Michigan Guest Bloggers: Sabra Danks

Michigan Sabra Danks lives in the Genesee County area, and though we haven’t yet met, we were introduced by a mutual friend and talked via computer. It only seemed natural to ask her to be a part of the Michigan Guest Bloggers!

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I’ve never written a blog before, I’m not sure I’ve ever read one, but when Caron invited me to write, I couldn’t resist. So as with any good quilt I decided to start with inspiration. I remember being 4 years old and riding the city bus with my 9 year old sister all away across Flint to my grandmother’s house to spend the night on a roll-away bed and be covered by a simple quilt. I would trace my finger from square to square until I found a match. I guess it was an old version of I Spy. I’ve never tried to duplicate that simple quilt, but I find it comforts my soul, just as today’s quilts comfort my body.

I lean towards art quilts. I prefer machine appliqué, probably because I’ve never learned how to hand appliqué. I love using as many different fabrics as I can in my quilts. When I learned how to string quilt in the Sunshine quiltearly ‘80s I bought all the yellow and white fabrics I could find and created a simple baby quilt of the sun. Little did I know that soon after making that small quilt I would receive a diagnosis that prevents me from going into the sun. I hung the quilt above my bed and could feel the warmth of the sun. As my illness continued, I gave away my fabrics, stopped sewing and felt – well, you know.

After years, I began to re-evaluate my need to sew. I could be successful, even if I could only work for 10 minutes a day instead of the hours and hours I had done in the past. Having lost the ability to enjoy the long summer days at the lake, I decided to make a tribute quilt for my parents who worked so hard to provide for me. I drew up some Are We There Yetsummer memories and created a photo album quilt called “Are We There Yet?” I’d never seen a quilt like that, and felt it was quite unique. I used free motion quilting on the forest green sashing in a fir tree pattern to quilt the piece.

I’ve discovered that my best pieces span time blue enviornment color wheel quiltand nature. They include all the seasons, or day and night. The inspiration for the color wheel quilt was to provide a “teaching tool” within the gift. It has a different environment for each color. Throughout the ocean are a variety of hand-drawn/dyed fish. I like curves. So I thought I would try curved piecing. I bought “Curves in Motion” by Judy B. Dale, read it, and jumped into my own design without practicing. I struggled, but created a small piece, added wide borders and had a baby quilt “Catch a Falling Star” It’s one of my favorite quilts. Catch a Falling Star-1

Most recently, I completed “Adventure.” The inspiration came with my comment of, ”This will be an Adventure,” upon seeing the ultrasound photo of my soon-to-be grandson. Our small family has been all girls–a boy, what an adventure! From a child’s perspective I began looking at Adventurewhat an adventure would be and where it would take place. I asked the family what they felt would be an adventure and I incorporated those into the quilt, thus King Kong lives! Suddenly, I had fallen into my four seasons. Someday, I’ll learn to draw to scale before I start. But some of the fabrics just took over and said they would not be cut (Fabric talks, right?).

Section ofJoyeous TreasuresA few years ago, I won Observer’s Choice at the Planetarium Quilt show. The Quilt, “Joyous Treasures” was for my granddaughter. I wanted to make an I Spy quilt with 5” squares. Each square would contain an appliqué. My daughter suggested that I use a back-ground color to match the environment of the appliqué, blue background for the fish, and starry fabric for the moon. What happened was a watercolor technique background from the sky to underground, from mountain, streams and trees, from sunrise to the night sky, from a meadow to a pond. Then if you look closer, you will see the appliqué, and a closer look still will show detailed stitching. Around the border I used free-motion embroidery to write the name of all 70 objects. Additionally I wrote a 3 page poem about the objects in the quilt. I’m slowly writing a book utilizing the poem and including simple instructions and patterns. It’s the copyright process (I don’t know how) and the fact that I never make patterns that is slowing me down.

Pinwheel on design board 3 This year I hope to complete “Wayward winds.” I’m not a traditional quilter, but I have been working on a pinwheel quilt for the last seven years. Currently it has 98 four-block pinwheels completed. I made about 12 of each ½ square triangle out coordinating fabrics. I used all colors and prints. I’m looking for that childhood memory of scanning the quilt for a matching fabric. I call it my unemployment quilt because that’s when I started it. Luckily, I found employment and now have very limited time to finish it. I have my 5 year old granddaughter helping to lay out the squares so no two alike touch each other (get ‘em while they’re young). She can’t wait to lay out the 8” squares next.

Like “Adventure”, inspiration is everywhere. Thank you Caron for letting me ramble. I guess I’ll go sew something now or work on my book.

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IRENE LATHAM, Author

Irene Latham is the author of the new book “Leaving Gee’s Bend.”

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=240505&lc1=141489&t=familyeducati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=0399251790

Set in 1932 and inspired by the rich quilting history of Gee’s bend, Alabama, LEAVING GEE’S BEND is a heart-touching tale of a young girl’s unexpected adventure.

Irene has a blog… check it out!

