29 November 2010


This past week I read posts on two blogs denigrating "certain kinds" of art quilts. I don't understand what compels people to snip at other people's art unless it is low or shaky self esteem. I commented in what I regarded as a thoughtful way to both posters and found neither of them "approved" of my comments so they never showed up in their comment section. One person even wrote that they wanted to hear what others had to say yet when my comment challenger her beliefs, it seemed to go into the cyber-trash.
I don't understand the "Us" and "Them" attitude that is pervading our country and many others. In my comments (now lost in cyberspace) I said something like, "Why can't we all just play nice?" and "This "us" and "them" attitude is tearing our country apart.
I am NOT the judge of the art world nor do I want to be. Just because I don't like certain types of art doesn't mean I have to denigrate it or say is is silly and sappy. There is room in this big world for all types of quilters, potters, metal workers, painters, designers.....
I prefer to find the good in someones hard work. I have found that the top art quilters I have met or had any contact with were all embracing, non-judgmental, and encouraging. If we were all the same , how boring the world would be.
Let's just play nice.

21 November 2010

SAQA email

The jurying is done! No Holds Barred!

The news we have all been waiting for!

Here is the list of Artists whose work has been juried into the "No Holds Barred" Exhibition opening January 20, 2011 at the New England Quilt Museum.

Drum Roll Please !i!i!

Beth Berman
Katya Bessmertnaya
Ann Brauer
Nancy Crasco
Linda B. Dunn
Mary E. Durda
Beverly Fine
Sandy Gregg
Carol Anne Grotrian
Rosemary Hoffenberg
Janice M. Jones
Denise Linet
Jeanne Marklin
Valerie Maser-Flanagan
Wen Redmond
Norma Schlager
Rosalind Spann
Bobbie Sullivan

A huge thanks to all who participated, supported, encouraged, ran errands, picked up supplies, and stayed up late keeping all who worked tirelessly and were able to make the deadline. There is so much that goes on in the background that folks miss but is not going unsung here today. Again thank you all who went for it. Results…There were 115 quilts entered by fifty two artists. Our artists reside in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
We had a note worthy group of seasoned professionals who participated in the jurying. As the process went from beginning to end of the submissions - numerous times, a harmony of works began to form. While the process was everything I hoped for regrettably all entries could not be juried in.
There are plans being worked out right now to produce a catalog. Watch for exciting news and the special way we plan to acknowledge all our artists. We are all excited and pleased with the way this exhibit is coming together. We hope that you will be able to attend the Opening Reception on Saturday, January 29, 2011. Watch for News from the NEQM about all the events that will take place during the exhibit. Come out and see your works in the museum. Come out and support your fellow SAQA members.

Warmest Regards,
Valarie Poitier

16 November 2010

a wanna be

I had a brainstorm that I wanted to do a batik portrait. Great idea that was lost in the execution. I saw it going downhill but kept going thinking, "Who knows. It might come out OK." I was mistaken yet again. For the process pledge: I used a pattern on freezer paper. As I did a section, I waxed (soy) the section last painted. Very complicated. I think I would have better results if I used the freezer paper as a stencil. Think I'll call it good and work on something else.


15 November 2010

I've gotten juried in

Yes, it's true. I have been juried in to the No Holds Barred exhibit at the New England Quilt Museum. I'm so excited my feet still haven't touched the floor. Part of the deal is that my piece can never have been seen online, on blogs or websites nor in any other show so you won't be seeing my piece here either until the exhibit is over. However I will include a description of the piece:
                             FALL  18W X 30L
On a linen ground: a strong vertical and horizontal made with torn strips of hand dyed (tray dyed) blue and brown fabric woven at their intersection, sari yarn in a switch back configuration indicating downward movement with vertical and horizontal bands of leaves made from magazine images attached to organza with mat medium and a silk screen of a beech leaf.

14 November 2010

Most fabulous design wall

I was just reading Judi Hurwitt's blog post about finally creating her design wall in her studio. I was going to make a comment when I thought, "Why not share your comment with the entire 1 or 2 people who actually read your blog?" So here is my comment on Judi's design wall.

