Kept Alive by the Pouring of the Moonlight*

I’ve been listening this morning to Sue Bleiweiss, one of the organizers of Threads of Resistance, talk on the Just Wanna Quilt podcast run by Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard about the Threads of Resistance exhibit and the reactions at the Texas and North Carolina shows…very interesting to hear. Sue says something during the podcast about why we (sometimes controversial) art quilters do what we do…basically, we have something to say and we want people to hear/see it…to have those of a like mind have a place to feel validated and maybe motivated to make change or art in response, but also to have those who disagree see other viewpoints. I know I surround myself with people who think a lot like I do about politics, and it’s not a bad thing to hear other viewpoints. Hearing them doesn’t make me necessarily believe in them, but I think the conversation is important. To have a group like the Artist Circle Alliance put this show together and find venues and create and print a beautiful catalog is an amazing thing. I’m one person who mostly sits in her house and doesn’t talk to humans in person and makes art for hours on end…and I fully appreciate all the work they’ve done to make this show happen so my voice and others can be heard.

So when people demand that the show be canceled or they boycott an event where many other things are hung and vendors are selling stuff, solely because of one piece of the show that they object to, it is a way to silence those voices…to shut down parts of the country that have valid opinions and beliefs. I understand, for example, not wanting to be part of the Women’s March because you don’t agree with what it stands for…I don’t understand trying to shut the march down so no one can voice their thoughts. The United States has a history of shutting down certain groups, of not listening, and I had hoped we were moving into more open communication in the last 10 years, but it seems all those thoughts and feelings will not be allowed. That is unfortunate. It’s not what’s best for the country. As a teacher, I always have to consider the child, each one of them, and decide what is best for my students…as a whole and as 150 or so individuals. It’s difficult. No, sometimes it’s a rancid pain in the ass. I do it anyway, because it’s right. Same here. We need to allow discussion, expose misconceptions, shine light on some of these thoughts in order to come together. It doesn’t mean we have to agree…although agreeing on some basic human rights would be nice. If you just shut down discussion, though, no change can happen.

Anyway…it’s hot here in Southern California…not as hot as it will be tomorrow, but hot nonetheless. Heat waves in July…no climate change, yeah? Right. This was me and Kitten for a good chunk of yesterday…resizing pictures (Kitten is useless at this)…

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Watching videos about installing portable air conditioners (still useless, Kitten)…

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I’m debating this thing…it’s huge in here, but it does cool the room off. But it’s gigantic and loud and this isn’t a big room and I have to have the door closed and then the animals can’t come in and I’m not sure if I like it or not and I don’t know whether to keep it.

Sigh. The air conditioner is causing me stress.

Last night, I cut stuff out for over 4 hours…Puppy came and went. There’s a fan to the left of him, so I have to place the box appropriately so all my bits of Wonder Under trash don’t fly all over the room.

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I changed to a bigger box. I knew I had to be up early to deal with tree guys, so I went to bed…well…not really very early, honestly. Oh well. If I’d stayed up another 30 minutes, I would have finished the Wonder Under cutting extravaganza.

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‘Twas not to be. Many people (OK, only two) thought my scissors were onion rings. Now I’m hungry for onion rings. I’ve never made onion rings before.

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Nope. Just my beat-up old scissors. Seriously, they are puppy-chewed. But they are the best for this. No drag, comfortable for hours of cutting. Strange, I know, considering their non-paddedness.

This is all I had left…about half a yard.

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I finished this morning before 8 AM. Ugh. I don’t like before 8 AM. That was 12 hours and 20 minutes total of cutting…on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Well and 23 minutes on Tuesday morning. Not bad.

Here are the trees in question. Not the best picture. I have two giant ficus trees right next to the house, and as they have grown and grown and grown, they now pose some branchy issues for the next storm. Yes, I am dreaming of storms.

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A view from the backyard…over the house. They are a bit rampant. And the bougainvillea has grown into them. I have lots of trees. I love trees. I’m hoping this guy is good and not a lollipoper. I hate when they lollipop trees.

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Because I’ll use his business again if he’s good.

