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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fiber Art Options Artists published in Valerie Goodwin's New Book

Several of the artists in our group were at a Charlotte Quilters' Guild 2012 workshop given by Valerie Goodwin.  Deborah Langsam's piece Urban Renewal is on page 48. Debbie created a haiku poem for inspiration about the positive effects of the rail line coming into Charlotte.She has captured the grittiness of the city in a well designed piece of urban colors and motifs.

Family Vacations by Linda Stegall is on page 90 and features the colors and light touch associated with the beach.

Pathways Home by Nancy G Cook is on page 92. Nancy chose to celebrate her passion for bird watching and several of her favorite places for spotting migrant birds along Lake Erie.

Valerie's book called Art Quilt Maps: Capture a Sense of Place with Fiber Collage - A Visual Guide is a delight to read visually as well as to dig deeper into her processes. She has been very generous in explaining in text and photos her processes from the design to execution.

I love seeing the artwork of other fiber artists, I am even more intrigued when I see their processes laid out in enough detail that a reader could execute them. She does not talk down to the reader, and has written a book that will be of interest to anyone who wants to use a collage approach to fiber art from beginner to more advanced.

Valerie is an award winning artist whose work is in major collections and has been selected for major exhibits. I highly recommend this book.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Scissors and sheep

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. Since returning from teaching in New Zealand in late July, I have been working hard on some new pieces. I am calling this little one “Never Enough.” If you are a quilter, or sewer, or crafter, you will know exactly what I mean. I stitched the outline of the scissors first, then quilted the background, and then painted the scissors with just a bit of metallic silver paint. I tried to do a thin coat and let some of the fabric show through.

I have also been working on a series of sheep and chicken pieces, all based on the same two photos, and very similar. But it is interesting how each animal has his/her own personality! This is Suffolk Sheep #4. It is wholecloth painted, threadsketched, and quilted.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Come see me at LNQ’s quilt show in Mooresville, Aug. 16-17

Suffolk Sheep by Susan Brubaker Knapp
(painted but not yet stitched)

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. Now that I’ve done some small versions of New Zealand Chook and Suffolk Sheep, I’ve started on big versions. I’ll be stitching away on them at next weekend’s quilt show, Sail Into Quilting 2013, in my town, Mooresville, North Carolina. I’ll have a lot of my work on display (as much as I can fit in my display space), and I’d love to meet you!

I’ll probably also be stitching on the smaller versions of the sheep and chicken that I painted on fabric last week. I plan to be there most of the time, unless I’ve made a mad dash for food or the bathroom, so come and see me. There will be more than 200 quilts — traditional, contemporary, and art quilts – on display.

Sail Into Quilting 2013
August 16 and 17, 2013 (Friday and Saturday)
9 am to 5 pm
Talbert Recreation Center
210 Talbert Pointe Drive, Mooresville, NC 28115

More than 200 quilts on display
Raffle Quilt
Gift Shoppe
Door Prizes 

Directions: Take I-77 to Exit 36. Go east on NC 150 for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto Talbert Road and go 0.5 miles. Continue on Talbert Point Drive for 0.4 miles. Talbert Recreation Center is at the end of the road on the right. (If you have lived in the area for a while, you may know this location; it is the former building of The Gym Company.)

Susan Lenz

Although born and raised in the Midwest, Susan Lenz has always traveled, spending much time in Austria, England, and Italy. These experiences have been translated into a love of textiles, textures, and cultural diversity. Susan's now lives in Columbia, South Carolina and has both a home studio for 3D sculptural and installation work, and a fiber art studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.

She has studied under several internationally renowned fiber artists and been juried into numerous national and international exhibits. Susan’s work has been featured in solo shows all over the United States. She has been awarded four art residencies, several Best of Show ribbons, and has had work featured on television and in print.
Generally using needle and thread for self-expression, Susan works to articulate the accumulated memory inherent in discarded things. She seeks a partnership with her materials, their purposes, values, and familiar associations. Memory, universal mortality, and personal legacy are central themes. Vintage and recycled materials are combined with meticulous handwork. Susan is drawn to textiles for their tactile qualities and often makes work that is meant to touch and be touched.


  Alyah (2012) 25" x 19"

Anonymous (2011) 49" x 47"

 Handed Down (2011) 47" x 44"

  My Bluegrass Roots I (detail) (2012) 45.5" x 35"

  Skirt! Is a Rebel (2012) Framed:  28" x 18"

Stained Glass XXVII (2013) Framed:  64" x 24"

The Canopy (2012) 12' x 10' x 18'