stroke.

Libby Lehman was a world-famous quilter, author and teacher until a brain aneurysm and stroke in 2013 ended her career. Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff / © 2015 Houston Chronicle
Libby Lehman  ( Photo: Melissa Phillip, Staff / Houston Chronicle)

Next week I'll post about the "excellent adventure" of taping and I'll also have a link that will allow anyone to view the program free of charge from November 15th through the 22nd.

But as for's now official.  After hours and hours and hours and hours of work (especially from my tech-guru husband Joal Fischer).  I actually have a new website!

BTW:  I insisted that Joal give himself credit for doing so much to make the site a reality...and he did.  Those who know Joal's quirky sense of humor won't be surprised by what appears on the credit line of the home page:  Created by Good Looking Spouse Productions.  



Thursday, February 12, 2015

“Fancy Goldfish”

“Fancy Goldfish” (copyright 2015) by Susan Brubaker Knapp
Susan Brubaker Knapp here. This is my piece for The Alliance for American Quilts’ 2015 Contest, “Animals We Love.” All submissions to this contest become the property of the Quilt Alliance, and are auctioned to support the mission of the organization: “to document, preserve, and share our American quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation’s diverse peoples and their communities.”

It is based on my sketches of goldfish, and wholecloth painted. After quilting around all the scales, and the details on the goldfish, I quilted lots of water currents and bubbles in the background. But I wasn’t entirely pleased with it, so I rubbed some purple-blue shimmery paint on the bubbles, which made them stand out a lot more. 

It was very tricky getting good photos of this piece. I had to shoot it five times – at different times of day today – to get the photos in this post. Some of the shots were too washed out, some were too flat. The photos here are pretty true to color, and Im pleased with how the texture of the quilting shows. 

To see photos of this piece in progress, visit my blog here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Laura Sutthoff

Laura Sutthoff is a native to Charlotte, NC. Laura graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA degree in Surface Design. She was then employed by Wesley Mancini and designed printed and woven fabrics for Collins & Ackman and Kravet Fabrics before heading out on her own.

Many years of interior design, decorative painting and murals followed until she was blessed with twin boys! Life has changed in a very good way and so her artistry adapted as well. Laura created a business that would utilize all of her talents from interior design, painting, graphic design to starting her own line of fabrics. These fabrics are mainly printed digitally or silk screened by hand.

Traveling to Highpoint, N.C., twice a year, fashion shows and of course quilt shows are a constant to keep up with what is new in color and design. Experimenting with dyes, resist, silk screening and sharing techniques with others through classes has been a great journey for Laura.

Laura Sutthoff is a member of Surface Design Association and Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA).

“My life’s passion is my family and fabric design!” says Laura. “I constantly am inspired by my creative friends and surroundings. Currently I am working on framed quilts hand painted with  Jacquard paints, stitching, embroidery and vintage beads and buttons.”


 “Canadian Geese Chaser”  (2014)

Appliqué Chairs (2014)
“Top Of Boone” (2015)

My latest work

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I have been remiss in posting here, so I thought I’d bring you up to date on my new work. This is my latest piece, “Le Poisson Bleu-Vert” (“The Blue-Green Fish,” 31" x 18") The fins, scales and letters are made from Lutradur®. Lutradur® is a spun-bonded polyester. It takes paint and inks very well, and has the key advantage of not fraying. So when you cut it, you get nice clean edges. It is also somewhat transparent, which can be nice for adding depth. 

If you want to try out Lutradur®, you can get a pack that contains some lightweight (70 grams) and some heavyweight (100 grams) from C&T Publishing

I painted some sheets of it with ProChemical & Dye’s Profab transparent and pearlescent acrylic textile paints in shades of blue and green, and cut the scales out by hand, in arcs. Then I machine stitched them down, starting at the tail and working my way toward the front of the fish. The stitching on each row is hidden by the row that covers it. 