Anyway, now I’m ready to sort Wonder Under into 19 bins by number. But that’s the eastern side of the house and it is currently in full sun. So maybe I’m in here typing and then cleaning up and trying to decide about this damn beast of a cooling machine. I think an in-wall unit makes more sense, but that isn’t happening any time soon, is it? Nope. It’s not. Aargh. Heat makes me a little crazy, I have to admit.

There’s the bins, waiting for the sun to hit its zenith. Plus I have to take Calli to the vet this morning. It’s gonna take a good 2 hours to sort those.

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So sometime this afternoon for that, ironing by the evening, I’m hoping. I need a background (hoping I already have that too). Cleaning for now. Oh. And I have a copyediting job that just popped up. Ah timing.


I Hope They Didn’t Get Your Mind*

Kitten! It’s really hard for me to type when your head is on the keyboard!

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Apparently I didn’t pay enough attention to her yesterday, because she is very very close to me. Honestly, a little TOO close if you ask me. I have very demanding animals. Simba just wandered in here looking for girlchild, but she’s not here right now. He did his soft demand bark, which usually means he needs to go out…but no…what he wants is for me to locate girlchild and bring her back to him.

So today is a big day for my art…two pieces opened today in Threads of Resistance at the New England Quilt Museum. Both of mine are behind the beige curtain…

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Here are Work in Progress and Absolutely Nothing hanging with My Body, My Rules by Sue Bleiweiss.

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The show is traveling through the end of 2018…you should check it out.

The next cool thing is my Nida Powers opening tonight and artist talk tomorrow, all a little nerve-wracking for the introvert in me, but I will survive.

Meanwhile, the garage…here’s the before picture. You can’t tell from here, but the pile of crap in the middle is as big as a large SUV. Chaos reigned here…

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We’re still not done (you can’t see the driveway here), but the pile in the middle is gone…most of what’s there is school stuff that needs review or delivery to school, a bed that will be sold or junked, and some art I’m trying to decide how to store.

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We took over 10 bags to the thrift shop yesterday, the haz waste appointment is set up for next weekend, and the e-waste that’s on the right side is going today. Then CraigsList for the rest (or a junk pickup if we have to). I could screenprint in here again if I wanted to. I could probably get a car in here if I needed to (not right this second, but when I get done). Boychild has been an incredible help. It’s a real relief to have this done.

Now I need to do a similar task in my bedroom.

Girlchild just pets dogs. She’s not home for long, so we’re OK with that.

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She did go to Ikea with me yesterday to find fabric for my new classroom bulletin boards. I needed one piece of fabric for each unit…so I picked the cheapest stuff…

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Except for one I really really liked. Should be fun…very graphic stuff.

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We did dinner and ice cream out (I never get ice cream)…and then came home and I cut stuff out for three hours…Simba was overjoyed!

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Not really. Eventually Kitten came and sat with me (she really needs attention some days)…

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At close to 12:30, I had this much left to cut out. That’s another hour at least, so I quit.

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Too bad. I really wanted it all done yesterday. Didn’t happen. It might today.

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I need to shower, do the e-waste…debate another opening that is in the middle of the day (ugh), make sure I make it to my own opening…but otherwise, I might have time to sit and cut some stuff out. And then sort it. So when I do get back from the mountains, I’ll have fabric and stuff ready to go. Crap. That probably means I need to clean the studio too. Aack. Sigh. OK. List done.

This has been the last two weeks…I clean the garage and I make art and I try to fit all the other crap in around it. It’s not ideal, but I am getting shit done, and that’s always my goal in the summer.

*Milky Chance, Stolen Dance

Reviewing IQF Houston 2013

Yes, I took pictures. I’m never very logical about it. Sometimes I take pictures because the piece speaks to me…sometimes it’s because I want to complain about it. I try to stay away from the latter, but there are a couple in here. I don’t take a whole lot of traditional quilt photos, mostly because I find them boring. I suspect there are traditional quilters who walk right past the art quilts in the same way. So this is Kathy’s highly selective (I take fewer photos when I’m tired!) reconstruction of maybe 1/32nd of the International Quilt Festival at Houston, 2013, remembering that she had already seen West Coast Wonders and the Dinner @8 exhibit in Long Beach, and somehow she missed the placemats completely…I SAW them…I just didn’t have the mental energy to photograph any of them. My bad. But since most of you don’t come here for my quilt-show reporting, I’m not going to worry too much about my lame-ass reporting style.

Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry (sweetie, it’s too many names…I get why you’re keeping all of them, I really do, but please…maybe just calling yourself Caryl would be good) has created a series of thirty 30-inch-square pieces that celebrate her thirty years of quiltmaking, referencing her past work, themes, etc., and using her fabric collections to complete them.

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So. Here’s what I think. First of all, the more power to her. She has a strong body of work that is well-liked by many, the exhibit already has 8 venues it’s traveling to, and she definitely has the technical ability to be showcased like this. I liked being able to look closely at her insane stitching…

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(Electric Ellipses #2)

Especially in the more cellular-looking pieces and the two beach sand pieces.

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(Casting a Long Shadow #2)

That said…why redo ideas from the last 30 years? I don’t get it? I know it might be hard to put a retrospective together if a lot of your work has sold, and I do get what you’re saying about the exhibit being pulled together by all of them being the same size, but…eh. Make New Work. Put some old work in the show. I don’t understand. It was popular, though, so apparently I am in the minority. I want to see new work, though. You have a new life…how will that change your art?

Bodil Gardner had at least 4 pieces in Houston…with two in the SAQA: People and Portraits exhibit with mine. I’ve always liked her work…it’s quirky and graphic and slightly off, but Martha Sielman mentioned something in the People and Portraits Walk and Talk that I’d never really thought about…her work is inordinately cheery. There’s never a sad moment. It’s just nice and joyful and chaotic and happy (unlike my own work).

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This is Santa Lucia and that is one BIG and happy spiral-eared dog. Maybe I need to channel some Bodil. Maybe she’d let me come stay with her for a while. One of the pieces in the People and Portraits exhibit had a large central female figure, like her pieces (and mine) often do, and there was a coffee cup balanced on her shoulder, like I often do. Sielman said that Gardner says it refers to how women often share a cup of coffee (or tea) together as part of their socializing, and that if she were doing men, she would probably do a beer stein instead.

Another featured artist in People and Portraits is Sonia Bardella, whose faces have a particular quality to them.

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This is Venice’s Carnival, which takes place near where she lives.

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The best part is the detail she puts into the clothing in contrast to the skillfully painted faces.

Dianne Firth made four elements pieces for an exhibit, with Wind currently showing with the traveling Quilt National exhibit. This is Fire

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Which, like Wind, is much more stunning and vibrant in person…and was based on the volcanic eruptions in Iceland in 2010.

Betty Busby curated an exhibit of quilts called A Walk in the Wild, a SAQA exhibit of artists from New Mexico. Below is Busby’s piece, Desert Fox.

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All the pieces were similar sizes…this is Where Earth and Sky Meet by Susan Szajer.

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Her work deserved a detail shot…there are even tiny beads in there…

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This one…Eight Ravens by Judith Roderick…was one of my favorite quilts in the show.

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Her silk-painting technique adds a lot of interest and depth to her pieces, which have that graphic quality that I love, coming out of the printmaking world.

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And the subject matter of the ravens is also a favorite. This piece glowed in person.

There were two dinosaur pieces by Shannon Conley that I liked…S Is for #4 is below…

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Coelophysus bauri is the dino depicted in both quilts, apparently was thought to be a cannibal until recently. In the quilt above, Conley shows him in his Triassic-era habitat, with S Is for #3 below showing him in modern-day New Mexico.

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Conley is a scientist who put real teeth on that first quilt…hopefully not valuable fossils (naw, they’re polymer clay). Here’s a link to her posts about these quilts.

Kathy York is one of my favorite brightly colored artists…you’ll notice I photographed lots of bright-colored quilts (a dream? hope? wish?). I posted York’s video of populating this quilt, Park Place, a while ago…

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You can see it here on her blog post where she writes about making this quilt…

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This is Stella in Yellow by Joanell Connolly.