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Aniko Feher

 Michigan

I have been impressed with Aniko Feher’s work since I first saw it several years ago.  I tried to get her to teach up in the Flint area, but couldn’t work that out.  We’ve kept in touch via email, and I’ve watched her talents develop. How excited I was to find that she is doing a lecture for the Davison Evening Star Quilters on March 31, 2009!  See for yourself… 

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Aniko2 What an honor it is to be invited to be Caron’s guest writer.

Mine is not an unusual story now days.  I used to work for Ford Motor Company as a Model maker.

When the auto industry went into a nose dive, I lost my job. I was shocked! I was certain that if there was only two jobs left at Ford it would be me and Allan Mulally. Than God Allan is doing OK, but I had to find a new way to earn a living; not an easy task when you are 55 and have always worked in automotive design.Aniko1

  I took stock of myself and decided that the only other thing I was really good at was doing faces on quilts. What used to be a hobby suddenly became a new business.

I started to do lectures and did classes at a local quilt shop. Most people were interested in two kinds of classes: either turning their own photo into a quilt or learning the technique of making a raw edge applique portrait based on my own pattern. People who didn’t get into my class kept asking me to sell them the pattern. I kept insisting that the pattern was not enough, you need the explanation of how to do it. After a lot of people kept asking, and it finally dawned on me that there might be an opportunity in this. I only needed to figure out how patterns are written. Because I always did my own designs, I never bought patterns before. Some of my quilting friends loaned me their patterns so I could “check out the competition”. I was shocked, again: these patterns were complicated and downright confusing. Of the 20 patterns I read through, I only liked and understood 2. That’s a 90% waste of money. I was determined to do a better job at pattern writing.

Aniko3I already had the pattern of the face of a young girl I was teaching, and now I had to write it up clearly, combining it with some of the teaching aids I have developed for my classes. I did many rewrites before sending a prototype to some brave testers. They criticized every little detail and demanded even more illustration and more clarity. It seems to be a never ending story. Finally, after several weeks of work I had my first pattern done. I couldn’t have done it without my testers.

A single pattern is like an orphaned child with no one to play with. I quickly jumped back into the frying pan and created 2 more patterns; I call them my Let’s Face It Series.

I have Nadiia, a face of a young girl; Kitty, a cute little kitten trying to catch a butterfly, and Puppy Love, a beagle puppy looking rather guilty.

I am very proud of these patterns. They are well written and illustrated every step of the way. I kept the patterns and the instructions very simple. No artistic abilities are required; if you can cut and trace, you can do it. I also left enough wiggle room for quilters to put their own creativity into it.

To quote the Kitty’s cover: “It is important to follow instructions, but it is also important to use your own creativity and make this project your own. Let’s face it, not all kittens look alike. When you are done, your Kitty will remind you of one you know and love”.

I am still waiting to hear from all my Puppy testers before I will put all three patterns out for sale on my web site at www.quiltsbyaniko.com. Until then, please come and take a look at my quilts, I think you will enjoy them.

Quilting Toys for Cats

  My mom has a friend who quilts. Her friend didn’t use to like dogs, but she liked cats. Then for some reason, she brought one of THOSE into her house. Those big, barking things. I’m not comfortable around THEM. My mom and dad used to have THOSE: Elbrus, Maestro and Gretzky. Now they are smart and they have me instead.

DSC03246THOSE guys aren’t meant to live in a quilter’s house. Cats are. Quilters have stuff cats like. To start with, they have quilts. Who ever saw one of THOSE curled up pretty on a quilt?

DSC03247My mom has stuff she uses to make quilts. She doesn’t like me playing with it though, so she usually puts it in a boxy basket. But even when it’s closed, I can see inside if I look hard enough. She puts MY TOYS in there, and I can see them! So at night when she’s sleeping, I get them out.

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My favorite things are tucked in the top part.  She thinks I can’t get them out.   It’s easy!  (Please don’t tell!) My favorite one you might not be able to see cuz you can see right through it.  Mom uses it with the pen thingy to write on quilts.  I didn’t think you were supposed to do that.  She tells Jacob all the time not to get by the quilt with pen thingys!   I carry those all around the house and hide them from Mom, especially under the DSC03256couch. I also like the string stuff.  Mom wraps them up on little pieces of cardboard.  I like to pull the cardboard out.  She gets mad, but it’s prettier when you can see more of it.  DSC03257There’s other stuff in the box, but I haven’t figured out what it is or how it works.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.  DSC03259

 

Stormie

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Carol Drudy

Michigan is divided into two parts: the lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. If you’re from Michigan, you know that we call people from the U.P. “Youppers.” We sometimes refer to people in the lower peninsula “Trolls,” because they live “under the bridge.” That is, the Mackinac Bridge. Our next Michigan quilt blogger comes from the Grand Rapids area towards the west side of the lower peninsula. Welcome Caroll Drudy!

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ARE YOU A JOYFUL QUILTER?

When Caron asked me to become a guest blogger, I was flattered and thrilled. What a wonderful place to write about the things that excite me! I’m hoping this post will excite you too and encourage you to become a joyful quilter.