I REALLY wanted a design wall in my studio but I am on the second floor and I only have 4' walls; the rest being slanted ceilings albeit with fabulous skylights. Sigh! Well, I just happened to be reading Pamela Allen's Blog and what do I see but her "Ikea design wall" made from a clothing rack on wheels. "I have a rack like that in pieces in my barn", says I. So I proceeded to get some styrofoam  panels and do pretty much was Judi did but then placed them back to back with the rack in the center like a sandwich and taped in place with duct tape. I cover with batting and heavy weight white flannel (no need for pins most of the time). I finally found a spot to park it and it can be rolled out for photographing quilts or near or far to see the impact of my design while in process.
An added bonus: It's two sided.

This is the wall in situ. It's parked next to my drying rack in the office section of my studio.

Rolled out from wall showing it's two faced nature!

Detail showing sloppy but highly functional construction. I have to add that one of the pieces on styrofoam panel was a scrap I found on the second floor of my barn so there isn't uniformity of size. However my thrifty Maine yankee nature just wouldn't permit buying two panels when I had a perfectly good but odd sized one at hand. It works. Thank you Pam and Judi.

13 November 2010

Looky, Looky, Looky

I have finished the "robins egg blue" shirt and I love it.

The brown dye ended up olive green, along with the purple final dye, and the combo is my favorite color combination.  
You can almost see the iridescence.  

These are details of the other shirt that was tray dyed. I think you just need to see the shirt in person to appreciate the nuances of color. On me it looks like a bunch of blotchy colors.

And now for the fun toys:
             NOW.... think quilt.........................................YEAH!

12 November 2010

the FIVE at play

Well. We had another playdate thanks to Veterans Day - Judith could come!! First, the big news our 50 yards of silk charmeuse came today with other play things from the west coast (Dharma).

Now all I have to do is measure and cut this 50 yards into 10 yard pieces.

During our play date, Marcella from Rockland came and brought me a surprise gift of two shirts from her wonderful store, Mace's, in downtown Rockland (Maine). I buy all my hippie shirts from her and they are known as my summer "uniform". She brought me a pale yellow shirt which I tray dyed with blue, turquoise, green and brown. You can't tell from the picture but it looks like an oil slick (in a good way). It's almost iridescent looking. VERY nice. Thank you Marcella.

 She also brought a robins egg blue shirt which I decided to batik with dye - much more traditional than my painted batiks. It is unbelieveable. I applied the wax with a tool that I think looks like a baked potato. Then I over dyed it in khaki. Please don't groan until you see the final outcome.

This is the blue shirt with khaki dye and the next wax applied with a rectangular sponge. See the dark shapes?
Judith did a black gradation which we read about on Melody Johnson's blog. You can check Judith's blog for her pics. Here are a few of mine:

I also dyed some embroidery floss and I also bought a gilded feather wreath which is fabulous so I MUST share!

I LOVE my playmates!

09 November 2010

The Adventure Begins...and then we set it on fire!

Starting this January, a group of fiber artists from around the country have started a technique driven blog called "And the we set it on fire". The button is on my blog. We are hoping to get many people involved in this learning process, trying the techniques we are doing that month themselves and putting the results on their personal blogs. You can simply try the technique or make a completed piece of art using the technique. The point of the blog is fun and learning. Please check it out and what the heck, give it a try. If it doesn't come out that well, you can always...set it on fire!

04 November 2010


As you probably surmised from my last post I am loving this batik technique so I decided to do a tutorial.

Things you will need:
towel, large flat surface with plastic or newspapers on it, lots of newspapers, iron, water supply, electric frying pan (dedicated to art), soy wax, fabric paints, things that make mark like potato masher, cut out sponge shapes, egg beater, cardboard tubes, paint brush or soft sponge, fabric to batik.

I used a purchased 19mm silk charmeuse scarf 8X54. Iron it first like I didn't. Start the electric frying pan and add soy wax - flakes not a solid chunk. I set the thermostat at about 150-160degrees F. Soy wax melts at a very low temp and washes out of fabric with a simple hot wash (more about this later). I wouldn't use nor recommend any other form of wax.

I covered my work surface (a 2'X4' home made ironing board with 6 mil poly film and a heavy old towel. Kiss the towel goodbye.

I made this ironing/silk screening/monoprinting surface out of a 2'X4' piece of 3/8" plywood from Home Depot. Cost about $8. I covered it with felt and 2 layers of warm and natural batting and a medium weight muslin fabric secured with a staple gun. I set it on collapsible horses ($12.) This surface is the BEST tool I use and I can collapse it in 30 seconds if needed.

