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.




Friday, May 10, 2013

Fun Shoes!

I blogged, a while back on my series of shoe envy, cheaper than a pair of Jimmy Choo's and no worries about aching arches. 

Well shoe envy returns...this time in the form of a small commission.  I had some pieces hung at a local art show when a woman approached me with an idea:  her granddaughter, Janessa, had just purchased her first pair of honest-to-goodness-really-high-heels for a family wedding.  She wanted to surprise Janessa with a memento of that first step (literally) as an "adult."

It sounded like a fun challenge...

We started off with some photos from the wedding (helpful, but not enough detail)

The Wedding Shoes

And then we enlisted "Dad" to surreptitiously go to his daughter's closet (cell phone in hand) and capture a close-up...

Wedding Shoe Close-up...notice the netted cut-outs

Much better, but a little bit more complicated than the standard shoe envy piece...

Instead of 3 or 4 solid pieces of fabric mounted onto a 4"x4" background, this involved 7 pieces (6 are pictured below) with multiple cut-outs in some, and a couple of non-traditional materials...netting and a stretchy, sparkly fabric to be exact).   

Pattern for Shoe Envy Pieces

Once the pattern pieces were designed, the shoe came together more easily than I had anticipated: 
- trace the pattern pieces onto fusible
- apply the fusible to the fabrics and cut out the pieces
- iron the pieces onto the background lavender fabric - one of the Janessa's favorite colors (a stiletto definitely helped to ease the small pieces into place)
- stitch away (small zig-zag appliqué)
- match the multicolored sparkles on the original shoe by using a permanent marker (micron pen in green, red, and blue) on some of the fabric's silvery sparkles (you may be able to see the slight color variation on the close-up photos).

Heel Close-up

Toe Close-up

Put in a frame --- here's the completed project....

Janessa's First Heels
 I have to say that although I'm satisfied with the piece, the bigger pleasure was in having the chance to help grandmom and granddaughter celebrate a special coming-of-age moment.

Wishing Janessa and her family many more of these special events....



Thursday, May 9, 2013

“First Snow” to be in Exquisite Moments exhibition

“First Snow” (2013) by Susan Brubaker Knapp

Susan Brubaker Knapp here. I completed “First Snow” in late March, but was not able to share it with you until now, because the exhibition curators – Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal of Dinner At Eight Artists – wanted to keep the theme and pieces a secret until the exhibition was decided  and announced. I love the theme of this exhibition: “Exquisite Moments.” Leslie and Jamie explained it this way:

Consider the following: 
The unfurling of a flower. 
A hummingbird in flight.  
A magical moment shared with a lover or friend. 
The birth of a child. A personal milestone.  
The realization of a dream.  
A treasured memory.  
The sacred moments of the ordinary.  
These are the Exquisite Moments that make us who we are.

I’m lucky; I’ve have had a lot of Exquisite Moments in my life. It was hard to choose. But I’ve been wanting to make a piece that was about snow, and about my kids. We don’t get very much snow here in North Carolina (compared to my childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). I remembered all the times I played with my girls in the snow, and especially about the very first snows of the season, which are even more magical than the others. I went back and found these photos of them trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues. I think this was about 2003 or 2004:

Working from these photos, I changed the positions of the bodies so that they fit better in the very tight vertical format (24" x 60") needed for the exhibition. I used my fusible applique method (described in my book, Point, Click, Quilt! Turn Your Photos into Fabulous Fabric Art) but fused everything down to stabilizer (Pellon 910 interfacing). I also changed the colors and simplified the jackets so that they were bright, solid colors:

Pencil marks on the faces (above and below) give me guidelines when I paint.

I painted the faces with acrylic paint (my favorite, ProFab Transparent Textile Paint by ProChemical & Dye), then cut out the figures. I worried a bit that the blush on their cheeks was too strong, but it really was that red in the photographs. They had been out in the cold, windy air for a while. 

Then I thread sketched the figures, adding details.
With the bodies completed, it was time to position them on the background. I had planned to use this darker blue fabric for the background, because the snowflakes would really show up on it. But it turned out to be too dark and vibrant a hue. It didnt look anything like a sky, especially a daytime, cloudy winter sky capable of producing snowflakes. And because the value was as strong as the red of the jacket, the figures didn’t stand out as much as I wanted.

I found a lighter, grayer blue background I liked better, then tested the position of the snowflakes by placing the snowflake sketches on top of the piece. My goal was to get a nice smooth swirl from the top left into the area near Julia’s mouth.
Once I had the snowflakes where I liked them, I put them behind the background fabric and traced them with a white chalk pencil, then put some stabilizer behind them and thread sketched the snowflakes. I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 50, a perfect weight to get these fine details. Of course, my cat Wicked had to take a nap on the piece when I left it to grab lunch one day. It wouldn’t be my work without a little cat hair on it!
After I had completed all the thread sketching on the snowflakes, I decided that they weren't standing out enough against the background. This is something I had worried about when I decided to use the lighter background. So I went back and added some metallic white/silver paint in some spots on them. 
The piece was coming together, but the swirl of snowflakes still wasn't standing out enough.
Lea’s jeans were also a problem. See how they completely blend in to the fabric in the lower right corner? I’d used the same blue fabric as the background when I was planning to use the darker fabric for the background.
I added lots of little dots of paint around the snowflakes. I thought it needed them to better define the swirl, and add a bit of sparkle and magic to the snow. I also darkened Lea’s jeans:

Now it was time to quilt! I layered the quilt top with backing and a batting I’ve never used before, Dream Wool by Quilters Dream Batting. I like using wool batting for large pieces I have to ship to exhibitions, because wool has more of a “memory” and bounces back after it has been folded better than cotton. I was very pleased with it, and found that it gave this piece a little more texture than some of my pieces I’ve done with cotton batting (request and select loft) by Quilters Dream.

Detail from “First Snow” (2013)  by Susan Brubaker Knapp

Detail from “First Snow” (2013)  by Susan Brubaker Knapp
The 33-piece exhibition “An Exquisite Moment” will be displayed at International Quilt Festival – Long Beach (Aug. 1-4; sponsored by Moore’s Sewing Centers) and International Quilt Festival – Houston (Oct. 31- Nov 3; sponsored by Havel’s Scissors).

Frances Holliday Alford; A Moment of Passion
Sue Bleiweiss; The Hummingbird
Deborah Boschert; Glimpse
Paula Chung; Ancient Jupiter
Gerrie Congdon; XXOO
Cindy Cooksey; Grocery Shopping with Sammy
Diane Doran; California Dreaming

Jamie Fingal
Sheila Frampton-Cooper; Ode to Lavandula
Diane Hock; Serenity
Stacy Hurt; Lift

Leslie Tucker Jenison
Lyric Kinard; Bach Suite
Susan King; The Visitor
Pamela Klebaum; Stitching, Interrupted
Sherry Kleinman; Waiting Expectantly
Susan Brubaker Knapp; First Snow
Jane LaFazio; Havana
Susie Monday; One, All One
Jeannie P. Moore; The Ring
Jayne Larson; Rainbow:  A Moment of Reflection
Rachel Parris:  Ordinary Day (pictured above)
Judy Coates Perez; Fear of Flying
Yvonne Porcella; The Power of Yellow
Wen Redmond; Birds Eye View
Karen Rips; Fiji
Carolyn Ryan; Shattered
Cheryl Sleboda; Geschwindigkeit (Speed)
Sarah Ann Smith; Listen to the Song in the Night
Virginia Spiegel; Golden World
Cynthia St. Charles; Winter Walk II
Terry Waldron; Water Dance
Kathy York; Balance