Mavis Quinn – my first quilt show, wow!

Mavis Quinn - undercover at the quilt show
Mavis Quinn - undercover at the quilt show

Here is another post from Mavis Quinn, cub reporter for Where Cuckoo Women Create .com.org.biz

Hello dreary readers… This weekend I was assigned to cover a quilt show in Benicia, California.  It was held in a small castle that, I believe, once was an insane asylum, and from the looks of things, might still be in operation.

What a thrill-er.

The weather was delightful and I made it over a big bridge and only clipped two cars in the lot while finding a parking spot.

The fun started at the door – the entry way was an immense medieval affair with a little door in it which lets the trolls out at night.

Castle door and troll door
Castle door and troll door

I stood in line for a while at the wrong table and almost bought a ticket to a quilter’s cruise on the Eerie Canal and to Three-Mile Island.

When I did finally get through security and had put my belt and shoes back on, I headed up the stairs.

I really loved the decorations in the stairwell – so Bijou.

Castle stairway - so Bijou
Castle stairway - so Bijou

The show was very nice, but I am not allowed to talk about that (by contract from my editor).

I was alarmed to turn a corner and find a photo taken of me at the beach.

Photo taken of me at the beach - damn the paparazzi!
Photo taken of me at the beach - damn the paparazzi!

Damn the paparazzi!  Now I know how Fergie felt when her toe-sucking photos were exposed.  Can’t a cub reporter enjoy some bikini time in private?

Moving on.

I was fondling a quilt – really salivating over the soft fabric and rubbing the nubbly quilting – I was just trying to get close to the work – and some lady in white gloves came up to me and scolded me.  I wish the editor had warned me that I wasn’t supposed to touch the merchandise!  Gees!

So, I scooted away and took stock of my surroundings.

Bars on the windows - to keep the cuckoo in!
Bars on the windows - to keep the cuckoo in!

I was relieved that there were bars on all the windows.  They clearly had to take measures to keep the cuckoo in!  Editor: glad to hear that!

As I backed up and took this photo, I guess I bumped into a pole.  Using it to steady myself, I began to fall backwards and ended up under a few of these nice quilts.  Some people rushed around and there was shouting, but don’t worry – I was mostly fine!  Just a sprained wrist and a scratch on my cheek mole.  Whew!

It seems I might have had a tiny part in knocking over a whole row of these nice blankies.  Well, the organizers might have thought about the public’s safety before they went and put up all this flimsy woodwork!  I will be putting in a worker’s comp claim for injuries sustained to some body parts during this attack by the evil quits!

Myrtle, guild treasurer - (foxy supermodel by night)
Myrtle, guild treasurer - (foxy supermodel by night)

So then these two ladies came up to me.  They introduced themselves and then consented to have their photos taken for my article.  They seemed really nice, and then…

Well, they asked how I was liking the show.  I noticed that they were walking me through the room and back to a small dark corner.

I thought that this would be a good opportunity to interview a couple of the inmates, I mean members, and I rifled through my editor’s notes to find a question for them.

Inga, guild ways and means committee chairperson
Inga, guild ways and means committee chairperson

“How do I join a guild like this,” I purred with all the suavite of Fabio on a date.

At this moment, Myrtle, guild treasurer by day and foxy suprmodel by night had a coughing fit.  I offered her some of my sardine-flavored gum for her throat and the next thing you know Inga, ways and means committee chairperson was coughing too!  I thought it might be contagious, and since, I have just recovered from malaria and the whooping cough from my last assignment to Borneo – don’t ask – ok, two words – tatoo, titties…

I turned to race out of there and ran right into the GUILD PRESIDENT!

Guild president
Guild president

At this point I have to say that I was entranced.  I felt like I had met my alter-ego.  I felt at home, at peace, strong – like I could lift a whole long armed sewing machine by myself.  I was, naturally, tongue tied and weak at the knees.  Her hair, her glasses, her fabulous jewelry, heaven!  The headband – will she make one for me?

I cannot tell you what happened next, what was said, what I did, as it is all a dream to me now.  I don’t know how I got back to my car or how I got home.  What I can tell you is that I will treasure the little spool of thread I found hanging from my necklace that I discovered tonight when I looked in the mirror.

