Where Do You Go for Inspiration?

If you are a dedicated quilter, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.  If you’re new to quilting, these are also great ideas for you!

You work on a quilt for months, and after awhile, you feel a need for a change.  Perhaps you’re tired of the colors, the fabric, the shapes in the quilt, the repetitive stitching… and on and on.

You need a change, but you’re not sure what you want to do.  You need some inspiration!

Here are some steps you can take to get your creative juices flowing again.

  • Get out your quilt books and magazines, pour your favorite beverage, put on some good music, and flip through the lot.
  • Visit your nearest quilt shop and look around.  I find it most inspirational if I plan to NOT buy fabric when I’m in a funk.  By not committing myself to new fabric, I keep my options open for future quilting.  And then there’s that guild factor if you DO purchase fabric… let’s stay clear of that right now.
  • Visit a quilt shop that is NEW to you!  This is an exploration trip.  Find a list of quilt shops in your state or within a 50 mile radius, pick one, hop in the car and away you go!
  • Go to your local library and hit the quilt book shelf.  There’s bound to be one!  You may have some of the same books, but chances are that there are books there you have not seen before.  Grab them, find a good spot to read, and get to it.
  • While you are at the library, look at books in the art and drawing section.  There are often many great patterns and ideas there!
  • Visit a good bookstore and find the Adult Coloring book area.  Coloring books for adults is becoming all the rage now, and you wouldn’t believe the great designs you will find!
  • Need to stay home?  Get out some paper (not graph paper, but typing (printer) paper, plain white.  Get a few good pencils out, a ruler, a compass, and just start sketching and doodling.  Let your mind wander.  Try shapes, geometric patterns, trees, flowers, etc.
  • Visit a quilt show that has a variety of quilts entered.  Take a small notebook with you.  Try to hang out and explore quilts that are in styles you normally would not be interested in.  Look at the design, the color, the stitching.  Ask yourself why you wouldn’t make something like that.  What would prevent you from making an attempt?  Jot down your thoughts.  Here, you are expanding your options.
  • Sit down at your computer and find some great websites for editing photography.  Play with them!  One site I like is http://www.picmonkey.com/ . Use photos of your quilting (you DO take photos of your quilts, don’t you?) and play with them online.  Here’s one I did awhile ago.  I love it!  It uses my Ocean Waves quilt in a different way.


You don’t have to stay in a funk.  There are lots of things you can do to expand your horizons and feed your creativity.

Go for it!

Do you have other ideas?  Share them with others by leaving a comment!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Charles Caleb Colton, an English writer who was born in 1780 and died in 1832, said,

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”


As a young girl, I watched the high school teenager across the street as she walked to and from the school bus.  The way she walked, held her books in her arm, and swung her hips made me want to be just like her.  I can remember very clearly trying to emulate that walk as I went up the hill to my elementary bus stop.  I’m quite sure I wasn’t able to acquire the same grace and coolness, but oh, how I tried!

If you use Facebook, you know how common it is to see great paintings used and abused to create cute and funny images to share with your friends.  Perhaps you have copied an image from Google Images yourself and added clever sayings to it.  You would not be alone.  How many of us stop to consider the original artist when we do that? An artist’s talent doesn’t develop overnight.  It begins when he or she is born.  The nurturing given by the child’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone in that child’s life has much to do with the creation of that little being.  The child grows and is exposed to the beauty around… teachers, religious leaders, nature, art exhibits, and everything in the world that the child comes into contact with all play a part in the development of that child. 

Perhaps, as the child grows, s/he longs to BE an artist.  S/he works hard to develop even more talent through classes, trial and error, practice and years of focused instruction.  Eventually, hopefully, s/he will create a work of art that is cherished and admired by millions.

Until one day, a novice comes along and steals it.  Not physically, but graphically, an individual with little to no talent takes that image, alters it or recreates it, and makes it their own.  A replica, sloppy at best, as nothing can come close to the perfection of the original. 

Does this horrify you?

