Improv Handbook Test Quilter Blog Hop

Over 250 people signed on to test quilt the ten scores for The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters – without visual references. There were 165 quilts completed and submitted for inclusion into the book.

The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood, photo by Sara Remmington

Only 22 of the test quilts were published in the book, but all 165 of the test quilts can be viewed in the online test quilt galleries linked below. I hope you agree that all of them are worthy examples of the scores, each in their own way.

  1. Score for Floating Squares Gallery
  2. Score for Strings Gallery
  3. Score for Improv Round Robin Gallery
  4. Score for Patchwork Doodle Gallery
  5. Score for Modern Block Improv Gallery
  6. Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery
  7. Score for Layered Curves Gallery
  8. Score for Bias Strip Petals Gallery
  9. Score for Get Your Curve On Gallery
  10. Score for Showing Up Gallery

The efforts and feedback of the test quilters significantly shaped the ten scores, or flexible patterns, featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters. As you view the galleries, may you feel inspired and encouraged to know that there are an infinite number of interpretations for every score.

Test Quilters’ Process July Blog Hop

The Test Quilt Galleries also include links to process posts written by many of the test quilters describing their unique improv experiences. These process posts are inspiring and I’m happy to introduce another round in July.

July 1: The Quilting Edge by Marianne Haak with giveaway!

July 3: Andrew Steinbrecher

July 6: Heather Kojan Quilts with giveaway!

July 8: Fiber Antics by Veronica

Date TBD: Latifah Saafir Studios

July 16: Marion’s Journal

I will be updating these links as the posts are published. May you enjoy and be inspired to improvise YOUR WAY!

All images from The Improv Handbook are copyrighted (c) 2015 Sara Remington unless otherwise noted, and all text and illustrations (c) 2015 Sherri Lynn Wood, and can not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher Stewart, Tabori, & Chang.
Posted in The Modern Quilt | 3 Comments

Improv Patchwork Road Tales ~ Intro

It’s been two weeks since I landed back in Oakland after a two week journey that began in North Carolina (my home state) followed by ten days crossing the country in a rental truck, while promoting The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.

Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters Road Tour - with roadie

One thing I learned early on as an artist — when I shared my story with others, they in turn shared theirs. The development of an idea is a collaborative process. Concepts expand through the shared, resonating experiences of a community – YES AND…!

Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters Road Tour at Fancy Tiger, Denver

Growing up churched, I was always fascinated with the idea that “communion” happened whenever two or more gathered and broke bread together. The sharing of stories is the breaking bread sustenance that keeps creativity and meaningful connection growing and expanding.

Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters - Fancy Tiger, Denver

Between driving over 4000 miles, performing eight times, teaching two workshops, and meeting hundreds of people and signing hundreds of books in a dozen different cities and towns in 14 days, there was little energy left for blogging. BUT there was plenty of bread broken and shared (even some banana pudding) as I took the concepts contained in The Improv Handbook to meet the curiosity and enthusiasm of quilt lovers and makers across the country.

Banana Pudding - Allen & Son's BBQ - Chapel Hill, NC

Many of you already have copies in hand of The Improv Handbook. At the time I did my best to pour all my knowledge of the topic onto its pages. Even as I wrote I was learning and developing my ideas further. Writing a book is great for expanding the horizon of one’s ideas.

Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters Road Tour - Book Signing

Even so, many of the concepts barely introduced in The Improv Handbook —such as flexible patterning, authenticity, setting limits, working without a plan, finding flow, and harnessing emotional energy have evolved further through the fruitful exchange with the quilting communities I had the good fortune to meet in New England, San Diego, Los Angeles, and on the road in Durham, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Cincinnati, Lincoln, Denver, St. George, and unexpected places in between.

Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters Road Tour - Thimble Pleasures, Chapel Hill

Over the next several weeks I will pass along some of the surprises, discoveries, satisfactions, tall tales, patchwork stories and life lessons learned through the people I met on the road with The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.

Stay Tuned!

Posted in Art and Social Practice, Community, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Quilting By The Lake ~ July 27-31

I’m touring and I have a new book out. I’m teaching at guilds as I’m invited, and every where I go people ask me where else are you teaching? Where can I take one of your workshops? Are you going to be teaching here…or there… (insert your favorite quilting retreat or conference)?

So the short answer is I will be teaching improv for five days at Quilting By The Lake in Syracuse NY, July 27-31, 2015 — this summer!

Score to Get Your Curve On from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood

I’m teaching a two-day intensive workshop on quilting from a score. In this workshop you will explore the FUNDAMENTAL concept to flexible patterning and improvisational process: How to set limits that best support your creative flow. This is the KEY principle that will allow you to progress in creating and following your own patterns. Finding your flow not only feels super good, it actually replaces the need of having to work from a plan.

This two-day will be followed by a three-day intensive workshop on ruler-free curve patchwork. In this improv workshop you will learn advanced composition and ruler and template-free CURVE patchwork techniques. Improvising with curves challenges you to commit one-step-at-a-time, and to celebrate your mistakes because it ain’t easy! Yet it all works out in the end. Often our mistakes and the challenges we overcome, lead us into the most interesting territory, and result in the most dynamic quilts.

Sherri Lynn Wood teaching from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters, photo by Sara Remmington

These two workshops build on each other. I recommend both, and there are still a few spots left in each. If you can swing a trip to Syracuse this July then by all means join me for this rare opportunity to do some intensive improv work. AND it’s a great deal cost wise. SIGN UP TODAY!  Or feel free to contact me with specific questions about the workshop content.

Unless your guild has invited me to teach, the next opportunity for a 6hr workshop will not be until QuiltCon West in February 2016.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Above are a few images from workshops I’ve taught this spring at Seacoast MQG & NHMQG. I hope to see you this July at Quilting By The Lake! It’s going to be AWESOME!

All images from The Improv Handbook are copyrighted (c) 2015 Sara Remington unless otherwise noted, and all text and illustrations (c) 2015 Sherri Lynn Wood, and can not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher Stewart, Tabori, & Chang.
Posted in Events and Workshops, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | Leave a comment

Improv Handbook Process Post ~ Kinda Quilty

One of the joys of writing The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters is watching other quilters blossom in their very unique ways.

Check out this Improv Handbook process post by Mina Kennison at Kinda Quilty. She made both of the quilts below based on scores featured in the book and they are  absolutely stunning!

Score For Modern Block Improv by Mina Kennison

Test Quilt by Mina Kennison featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters Score For Get Your Curve On by Mina Kennison

Quilt by Mina Kennison Inspried by the Score for Get Your Curve On from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters

Get Your IMPROV PATCHWORK Curve On!