This is Mavis Quinn walking on air and signing out…

Editor’s note: no quilts were harmed in the making of this article.  The Guild President might not be an actual person and is most likely a wall-hanging made by Valarie Macdonald, called Quilt Diva.  Editor trusts that the quilter will feel the love and not think too poorly of the cub reporter.

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Debora at Dragonfly Quilt Shop in Watkinsville, Georgia, wrote about our fun chair class. You can read it and see the photos of the work in progress at http://dragonflyquiltshop.blogspot.com/

Where Cuckoo Women Create

Mavis Quinn
Mavis Quinn

This is a special report from Mavis Quinn, cub reporter for Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with the amazing Maverick Quilter Alethea Ballard and seeing her wonderful house where she makes her exuberant quilts!

I had heard so much about these alleged exuberant quilts, and seeing them in person really was something else – Ouch! – sorry – I just tweaked my shoulder writing that.  (My arm is in a cast, as I took a bit of a fall getting into her sewing room – but that’s another story)

As a roving reporter for Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine.com.org.biz I am trained in all sorts of self-defense moves, first aid, and evasive manoeuvres, and, believe me when I say, I used them all on this visit!

Upon arrival at Alethea’s delightful home, I tripped over the front door, chipped a tooth, bumped into the couch that blocked the way, and I was directly  in the “State of the Art Sewing Center.”

State of the Art Sewing Center
State of the Art Sewing Center

Alethea does her custom “scribbly” quilting right by the front door on this sweet HQ 16 sewing machine.  Her delightful matching box and bag storage system from Le Back Dumpster in Cappuccino and Cafe O’Lay colors is just right for the decor of this area.  Versatile and fashion forward!  Alethea has acquired the latest in power systems in this amazing orange extension cord layout.

Just around the coffee table and beyond the Lay-Z-Boy is the office where Alethea’s books and patterns get written.

Modern Office
Modern Office

I felt privileged standing in this delightful sunny corner of the living room.  Of course, I couldn’t sit down – I mean, where would I?  I know Alethea is a short person, but does she really need three binders to sit on?  I spied more of the matching Caffe Latte-colored storage box system in use in the office area; such a great way to tie the two work areas together.  A delightful lamp was somewhere there on the desk, and, I believe, some fine art might have been on the walls behind some stuff.

At this point I took a quaalude and asked for a refreshment to help calm my nerves.

After a brief coffee break I used 200 joules from my portable External Defibrillator Device to shock my heart, as the mud Alethea calls coffee sent me into cardiac arrest or atrium fibberlation or something.  Following that, I was given a tour of the elusive sewing room.

Wow!  I mean OW!  Was I in for a treat!

At first, I couldn’t find the door behind all the piles of fabric in the hall, and then I had that accident I mentioned.  I was standing there all peaceful-like, and the next thing I knew I was a*s over t*ts and had dislocated my shoulder.  I then used my emergency shoulder sling to tie my arm to my body, and I was ready for the adventure called the Sewing Room!

Cutting Table and Open Floor Area
Cutting Table and Open Floor Area

The ceiling was adorned with colorful Chinese lanterns and the cobwebs draping them only added to the bijou feeling. The room has very handy design walls on three sides and each one is just layered with unfinished projects!  I mean layered – as in what the h**l!

I was able to see the convenient cutting/ironing table.  It’s that thing on the left there.  It is just the right height for ergonomic cutting and ironing.  You know, a maverick quilter does want to work comfortably!  And notice the inches of floor space available for someone to stand and cut.  We should all be so lucky to have that kind of work space!  And yes, music fans – that IS an accordion case there – don’t ask!

Corner Sewing Kiosk and Scrap Storage Area
Corner Sewing Kiosk and Scrap Storage Area

Alethea’s fabric is such a prominent feature of the room and her scrap strips were practically spilling out of their mocha-colored box.  Actually they were TOTALLY spilling out of the box.  Some got wrapped around my shoe and it took 10 minutes to free myself from the mess.  But this isn’t about me.

