A few years back Pam Holland sent us a wonderful video. Watch closely to see if it's a picture of flowers or a picture of a quilt. It's not always easy to tell as Pam is a marvelous quilter. It's clear how nature influences her quilting. So, take a stroll through Monet's Garden with Pam and The Quilt Show. 


One local Nurse Practitioner, Mary Orencole, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital wrote to share her reflections of the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon and how the international quilting community rallied together in response to support the Boston community.

Her colleagues were among the personnel who staff the medical tent at the Boston Marathon every year. When the bombings occurred during the 2013 Marathon the hospital had lost all connectivity with them that day and staff did not know for hours if they were alive or dead as the cell lines had all been cut off.

They waited in the next hours as the horror of the violent tragedy unfolded. Her colleagues who attended to the young victims that day said it was something that they never experienced or expected and which they will never forget. As events unfolded, officials initially thought that while trying to save lives, the medical personnel were also in possible harms way.

What became apparent was the traumatic effect such a tragedy had on these medical personnel and the need to recognize and attempt to comfort these first responders.

After learning that many first responders suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, many individuals wanted to show support for both the victims as well as the first responders.

At the same time, quilters internationally organized a display of support for the victims and the City of Boston by making quilted flags. The project, "To Boston with Love", was organized by Berene Campbell, from theVancouver Modern Quilt Guild and orchestrated locally by Amy Friend from During Quiet Time.com.

This project produced about 1700 small quilted flags in just a four-week period of time, and were displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts on Memorial Day last year. The MFA has retained ownership of these flags, and is currently exhibited them again during the month of April in honor of the 2013 Boston Marathon. (Click on the photo below for information on this year's exhibit.)

The second was the "Quilts for Boston" project an international collaborative effort led by the Boston Modern Quilt Guild (BMQG). The BMQG put out a call for quilters to submit blocks in the colors of the marathon - blue and yellow with some white and gray added. Quickly, quilters blogged, told their friends, posted on Instagram, Facebook and Flickr and rallied quilters to submit blocks.

Quilters sent in more than 2000 blocks from 46 US States and 5 Canadian provinces, representing over 70 modern and traditional quilt guilds from all over the world. The BMQG rallied and hosted a number of sew-ins to turn all of the blocks into quilts, with help from the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild and many other quilters. Quilt stores, both local and online, as well as fabric, thread and batting manufacturers, donated fabric and supplies so that the quilts could be finished. When all was said and done, the guild expects to finish close to 80-100 quilts, a number of which were given to first responders like the Watertown Police Department and those injured.

6452_david_king_md1.jpgIn addition, the group worked with the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) and the psychological teams when approached about how the quilts might be displayed at the marathon this year. Decisions were carefully weighted to ensure that the Marathon was "as normal as possible" while finding a balance of showing love and support for all of those affected by the events of the 2013 marathon.

The decision has been made that these quilts will become part of the Boston Marathon every year and will line the medical tents as a token of love and support from an international group of quilters.







Mary writes,"Having personally delivered quilts to providers who were at the scene, many of who tried endlessly to save lives, there are no possible words for the emotions that surface. David King M.D., a trauma surgeon at MGH, ran the Marathon and had just finished the race when the bombs went off. He ran directly to the hospital and spent the night in the OR saving people's limbs and lives. You place the quilt in their arms and nothing else is needed as emotions surface all to easily. Quilts help heal for sure. It is an amazing effort and act of love."

(Photo: David King, M.D. receiving his quilt)

(Photo: l-r: Detective Donohue, Captain Rocca, Natalie, and Sergeant Hoiseth - Boston Modern Quilt Guild)


(Photo: Quilts for Boston Sew-In with Boston Modern Quilt Guild)

This year's marathon will be run on Monday, April 21, 2014.





It's All in the (Minute) Details by Lilo Bowman

Every so often, as I walked through the rows of outstanding quilts at this year's International Quilt Festival in Houston, I had the feeling that a certain quilt was calling out to me for closer inspection. Such was the case with Mission Impeccable by Kumiko Frydl (shown above). This astounding miniature (16 3/4" x 16 3/4"!) quilt required 10 - 12 hours of work a day over a four-month period, but it was not the first time Kumiko created this design. In fact, this diminutive beauty is the third quilt in a series, each one tinier than the last. No doubt, Kumiko is a quilter who loves to challenge herself! 

