Textile Artist, Quilter, Designer
Silk Painting Workshop
I teach a hands-on workshop in silk painting. In the course of this workshop, the student learns to design patterns using gutta resist and Jacquard silk paints; to mix dyes; use salt, alcohol and water for special effects; and how to correct mistakes. This is a great class for a Retreat or Guild Workshop, because it opens a whole new world for quilters. After this class, one is able to design and dye blouses, scarves, or quilt blocks to order - and create ANY COLOR you want! Silk is not expensive when ordered through dye houses like Dharma - usually around $5.00/yard for China silk and $10 - $12/yard for silk charmeuse. One can also purchase scarves, kimonos, camisoles, ties, and other articles of clothing ready to dye, with hems and seams already in them - so you only have to do the fun part.
The cost of the class is $500.00 for a 6-hour workshop for up to 20 people, plus a kit fee for the silk painting kit which includes four colors of dye, resist, a painting brush, applicator and tip and pieces of two types of silk to paint on. (The kit has enough dye for several projects.) Students will learn how to mix colors, shade, design and paint the pattern of their choice.
Two Poems - by Popular Request
by Linda S. Schmidt
Your path leads where I cannot follow.
You must dream your own dreams,
Find your own answers and
Follow the starpath into your own possibilities.
I cannot know what lies ahead of you, so remember -
“The important thing is to carry the sun and moon and stars inside of you at every moment,
Against the darkness.”
Reach for love, reach for life, question everything.
May you live in joy and wonder, and
Never doubt that you are loved.
by Gloria Evanick Ferguson (my sister)
Lives evolve in patterns
intermixing dark and light,
calico and solid times,
faded prints and bright.
Sometimes we choose the pattern
but we very often find
a crazy quilt
where we had planned a
geometric, safe design.
Holding front to back for me
and all that’s in between
is love of family and friends
like stitches, barely seen
that thread the blocks together
that heighten and define
all that makes this work unique,
all that makes it mine.
Mornings, as I make my bed,
putting wrinkles all away
I greet the most familiar blocks -
I know you! Yesterday
you were the blouse my sister made,
and you my brother’s vest
and there is Grandma’s apron
and here my daughter’s dress. . . .
By night, I rest and feel its warmth,
knowing there will be
more of darkness and of light,
patterns yet to see
until it’s time to rest again
safe within the folds
of the quilt made by my mother’s hands
that keeps me from the cold.
Essay of the Month –The Dancing Bear
There’s an old proverb that goes something like this: “The wonder is not that the dancing bear dances well, it is that the bear dances at all.”
Sometimes I wonder about us, all of us quilters; we’re the dancing bear, and we’re not just trying to do country dances any more, we’re trying to do the minuet and the tango. We’re tackling incredibly difficult projects, but still trying to follow the rules of what makes a quilt a good one, to meet our own expectations, or the expectations of others.
Take this quilt I just finished, for example. It is 96” x105” with a painted and appliquéd person with tiny, tiny, fingers, hand embroidered silk ribbon wisteria, invisibly machine appliquéd bushes, hand appliquéd flowers, 3-D butterflies and leaves with hand buttonhole stitched edges, and an incredibly complicated, pieced, 18” trellis border on point. Now, not only do all the stitches have to be perfect, the quilting even and well-designed, the borders straight and the design well executed, but it all has to lay absolutely flat and straight and have perfectly mitered bindings, and have all the loose threads cut off, besides.
I just spent three days checking for flaws, cutting off loose ends, pinning it to my living room rug and steaming the whole thing flat. If you think I’m whining, you’re right, and it’s my own fault for making this crazy thing in the first place; but if I can do it, if I can make all the stitches as close to perfection as possible and make this impossibly complex quilt lie flat and straight, I will have triumphed over my environment. I will have won, and shown the Universe that the dancing bear CAN do the tango.
It’s as unreasonable to expect the dancing bear to perform the minuet as to expect contemporary quilts to comply with the old rules. We should be able to just ignore them, and to some extent we have begun to do this. Machine quilting is perfectly acceptable; raw edges, loose threads and wrinkles are “texture,” not incompetence; and almost anything goes in the “art quilt” category; but even so, many of the old rules still apply, in our heart of hearts. For me, even though I do a lot of things in my quilts that the prairie woman would shake her head at, my quilts must hang flat and straight, they must exhibit evidence of effort, the points must be sharp and the edges finished. It would be so much easier if I didn’t feel compelled to make this incredibly complicated piece comply with the old rules, but for me, it’s not going to happen. Those rules are ingrained in my very being, and I think I know why.
The basic rules of quilting, I think (and this is my own, totally irrational theory, not based on any historical fact), were made by women on the prairies as a self-protection mechanism. A woman on the prairies had no control over her environment. She could not control the Indians or the grass fires or the locusts, and she could not even get clean on a regular basis. She could not access Weather Scan on the Internet, she couldn’t call AAA when the wagon broke down, or Webvan and have groceries delivered. She was out there in a lonely wilderness, often completely helpless; therefore, she had to have something to cling to, something to give her the illusion that she had control over her environment.
I think that that is when the ¼” seam was invented, when it became absolutely imperative that the corners meet precisely and that triangles must have sharp points. That is when that whole set of rules was created, writing the tune that the dancing bear is still trying to dance to, today. If you have control over small things, it must follow that you have control over large things, mustn’t it? I can almost see that prairie woman, in her little covered wagon, trying to thread a needle while going over cowpies and boulders; or huddling in a dugout with a tornado swirling overhead, trying to piece a nine patch; or trying to make her last piece of fabric stretch far enough to finish the littlest one’s comforter by the light of one candle. You can see her, can’t you? No? Well, I guess it’s just me.
Seriously, don’t you think that’s where the rules came from in the first place? I do. In fact, when my husband lost his job and my income was all that was keeping us in our house, I did exactly the same thing. I’m a contemporary art quilter. I don’t do nine-patches and I don’t do triangles; but that’s what I did for a solid month. I made tiny nine-patch blocks and pinwheels to prove to myself and the world that I was in charge (of course, I didn’t realize that was why, at the time). I was solid, and I could handle it, and I could make every corner meet and every piece exactly ½” square, and no one was going to tell ME that I wasn’t in control. It was a complete illusion, of course, but it was MY illusion, wasn’t it? I know exactly where those pioneer ladies were coming from.
Yes, the rules are changing. It has become acceptable to make your quilts as wild and crazy as you like, to have chopped-off points and threads dangling and sometimes no binding at all; but when you’ve come to the end of the road, when you’ve hit a wall and can’t get over, where do you turn? Do you turn to the wild and crazy new quilts, or to the soft old quilts that wrap you up in bits from your sister’s dresses and your mother’s apron, the quilts where all the points are sharp and all the stitches are tiny and even, and all the corners are absolutely square?
No matter what we’d like to believe, we’re still not in charge of our environment. Car crashes and earthquakes and tornadoes and broken dishes and spilt milk happen. There will be some sorrow and pain in your life, and there’s not a blessed thing you can do to stop it. That’s the way life is, and sometimes the only thing you can do to keep yourself together is to prove to yourself that you do have control over at least some aspects of your life; that you can attempt the impossible and succeed. That’s why I continue to try to make my contemporary quilts fit at least some of the old rules; why I put myself through the agony of having my work judged; why I keep trying to get my dancing bear to do the minuet.
Care to dance?
Just for Fun
Houston - 2003 Tiara Parade with friends: