Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Material View at Miami International Airport

If you aren't going to be at the Miami International Airport before October 19, you can check out these terrific photos by Daniel Portnoy.   View the show if you are traveling through/arriving at/departing from Concourse D or E.  Here is a link to the airline directory:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Oaxaca is Textile Heaven

Oaxaca City, Mexico is located a little under 300 miles southwest of Mexico City and is textile heaven.  Upon arriving we quickly discover the bright boxy hand embroidered women’s blouses or huipils. Skirts, handbags, men’s shirts  and placemats and napkins are also embroidered and available to visitors to this charming city. Native costumes lend a festive air to the city as we wander the streets and dive into the markets. 

We shop for lovely rugs loomed in local workshops throughout the state of Oaxaca.  The finer pieces are made with hand spun and naturally dyed wool yarns. We watch as artisans grind locally available natural materials to produce deep colors. The rare cochineal bug produces the lovely reds; add lime juice (acid) for oranges and baking soda (alkaline) for purples.  Plants provide marigold flowers for rich gold colors; indigo for blue and pomegranates for browns. 

Shopping is fun in the outlying villages (the best prices and quality are often found here), in the textile market, the new textile museum and in various shops throughout the city.  We wander the streets and run into artists who are peddling their work and enjoy being in textile heaven.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What Shade Are You? Take A Look At A Quilt Made With Solids From RJR!

Since I have been studying with Nancy Crow these past few years I have rekindled my love of solids.  In addition to dyeing my own solids, which I love to do, I am using a lot of commercial solids.  One can imagine that "solids are solids" probably doesn't make much difference who you buy them from, right?  Wrong.
Did you know that many companies source their "gray goods" from multiple places?  That some companies outsource the dyeing to just as many sources?  Guess what happens to the quality control??  You got it.
Let's talk for a moment about RJR.  As a surface design artist it goes without saying that I spend a lot of time working with cloth;  quality is important to me.  Last summer when I was making objects with Urban Artifacts I had selected a group of solids to accompany the print line.  I noticed that the quality of the fabric was quite good.  This was feedback I received from every one of the makers who worked with the fabric.  I started to wonder about it and I inquired inside the company.  Here is what I learned:  the owners of RJR have had a long-standing relationship with the same Japanese company for the source of all their cloth as well as their printing and dyeing.  There is a very high quality of cotton broadcloth used and it is consistent.  This matters to me.

A few months ago I was approached about making a quilt for the "What Shade Are You?" project and I happily agreed because I really love the Cotton Supreme solids.  My style of working tends to be improvisational in nature so there is no pattern to be acquired with this project, but I'll share with you what I used to create my quilt.
Here is the list of all the fabrics:
283-On The Rocks
433-Silver Lining
380-Silver Screen
395-Warm Gray
341-Stormy Night
282-Gale Force
357-Sunset Ruby

3067-002 Box Springs in Wine
3067-003 Box Springs in Charcoal

I'm going to "walk" you through how I constructed this quilt and what I was thinking about when I was designing it.

I love to use a rotary cutter to "draw" lines and shapes into my fabric.  I think of the rotary cutter as my pen or paintbrush and the cloth as my paper or canvas.  When I piece elements together those seam lines become my gestural "marks".  For me, it has been a new and exciting way of thinking about the work.  
In this construction, another piece in an ongoing series called "Aerial Geometry", I am thinking about my experiences of flying over the Great Plains in a small aircraft and looking at the geometric layout of fields, crop rows, and farms dotted across the landscape.  Quite a bit of my abstracted work is about the meaning of home and place.  I'm interested in the juxtaposition of natural and man-made elements.  While it might not reach out and "smack you over the head" my work frequently includes shapes and symbols that represent these ideas in many of my quilts.  
Also in this quilt I have included a basic house-shape, a nest shape, and some graphic Alliums to represent my garden.

First, I free-cut numerous strips of all the neutral colors in my palette.  These were sewn together and small segments of Goldenrod, Goldilocks, Sunset Ruby, and Redwork were added randomly throughout.  I created sections of gray neutrals and "beige" neutrals separately.  

On my design wall I marked a general shape to represent the intended size of my construction.  I find this to be a helpful guide while working.
My desire was to alternate the gray and beige areas, which were cut from the long pieced sections
in alternating sizes and widths.  I wanted to vary the direction of the pieced shapes.