The free-motion stitching in the background was so much fun. I did it without marking, and stitched shapes suggesting coral at the bottom, and then filled in around it with a tight, small meander in shades of yellow, green and blue. Above, I stitched wavy lines filled with bubbles, suggestive of water currents. 

I painted the fish’s body before I stitched the scales on. (Aside from the scales and words, this piece is one piece of white fabric – Robert Kaufman Pimatex PFD – that I’ve painted.) After the fish was mostly done, I thought the composition could use something else, and decided on type. I’ve always love the French word for fish, “poisson,” and decided it would be fun to describe the fish in French. I cut the letters from the Lutradur®, too, then simply stitched them down.


Several months ago, I was contacted by Matt Reese and Stevii Graves, who were organizing an invitational exhibition called “My Personal App” that would debut at Road to California later this month.

Here is my piece for the exhibition: "Look, See"  (36" x 36"). It is based on a closeup photo of my eye in bright sunshine, and is wholecloth painted and quilted. Quilters invited to participate in this exhibition were asked to create a 36" square quilt that looks like an app icon, representing their personal app. This piece is wholecloth painted and then quilted, and is based on a photo of my eye. I believe it is the mind, heart, and eye of the photographer, and not the camera, that makes a good shot. It is learning to see – not just look at – things.


This piece, “Sunny,” (10.5" x 10.5") is my donation to Virginia Spiegel’s “THE 100” fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. It is based on my sketch of a sunfish, then wholecloth painted and quilted. One hundred artists have donated a lovely piece of art to this cause, and the first 100 people to donate $100 to the American Cancer Society through Virginia on Feb. 4, 2015 will be randomly assigned one of those artworks. Check out the details on Virginia’s website.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

A multi-personality self portrait

A few months ago, PAQA-S (Professional Art Quilters' Alliance - South) held its annual international show.  This year's theme was ARTQUILTSwhimsy.

Those of us who were selected for the show were also given an option to submit a small  (8.5"x11")  self-portrait.  Here's mine:

As you can see, the stamp filter on Photoshop helped me produce 4 black and white "Debbie's" from this photo. 

And then some Photoshop layers magic allowed me to pose each black and white Debbie in front of one of my quilts... here are two of them: 

Tikkun Olam
Pretty in Pink

There was some method to my madness of creating a split personality self-portrait.  It came at a time when discussions of "artistic voice" seemed to be popping up all around me:  people questioning their artistic "intentions," berating themselves for not having artistic "clarity," bemoaning what they saw as scatter-shot experimentation. 

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the value of developing an artistic voice and creating work that has the distinct and unique stamp of a particular artist.  There's something very satisfying about making art that people recognize as belonging to you.   And that doesn't even begin to cover the benefits of exploring, nurturing, maturing, and evolving a technique and a style over time.

Still, discussions like that can awaken the grumbling, curmudgeonly contrarian within me.  Is a singular artistic voice really the be-all and end-all of creativity?  If we strive to be recognizable, how similar should our pieces be?  When does the similarity of pieces make an artistic voice repetitious and boring?  What if we have (*gasp*) many artistic voices?  Is this a personality flaw?

So with my very abject apologies to James Thurber and Dr. Seuss, I offer this little tongue-in-cheek limerick to accompany my portrait.  I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but perhaps it will allow us all to lighten up and give ourselves a break:

Artistic Voices
As artists we’re told that we really should hone
an artistic “voice” we can claim as our own.

But sometimes my voice just won’t sing in one pitch,
that places my work in a singular niche.

There are so many tunes running round in my head
 that I try to express with both needle and thread.

So my thinking’s evolved, though I don't claim it's flawless,
I don’t “sing” with one, I have my own chorus.



Thursday, April 10, 2014

FAO visits Meridian Fibers

Colorful woven scarves by Laura Sutthoff
Susan Brubaker Knapp here. Today, members of Fiber Art Options met to tour a wonderful new facility in uptown Charlotte: Meridian Fibers. It is owned by artist Laura Sutthoff, who has created “a working studio and teaching lab for adults and children.”