Speaking of fabric – there is nothing more inspiring than a well-organized fabric storage area.  Boy – what can I say about this?

Floor to Ceiling Fabric Storage System
Floor to Ceiling Fabric Storage System

It is DEFINITELY floor to ceiling – and more floor, too!  Wow – just think of all the quilts and stuff that can be made from all of this fabric!  I really can’t think about it because my head really hurts right now – but you, dear reader, go right ahead.

And lastly I come to the main design wall, and what can I say?

Cutting Edge Design Wall
Cutting Edge Design Wall

Are you kidding me?

I am heading out to my MRI now to see if they can find what is causing that ringing in my ears and the tunnel vision I have been having since my trauma, I mean special visit, to this unusual quilter’s home.

That’s all from Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz, I am Mavis Quinn stumbling off…

Inspiration = Color Loom

 

Color Loom - Ghudri Scarves
Color Loom - Ghudri Scarves

On a sopping wet day in March my friend and I set out to Fourth Street in Berkeley in search of fabric and inspiration – and fabric!

We found both in a surprising new discovery.  Color Loom.

Splashing down the back streets, dodging potholes, wind surfers, and an occasional swarm of hungry pirhana, we saw a beacon of color calling to us from an unassuming corner.  The street was so flooded that we needed a gangway, a dinghy, and water wings to get near the door.  We burst through the entrance and into a fabric wonderland.  So worth braving the rapids!

I am a bit if a visual junkie (OK, a total visual junkie), and I need constant visual input to keep my mind busy and the creative energies flowing.  I watch anything on TV that has people painting, designing, or talking about their art.  I spend a lot of time looking at photographs on the seminal website MyModernMet.com.  So, finding a new source of color, texture, and fabric is a total JACKPOT!  I win!

Color Loom - Silk Scarves
Color Loom - Silk Scarves

Inside the store are three enfiladed rooms full of the most amazing silk and wool fabrics and textiles from India, Bengal, and more!

Color Loom - Bandhini scarf
Color Loom - Bandhini scarf

The front room has the scarves including these silk Bandhini scarves.  Each sunflower seed-shaped point is created from a grain of rice that has been tied into the fabric before the dying process.

Color Loom - Bhandini Scarves in many yummy colors
Color Loom - Bhandini Scarves in many yummy colors

I have no idea how the dying is done to get these colors, but they are so rich and vibrant it’s amazing.  They are also soft and light as a feather.

Color Loom - Pillows
Color Loom - Pillows

The middle room has a large selection of pillows and bed coverings.

Color Loom - Ghudri Silk Bed Throw
Color Loom - Ghudri Silk Bed Throw

I was absolutely in love with this patchwork, queen sized throw.  It is made of long strips of silk pieces sewn together and stitched with long running stitches in three colors.

Color Loom - Ghudri Silk Bed Throw - reverse side
Color Loom - Ghudri Silk Bed Throw - reverse side
Color Loom - Ghudri Bed Throw - stitching detail
Color Loom - Ghudri Bed Throw - stitching detail

The other side of the blanket is an entirely different look.  It is called Ghudri embroidery. I was enthralled with the stitching, being handwork challenged myself, and I tried to imagine sitting all day and stitching these blankets. But I just COULD’NT!

Color Loom - Hand Embroidered Silk Scarves
Color Loom - Hand Embroidered Silk Scarves

This hand-embroidered Kantha shawl was another drool-over item.  This style of embroidery is done in West Bengal, and the style  often includes motifs from daily and village life or animals.  The color, the detail, the motifs – Yumbalia!

 

Color Loom - Ghudri Scarf with tie dye
Color Loom - Ghudri Scarf with tie dye

In the last room there is a big showroom of fabrics that the company produces themselves in silk, cotton, and wool.  You can buy by the yard, the bolt, or by special order.  This was where we found some amazing Ghudri scarves.  Again – the color was spectacular – you just want to eat it!