If you are interested in delving deeper into the scores featured in The Improv Handbook, your opportunity is now! I’m teaching a two-day intensive on Improvising From A Score and a three-day intensive on Get Your Curve On, at Quilting By The Lake, JULY 27-31, in Syracuse, NY.

This is a rare opportunity to take your improv patchwork practice deeper. SIGN UP for both sessions for a full immersion experience.  It is the ONLY place and time I’m teaching these workshops publicly until I teach them as one-day workshops at QuiltCon West 2016.

Posted in The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Improv Handbook X-Country Tour

I’m thrilled to announce the complete schedule for the The Improv Handbook X-Country Brick & Mortar Road Tour. It officially began last week with my first ever Ruler-Free Improv Patchwork Performance at Sew Modern, and it continues tomorrow with a stop at Rosie’s Calico Cubboard in  San Diego. I will be flying to NC for two events in Chapel Hill next week. Then I will hit the road from June 1-10 with stops in Lewisville, Asheville, Cincinnati, Lincoln, Denver, St. George… all the home way to Oakland, CA.

At each location I will be teaching, presenting, performing or having a simple meet & greet conversation about improv –and of course I will be signing books. Come out and visit. Bring your friends. I guarantee we will learn something new!

Score For Improv Round Robin, by Sherri Lynn Wood, from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, photo by Sara Remmington

Share the Link

Please help spread the word to your friends, relatives, guild members, quilt makers, creators, designers, and artists, who live within driving distance of these locations.

­­Friday, May 8, 6:30-8:30PM, Los Angeles, CADemo/Performance

Sew Modern, 10921 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064, 310-446-4397

 Saturday, May 16, 12 – 2 PM, San Diego, CA – Conversation

Rosie’s Calico Cupboard, 7151 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92115

Sunday May 17, 9 AM – 4 PM, San Diego, CA – Teaching

San Diego MQG, Quilt in a Day, 1955 Diamond St., San Marcos, CA 92078. Register in advance. 

Thursday, May 28, 7 – 9 PM, Chapel Hill, NC – Presentation

United Church, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, (919) 942-3540

Friday, May 29, 6 – 8 PM, Chapel Hill, NC – Demo/Performance

Thimble Pleasures, 225 South Elliott Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, (919) 968-6050

Sunday, May 31, 10 AM – 5 PM, Durham, NC – Teaching

Triangle MQG, Durham Catering, 3710 Shannon Rd. Suite #117, Durham, NC 27707. Register in advance. 

Monday June 1, 5 – 7 PM, Lewisville, NC –  Presentation

Sewingly Yours, 1329 Lewisville-Clemmons Rd, Lewisville, NC 27023, (704) 575-9234  

Tuesday, June 2, 4 – 6 PM, Asheville, NC – Conversation

Malaprops Bookstore, 55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC, (828) 254-6734   

Wednesday, June 3, 6 – 8 PM, Cincinnati, OH – Demo/Performance

Sewn Studios,  3212 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45209, (513) 321-0600

Friday, June 5, 3 – 5 PM, Lincoln, NE – Presentation

International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 1523 N 33rd St, Lincoln, NE 68503, (402) 472-6850

Saturday, June 6, 5 – 7 PM, Denver, CO – Performance

Fancy Tiger, 59 Broadway St, Denver, CO 80203, (303) 733-3855

Sunday, June 7, 9 AM – 3:30 PM, Denver, CO – Teaching

Front Range MQG, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall 3, 15200 W 6th Ave Frontage Rd, Golden, CO 80401. Register in Advance.

Tuesday, June 9, 10 AM – 12 PM, St. George, UT – Demo/Performance

Scrap Apple Quilts, 144 W. Brigham Rd. #23, St. George, UT 84790, (435) 628-8226

16281782747_11450f7fc2_b

Thanks for the Invites

I want to give a shout out to those who contacted me from Atlanta, Orlando, Boca Raton, Minneapolis, Omaha, Boise, Salt Lake City, Memphis, San Luis Obispo, Yuba City, Eugene, Portland, Chicago, NYC, and more. If only I could visit all of you on this tour.  Thank you for extending an invitation. Once I’m home and things have settled a bit I will be following up with a copy of  The Improv Handbook to give away through your local guild meeting or quilt shop.

May I see you on the road!

Score For Improv Round Robin, by Sherri Lynn Wood, from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, photo by Sara Remmington

 

All images from The Improv Handbook are copyrighted (c) 2015 Sara Remington unless otherwise noted, and all text and illustrations (c) 2015 Sherri Lynn Wood, and can not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher Stewart, Tabori, & Chang.
Posted in The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 14 Comments

Improv Handbook Blog Hop Continues ~ Penny Gold

Congrats Penny Gold!

Congrats Penny Gold!

Don’t miss Penny Gold’s insightful description of her process of making this engaging quilt from one of the scores from the Improv Handbook. Her test quilt is featured in the Improv Handbook and was one of 18 test quilts juried into Quiltcon 2015. She is also giving away a copy of the book. Comment on her post by March 15 for a chance to win.

Posted in Events and Workshops | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ruler-Free Patchwork – Improv Theater Mashup Results

There were about 30 people in attendance at the stunningly, beautiful Sew Modern in Los Angeles for my first ever Ruler-Free Patchwork – Improv Theater Mashup. Audience members provided “ugly” fabrics, threw out suggestions, and questions as I improvised a quilt on the spot according to their prompts. I spoke about improvisational process, while demonstrating some of the ruler-free techniques featured in the Improv Handbook. All within a one-hour time limit. It was kind of like rubbing my belly and patting my head at a same time… AND a good time was had by all!

Afterwards I signed books and Latifah Saafir showed up with the test quilt she made from the Score For Bias Strip Petals.

16891294963_249f64c3ad_kIt was a lovely evening and special thanks to Lauren and all of the Sew Modern staff for hosting the event. This was the kick-off and I’m looking forward to more Ruler-Free Patchwork performances as I cross the country this June on a brick & mortar book tour. Check out the just announced Improv Handbook X-Country Tour schedule. I will be in San Diego next Saturday, May 16, signing books at Rosie’s Calico Cupboard.

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt, Tools, Tips, Tutorials | Tagged | 1 Comment

Ruler-Free Patchwork Performance at Sew Modern LA

Tonight at Sew Modern in Los Angeles will be the debut performance of my Improvise! Ruler-Free Patchwork Performance AND the kick off of  The Improv Handbook X-Country Brick & Mortar Book Tour.

The performance will be a mashup of improv theater games with ruler-free patchwork as I demonstrate techniques featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters, such as basic strip, bias strip, wedge, curve, stack, float, repetition, flow, bleeding, darting, natural fit, approximate measuring, trouble shooting, and composition tips, tricks and techniques. I will be demonstrating techniques and building a quilt top as I take suggestions and guidance on the spot from the audience.  It should be very interesting!