Now imagine the artist is a fiber artist.  A quilter.  We’ll say, a HAND quilter, just so we can all imagine the quilter sitting and stitching for years on one single quilt.  Let’s re-imagine the scenario above.  The quilt artist’s quilt (that took years to physically create, and a lifetime to achieve) hangs in an exhibit.  Along comes a less-than-experienced quilter who falls in love with it, takes multiple photos from a distance and then up close, and scurries off to find matching or similar fabrics. This quilter then goes home, studies the photos carefully, and either attempts to draft her own pattern to create the quilt, OR…

contacts the quilt artist and asks how s/he made the original, and could s/he send the pattern so it can be replicated.

Let that sink in.

Is that right?  Of COURSE not!  Patterns that have been passed from one quilter to the next for generations – traditional quilt patterns – are expected to be replicated.  But not something that is an original.  That is not imitation.  That is stealing. Not stealing the original item itself, but stealing that which the artist/quilter has worked on for a very long time.  Stealing his or her ideas.  Colors.  Layout.  It’s just not right.  And yet, it goes on today more than you know. 




Before you attend your next BIG quilt show, remind yourself of why you are going.  Hopefully, you are going to admire the work of other quilters for what it is… an accumulation of who they are as individuals from their birth to now.  Please don’t try and take a part of who they are home with you.  But be impressed, or not… and then DO go home, DO pick up your needle and thread, and use what YOU have become and create your own masterpiece.  You can do it!

Goodbye, Vivian

The quilt world has lost a wonderful quilter. I will miss Vivian… her quilts were beautiful, and she was a sweet, delightful person. I remember fondly sharing numerous lunches at Vivian’s home. She was a great hostess, and a charming person.

From Mlive:

GOTTLIEB, Vivian Sosna – Of Brentwood, CA (formerly of Ann Arbor) passed away peacefully on November 8, 2009. Born August 20, 1930, Vivian was a gifted artist and poet, devoted wife, loving mother, dedicated homemaker, wonderful cook, and loyal and supportive friend to many. Vivian loved movies, reading The New Yorker magazine, collecting bride and groom figurines, and most of all, spending time with her family, sharing delicious meals, telling family stories and jokes, and enjoying the pleasure that her husband, children and grandchildren gave her. Vivian was born in Winnetka IL and graduated with honors with a BFA in painting from the University of Michigan in 1952. That fall she married Norman Gottlieb of Detroit and they moved to Flint MI upon his graduation from U-M Law School. They raised their family in Flint, where Vivian began a career in quilt and textile artistry. Her quilts won many awards and were featured in anthologies and shows across the country. She was active in the Flint Institute of Arts and served as a docent there. Vivian and Norman retired to Ann Arbor in 1992, where Vivian was active in the cultural community. She was a strong supporter of the U-M School of Music, Theatre and Dance and regularly enjoyed Ann Arbor’s many fine musical offerings. In recent years she and Norman relocated to southern California to be near their youngest grandchildren. She is survived by her husband, Norman Gottlieb; children Siri Gottlieb and Lisa Gottlieb (Jeff McCabe) of Ann Arbor; Mia Gottlieb (David Atkinson) of Tokyo, Japan; and son Sam Gottlieb (Rosalind Robinson) of Santa Monica CA; grandchildren Aaron Wilhelm (Alya Kashper Wilhelm) of New York City; Maisie Wilhelm of Denver CO; Zoey Clark and Nevon Clark of Ann Arbor; Evelyn Atkinson of Cambridge MA; Norah Atkinson of Seattle WA; Max Atkinson of Tokyo, Japan; and Nicholas Gottlieb and Chloe Gottlieb of Santa Monica CA. She was thrilled to welcome her first great-grandchild, Zina Wilhelm of New York City, into the world in October. Vivian and Norman recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. Vivian was deeply loved by her family and friends, and will be profoundly missed. A private memorial for Vivian was held at a favorite spot of hers on the beach at Point Dume in Malibu CA.


Keep the Arts Alive!