Here is how I "built" the construction:  first the pieces, then the rows,
then I joined the rows.  When piecing these somewhat amorphous shapes I overlaid the edges and
cut through them so the pieces would come together as a flat construction.
I didn't worry about that whilst piecing the strips because I steam-ironed the strips really well.
It does become important when laying the larger shapes together.

Here are all the large shapes before the rows are joined.

After the background was pieced together I created "stems" for my Allium elements
by cutting sections of Gale Force and Rework fabric colors, folding and sewing a quarter-inch
seam, then rolling the seam under and pinning the stems to the surface, then stitching in place.
Four stems were appliquéd prior to the quilting, and one was added afterward to create some visual depth.

Next, I stitched together a group of raw-edge strips of solids and prints to create 
a "nest", which was stitched onto the surface of the construction.
I wanted all these elements on the surface prior to being quilted as I planned to add more elements
after the quilting.

Here is a closeup of the "nest" components.

Here is a photo of one of my dry giant Allium blossoms, still standing in my garden.  I enjoy their 
metamorphosis and I like how they look after the blossoms have dried out.  They offer a 
lovely visual texture in my garden so I leave them in place as long as possible.

My quilt was longarm-quilted by the talented Joanna Marsh from 
Kustom Kwilts.  She did this beautiful matchstick quilting of the background.
I like to use a double batting of Quilter's Dream Orient and the top layer is Quilter's Dream wool.
This seems to be a perfect combo:  lightweight, breathable, and perfect for quilts that will need to be shipped and folded as the wool prevents creasing!

I free-motion embroidered the first layer of blossom with my sewing machine feed-dogs down.
Then, I hand-embroidered more stem components of the blossom and the buds were added with 
French knots.  This is one of the few places where I really need to use a thimble because
that is a lot of layers of fabric and thread to push a needle through!

The roof and base of my "house" were created with Urban Artifacts by pillow-casing some batting between two layers, stitching and quilting the pieces, then appliquéing them to the quilted surface.

Next, I squared up the edged and stitched a facing onto the quilt, then turned it to the back and whip-stitched it in place.  This is a cotton canvas print from Rifle Paper company, which is 
a division of Cotton & Steel (which is part of the RJR family, in case you didn't know!).

Here is what the turned corner looks like from the front.  I like the clean edge of a faced quilt,
particularly for one that is to be a wall piece.

I'm satisfied with the details of the construction.

And here is my finished quilt!
Dimensions are 40" by 40".

If you are coming to Quilt Market and/or Quilt Festival in fall, 2017, please look for my quilt as part of "Personal Iconography:   Graffiti On Cloth", a special exhibition presented by Dinner At Eight Artists.  Jamie Fingal, another designer for RJR, is the other half of the curating team with me.  
I hope you enjoyed seeing how my quilt was created.  I really encourage you to ask for Cotton Supreme Solids at your local quilt shop(s).  It is really a great product and I am a fan!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Art Cloth Network Call for New Members

The Art Cloth Network call for new members is coming soon!
September 1 – October 31, 2017
Our organization defines “Art Cloth” as material transformed by adding or subtracting color, line, shape, texture or fiber to make a compelling surface and composition. This can include three-dimensional art and work meant for outdoor display.
As a thirty-member juried community of artists, we work together to encourage individual artistic development, explore the boundaries of our medium, and educate others about our art. We organize annual meetings held in a variety of locations across the country. Exhibiting our work is an important part of our mission to raise awareness of art cloth as a fine art medium. We have yearly calls-for-entry that are juried by well-known artists, often arranged by theme, and are exhibited in a variety of galleries and other venues.
Send a request to in order to receive detailed information and application instructions.

Friday, December 23, 2016


My name is Priscilla Smith.  As a textile artist, I focus my art on “social justice” and “anti-war” issues. My art is designed to provoke thought and emotion; to raise consciousness; and to galvanize change. The processes and materials I use are often designed to generate discomfort, sadness, disgust, and shock on the part of the viewer.
So.... this past October, when faced with an upcoming knee replacement, I thought to myself “how wonderful......I’ll have all this time while recuperating to continue making my art, including finishing recently begun pieces on racism; peace and war; gun control; and the Aleppo horrors.