Here are the fabrics I will be starting with and attendees have been invited to bring a few zingers to add to the mix. I will post the results tomorrow…

In other book news, check out more wonderful posts reviewing The Improv Handbook by Amy Friend of During Quiet Time and by Blair Underwood at WiseCraft. In addition to their reviews they both share their unique experiences of the improvisational process as they worked through a score, or flexible pattern, from the book. Amy was one of the 250 people who test quilted one of the scores prior to publication, and Blair took the Patchwork Doodle workshop when I was teaching for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild in February.

I also want to report on my recent teaching trips to Kansas City and spots in New England. So much happening and so many discoveries. I only wish I had a double who could help me out in sharing it all with you. Be patient… it will come.

Happy days!

Posted in The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Improv Handbook Blog Hop

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.39.19 AM

Each of the bloggers on the tour will be reviewing the book and offering a giveaway copy of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.

But that’s not all…

Over 250 people signed on to test quilt the ten scores, or flexible patterns, featured in The Improv Handbook – without visual references. There were 165 quilts completed and submitted for inclusion into the book, but we only had room to print 22. During the next month all 165 of these quilts will debut, score by score, on the blog hop. After each of the test quilt galleries are revealed I will be reposting them here: Test Quilts.

And there is more…

Some of the participants in the tour are test quilters whose quilts are published in the book. Each will share their story and process of working through the score they were assigned to test.

May you find the insightful reviews of the book, the test quilt galleries, and the test quilter’s individual stories encouraging, as you begin your own improvisational journey with the Improv Handbook.

There is NO ONE WAY to proceed, and the ONLY WAY to succeed is YOUR WAY. 

Continue to check in during the month as I update the links below to the specific posts for each stop on the tour, as well as share information about giveaway end dates.

16281782747_11450f7fc2_b

May 2: Sew Mama Sew – Score for Floating Squares Gallery

May 4 STC Craft – Score for Rhythmic Grid Gallery

May 4: Plaid Portico – Score for Strings Gallery

May 6: During Quiet Time – Test Quilter Amy Friend – GIVEAWAY through May 10

May 8: Wise Craft Handmade – Score for Get Your Curve On Gallery

May 11: Studio Notes – Test Quilter Penny Gold – GIVEAWAY through May 15

May 13: Quiltville – Score for Modern Block Improv Gallery and GIVEAWAY

May 15: Peppermint Pinwheels – Test Quilter Stacey Sharman – GIVEAWAY to May 22

May 18: Quirky Quilts – Test Quilter Kim McPeake – GIVEAWAY to May 25

May 20: PoppyPrintCreates – Score for Patchwork Doodle GalleryGIVEAWAY to May 23

May 22: The Last Piece – Test Quilter Sara Fielke

May 25: Cauchy Complete – Score for Layered Curves GalleryGIVEAWAY to May 29

May 26Diary of a Quilter – Score for Bias Strip Petals Gallery

May 27: Film In The Fridge – Test Quilter Ashley Newcomb – GIVEAWAY to May 29

May 28: Getting Stitched on the Farm –Score for Improv Round Robin Gallery

May 29: Spoonflower – Score for Showing Up Gallery

May 30Fresh Modern Quilts – Test Quilter Rossie Hutchinson

15208502127_80fb6e2329_b

 

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 7 Comments

Improv Handbook Available April 28!

The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters coverFYI – The release date has been moved up to April 28! The wait is almost over.

Pre-Order your copy BEFORE April 28, and enter the Pre-Order Giveaway HERE!

Read more about the contents, features and early reviews of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters and where to join the Improv Handbook community online.

Posted in Current Giveaways, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 4 Comments

Improv Handbook X-Country Book Tour!

Dear Quilt Making Sisters and Brothers,

The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters is soon to be released on May 5. To celebrate I will be hitting the road June 1-10, to sign books and spread the joy of improv patchwork from Durham, NC to Oakland, CA. I’m in the initial stages of planning the Improv Handbook X-Country Book Tour and I need your help deciding locations.

I am looking for quilt shops, textile/craft museums, or book sellers who are willing to host book signing receptions en route. I will be offering either a short presentation or improv demo performance about improvisational process and patchwork in exchange.

Detail from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters

Improvise! Creating, Quilting, & Living Courageously, 1hr presentation

Improvisation is at the heart of living creatively. Music, dance, theater, drawing, cooking, conversation, play, child rearing, and even science benefit from the flexibility of mind that improvisational process engenders. We all improvise every day. Attendees will leave with mind tools, tips and a fresh perspective on how to apply improv skills learned in life to their patchwork – and vice versa!

 

Improvise! Ruler-Free Patchwork Performance, 1hr demo

Basic strip, bias strip, wedge, curve, stack, float, repetition, flow, bleeding, darting, natural fit, approximate measuring, trouble shooting, and composition tips, tricks and techniques for ruler-free patchwork will be demonstrated and performed on the spot according to suggestions received from the audience. It’s an Improv Patchwork Theater Mashup! Attendees are invited (optional) to bring up to a 1/4 yd of fabric scraps for use in the patchwork performance. Venue provides sewing machine, ironing station, and work table.

I haven’t settled on a route yet, but would appreciate host suggestions for these possible locations:

  • Asheville, NC
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Montgomery, AL
  • Nashville, TN
  • Memphis, TN
  • Little Rock, AK
  • Wichita, KS
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Springfield, MO
  • Jackson, MS
  • Shreveport, LA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Paduca, KY
  • Cincinnati OH
  • Chicago, IL
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Omaha, NE
  • Lincoln, NE
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Denver, CO
  • Boulder, CO
  • Boise, ID
  • Eugene, OR
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Palm Springs, CA
  • San Lois Obispo, CA
  • Others???

Please comment below with the name of the city and venue recommendations, with contact info if possible — or email me privately. Also comment on the strength of the quilting community in that location, along with contact info of local quilt guilds – traditional or modern – whose members might be interested in attending such an event. Or please forward a link to this post to anyone who you think may be interested and able in hosting an event on the tour.

Thanks for your timely help! I will be announcing the itinerary for the Improv Handbook X-Country Book Tour soon. I hope to meet you there!

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 38 Comments

Mastering & Innovating Patchwork Techniques

One day I saw the paper collage above on flickr, by artist Virginia Echeverria Whipple (I  love her work!) and wondered how I could create the effect of concentric rings in patchwork. Perhaps with bias cut strips? I had never seen anyone strip piece on the curve before. Could it be done?

Rainbow Cloud Quilt by Sherri Lynn Wood - DetailWithout any tutorials to refer to and with only my skills at hand, I jumped in and figured out a way to do it. There were lots of pitfalls requiring innovative solutions, but eventually I invented and mastered a new patchwork technique – Bias Strip Piecing on the Curve.