While working with miniature quilts is not where Kumiko began, working with fine details is something that  has attracted her for a long time. As a graduate student studying commercial arts at Tokyo University, Kumiko spent many hours at her drafting table. When not studying for her degree, she enjoyed sewing many of her own clothes. With a father in the textile industry, she had a great opportunity to utilize the fabrics available to her. As fate would have it, when she met and married her husband,  his job required a move to England, and Kumiko naturally came along. 

England, she quickly discovered, was a bit limited in fabric selection, and the price of those available fabrics was very high. Also, the couple's small apartment did not include space for working on large sewing projects. It was time for Kumiko to reassess her situation. She began to study quilting on her own, but later joined a guild where she was taught many new skills by the members. It was also during this time that she began making bobbin lace. 


Bobbin lace making.  Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

Bobbin lace is made by tacking a paper pattern to a small, firm pillow. Each thin bobbin is wound with a length of thread, and the lace is created by twisting and winding the individual threads around pre-placed pins to follow the pattern. Depending upon the design, as many as several dozen bobbins may be required. While this particular craft may not appeal to those who don't care for intricate, detailed work, it was perfect for Kumiko. 

Following several more moves, Kumiko found herself in Houston, TX. By this time, she had become quite proficient in quilting and wanted to try her hand at making even more challenging pieces. In 2007, she fell in love with a quilt she saw on the cover of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. The quilt, made by Kathy Nakajima, was called Sunshine Rose Garden, and while Kumiko was drawn to it, she did not simply want to copy Kathy's original design. Instead, Kumiko decided to make her version in miniature, replacing the appliqued elements with silk-ribbon embroidery. This smaller version became Mission Impossible? and measured a tiny 20" x 20" in size.  To her surprise, the quilt won a First Place ribbon in the miniature category.


Now Kumiko was challenged make even smaller quilts. Two more versions have been completed with Mission Impeccable, measuring a mere 16 3/4" x 16 3/4", the smallest to date...and another First Place winner in the miniature category in Houston in 2010. 

The central Mariner's Compass in this tiny quilt is made up of 128 individual spokes. At 1/20th the size of the original, there was no room for error in the paper-piecing process, Kumiko explains. With such a small project, she generally sews with 18 - 23 stitches per inch.  She describes herself as stubborn, and says that she does not give up until she has perfected each element. Such dedication means that she often works 10 -12 hours every day without fail when a deadline is looming. 


Notice the clusters of hand-embroidered silk-ribbon flowers that surround the central compass. Kumiko designed the flowers to represent the appliqued ones in the original inspiration quilt.


All of the free-motion quilting in this quilt was done with YLI 100% silk thread in the top and Superior Masterpiece thread in the bobbin. For this detailed work, Kumiko likes to use a Microtex 60 needle. The quilt is made from100% pre-washed cotton and hand-dyed cotton, and Kumiko drafted the entire design on Golden Threads paper. Not surprisingly, given her background, she finds the drafting the most enjoyable part of the entire process.

As she designs mostly for competition, Kumiko doesn't have a great deal of time for other projects. While you might think that a miniature quilt takes less time, that is not necessarily the case. You might be surprised to know this piece alone took around four months to complete, and chances are that it required just as much patience and stubborness to complete as its larger counterpart. 

So the next time you walk through a gallery of miniature quilts, step in for a closer look. Better yet, bring a magnifying glass. You just might be surprised at what you discover.






In Part II, Pam Holland brings you more amazing quilts from the Houston Festival 2011.


Wonderful artist and videographer, Pam Holland, takes you up close.  This is Part I.  


The Magical Work of Clodie Francois
by Lilo Bowman

In a time when so many things are made of plastic, it's refreshing to find an artist whose works are created using such seemingly basic and ordinary items as paper, cardboard, and twigs. Join us as we continue with Part 3 of our High Road Art Tour with a visit to the studio of Clodie Francois of Mesdames Carton.

Clodie Francois of Mesdames Carton.

In a time when so many things are made of plastic, it’s refreshing to find an artist whose works are created using such seemingly basic and ordinary items as paper, cardboard, and twigs.

Perched high on a mountain at 7,000 feet, near the village of Chamisal, New Mexico, is the home and studio of Clodie Francois (Mesdames Carton). The beautiful scenery provides a stunning backdrop for the whimsical furniture and lamps produced by this petite, self-taught artist.

In 1988, Clodie traveled with her two children from France to the town of Ojo Sarco, New Mexico, to join her husband, Maximilien. Clodie very quickly fell in love with the area and never returned to her native country. In 2002, the family moved to their current mountain-top location.

