Category Archives: quilting

Image + Imagination: Anne Arundel County Juried Exhibition

This exhibit is opening tonight, and I’m really excited and pleased to be represented. I have a textile piece, “Fractured,” included, and I want to tell you a little bit about it.

"Fractured" textile art at amyhoodarts.com

Creating has been up and down this year. It took me a bit to get back into the studio after moving and the Inauguration, and when I did, I began by sewing my feelings. Sew, slash, sew, slash, trying to get the inside out. This piece was the result, and what I intended. Something shattered, something broken, something fractured, but still in one piece. I almost didn’t submit this one. I first thought, It’s just piecing. Will that be taken seriously as “art” for a juried exhibition? I looked at it again and felt that if it were paint, ie, a more “traditional” fine art medium, I wouldn’t even be thinking twice, so I submitted it. I am extremely pleased that this textile piece is included in this exhibit, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the artwork. The Mitchell Gallery has been giving peeks on its Instagram feed and it all looks wonderful.

Reflections on a Year of Quiltlets

All 52 quiltlets, in order of making

At the beginning of 2016, I decided to commit to making one small art quilt per week. It had to be a quilt, that is, three layers of fabric held together by stitching. It had to be 6×8 inches. And it had to be weekly. Other than that, it was wide open. My goals were to make sure I was spending time each week being creative and to become a more confident and capable textile artist. The small size removed any pressure for perfection, opening up room for trial and error, practice and play. And I already knew that by making creative play time a priority, by showing up, ideas would show up too. At no time was I up against a deadline with no idea what to do.

Often, I decided to work on specific skills, like with this piece, where I focused on piecing improv curves and inserting a narrow stripe.

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I often just sat down to play with materials, especially ones not thought of as traditional quilting materials.

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When I bought Neocolor pastels….

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That netting was fun

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Stitching on paper maps

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Fruit netting (I hoard the plastic netting on the clementine boxes every winter)

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This was so much fun to make

Sometimes playing with materials led to ideas that I then explored later on in a larger format.

Some weeks, current events were reflected in my little pieces.

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After the Pulse shooting

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Before the election

And personal events and feelings worked their way in, too.

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After taking the kids into DC to see the cherry blossoms

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How I felt about just about everything by September

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And we ended the year by buying a house of our own

This project fulfilled all my hopes for it. I am a better and more confident textile artist. I sewed so much and so often that for a while there I felt like the sewing machine was simply an extension of me; we worked that well together. I have ideas, and I have more things I want to experiment with. I also learned that a weekly commitment is just right for me. I have trouble with daily challenges and never seem to complete them. Part of this, I think, is because I have too many creative things I want to fit in, so prioritizing ONE thing into EVERY day means other things I like to do get left out too often. Weekly was never a problem, though. I completed every quiltlet on time.

I definitely want to get back to creating soon, but January is pretty much given over to cleaning, sorting, packing, moving, unpacking, and settling in. I’ve mentally prepared for not getting any real studio time in until February. That way, if I’m able to sooner, it’s a bonus. I have a lovely new space to work in, with a big window, and I’ve already hung a birdfeeder right outside it. I can’t wait to start creating there.

Art Quiltlet: 52/52

Stick a Fork In It art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

“Stick a Fork In It”

The final weekly quiltlet of 2016, and what else could it be, really? We still have 3 1/2 days to get through; who knows who will die next, or what calamity will occur. I’d be happier to see 2016 go except I’m so worried about what 2017 will bring, given the seeming demise of the American democratic experiment in favor of fascism and kleptocracy.

I never missed a week. Fifty-two weeks in a row of getting this small creative challenge completed on time. I’ll be back next year with some reflections on this project as a whole.

Art Quiltlet: 50/52

House art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

We bought a house! It has a front porch AND a deck. It’s surrounded by trees, but part of a neighborhood. It feels remote (woods! no streetlights! nature!) but it’s only 15 minutes from downtown. It’s the nicest house by far that I’ll have ever lived in–the kids will each have their own rooms, plus we can have a guest room, plus a room for my art-making. The windows are big and let in lots of natural light. It’s airy and welcoming for entertaining. I can’t wait to move in.