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Stella is the dog in the raincoat, rescued from the animal shelter. I love the contrast and the pattern, with the pitiful-looking dog off to the side.

Both Stella and this one were part of a pet exhibit, It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, bringing awareness to saving animal lives. This is One Cat, Two Cat by Laura Bisagna.

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Bisagna had been feeding a stray gray cat, and every day it would come out and eat, then go behind the house, and seemingly come out and eat again…until she realized there were two gray cats.

This piece was deceptively simple-looking until you studied it up close. This is Winter by Laurie Weiner.

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The piece is whole-cloth, hand-dyed, and trapunto, but the quilting is what drew me to it…

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Intense pattern and texture makes up this piece. I saw a lot of this close, patterned quilting and I’m always attracted to it, which is amusing, because I so don’t quilt like that…but it’s true that type of quilting would not lend itself to the images I create…so I am happy to admire it in other people’s work (and call them insane behind their backs…while they say the same about me and my 2000-piece quilts).

The sky drew me to this piece…In the Bleak Midwinter by Ruth Powers.

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Being a Southern Californian, we rarely see winter landscapes such as these.

I always like to show Tanya Brown what pieces hers are hanging with…so there’s Under the Gingko Tree

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featuring her painted whole-cloth work and crazy tiny stitching…

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As well as her boy actually standing still…a minor miracle in itself.

This one drew me to it with all the crazy detail…It’s a Crazy Life by Gail Thomas.

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Gail’s own beautiful, long white hair was used to quilt this piece as she recovered from health issues…

Her painting on the fabric is very colorful and detailed.

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This piece drew my eye because of parts of it…overall, I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I liked the faces. This is You Are Here by Victoria Findlay Wolfe

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The people are from digital photos manipulated in Photoshop and printed on fabric.

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It’s an interesting use of a traditional pattern with modern tones to it…I’m not sure I like the whole thing (the silver lamé really bugs me), but I liked those parts.

This quilt had lots of funky details in it…and I kinda like how it’s just all globbed together…

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And the use of pattern in the fabrics is really interesting too…

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This is Japanese Calendar by Fumi Kido. The Japanese do often have a certain feel to their quilts…

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I’m not sure what that’s about…because they often use American patterns, and it STILL feels Japanese to me. This one has a different appeal to me, though…very stylized but with those details.

I do hail from an applique background…and this one was beautifully done. This is Four Loons and Friends by Patricia Sellinger.

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The symmetry and design in this quilt are stunning…and she embellished the birds with beads as well.

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This is an original design.

I liked this one because of the flame-like blobs wandering across the design. This is May Your Burdens Be Light by Kazuko Covington. This is an original design using New York Beauty blocks, made after the tsunami that destroyed her hometown.

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Those blobs now look like tsunami waves…

This one won best of show…Chihuly’s Gondola by Melissa Sobotka. That’s $10,000, people. It’s a beautiful quilt, but it is from a photograph of Chihuly’s installation in Texas from a few years back.

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So tell me this…is there a difference in the art applied between Sobotka’s copy of another artist’s work (is this a Sobotka or a Chihuly?) and the Jane Sassaman (original design) below? I think yes…but I wasn’t a juror in this show (and probably never will be invited to be one either). I think Chihuly deserves a healthy percentage of the prize.

This is Jane Sassaman’s Illinois Album, also an award winner, but in my eyes, a much more deserving one.

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You decide.

Another Bodil Gardner happy piece, this is I Arise from Dreams

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Sheila Frampton-Cooper had two of her graphic, colorful pieces in the show…this is Lair of the Amethyst Deva

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I see legs…Sheila’s another tight, detailed quilter, which suits her big, bold, abstract work.

Nearby was another somewhat controversial piece…yes, it’s abstract; yes, it’s colorful, even pretty…Roses in the Window by Carol Morrissey. On the surface, an original design from a photograph she took…but how did she get all those circles? Is it the same place my mom gets her circles? Where is her hand in this quilt?