Born in Paris, Clodie graduated from La Sorbonne with a degree in literature and psychology. For a number of years, she taught high-school-level art classes to at-risk students, at the same time pursuing her love of the theater (both on stage and backstage). Eventually she combined her desire to write with her passion for the theater by becoming a journalist for the daily newspaper, Liberation, where she covered stories focusing on art and the theater. 

The move to New Mexico in 1988 forced Clodie to re-evaluate her skills. It was during this time that she remembered her friend Eric Guiomar, the creator of furniture designed using cardboard. She placed a call to Paris—a call that started her on a path that she now feels was destiny. Eric was very enthusiastic, and willingly shared his knowledge of his furniture-building process. Over time, with a combination of Eric’s help and her own creative spirit, Clodie became an expert in the artform, taking it to the next level by using recycled wood and introducing her own whimsical and theatrical touches.

An idea for a new piece can come at any time, so Clodie carries a little notebook for recording quick sketches. Once an idea has formed on paper, she begins the long process of producing it as a three-dimensional object using corrugated cardboard. This particular type of cardboard—used for transporting watermelons and other large produce—is very difficult to come by. Clodie collects boxes from local stores when they call to tell her that boxes are available.


First Clodie draws a full-sized pattern on sheets of this scavenged cardboard. She makes multiple copies, which serve as the “frame” of the piece. Using a special technique, she "weaves" the shapes together to form the structure. This weaving technique results in a finished piece that is lightweight, but very strong, which Clodie, less than 5' tall, demonstrated by effortlessly lifting a chaise lounge. She then asked me to sit on the piece, which was remarkably sturdy and comfortable because of the elasticity of the cardboard. 

Once the structure has been built, she adds another layer of cardboard. Some pieces are made exclusively from cardboard, others combine wood for added stability. Then the real magic begins. Clodie covers some of her pieces with lacquered sheets of handmade paper from Nepal. Others are lacquered with thousands of pieces of white tissue paper with pigment sandwiched between each layer. This soft, lacquered pigment provides an impenetrable, waterproof barrier, which at the same time adds an ethereal beauty.


As she focused on making furniture, Clodie realized that she needed light to showcase her creations.  This brought another idea: Why not make lamps? Clodie's lamps are made using willow that she cuts while on her daily walks along the Arroyo Seco (dry creek)—and which must cure for a year before it is used—and handmade paper from Thailand and Japan. She has formulated her own "secret recipe" that keeps the paper from fading or becoming brittle and is easy to clean with an air-spray canister. 


Clodie's studio, with its combination of whimsical furniture and organic lamp designs, transports one to a magical place.

To see more of Clodie's work click here.

To visit Clodie's website click here.

To contact Clodie click here.


Here is Part 2 of Pam Holland's visit to the Birmingham Festival of Quilts.  This time you'll learn about 12 x 12, the International Art Quilt Challenge and you'll see some student projects from the Further Education Gallery.


Pam Holland takes us to the Birmingham Festival of Quilts and gives us a glimpse into some of the amazing pieces of art that adorned its walls. You'll also get to see one of the Tentmakers of Cairo at work. It is absolutely fascinating to watch his hands fly has he appliques each little piece.



Karen Watts

TQS Member Karen Watts (krwatts) has an accounting background, but left that world behind to take care of her family. She thinks of herself as a traditional quilter with a twist.  We asked Karen to answer a few questions about her quilting background, how she found herself the owner of a Gammill, and if she had any tips she'd like to share about creating her award-winning quilts.

How long have you been quilting?  What got you started?

I celebrated my 20th anniversary of quilting earlier this year.  I remember the date well because I went to Ohio to visit my Grandmother in April 1991, and she took me to a shop that was half counted cross-stitch and half quilt shop.  I was doing a lot of cross-stitch back then, but I've always loved fabric, having grown up with a mother that sewed everything EXCEPT quilts!  A good friend of mine had recently shown me a log cabin quilt she had started, and I was intrigued.  So, it was on this fateful trip to Ohio that my eye was caught by a fat quarter packet in The Daisy Barrel, and the rest is history.  That first quilt was a sampler, made by using cardboard templates and scissors, and sewn on my mother's 1949 Singer Featherweight.  I finished the top, but before I quilted it I made about a dozen more, thus establishing my habit of having MANY projects going at the same time.

Did you have a profession other than quilting? 