With the economy in a slump and unemployment rates climbing around the United States, it is no wonder those in the art field are struggling. From purchasing from the independent artist to buying tickets to the symphony or to the opera, fewer people have money to dedicate to such pleasure.

An article in the Chicago Tribune discusses the demise of the art gallery in the Windy City. The New York Times reported back in June that over twenty galleries had closed…

The question remains:
What can we do to invigorate the arts and keep them alive?

How can I love the arts? Let me show you the ways.

  1. Put a work of art in the window of every business in your town.
  2. You’re going to buy gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays anyway. Treat them to a show in a town nearby, or make your gift something you have bought from an artist or gallery.
  3. Support the arts in person. Attend local art fairs, gallery shows, and museums.
  4. Encourage your child’s teacher to take the class on a field trip to the museum and teach about artists from all walks of live.
  5. Encourage your local school district to keep the arts alive by providing classes in art, music and drama.
  6. If your child… or someone you know shows potential, encourage that child by providing lessons.
  7. Help expand this list. Post your ideas in the comments section below. Remember, QUILTS ARE ART!


How do you become an artist?

You explore, you create, you experiment, practice, look at the work of others, read, talk to other artists, and practice some more. One important element of becoming a professional is learning from the best. Many people take classes from random “experts” as they come through town or appear at special events like quilt shows, and that is all good and well. But what is really needed is an opportunity to study under someone who has proven talent in their field. There is nothing like studying under a mentor who is not afraid to speak his or her mind, will guide you through your best and worst work, share their experiences and help connect you to the right people who can help you grow.

Interlochen If you want to grow as an artist, there are special places you can go to learn from the best. School-age students can learn in Northern Michigan (U.S.A.) at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Interlochen has a summer arts camp as well as an academy for high school students. I can speak for the summer camp – My summers in 1972 and 73 were phenomenal experiences that will never be forgotten. I remember famous musicians coming to perform and staying for days to work one-on-one with students. Imagine sitting in your practice room slaving over a piano concerto only to have Van Cliburn walk in and sit on your bench! Or Yo Yo Ma walking in with his cello! Interlochen Academy produces some of the most talented people in every aspect of the arts. Have you heard of these people? The singer Jewel is one of many. See a list of famous alumni here.

Leslie Giammanco, Singer New York City offers a vast array of talented instructors. If you are a singer, check out Leslie Giammanco (also an Interlochen Alumni). Leslie is at the top in vocal music, having performed on Broadway and all around the country. Whether you are high school age or a seasoned adult, Ms. Giammanco is one of the best. Check her out!

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine is a fabulous arts school in a gorgeous setting. Designed for the adult student, Haystack provides instruction in a wide variety of media and an opportunity to get away to a beautiful studio setting where you can immerse yourself in your art. Leave the world behind for a few weeks and just dive in!

If you have never taken an in-depth workshop with a fabulous instructor, think ahead to your future. Make plans for the upcoming year to improve yourself and your skills There is a great list of art workshop links here.

It is not too early to start planning for 2010.
Make that be the year you expand your artistic ability! Plan ahead!



The Artful Home

I love this website so much, I felt the compulsion to share it with you. The Artful Home is a collection of artists who produce some FANTASTIC art for your home. Everything from glassware to furniture to… QUILTS! My goal is to one day have quilts on their site for sale. Check out some of the prices of their wall quilts. Amazing.

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On a Roll!

I’ve been a busy girl the past few days! I completed four more little Dear Jane blocks, and I’m so excited! That means I’ve done 26 blocks, 6 border triangles and 1 corner, for a whopping total of 512 pieces sewn. WoooooHooooo! One happy gal here, incase you couldn’t tell.

  • I also want to share a link with you that is non-quilt related, but certainly worth visiting. Barbara Carson is a sculptor who has some very amazing pieces on her website. Please check it out and be prepared to smile! Barbara lives near the University of Michigan, and is mother to Margaret (my son Loren’s girlfriend).

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