WRONG......OH SO WRONG......during my hospital stay; my 2 week in-patient rehabilitation stay; and now 3 weekly outpatient physical therapy sessions (along with my daily exercise sessions), I found that not only could I not focus on this work for more than a few minutes, but all I wanted to do was completely forget about it.  All I wanted to do was use my beautiful materials to make small baskets.

As I spoke with Marianne, one of my physical therapists, about the fact that my operated on knee felt “warm” all the time, she said to me, “There’s a reason it feels warm.  Just imagine all those wonderful little red blood cells constantly rushing from all parts of your body bringing their healing to that injured knee.” I loved the image and thought those little red blood cells don’t want to be trying to crawl through images of war and cruelty and mean-spiritedness.  It makes their work so much easier to travel through the images of baskets made with beautiful forms and colors and materials. So much easier for them to travel through these baskets filled with loving healing energy made by my own hands.

Her description of these wonderful healing red blood cells rushing to help filled me with awe about the workings of our human bodies.  And helped me to know that at this point in my life, my work with the topics I’ve focused on in the past, needs to be put on hold.   Instead I need to and will make lovely small baskets to support not only my own healing but the healing needed throughout our country and the world.

  1. Find a sandwich size baggie (i.e., used to store food and sandwiches)
  2. Fill it with rice and put a rubber band around the top
  3. Completely cover the rice filled baggie with scotch tape, shaping it as you cover
  4. Create a base of thread around the baggie, weaving in and out as you go; basic white string can be used. For a first basket, it is probably best to cover the space with this base thread about 75 - 80%
  5. Complete the basket by weaving beautiful interesting threads or yarns in and out of the base threads.  I’ve generally covered the base threads when doing this.
  6. When completed, cut the top of the baggie open; pour out the rice; and the baggie.
  7. And there you are.....a beautiful basket.
  8. These can be further embellished with beading; adding natural materials;  etc.

For others, the Art Cloth Network, of which I am a member, asks that each member contribute to our blog on a yearly basis. Hope you enjoy my blog write-up. I have been asked to share it (and the baskets) tomorrow (Dec 23) morning at my physical therapy session.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Exhibition: Anything Goes

The Art Cloth Network is proud to announce a gallery showing of our exhibition entitled Anything Goes. Members were challenged to create art cloth in response to the theme Anything Goes. Unlike earlier exhibitions there was no size requirement. The exhibition is currently on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles Porcella Gallery in San Jose, California. It runs now through January 15, 2017. Below are several photos taken at the Museum.

Thanks for Connie Tiegel for helping the Museum set up the show and for getting these pictures to me. Here is a link to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles:
And here is a link to close-ups of the show entries on Behance:

On January 14, 2017 Mary Vaneecke will give a presentation         
entitled "Confessions of a Subversive Stitcher". The presentation
will begin at 1:00 and be followed by a reception.

If you are in the San Jose area please drop by and see the exhibition.

Friday, October 7, 2016

2016 Art Cloth Network Meeting a Big Success in Little Rhody

Art Cloth Network held its largest ever annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island last month with 22 members attending.  Much thanks to Mary Ellen Latino, Russ Little, President Wren Slocum, and Jeanne Sisson for arranging the meeting!  Here are just a few of the highlights:

ACN members dining at Circe in downtown Providence.  

Meeting organizers where able to schedule a tour of the RISD Museum for ACN members.  

This is just one of the beautiful murals in the downtown area.  

The show-and-tell portion of the meeting is always a favorite.  Here are just a few members displaying new work: 

 PR/Marketing Chair Barbara James

Catherine Kirsch

Jacque Davis (Chair of the 2018 meeting in St. Louis)

Membership Chair Jeanne Sisson

Judy Langille

Mary Ellen Latino (who helped plan the meeting)

Linda Dawson (ACN webmaster)

Incoming ACN President Russ Little

Our next meeting will be in Savannah, GA,  It is always great to be with your tribe.  Watch this space if you would like to become a part of Art Cloth Network, as our annual membership will begin in early 2017.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Looking for Inspiration

Inspiration is everywhere - in what we see, what we feel, what we read and perhaps even in our dreams.  I am finding inspiration for my most recent work in my surroundings - mostly in nature but also man made elements - even man made forms that have been altered by nature. 

Here some photos that you might also find inspirational.

Below is a photo of one of my most recent works inspired by tree trunks.

Passages                                                                                                Hand dyed fabrics, machine
Linda Nelson Johnson, 2016                                                                 quilted, raw edge applique