Bias Strip Piecing on the Curve by Sherri Lynn WoodPushing your sewing skills beyond your limits of mastery is one way to see with the eyes of a beginner again, and this is the best frame of mind to be in as an improviser. Innovation is something that happens when there is no solution, or instruction manual, readily available.

Bias Strip Piecing on the Curve a technique by Sherri Lynn WoodThat being said, if you want to jump in and learn how to strip piece on the curve with ruler-free bias cut strips then definitely pick up a copy of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters. Not only is each step of the technique beautifully photographed (below), there are lots of tips on how to flow with your “mistakes” and make something wonderful out of them!

A technique from the Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters photographed by Sara Remington

A technique from the Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters photographed by Sara Remington

Now how will you push your repertoire of patchwork skills beyond your limits? What tricky piecing situations do you have a hanker to explore? Hexies? Y-seams? Ruler-free curves? Go for it!

Score For Bias Strip Petals by Sherri Lynn Wood from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters photographed by Sara Remington

Score For Bias Strip Petals by Sherri Lynn Wood from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters photographed by Sara Remington

All images from The Improv Handbook are copyrighted (c) 2015 Sara Remington unless otherwise noted, and all text and illustrations (c) 2015 Sherri Lynn Wood, and can not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher Stewart, Tabori, & Chang.

 

Guest Blogger on Okan Arts and Giveaway

The post above was first published on the Okan Arts blog last week. They are following up my guest post with four giveaways of  The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters in April.

Visit this link at OkanArts.com to enter THEIR giveaway by April 30!

Posted in Current Giveaways, My Creative Process, Personal Heritage, The Modern Quilt, Tools, Tips, Tutorials | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Improv Handbook Test Quilters

When I first began writing The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters I knew immediately that it had to include quilts made by other people. The whole point of improvisation is to follow and discover our unique patterns. I wanted to dispel the notion that there was only one way to interpret the ten project score included in the book. If people tried to recreate the quilts I made for the book I knew they would become frustrated. Improvisational patchwork is like a performance that documents a moment in time. Neither the moment nor the quilt can be recreated. I can’t even recreate my own quilts! Thus it was important to include the unique interpretation of the scores by others.

“Flying Geese” made by Reanna Alder based on the Score For Modern Block Improv: Flying Geese  from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters

So one of the first things I did was put a call out on my blog for volunteers to test quilt the project scores. Over 250 people signed up to make a quilt based on an assigned score without any visual references. About 165 quilts were completed and submitted for inclusion in the book. The range of diversity was fabulous. There were so many unique and stunning interpretations. It was an extremely difficult task choosing with my editor, Melanie Falick at STC Craft, only twenty-two for publication.

“Nene” by Kristin La Flamme based on the Score For Modern Block Improv: Flying Geese  from The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters

The test quilters played an invaluable role in shaping the content of the book. They provided feedback on how the scores made sense or not. Based on this I gradually clarified the scores. I got a clearer picture of what kinds of information and encouragement beginners, as well as quilters more experienced with improv, needed to find their flow, overcome obstacles, and do their best work.

As the blog tour for the Improv Handbook unfolds in early May all the test quilts will eventually be revealed online. In the meantime check out these posts by some of the Improv Handbook test quilters. They share their improvisational process as well as their one-of-a-kind quilts.

Posted in Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

18 Quilts Inspired by The Improv Handbook at QuiltCon

A total of EIGHTEEN quilts inspired by scores from the Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters were exhibited at QuiltCon 2015! Fifteen were made by people who blind tested the scores when I first began the process of writing the book, plus three of my quilts made for the book. It was a thrill to see most of these test quilts for the first time in real life and how diverse they were. Each person performed the score assigned to them in their own way. That’s what improv is all about! I am a proud grandma!

PS-Click on any one of the quilts to view the gallery images large.

Posted in Community, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Improv Handbook March & April Events ~ May 5 Release

Improv Handbook ~ Release Delayed Until May 5

For all of you who have been waiting patiently for your pre-ordered copy of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters to arrive this week, you may have been notified that the release date has been pushed from March 17 to May 5.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.55.58 AMApparently there were some irregularities with the binding on some of the books. Many were fine but others were not up to the publisher’s standards. Because the quality of the first printing was spotty, the folks at STC Craft decided to reprint. Thus the delay.

I am happy that my publisher cares so much about the quality of their product to insist on a reprint. It’s a thoughtfully designed book, with amazing quilts, ground breaking content, and stunning photography. They expect every aspect of the book to meet a high standard of beauty and function.Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.38.33 AMI hope for all of you who have pre-ordered, it will be worth the wait. And just so you know you are not alone, I’m waiting for my copies too! If you haven’t done so already, enter the pre-order giveaway here. I’ve extended the entry date until May 5.

BTW – these are all preview images from The Improv Handbook. If you want to see more, check out the newly posted LOOK INSIDE preview on Amazon.

All images from The Improv Handbook are copyrighted (c) 2015 Sara Remington unless otherwise noted, and all text and illustrations (c) 2015 Sherri Lynn Wood, and can not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher Stewart, Tabori, & Chang.

Copies Available at March & April Signing Events

If you really want to get your hands on a copy before May 5, STC Craft/Abrams is hand-picking the perfect books from the original printing and making them available at all of my speaking, teaching and signing events between now and the new release date.  There will be quality books available at the following events, and I will be signing copies!

March 27, Stitch Modern 2015 Exhibition Opening, Oakland, CA. I will be signing copies at the opening from 6-9PM.

April 16-18, Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. I will be signing copies at their guild meeting on Thursday, April 16 from 7-9PM, and teaching two one-day workshops on the 17th & 18th.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.04.54 AMApril 30 & May 1, A Gathering Of Stitches, Portland ME.

On Thursday, April 30 from 6-8PM, I will be presenting a talk on Improvisational Process and Patchwork and signing books.

On Friday, May 1 from 9AM-4PM I will be facilitating a very special one-day workshop on Improvisational Quilting From A Score, which was a huge hit at QuiltCon (workshop recap). This workshop will be limited to TEN participants. Typically I’m working with 25 students at a time, so this is a rare opportunity to explore and improvise in an intimate setting with more focus given to each person.

For those who want to make it a weekend affair and continue to explore on their own, the workshop will be followed by two days of open sewing at the AGOS studio space,  I highly recommend this event for those of you who would relish a mini sewing retreat in the midst of the scenic and bustling port town of Portland Maine. Sign up with a couple of friends today!

Posted in Community, Current Giveaways, Events and Workshops | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

QuiltCon Day 4 ~ Group Flow

This was my first time teaching Quilting From A Score. I wondered how the workshop would go over since there are no flashy advanced curve techniques or opportunities to explore a multitude of different patterns as in the curve and doodle workshops that I teach.