 

Color Loom - Ghudri Scarves - more two-sided marvels
Color Loom - Ghudri Scarves - more two-sided marvels

My mind was spinning at how beautiful these amazing textiles would look in my quilts.  It would be so rich and luxurious and exciting!  A chair make of silk, a quilt with that gorgeous Ghudri embroidery, a piece of that emerald green sari in something – mind-blowing!

I was thinking, how can I use this fabric?  I can’t cut it up.  Silk is really hard to work with.  I will spend this money and wreck it!  Ugh!

So often I hear quilters and crafters say, “I could never…”  I could never use that fabric.  I could never use silk.  I could never make my own pattern.  I could never do curves.  You get the picture!

More hand work detail
More hand work detail

I know the feeling.  When I started quilting I made only quilts with squares, because, “I could never make triangles!  They are too hard!”  But we all know in our hearts that we can use ANYTHING we can get our hands on!  If anyone on the planet can sew silk, why can’t we?  If anyone else can design something, so can we.  It is about taking risk, being brave, being open to the possibilities that happen as you go, and being willing to compromise and improvise.  I find that when a project doesn’t go as planned, it sometimes turns out even better.  Being willing to take a chance and fail is brave – and you can do it!  I say so.

 

Are you kidding me? So amazing.
Are you kidding me? So amazing.

If you get out to Fourth Street any time, check out Color Loom at 1425 4th Street. You will be so inspired and excited!  They also have a wonderful website for more info at http://www.colorloom.com.

I guarantee you will never go on as wet a day as we did!  But if it’s raining, take a paddle just in case!

Dream Chair Corral – Frida Chair

Frida Chair by Margaret Linderman
Frida Chair by Margaret Linderman

Margaret Linderman is a fabulous fiber artist.  She specializes in collage-style, quilted, clothing and quilts, made with spectacular ethnic fabrics.  Her Frida Chair is one of the most wonderful chair quilts I have seen.

Margaret is a devotee of Frida Kahlo and she has a whole room in her home that is inspired by the late Mexican artist.  I have delighted in seeing the quilts, curtains, Day of the Dead altera fiber art pieces, and now the chair, that go into this wonderful room.

Margaret is a master of the raw edge appliqué and her cut out flowers and collage style is one of my most important influences.  I know that the Love and Thorns Loveseat, Chica Chair and Barb Wire Betsy would have never been created if it weren’t for Margaret’s inspired work.

One of the amazing things to note is that Margaret and her talented daughter, Janis Stob, teach at Wooden Gate Quilts several days a week and anyone can go to the drop-in classes that they teach and be in a wonderful, creative environment.  I cannot emphasize how much inspiration a positive teaching situation can be for quilters of every level!

I was lucky to have Margaret attend my first ever Dream Chair Quilt class when she started this piece.  She had this amazing cloudy sky fabric, which called out to be a background for a chair!  A large-scale flower chair back and two different border sides added to the magic and mystery of this quilt.

Frida Chair - right side detail
Frida Chair - right side detail

The Frida Chair has a large appliqué of Frida surrounded by flowers.  She floats in the sunset, serene and fierce!

Frida Chair - right head rest
Frida Chair - right head rest

A little bird perches on the headrest, keeping an eye on the amazing lady.

Frida Chair - seat detail
Frida Chair - seat detail

Seated on the chair is a little swaddled baby, and Margaret calls him Baby Diego after Frida’s husband Diego Rivera.  The fabrics on the front of the cushion and in the thick, textural piping are woven fabrics from Guatemala. The central flower on the back of the chair’s seat is embellished with tiny yellow beads and a large jewel in the center that is representative of Diego’s all-seeing third eye from a Frida Kahlo painting.

Frida Chair - foot detail
Frida Chair - foot detail

Each little touch, including the smiling skull feet, fills me with such delight.

Margaret’s has been working very hard and her amazing wearable art will be featured in the Benicia Carquinez Straits Quilt Guild show on April 30 and May 1, 2011.  It is a not-to-be-missed opportunity!

Read about it here and see the schedule of Margaret’s demonstrations!

http://www.beniciamagazine.com/Blogs/Happenings/April-2011/Strait-Stitching/

Remember that you can click on any of these images to examine them more closely.

Frida Chair - chair close up
Frida Chair - chair close up