So long ago it seems like another life, I was an accountant.  I worked for various airlines for 10 years, then worked in Aerospace for another 5 years or so.  I continued working after my son was born in 1987, but stopped 6 months after my daughter was born in 1992.  My son had been diagnosed with autism, and between taking him to various therapies 3 times a week and caring for a newborn, something had to go and it was the job!  So I've been happily retired since late 1992.  And believe me, quilting was the only way I kept my sanity.

Who are your quilting influences?

Early on I learned a lot from Joen Wolfrom; I think I have all of her books and have read them cover to cover.  For piecing and design, I'm inspired by Karen Stone and Claudia Clark Myers.  For quilting, it's Karen McTavish, Janet Fogg, and Marilyn Badger.  In fact, Marilyn Badger is my quilting idol!  And for overall great design, use of color, machine applique, and fabulous quilting, Ricky Tims!

How would you define your "style" of quilting? 

I think my style would fall somewhere in between.  Maybe traditional with a contemporary twist.  I really love taking a traditional design or block and making it my own, either by changing the design, using non-traditional colors, or adding other design elements.

My favorite way to design right now is to respond to a challenge.  I belong to a "bee" that has been meeting regularly since 1997, and we will periodically issue a challenge.  Our first challenge was a portrait exchange.  For this challenge, we drew names and had to make a quilt that depicted that person, however it did not have to be an actual "portrait".  Our second challenge we call the Page 36 challenge.  We each brought a magazine to bee, and assigned a number to them.  The magazines could not be quilt magazines.  Then each person drew a number and got the magazine with the corresponding number.  Another drawing gave us the page number, which turned out to be 36.  Everyone had to turn to page 36 in their magazine and make a quilt that was inspired in some way by that page.

Our next challenge had the theme of "ancient symbols". We exhibited these challenges at our guild's quilt shows and they were very well received.  Our current challenge has the theme "Out of Africa" and has been juried into the 2011 AQS Knoxville show.  Sometimes we have a size limitation, but our bee's most famous rule is "there are no rules"!

The other challenges I have entered are the AQS Ultimate Guild Challenge and the National Quilt Museum "New Quilts From an Old Favorite".  The guild I belong to, Lakeview Quilters Guild, entered the Ultimate Guild Challenge in 2005, 2007, and 2010.  We won 1st place in 2007 with our theme of "fruit", and 3rd place in 2010 with the theme of "seasons".  I had a quilt in each year, Journey Thru the Cosmos in 2005, Strawberry Fields in 2007, and Mariner in 2010.84_274_mandala.jpg

Tell us about the New Quilts from an Old Favorite contest.

I first entered the New Quilts Fr om an Old Favorite (NQOF) contest in 2008, when the block was Sawtooth.  I was thrilled to be a finalist!  That quilt is Sawtooth Spin.  The next year was Burgoyne Surrounded, and my quilt Mandala (to the right) won 3rd place, which was really exciting and guaranteed that I would enter the following year.  The next year was the Sunflower block, and my quilt Navajo Sunflower was a finalist.

This year the block was Orange Peel, and I started working on that one really early.  Usually I'm finishing my contest entry days before the deadline; this time I had the bright idea to finish my quilt in time to display it at our local guild show in May 2010.  I'm really glad I did - Tangerine Dream took first place in its category, Innovative, and also Best of Show!  The deadline for entries to the IQA Houston show was about 2 weeks later, so I thought, "why not?"  I entered and was thrilled to be juried in, then was even more thrilled to win a third place ribbon.  What a great reward for finishing early.  Later in the year when the judging took place for NQOF, Tangerine Dream won another 3rd place ribbon.

Do you have a favorite quilt (one of your own)?  Do you have a favorite quilt made by someone else?

Right now my favorite quilt is Tangerine Dream.  I feel like I came up with a good design, and I love the colors I used.  But really, all of my challenge quilts are favorites.  Some of my favorite quilts by others are Bear On the Trail and They Came by Canoe by Janet Fogg.  Also Sparkle Plenty by Claudia Clark Myers and Marilyn Badger.  And New York Deco by TQS member Michael Michalski!

What are you working on now?  

I'm currently trying to finalize my design for the 2012 NQOF contest, which is the Basket block.  And I'm wondering how I'll get it done in time, since all my fabric and supplies are in boxes from moving from Houston to New Mexico (which took place 2 weeks ago).  And the Gammill is in pieces in the garage!

When did you decide to try long-arm quilting?

I have always done my own quilting, first on a Singer Featherweight, then on a little Bernette, and later on my Pfaff 6270.  But quilting a large quilt on a small home machine is a chore, so when a local shop offered to buy a longarm and train me to use it, I jumped at the chance.