My primary goal as an improv teacher is to help people find their optimal flow for improvising, and usually most of my students achieve this to a greater or lesser degree in all of my workshops.

Improvising From A Score with Sherri Lynn Wood

However in this instance the class as a whole experienced a prolong “Zen” moment. At one point I was mesmerized by the syncopated quiet movements of my students, sewing, ironing, and repeating their internal sequences, all engrossed in creating and working harmoniously throughout the day. It was a group performance!

Improvising From A Score with Sherri Lynn Wood

I was also amazed at the range of expression achieved within the limits of this simple, algorithmic Score for Floating Squares.

Participants gained a clearer understanding about how to create their own scores, or flexible patterns, by setting limits. The prolonged experience of creative flow on our last day at QuiltCon left everyone feeling pretty satisfied. Now that’s FRESH quilting – or at least quilting that leaves you feeling FRESH!

It was peaceful to be around this group flow, and in this light, it was my favorite workshop of the three. A fulfilling way to wrap up my QuiltCon 2015 experience.

Thanks to all my amazing students and to all the people who I met during my book signings and lecture. May you continue to follow your own patterns, go with the flow and be satisfied!

16123441654_269d4b8c2b_z

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

QuiltCon Day 3 ~ Quilting From the Heart

The Impact of the Gee’s Bend Quilters’ Faith on QuiltCon

Tonight the  Gee’s Bend Quilters gave the keynote address at QuiltCon.  I felt a bit embarrassed when someone in the audience asked them if the quilts they saw at QuiltCon would have an impact on their quilting or change it in anyway. Mary Ann Pettway simply answered “No,” which I thought was an honest reply to an extremely awkward question.

(edit – I personally found the  question uncomfortable because of what I didn’t hear in it, a respectful understanding that their work has a certain visionary integrity that comes from within. I think many contemporary quilters, myself included, are overly influenced by exterior factors, design/color/fabric trends and what other people are making. An open ended question would have been better put, something like “What are your impressions of the quilts you have seen at QuiltCon?” Wondering about their take on our quilts is certainly valid – and I suppose that was the gist of the original question – the way it was put felt awkward to me.)

Shouldn’t we instead be asking the reverse question?  How will our exposure at QuiltCon to the Gee’s Bend Quilters’ faith as the source of their creative process change the way we make our quilts, or our perceptions of what quilting is all about. What are your thoughts? Not only did the Gee’s Bend Quilters give the keynote to hundreds of attendees, they taught two workshops a day. If you were at QuilCon will the witness of these women impact your quilting on a personal level in any way? Do you think it will shape the Modern Quilt movement as a whole in any way? And if so so how?

The Gee’s Bend women reminded me that quilt making comes from the heart, and that it’s a gift of grace. It was profound to experience quilting as a spiritual matter through their songs, prayers, stories and blessing of permission to “just start sewing” – that we can make things our own way – and it is good.

And in timely fashion here’s a recent article in the NY Times about the quilters and quilts of Gee’s Bend.

Patchwork Doodling Workshop

15989109323_95fe23a4f6_o

You can see by these images that this group of students made my job easy today. They just went to town and did their things! The output and diversity was quite impressive. Again, this was the first time I’ve ever taught this workshop and I discovered that everyone does indeed doodle differently.

16401536177_26d1b30a8f_o

We began class by doodling for a few minutes and then discussed the process of drawing responsively. The way people doodled varied vastly and it was and in a way wasn’t surprising at all when these differences came out in their patchwork doodles. People doodle with patchwork much in the same way they doodle with pen and paper.

15986738284_73e4b48aab_o

It was also interesting to see when and how the process kicked in for people, how far they could take things until they got stuck, what kind of things got them stuck and what kinds of things they could do to become unstuck. I loved watching the Patchwork Doodling process unfold in my students as much as I enjoyed watching their patchwork doodles take shape.

Improv Handbooks Are Back IN STOCK

Yay! One more day of signing books at QuiltCon. Pick your copy up today. Text your best friend who’s at QuiltCon and ask them to stop by the Stitch Lab Booth #216, and bring you back a signed copy!

16603779835_c89b1c9b8f_o

Posted in Community, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 18 Comments

QuiltCon Day 2 ~ Hot Shots

Bias Strip Piecing on the Curve Workshop

Today I taught the Bias Strip Curve Workshop for the first time and it was a delight to watch it unfold.  Sewing bias strips on the curve is tricky piecework and difficult to master. But no matter… my hot shot students went to town, merrily making mistakes right and left. Whoopee!

You may think that this was a problem but actually provided an opportunity to figure things out and the mistakes made became the centerpieces of some surprising compositions. I was impressed by the willingness and courage of my students and all that they accomplished.

Improv Handbook SOLD OUT on Second Day of QuiltCon

Can you believe it! So exciting. The Stitch Lab folks told me that they’ve never moved so many books in one day for a single author. EVER. I had a chance to sign the two last books in the first five minutes of my signing session, with Tricia Royal –a test quilter for the Improv Handbook, and Chicago MQG president, Sarah Shulman.

16572804826_22b1a64f79_z

But no worries! My amazing publisher STC Craft is shipping more books overnight. The signings should commence again tomorrow at Stitch Lab, Booth #216, from 12:15-1:15 PM.

Finally – I did a count of Improv Handbook test quilts exhibited at QuiltCon this year. Not counting my three from the book there are FIFTEEN Improv Handbook test quilts represented! Tricia’s test quilt placed 3rd in the Improv category.

More to come…

 

 

Posted in Community, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

QuiltCon Day 1 ~ Riding High

Sherri Lynn Wood at Stitchlab Quitcon 2015

Maybe a picture can speak a thousand words!  Cause I certainly was riding high on the mechanical sewing machine in the sky today at QuiltCon.

Meeting the Gee’s Bend Quilters

It began with meeting the Gee’s Bend Quilters, Mary Ann and China Pettway, Gloria Hoppens, and Lucy Lee Whitherspoon in the teacher’s lounge about an hour before their class started. They sat around the table with me and actually looked through a copy of my book! I was like uhhhh is this really happening. We were having a conversation.

Then in class they started off with some gospel singing and a prayer and a blessing. It was lovely. The whole room of 25 students became quiet, centered and intensely present. Being present is the main, number one priority for improv and they just brought us there. The entire class at once. So hey – I vowed to sing for all three of my QuiltCon classes this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes ;-)

But then… after the singing they said, “What did you all bring to make your quilts out of?” and then after that they said,  “Good start sewing. Make anything you like.”  I almost laughed out loud, because I could never get away with this in one of my classes. Immediately one of the students said out loud in a gasp, “WHAT?” –in this kind of lost incredulous way. It was fantastic.