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Does what equipment we use to create a piece make it more art or less art? You’ll notice I have no pictures of quilts with digitized photos where the artist has printed it out full size and just stitched over it. I need to see the artist’s hand in the work…I need to see what they’ve changed or made their own. Feel free to BE a photographer (there was a great photography show at IQF), but if you’re going to put it on fabric, make sure there is a purpose to that. Why fabric? Why not just print a photograph on paper and frame it and be done with it? It’s something to think about…

Another Kathy York…this is You Are What You Eat

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Speaking of having your hand in your artwork, York made the batik flowers herself.

This piece…I still need this one explained. The graphic nature explains why I like it, but there is some weird stuff going on in this quilt. This is Alice’s Kitchen (obviously Alice in Wonderland) by Miki Murakami…I love that this is so NOT typically Japanese.

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All she says is that this is how she imagined a kitchen in Alice’s story, even though there wasn’t one. I think I want to talk to this woman.

Sue Bleiweiss makes wonderfully graphic and deceptively simple pieces. This is Tutti Frutti City.

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This one intrigued me…it was just plain weird, yet cool. This is The Birders by Suzanne Marshall, an original design inspired by a 1565 manuscript…ahhh…there’s why it’s weird.

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I’ve taken pictures of her work before…liking the weird medieval qualities to her work…

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Just look at that unhappy face.

This one caught my eye because I couldn’t (at first) figure out what it was…I thought maybe it was leaky tubes of paint. Silly me…it’s just Oregon Buoys by Jane Haworth.

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I like my idea better…but I guess it caught my eye. Chaos and color.

Another Frampton-Cooper piece, this is Venus in the Garden, named by her sister, who saw Venus Flytraps (I see an angry parrot…that wouldn’t be a nice name though).

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This one had a stunning use of color…this is Antelope Canyon by Kimberly Lacy.

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And another winner, Tuning Fork #11 by Heather Pregger.

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It’s a very graphic piece…she does lots of pieces like this, though. I wonder about that. I guess it’s a different challenge to work abstractly with the same shapes than to do what I do. (It would drive me bonkers though!)

OK, so there were all these cow quilts…something to do with a book. I liked this one because?

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Come on. Guess. OK. It’s a cow skelly. How can you not love a cow skelly? Actually, I was walking past this part of the exhibit when someone pointed to the earrings on the cow and said, “Honestly, some of these quilts you cannot use as a QUILT!” Oh my. No ma’am, you can’t (she wasn’t old…younger by far than I am). So. There you have it. It’s a MooSkellyNotQuilt. Actually, it’s Dia de los MOOertos by Patricia Ward.

This one…it’s cute. It’s tiny. It’s beautifully made. It’s a prize winner. This is Masanobu Miyama’s Wind, a picture of the artist’s dog.

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The statement talks about an original microfused applique technique. I do not know what this is, although micro means small and those pieces are freakin’ small (I should know).

This one caught my eye because of the fabrics…in the US, we are so into our cotton and occasionally a silk or two…this piece, The Berlin Bear by Marjan van der Heijden, was made completely with leftovers…

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That were stitched together sort of haphazardly, but in a beautiful way…

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Truly amazing use of fabric.

This Japanese landscape is so Japanese because of the taupe, but the imagery is so American…I wonder what the Japanese countryside actually looks like and why this appeals to them. This piece is A Place to Long For, by Aiko Yokoyama.

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The fabric and design is beautiful…I just wonder why it’s so appealing.

So that’s my take on IQF 2013…there were probably quilts I didn’t photograph just because I was tired or in a mood (I was in a mood a lot), so don’t take it badly if yours isn’t here…mine is just one set of slightly jaded, tired, and miserable eyes among 60,000 viewers. I do know that I will miss IQF coming to Long Beach, California, because it was cheap and easy to get to, and I don’t think I’ll be going to Houston again for a good, long while, but I did enjoy some of the quilts quite a bit. I’ll talk more about the experience in general at another time. I do provide artist’s links when I can easily find them and confirm that they belong to the artist. If your work is here and you have a link you’d like me to use, please let me know.