Using a longarm is so much easier, although it can be strenuous as well.  I also think you have so much more freehand design capability due to the larger quilting space available and the fact that you move the machine, not the quilt.

How did you learn to quilt on it after it was delivered?

I took classes at Linda's Electric Quilters in McKinney, Texas.  Linda Taylor is a pioneer in longarm quilting and I think it pays to learn from the best!

Did it take you very long to become proficient?

No, not really.  I learned on a Gammill without a stitch regulator, but since I was used to regulating my own stitches anyway it wasn't a big deal.  I immediately loved the ease of moving the machine over the quilt, with no "stuffing" the quilt through the small space of a home sewing machine.  And no basting!

I started quilting for customers after I had practiced on 10 quilts.  I probably would have waited longer, but I was a little pressured by the quilt shop to start.  I was proficient, but, like any skill, you get better and better the more you do it.

What tips can you offer to new longarm quilters, that might make it easier or more enjoyable?

Take classes from the wonderful longarm teachers that are out there, and practice, practice, practice!  And challenge yourself to try new designs.  Step out of the box.

How do you decide how you are going to quilt a quilt?

I usually stare at it awhile, and think about quilting designs while I am loading it on the Gammill.  If it is my quilt, I also think about it while I am piecing it.  If it's a customer quilt, we'll talk about what they want to see, and I'll suggest ideas.  Many times the design in the fabric used will suggest a quilting design.  Taking a quilting design from the fabric really helps to integrate the quilting with the quilt.

Do the quilts "speak" to you?

Sometimes they do, and you learn to listen, or you may be taking quilting stitches out!  And sometimes you want them to speak but they are deathly silent.  That is very hard.

Do you make any sort of mock-up, paper pattern before you do the actual quilting?

I have done that, but not usually.  The one I did that on the most was Mandala.

If a quilt has a fairly traditional design, do you do anything to make the quilting more contemporary or do you keep in line with the traditional style?

I generally think the quilting should be in the same style as the quilt.

What makes you decide to enter a quilt show or contest?

I haven't entered that many national shows, but it just depends on if I have a quilt I feel is worthy.  I haven't made any quilts specifically to enter in shows other than the NQOF contests.

How do you decide which show to enter?

If the quilt can be done by the deadline for entries!

You've had some exciting moments lately, is there one that was most rewarding?

I am always thrilled just to be juried into a show; getting a ribbon is the icing on the cake.  But I was flabbergasted to win Best of Show at our guild show in 2010 with Tangerine Dream.  We have extremely talented, award-winning quilters in our guild, and Best of Show usually goes to a bed-size, traditional quilt.  Another wonderful moment was at awards night at the Houston 2010 show: my friend Patty Mayer and I won 1st place with New York Jazz.  That same quilt then won a 2nd place at AQS Paducah.


Tell us about Tangerine Dream

It won 1st place and Best of Show in Lakeview Quilter's Guild 2010 show, 3rd place in IQA Houston 2010, and 3rd place in New Quilts From an Old Favorite 2011.

What was your thought process behind this quilt?

I needed to design an original quilt using the orange peel block in a new and different way.  I had been thinking of designing something with an Art Nouveau feel, but it wasn't working. Then I ran across a piece of fabric with surfboards all over it and the light bulb went off!  My husband and I lived in Southern California before moving to Houston, and he was an avid surfer.  Surfboards can be wonderful pieces of art, and the shape made me think of my orange peel blocks.  I decided I could put many different designs in my orange peels and started drawing my ideas.  I came up with at least a dozen different orange peel blocks and over 4 dozen layouts before I decided on the one I made.

Did it come out like you expected?

Yes, it did!  I thought piecing it would be a nightmare, but it actually went together very well.

Looking at it now, would you do anything differently?

No, I don't think I would.

Tell us about your move from Texas to New Mexico and what you are up to now.

Making the move from Houston to Cloudcroft, New Mexico has been a dream since 2005.  We bought our place in the mountains as a vacation home, and visited it whenever we could.  But we still had 2 kids to get through school, one of them with special needs.  2010 was an amazing year, as my daughter graduated from high school and went to college, we moved my son from Houston to Albuquerque, where he works part time and lives on his own, and we started construction on my quilt studio.  We made the actual move with our 3 cats.  We are still surrounded by boxes and wondering why we brought all this stuff, but we see deer, elk, coyote, fox, and have baby woodpeckers in a tree outside our kitchen.  And last night our neighbor had a bear in his yard!


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