And then the four teachers proceeded to spread out through the room and gently encouraged each person, one at a time, to start making whatever they pleased. As simple as all that!  I don’t think many of the students had ever improvised before with patchwork so I can only imagine what they were thinking. There were no techniques given, no instructions conveyed, simply permission, affirmation, encouragement and space offered, so that we could find our own ways. What more do we need?

So that was lovely!

Lecturing on Improv Process and Patchwork

Next I was off to give my lecture. I was delighted and somewhat surprised that there were probably 200+ people in the hall for my talk. I saw lots of people nodding their heads, always a good sign that the audience is resonating. I was touched that so many people had come from so many places with their curiosity and love of improv and quilting – including folks from all over the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Denmark? and even Russia!

Signing Improv Handbooks

Then off to the Stitch Lab booth, book signings and of course the Mechanical Sewing Machine. First person in line at the signing – well she was sitting in my seat just finishing up her signings – Denyse Schmidt. I’m like oh this is the first time I’ve ever signed a copy of my book for someone and it’s Denyse, and then I misspelled her name with the Sharpie! But she was very sweet and it was such a pleasure for me because we both started quilting around the same time about 25 years ago and it’s something important that we share – a dedication, and a passion, and a parallel history of sorts. And then a steady stream of quilt makers, some known to me, others new, buying my book, asking me to sign and telling me about their love of improv.

In the Midst of Community Making

quiltcon pin swap

And all of this contained by this incredible energy of the community. A swarm of quilters from all corners who know each other by our button names and online tags… daintytime   – sewaggie – venus de hilo – the craft divas –  a quilter’s table – retromama61 – rockin’g quilts – just a bit frayed -marci girl – dragonfly 5 – heart s – cat & vee – aunty brenda – meadow mist – sew yummy – the colorful om – school of sewing … and our real names… heather jones – elizabeth hartman – jenna – melissa averinds – miss emily taylor – krista hennebury… and our guild names… boulder mqg – phxmqg –  australia mqg … and our professional names… mass drop – waffle kisses – pink castle fabrics – urban spools – esch house quilts – school of sewing…  Each of us with a story and a passion for quilting, meeting face to face, reconnecting, and making new connections. It’s been quite a buzz of glowing energy.

Such a blessing!

Okay one last thing. I am so PROUD of my Improv Handbook TEST QUILTERS. You all are rocking the exhibit hall with your quilts. I think there must be at least a dozen in the show – even some ribbon winners! I’m going around with my camera tomorrow to document.

Posted in Community | Tagged | 6 Comments

Got QUILTCON!

Got Pins, Got Cards, Got Book, Got Fabric, Got QUILTCON!

15948943884_0c69310641_o

Here’s where you can find me at QuiltCon this week:

Thursday February 19

  • 9AM-Noon – Gee’s Bend Workshop
  • 2PM – Lecturing in main hall: Improvisational Process and Patchwork
  • 3:15-4:15PM – Improv Handbook signing at Stitch Lab booth #216
  • 4:15-6PM – Wandering the Exhibition Hall looking at quilts, visiting the Aurifil booth.
  • 8PM – Moda Party

Friday February 20

  • 9AM-Noon – Teaching: Bias Strip Curves
  • 12:15-1:15 – Improv Handbook signing at Stitch Lab booth #216
  • 2-5PM – Teaching: Bias Strip Curves
  • Evening hours??? Maybe by the infinity pool at the Radisson or in the hotel lounge?

Saturday February 21

  • 9AM-Noon – Teaching: Patchwork Doodling
  • 12:15-1:15 – Improv Handbook signing at Stitch Lab booth #216
  • 2-5PM – Teaching: Patchwork Doodling
  • 5:30-7PM – Keynote: The Quilters of Gees Bend
  • Evening hours??? Out for drinks with Chicago MQG

Sunday February 22

  • 9AM-Noon – Teaching: Improvising from a Score
  • 12:15-1:15 – Book signing at Stitch Lab booth #216
  • 2-5PM – Teaching: Improvising from a Score
  • Evening hours??? Kickin’ back somewhere ’cause I’ll be exhausted!

Got pins! #quiltconpinswap see me at #quiltcon schedule posted on daintytime.net

If you buy a copy of the Improv Handbook from the Stitch Lab Booth #216 be sure to enter the Pre-Order Giveaway. I will also have pins and beautiful postcards at the Stitch Lab booth available for you to pick up in packets of 10 to take and hand out to your community back home or to your friends at QuiltCon. Just ask me or someone running the Stitch Lab booth for some Improv Handbook postcards.

Time to catch my plane! Safe Travels everyone. And for those of you doing other marvelous things this week stay tuned for vicarious updates. We will miss you.

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops | Tagged | 8 Comments

Improv Handbook PRE-ORDER GIVEAWAY!

I’m excited, anticipating the release of my first book by STC Craft. The new official release date of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters is APRIL 28. 

16281782747_11450f7fc2_b

Pre-Order Giveaway – Open Till MAY 4

To celebrate The Improv Handbook’s imminent release on April 28, I am sponsoring a Pre-Order Giveaway through midnight of  April 28, 2015.

Two fabulous prizes and two chances to win: 1) An original color score mini-quilt made by me and featured in the Improv Handbook – winner’s choice from the options below, and 2) a custom thread collection from Aurifil inspired by my use of color in the book.

Two steps to enter: 1) Pre-order a copy of The Improv Handbook through any online vendor (including Abrams or Amazon) prior to April 28. OR pick up a copy at QuiltCon or at one of the locations I’m teaching at prior to the book’s official release date. 2) Comment on this post as to why you like the process of improv patchwork, or why you are curious to try it for the first time, OR tell me which color score you will choose if you win. In good faith, I will ask the two lucky winners of the giveaway to assure me that they pre-ordered or purchased a copy of the Improv Handbook prior to March 16, in order to claim their prizes.

Pre-order now!

The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously

Not only does the Improv Handbook present a flexible approach to quilt making that breaks free of old rules and expectations in a fun, accessible way. It’s a comprehensive guide to improvisational patchwork featuring:

  • over 15 innovative ruler-free sewing techniques
  • tips for accessing intuitive color
  • mind tools that cultivate presence, spontaneity, and risk taking
  • experiential design exercises on scale, line, borders and more
  • 10 “scores” for visual improvisation that free quilters to create quilts unlike anyone else’s
  • my quilts and a contributor quilt gallery of 22 amazing test quilts based on the scores

For the book, I illustrated various aspects of color through a series of strip pieced “color scores.” I am turning these samples into 21″ square mini-quilts to giveaway throughout the year. The 1st winner of the Improv Handbook Pre-Order Giveaway gets to choose either…

Hue & Neutrals Color Score from the Improv Handbook

“Color Score: Hue & Neutrals” or

Value Color Score from the Improv Handbook

“Color Score: Value.” Which will you choose if you are the winner???

