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'

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Zealand chickens

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I have been working on a series of small wholecloth painted pieces based on a photo I took of a chicken in New Zealand (where chickens are often called “chooks.”) This is #2, painted and stitched. The three I have completed are nearly identical except for differences in their background colors, which are all different shades of green. They are all about 7" square.

I am really liking these small pieces, and plan to do some more small ones based on photos I took of sheep! After that, I might do a big version of this chook.

Here are some detail shots:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pet Postcards for Houston

I've had fun making some postcards for the Pet Postcards fund raiser at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this November.    Here are 10 that will be winging their way to Houston soon.    For more info on this fund raiser and how you can participate, see

Saturday, June 22, 2013

AAQI Auction for July

One of my pieces is in the July auction to support Alzheimer's research via the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)!    

Hoedown #14,243 

To bid on this and other wonderful pieces, please go to

Friday, June 7, 2013

Se?alvage Update: SAQA Auction Piece

In my last post, I asked for advice on a quilt that I was making for the 2013 SAQA Auction.

If you read the post you may recall that I showed two images of the unfinished piece:

One with no added elements...

unfinished piece with no added elements

and a second, with two strips of red fabric.

unfinished piece with added elements

At the time, I was trying to figure out whether the piece needed additional fabric to balance out the dark areas surrounding the "selvage fabric."  And I was also thinking about names for the quilt.

So first, a big thank you to all who responded (on or off the blog).

As far as your's the scoop:
  • Almost everyone encouraged me to add something to the piece. 
  • Many liked the idea of the red in some form or another;  although some thought the red, as pictured above, was too heavy (I'd call it "clunky"). 
  • A couple of folks suggested using black strips either on the sides or at the edge of the selvage "fabric;"  a very interesting idea --- and one I'm likely to try if I do another version.
  • The majority of folks liked the 3rd name choice:  Se?alvaged.  
          One comment that particularly struck me came from Susan Lenz who made an extremely helpful observation about naming quilts that provides some very interesting food for thought.  Here's a   portion of her comment:
  • "...I have no real opinion on how to best finish the piece but I do have an opinion on the title. I'd recommend NONE of them. Why? Because you will not be able to save a digital file with any of these titles. Most photo programs cannot accommodate the slashes or the question mark. I know. I titled an installation "I Do / I Don't" and had to use a different title "I Do and I Don't" for the images. Although this might not sound like a "big deal", for those who spend time on selecting a perfect title and are really into words/text and the relationship between title and artwork, it is an unfortunate problem that the images cannot be saved by the selected name...." 
          The potential difficulties of adding special characters (slashes, question marks, etc.) had never occurred to me.  Definitely something to keep in mind.  (A sidenote:  I probably would have heeded Susan's advice had out-of-town travel and a tight schedule not forced me to send off the piece pronto). 

I finally did decide to add some elements to the quilt --- in the form of several strips of red fabric - a bit more delicate, I hope, than the two clunkier ones that were originally pictured.  Here's the finished piece (sent just in time to meet the SAQA deadline and with hopes that someone will enjoy it enough to give it a good home):   


 Thanks for your input!



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Selvages, a SAQA Auction Piece, and a question (or two)

Note:  For those who may want to skip to the questions(s)...just scroll down to the end of the post!

Okay, so lately I've been playing with selvages...or selvedges if you come from across the pond. 

I started out with a simple plan: 

Take a piece of fabric and cut off the selvage along with a bit of the adjacent fabric (so we're talking about a strip anywhere from .75 to 1.5 inches wide).

Use a piece of muslin as a backing and then line up the selvages side by side -- placing the finished edge of each selvage over the cut edge of its selvage neighbor and then zig-zag the finished edges down to make a "selvage fabric."

close-up of overlapping selvage pieces zig-zagged onto backing fabric


Some "selvage" fabric

  The "selvage fabric" made some pretty good pin cushion tops....

Fun, but then I wanted to try something different...

So I took the selvages and laid them out in a less organized manner, to form a funkier selvage look:

A little "funky" selvage fabric

 And from there, I began cutting up the funky selvage fabric and piecing it with some non-selvage material:

The result is that some of the pieced selvages have become the basis for my 12"x 12" 2013 SAQA Auction quilt.  

But here's the question:

At this point, the unbound quilt looks like this:

Sample 1:  no added elements
 It's quilted and I'll be adding a faced finish.  So essentially, except for a little trimming (perhaps a 1/4 inch for the seam allowance on the facing), the piece is as above.

 But I'm wondering if there's too much empty space on the left and right sides.  Perhaps adding a touch of red would make a difference...maybe something along these lines:  

Sample 2:  red additions
I'd love to hear if you have a preference...or any feedback for that matter.

I have a few ideas for a title too.  Maybe:


If you'd like to weigh in on that...feel free to do so!  Your comments will be much appreciated --- and I'll update you on the decision.