 Classes for adults – some a few hours long, and some a few days long – include:
  • Stamp, Print and Foil
  • Knitting 101
  • Painted scarf using soy wax resist
  • Felt and ribbon scarf
  • Dyeing for quilters
  • Dyes and resists
  • Fabric design with digital printing
  • Felted ruffled scarf
Laura has a BFA in Textile Design from East Carolina University, and has designed fabric, owned an interior design shop, painted murals in large office buildings and homes, taught art to 2nd through 5th graders, and printed and designed custom fabrics for the design industry. Her work is just beautiful. She’s teaching classes, and lining up experienced teachers to lead other workshops. This place is just getting off the ground; I’m excited to see how it grows!

Laura with some pillows she’s created for the design industry

Screen printed napkins for sale in Meridian’s shop

Nancy G. Cook, a member of Fiber Art Options, will be teaching an embroidery class at Meridian soon. I’m also exploring the possibility.

Want to go?
Meridian Fibers
2304 Dunavant Street
Charlotte, NC 28203

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Up and Away!" exhibited at Texas Quilt Museum

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. My piece Up and Away! is part of a new exhibition – An Invitational Flutter of Butterfly Art Quilts – at the Texas Quilt Museum. It opens today, and runs through June 29. This exhibition features 17 quilts selected by the museum curator, Dr. Sandra Sider. FAO member Nancy G. Cook also has a piece in this exhibition. A juried exhibition – Butterflies and Their Beautiful Kin – which will show at the same time, contains 38 works. 

The Texas Quilt Museum, which opened in November 2011, is a little gem of a museum housed in two historic 1890s buildings in La Grange, in central Texas. Its goal is to “recognize and celebrate the art and beauty of quilts, the creativity of their makers, and the continuing contributions of quilt making to history and culture.” Karey Bresenhan and Nancy Puentes, founded International Quilt Association with their mothers, are co-founders of this museum. I am so honored to have a quilt there!

My piece features a three-dimensional butterfly soaring in a meadow. The butterfly is made of fabric and thread; the background was wholecloth painted.

“Butterflies symbolize rebirth and metamorphosis. This exhibit shows how modern artists are reworking quiltmaking, contributing new techniques, processes, and concepts to the historical continuum of quilts,” says Sider.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'll be hosting “Quilting Arts TV”

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I am thrilled to announce that I have been named as the next host for “Quilting Arts TV. ” Pokey Bolton, who founded Quilting Arts magazine in 2000, has decided to step down as host. Pokey became
Chief Creative Officer at Quilts Inc. in Houston, TX, in January 2012, but continued as host on the show through 2013. In total, she helped to produce more than 150 episodes of “QATV.”

with Pokey on the set of QATV to shoot Series 1300
I’ve been a guest on four series of the show, and I adore it, and the people who produce it. I will be working with Helen Gregory, Editorial Director of Interweave’s Quilt and Paper Group, and Vivika DeNegre, editor of Quilting Arts magazine. What a wonderful opportunity and challenge to share my passion and love for this amazing world of art quilting. Not many people get to work with such a creative, fun, good-hearted group on something they love this much; I am so very lucky. 

With Helen and Vivika, I hope to continue the wonderful legacy that Pokey started, and to take the show in new directions as the quilting world evolves. I’ll look forward to bringing back popular guests, and introducing viewers to fresh new faces in the worlds of art quilting, contemporary quilting, and surface design. 

with Helen Gregory (left) and Vivika DeNegre in September
About “QATV:”
“Quilting Arts TV” is a national PBS television program that brings top artists from the world of art quilting, the modern quilt movement, mixed media and surface design into the studio to share what they do and how they do it. Topics include free-motion embroidery, quilting and thread sketching, fabric collage, quilted home décor, quilting with alternative fabrics and mixed media, and innovative surface design techniques.

Current and past seasons are available on DVD.

Check your local PBS station’s listings for program times or visit