Improv Handbook Aurifil thread colors

To a second lucky winner, Aurifil has generously offered a thread collection based on the prominent colors used in the quilts I created for the Improv Handbook. Isn’t it lovely!

aurifil thread collection for DaintytimeDSC_0164W[2]

So if you’ve pre-ordered a copy or will be picking one up at QuiltCon – be sure to enter the giveaway by commenting on this post.

Read more about the contents, features and early reviews of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters and where to join the Improv Handbook community online.

Posted in Current Giveaways, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 109 Comments

How do you fold your quilts?

I folded and packed up my quilts for QuiltCon today. Would you agree that there is something almost sacred about unfolding and folding a quilt? Especially when I am sharing a quilt with someone for the first time but even when I’m alone, the act of opening and closing a quilt whispers some sacred truth about the revelation of life’s moments and the hiding away of memory.

16319318121_3328388a6a_o

Practically speaking, I don’t know of any sure fire way to avoid creasing all together but to avoid worn creases in the center of my quilts I never fold them in half. Instead I start by folding the corners of my quilt into the center on the diagonal.

15698693244_4765be16d8_oFrom there I fold the quilt in thirds

16135260047_a98d36edfb_oThen in thirds again.

16295186956_a14438d07a_oEach time I refold I try to change the diagonal slightly so that the creases never get a chance to settle in.

All of this folding reminded me of Bay Area performance/video artist, Surabhi Saraf and her FOLDed performances. Check this out!

How do you fold your quilts? Your thoughts, experiences or insights on the act of folding?

Posted in Art and Social Practice, Craft Therapy, Tools, Tips, Tutorials | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

2015 Focus ~ Listening

A few months ago I was on a date with someone who I quite liked. One of the first things he said to me was that nobody listened much anymore. I took that to heart and it stuck with me even though the relationship didn’t!

My intention for 2015 is to listen. Sounds simple but it’s not that easy, at least for me.

I am beginning first by listening to myself while I am listening to others. I notice that instead of actually listening to the person speaking I am often…

  • judging myself
  • judging the speaker
  • thinking how I should respond
  • trying to make a good impression
  • fixating on a particular outcome
  • feeling defensive
  • making the speaker wrong
  • looking for evidence on how I’m right
  • busy trying to protect myself
  • feeling self-conscious
  • trying to control the conversation so that it will go a certain way
  • trying to fix a perceived problem
  • thinking of advise
  • daydreaming and thinking about myself

I am by habit preoccupied with one or more of these things INSTEAD of simply listening to the speaker with out any other agenda. This is mind blowing!

I am noticing my preoccupations and my urges to interrupt, and I’m stopping myself. Suddenly people are opening up and revealing things to me. More importantly we connect on a deeper levelThey feel good, and I feel good. It’s really amazing. I’m able to understand situations and relationships with more clarity. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out.

Often I find myself not knowing what to say to someone and I feel awkward. Now I realize it’s because I wasn’t really listening. I’ve noticed that when I really listen there is no awkwardness or anxiety about what to say. The conversation unfolds easily, honestly, simply. People like being heard.

So my focus for 2015 is to listen, hopefully more than I talk. Not only will I be listening to others but I hope to employ the skill of listening in my creative practice. As the patchwork unfolds I will listen without agendas of planning, perfecting, judging, or pleasing. Instead I will allow the patchwork to show me what it wants to become.

I’m very excited about this revelation because it’s a New Year’s intention that I may actually be able to keep for a lifetime. Listening is fun!

Posted in Craft Therapy, My Creative Process, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | 41 Comments

2014 Review ~ Acceptance

2014 was my year of acceptance. It began with this classic book by Tara Brach Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.

Turning fifty in March was an act of acceptance that couldn’t be denied. I celebrated with a pizza party at Adobe Books in San Francisco. Surrounded by friends from all over the Bay Area I felt for the first time that I belonged here.

Finishing twelve quilts for The Improv Handbook photo shoot in April required acceptance. Sometimes I wanted to do them over because I felt they could be better, but instead I had no choice but to accept all outcomes and move forward.

In July my book went to the printer to be born. Mostly I loved it but even after four revisions, the perfectionist in me still yearned to make improvements. Instead I came to terms with any “mistakes” and celebrated it’s completion.

My trip to France in August was nothing like I expected. As my original plans began to fall apart my vacation became dire until an elegant french woman befriended me on the beach in Brittany, took me to all the local sites, and invited me for lunches of fresh mussels, and lamb cutlets. The last minute solo trip through Paris yielded an unexpected innocent romance that sprouted in the Jardin du Luxembourg and flowered for three nights under the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower!

Relationships in my quilts and in life often didn’t turn out the way I imagined or hoped. A couple of romantic relationships this year, turned out to be disasters of sorts, but in the end it was all okay. I have no regrets.

Three days after my return from Europe and an hour after one of these romantic relationships ended, I found out my brother-in-law killed himself. It was so hard and painful to accept this, but his death –this loss to my sister, nieces and nephews and to our whole family– was inescapable. At first I was angry at him and subsequently down on my own life quite a bit. BUT as I thought more about how much he suffered something shifted internally. His death became a sacrifice compelling me, even demanding me to accept everything in my life as it is now, otherwise I might as well end it all. What is the point if we can’t accept the blessing of all that life is, including the good as well as the bad, the triumphs and the failures. (And let me add – I did have plenty of amazing triumphs this year. I’m especially thrilled by all the opportunities I’ve had to teach, speak and share my knowledge and process with other quilt makers across the country.)

silverliningHis death liberated me from the burden of self-pity, regret and non-acceptance. For that I am eternally grateful – for the gift of his precious life and his death. This doesn’t erase my deep sorrow, only that with tragic loss there comes a blessing… the silver lining of vulnerability — of compassion, tenderness, patience, kindness, and love.

All in all it was a great year for me. Filled with accomplishments and maturity. I’m excited to see where this new found embrace of everything in my life will take me – and how it will manifest in my patchwork!

Posted in Personal Heritage, Reviews | Tagged | 25 Comments

Cultural Fusion Quilts Winner ~ Ruler Roundup

It was fantastic to hear from so many quilters about your widely varying relationships to rulers. Your comments to the Cultural Fusion Quilts Giveaway post were eye opening.

15452672654_b748c17c27_o

Many expressed a love/hate relationship with rulers. Some of you LOVE your rulers and can’t imagine working without them. Some are interested in exploring the possibility of going ruler-free. In that case Sujata’s book is definitely a great starting point. Some LOVE and prefer the freedom and expressiveness of ruler-free patchwork.