I used a potato masher (they come in many shapes so get a variety) and set the end in the hot wax for about 30 seconds to heat the metal, shook off excess wax and applied in a pattern to the white silk.

Next I used some fabric paint that I thinned with water. You just need to try it yourself, get a feel for the consistency you like best. I started with paler colors since I would be adding 3 colors on top of each other. I applied the first (for me the lightest) color using the small square of soft sponge and put the scarf on a drying rack to dry in front of a fan.

Of course I didn't take a picture of just one layer of paint because I was so excited about what I was doing that I rushed through the entire process. I did use the rack and fan for each step so just take my word for it.
Above, you can see the potato masher imprint. The first color paint was light lavender. Dry completely between applications of wax and paint. I used this rack. The next tool I used was an egg beater and a metal bit from a lamp I threw away after scavenging any interesting parts that would make shapes!

After this wax was applied, I sponged on fuchsia paint which over the lavender looked purply pink.

Then after this was dry I applied wax with a car washing sponge from which the center was removed. My last color was a vibrant purple alternated with a metallic dark blue (Probrite) paint. I allowed this to dry on the rack in front of the fan until it was completely dry. What I haven't mentioned was at the same time I was making this scarf, I was making another on the other side of the towel so that I could continue to work on one scarf while the other one was drying. Here are the two scarves finished and drying on the rack before wax removal.

When both were dry, I took them over to my conventional ironing board, covered with newspapers, laid down the scarf, covered with more newspapers and began removing the wax from the completed projects using the iron set on cotton and a few (3-4) layers of newspaper to absorb the wax. I pressed the scarf about 3 times with clean newspapers each time to absorb as much wax as possible. This will heat set the paint.

I filled a plastic basin with HOT water and a bit of synthapol (actually Prosapol) and swished it about  using soft tongs to get the last remaining bits of wax out. I let it dry on the rack and ironed.

My babies drying.

 This is much better looking in real life. It started to storm here and I lost the light. Above is habotai.
 Both of these are silk charmeuse which I really love for it's softness, drape and strength.

Very thin Habotai.
I hope you are as excited about trying this method of batiking as I was when my friend and fellow art quilter, Kathy Molatch , showed it to the "5" which is the name of our artist group. If you have any questions or I was unclear about something please let me know so I can make corrections or an addendum  to this tutorial.
Now that I have done batiking in my our home, I have had to clean up those towel which I will no longer use for anything but art. I tried to iron out as much wax as possible between sheets of newspaper. I took the towels to the kitchen and filled a bucket with straight hot water from the tap and dish soap. I placed the towels one at a time into the bucket and let them soak until I felt the wax had melted. I rung them out as well as possible and popped them into a full length machine wash with HOT water and detergent. They are in the dryer now back to their original softness. No waxy residue in the washer (yeah!) They are also wonderfully colored from the painting process. Back at the bucket, the wax seems to have clung to the sides of the bucket. I think some could be scraped off with a spatula or flat scrapper. I ran HOT water down the sides of the bucket and used a pot scrubber pad with dish soap to remove the last bits which were pretty substantial. I probably should have used my flat scrapper first. Next time - live and learn. At least doing this process keeps the towels out of the landfill and in my studio. The reasons I use soy wax are because it is benign to the environment (pouring out on the grass or poured down the drain after dissolution with soap), melting at such a low point and the ease with which it is removed from fiber.
Another suggestion: Get LOTS of newspapers in advance. It's amazing how many sheets of paper it takes to remove the wax. Iron silk on the silk setting but the wax can be removed by ironing with newspapers on cotton.

I have a few new pieces to show from our Saturday play date.

Batiked Linen. VERY absorbent. Must remember this next time I am choosing fabric. I used lots of wax, not so much paint but the color didn't completely go through to the other side.

 Photo "enhanced" in photoshop so that the colors were more vivid. The Habotai is NOT as pale as the images below. Actually this was a lovely piece of silk.

This is the photo I should have had for the tutorial. I'll see if I can add it. In this image, I have added wax with the potato masher over the yellow paint (color retained) then added blue which appeared more turquoise.

Finally, my towel is all its painted and waxed glory. It should be coming out of the dryer now into it's new incarnation.