What are your quilting fears? When I first started quilting, color was my greatest fear. Consequently, I stuck to using only 30s fabrics. They all went together. No agonizing over did this go with that. I stuck my toe out of the box (so to speak) when I participated in a Sampler Class at the Attic Window Quilt Shop.

The fabrics we received each month were bold and bright. That didn’t scare me. After all, I wasn’t choosing the fabrics. At the end of the year when I finished making this colorful quilt, I was hooked. Working with color gave me joy.

Can you find the mystery? Recently when Deb Karasik of Quilt Maven talked before the West Michigan Quilt Guild, she said that she started quilting during a time of stress. I think all quilters turn to this when the outside world starts to close in. The mindless piecing process can be soothing. There are stressful days when I need this kind of piecing. I call it Zen quilting or zoning out. However, most of us quilters also put aside those pieces in order to start a new project. Mary Lou Weidman says that there are so many UFOs because quilters lose the mystery in their quilts. I know this is true for me. I want to be thrilled, excited, and mystified making my quilt from beginning to end. Combining UFOs can give you that sense of mystery. I had several orphan blocks made out of 30s fabrics on my design wall. I didn’t know what else to do with them. You know the theory, out of sight out of mind. One day when working on another quilt with bright colored fabrics, I placed a large block on the design wall, and went to get coffee. When I came back into my sewing room I looked at the design wall, and it hit me: those blocks all look nice together. Thus, another mystery was born and I created a quilt using the 30’s blocks and the block with bright fabrics. My heart sang with joy.

Do you have the courage to create? Mary Anne Radmacher said, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.” Courage allows you to move forward. Why beat yourself up because you don’t like a technique. You can find another one that suits you better. For instance, I’ve noticed a lot of people use foundation when string piecing. I didn’t know you should do that and never have. My method has allowed me to take little pieces of discarded fabric and “make fabric.” Knowing I’ve been frugal gives me such joy. Just because others do it one way, does not mean your way is not correct. Another example, my method of appliqué here is slightly different from most quilters. It works for me and that’s what counts.


Do you give yourself permission to play? Angela Monet said, “Those who danced were thought insane by those who could not hear the music.” I often wonder if my children think I am insane. They cannot hear the music that I hear when I’m creating a quilt. Do you hear the music when you quilt? You do not have to be an artist to step out of your box and do something that is different, that is joyful. Someone once told me that Art quilts were just a bunch of embellishments tossed on a background and called art. I understand that no one likes everything called art, but so what. Do you like everything everyone does? Of course not. So take the plunge. Give yourself permission to play. One day I was watching Quilting Arts on TV and saw a demo that I thought I’d try. I rather liked what I did, but didn’t know what to do with it from there. I figured, what the heck just go for it. So I fused on a fish (which is against my nature because I don’t like raw edges) and am now attaching beads and other embellishments. So what if no one likes it. I’ve had fun, and given myself permission to play.

In the book, Rose of Sharon by the American Quilter’s Society, Jane Wells of Fort Wayne Indiana says, “Quilting is a gift I give myself.” Give yourself a gift today. Become a joyful quilter.

Thank you Caron for letting me share my thoughts on your blog. It’s been a delight!

Michigan Guest Bloggers: Joe Cunningham

I’ve known Joe Cunningham since the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. Though he no longer lives nearby, Joe grew up in the Flint, Michigan area. Now living in sunny California with his wife and two sons, Joe is more active than ever before with the world of quilting. I was thrilled when he quickly agreed to be a part of the Michigan Guest Bloggers on Michigan Quilts! Please visit his website and have a look around. He has numerous lectures and workshops, should your guild or organization be interested.

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A couple weeks ago my friend Roderick Kiracofe was showing some of his wacky antique quilts at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, an afternoon lecture, and he asked me to help hold up the quilts while he spoke. It was a pleasure, of course, but what I did not know was that we were going to be in front of the largest quilt I have seen for a while, a big quilt. It was coordinated by Allison Smith, an artist who is doing a residency at the museum right now and creating lots of cool, community oriented stuff. The quilt was based on an early Quaker quilt, and was made by a group of 35 people. Pretty amazing stuff. You can read about her here: http://www.sfmoma.org/events/series/1325

About a week later I was in South Carolina and doing my one-man quilt musical show, “Joe the Quilter,” when I mentioned that I would rather see some old quilts than see a new quilt shop. So my hostess Vickie Perry arranged to take me out to the country to visit her mother Margaret’s quilting group, The Saluda County Quilters. They were quite excited to have a visitor from California, so they had created a huge pot-luck lunch with several casseroles, several salads, turkey and stuffing, chocolate cake, sweet potato pie, tea and bread and on and on. Oh, it was great. Anyway, after lunch we looked at a bunch of quilts and I showed them how I quilt in a frame like they use. Here are some of my new friends:

I loved this string four patch quilt, a sort of scrap Indian Hatchet quilt. Lots of wonderful quilts in South Carolina.

Happy Quilting,
Joe Cunningham
www.joethequilter.com