Originally we were going to wait until spring to look for a house, but a few months ago, when the toilet backed up into the tub (that’s as gross as you think it is) and the landlord told us he felt it was our fault for “misuse of the tub,” that was the last straw for living here. Bad enough all the plumbing issues we’ve had, among other issues, in this house that had never been rented before and really wasn’t up to handling five people, but to then have the owner decide it must be us, rather than the old, weary plumbing–it was insulting. We started looking the next day. We put an offer in on this house the day before the election. It’s been hard to be excited about it as we moved through negotiations, inspections, and all the rest, what with the general state of the world. But we still need to have a place to live, and renting here is no longer workable. Yes, for a while, it was nice knowing if something went wrong, it wasn’t our financial responsibility. But the lack of control is just too hard. I will just say, this is not how we maintain a house we own, but we don’t own this one. I will miss our next door neighbors, and I’ll miss running over the Naval Academy Bridge, but I will not miss this old dusty leaky cricket-infested house AT ALL.

And every time we buy a house I feel fortunate. We began saving for a down payment the year we got married, 1999. At the time I was babysitting a coworker’s children once a week; her husband was a financial planner. I don’t think I knew of anyone who used a financial planner, and maybe didn’t even know it was a thing until I met them, and without a doubt we wouldn’t have even thought to seek one out. But there he was, and he helped us grow the money we saved faster than we expected, so we were able to buy a house before prices really exploded. When we sold that first house, we had made quite a bit, and we have put that money right back into subsequent houses ever since. We were disciplined, yes, and we hit the timing very well, but we were also connected to someone who could help us make the most of both, and that’s privilege. I recently saw an article that Millennials who own houses do so because their parents either helped them with a down payment, or with college costs, or both. We’re older than that generation, and our college cost less (and one of us had help), but we still benefited from who we know. It really does take luck on top of discipline and work.

That’s my housing story. And since this is quiltlet number 50, here’s another grouping of ten.

art quiltlets 41-50 at amyhoodarts.com

Not all my quiltlets are textile diary entries, but many fall under that category, and without looking back I’d guess this grouping of ten has more of those than most. It’s been a difficult year. I feel a bit conflicted, ending the year on a high personal note (yay! a house!) while also feeling despair and fear over the state of the country and the world. It’s been hard to feel positive over anything. Two more weeks, and quiltlets, to go in 2016.

Art Quiltlet: 49/52

"Light" art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This is last week’s quiltlet, using applique. (Can you see the free motion writing in the background?) As the winter solstice approaches I feel a definite connection to the ancestors who knew that this is a time of year that calls for light. Different cultures, religions, and traditions all felt called to honor light at this time of year; it’s a common human need. This year feels even darker than usual. I seek the light, in myself and others. Be the light in the darkness.

Art Quiltlet: 48/52

"Resist" art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

This came out a little paler than I’d meant. I of course used a resist technique (glue batik). Every day something newly outrageous occurs (many things, in a usual day). It’s hard to keep up. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. I need to still be outraged, though. Complacency due to over-saturation can’t be the answer.

Art Quiltlet: 47/52

Art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Playing a little catch up here! All of these were sewn in their respective weeks, I’ve just been behind in sharing them here. This one is purely practical; I bought a stitch-in-the-ditch foot and wanted to practice. Then I added some free-motion quilting because I hadn’t practiced that in a while. Fabric is my own hand-dyed.

Art Quiltlet: 46/52

Boxed in: PTSD art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Boxed in: PTSD

I’m white, heterosexual, in a straight marriage, and not Muslim, and so relatively safe, for the moment, from what seems to be descending upon us all right now. But I don’t feel safe. I’ve written before about PTSD and also about how one candidate, now, amazingly, our President-elect, triggered the hell out of me. I know I’m not the only one. For me, it’s how he so strongly reminds me of someone who was psychologically and, at times, physically abusive. Misogyny, racism, lying, gaslighting. Now, this person is in charge of the country. I do not feel safe. PTSD symptoms are getting harder to manage. I know I’m not the only one. But that doesn’t make me feel better; it makes me feel worse. It’s hard to write about and I’m done trying for now. That’s why visual art exists too.