However the thing that struck me the most is how versatile you are when it comes to using or not using your rulers. I’m encouraged to find that so many quilters have both a love for precision piecing  as well as improv patchwork, and are able to move easily between working with rulers or going ruler-free according to what the quilt requires.

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 2.42.21 PM

So the winner is….

No rulers. What a concept. Just thinking about it is liberating. I realize my quilting is locked in some rigid mental place about the “shoulds” of straight lines and meeting corners. Gotta read this book! –Hillary

 

 

Yes you do Hillary! I hope you and every one else who reads Sujata’s book will find the ruler-free techniques in Cultural Fusion Quilts liberating. Congratulations! And thanks everyone for sharing your experiences, thoughts and relationships to rulers.

by Sujata Shaw from Cultural Fusion Quilts

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on The Top-Ten Reasons for Going Ruler-Free!

If you haven’t already please join the discussion on the pros and cons, ins and outs of improvisational patchwork at the Improv Handbook Group on Facebook. Precision piecers and improvisors welcome!

Posted in Current Giveaways, Reviews, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Cultural Fusion Quilts by Sujata Shah

It is a great honor to be asked by Sujata Shah, a fellow patchwork improvisor, to review her new book Cultural Fusion Quilts, from C&T Publishing. Sujata and I discovered each other first on Flickr. I soon realized that Sujata was part of the improv tribe and have been and continue to be delighted to follow her work at The Root Connection.

One of the things I love about improvisation is that even the very way people improvise is unique. There are no hard and fast rules about the process. There are multiple, infinite paths to improvisation. The signature style of an improvised quilt actually reflects the signature process of the maker. And Sujata shares her unique process with inspiration, clarity and grace through her book.

What I love most about the book is her insistence on the expressive quality of line.

I wanted more than just straight lines in my quilts. –Sujata Shah

One of the things that continues to surprise me when I teach improv quilting is how dependent people can be on their rulers, and how fearful and reluctant they are to cut and sew without them. As quilt makers we love to express our vision through the choice of favorite shapes and patterns, and through favorite colors and prints. Yet we overlook the expressive potential of line by always choosing to use rulers or templates. Precision can be beautiful but limiting when perfection is the only option for expression.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.39.51 PM

The great contribution Sujata’s book makes to the evolving conversation of improvisational patchwork is that it gently opens up an exciting path for first-time and beginning level improvisors to explore the expressive qualities of the freely cut line. Her project instructions, and technique illustrations are direct, efficient and fullproof. Sujata’s book is a great introduction to improv for traditional quilters who have never gone without their rulers. Her beautiful quilts reassure with an invitation to jump right in and enjoy — the water is fine and the swimming easy!

Another thing I really appreciate about Cultural Fusion Quilts, is Sujata’s emphasis on the variations of patterns. To pass along the variations of a pattern, all the ways it can be done differently, is an essential characteristic of improvisational patchwork. Sujata provides possible pattern variations at the end of each project chapter, kindly inviting us into deeper water to explore new territory.

The emphasis on pattern variation is also reinforced by the beautiful inspiration photos included in the book of native textile traditions from all over the world. So often we search for pattern inspiration by pinning other quilts. Sujata reminds us to turn towards the patterns of culture and life that surround us for our source material.

Cultural Fusion Quilts is an awesome book and I predict it will be a delightful game changer for many of the traditional and modern traditional quilt makers among us.

WIN A COPY

Well I suppose you may want to get your hands on this gem so here is your opportunity to win a copy of Cultural Fusion Quilts! Leave a comment letting me your thoughts pro or con about rulers. Do you love them, hate them, use them or not in your patchwork? How are they a help or a hindrance?

The giveaway will remain open through midnight, December 16. In the meantime follow along and enjoy the rest of the Cultural Fusion Quilts blog tour:

Posted in Current Giveaways, Reviews, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | 135 Comments

20th Century Comfort Room

1709868817_38fdf40033_b

window view

1709876635_4ca10017ff_b

door view

1709885331_8a79181542_b

ceiling view

My first super-8 film ever, documenting the found afghans used in the installation. Edited in camera, I was clueless and that’s why the film came out so interesting!

202542766_3ba76d4ce0_b

Installed at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA, 1998. 14′ x 12′ x 10′, found afghans, crochet, yarn, chair, clock.

When I arrived at the Headlands for my first ever artist residency in 1998 I was expecting a bigger space. My intention was to make large quilts out of found materials. Similar to these Modern Scrap Quilts. When I was assigned this small room as my studio for the first half of my three month residency I decided to “quilt” the room instead.

It’s an interior space that speaks about the confinement of imagination. It activates and focuses  attention in a way that can be maddeningly insane, nostalgically cozy, or both simultaneously.

The 20th Century Comfort Room was featured on the cover of KnitKnit, Issue 5, a zine by Sabrina Gschwandtner, which appeared in a book coauthored by Faith Levine in 2008, Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design. Which I discovered while visiting the exhibition Alien She (see post) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

 

Posted in Art and Social Practice, My Creative Process, Personal Heritage | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Camp Stitch-Alot and Chicago MQG Here I Come!

I’m packing my bags and about to leave for Camp Stitch-Alot! WHOOHOO! It’s going to be cold, so I’ve got my long johns, heavy boots, turtlenecks, winter coat, hat and gloves! And of course lots of wonderful SCRAPS for making quilts in our cozy cabin retreat all weekend long.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 10.50.12 AM

I’ve never done one of these cabin quilting retreats before and I’m so excited to getaway and be with other quilt lovers. I’m very much looking forward to meeting Carolyn Friedlander, the other “camp counselor” this weekend, and to hang out with organizers Brenda Ratliff of Pink Castle Fabrics, and Rossie of Fresh Modern Quilts, who also happens to be one of the quilt contributors featured in the Improv Handbook.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 10.49.56 AM

AND!!!!

After Camp Stitch-Alot, I am catching the train to Chicago to speak and teach at the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. One of my favorite blog friends, Trish Royal of Bits & Bobbins, is picking me up at Union Station. I’m so looking forward to connecting with her and all the quilters at Chicago MQG and to see what quilt mischief they’ve been making!

So how lucky am I :-))))  ??? !!!

I will be reporting the weekend’s escapades via:

AND!!!! If you are having workshop envy right now…

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a special, intimate (only 10 participants) TWO-DAY intensive Get Your Curve On Workshop at A Gathering of Stitches in Portland, Oregon, April 30 – May 1, 2015. Sign up now!

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops | Tagged | 5 Comments

Alien She at YBCA

Allyson Mitchell

Ladies Sasquatch by Allyson Mitchell really rocked. YES! I am WOMAN! I am BEAST!

I had a great time at the opening of Alien She at the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts last week.

Alien She is the first exhibition to examine the lasting impact of Riot Grrrl, a pioneering punk feminist movement that emerged in the early 1990s in reaction to pervasive and violent sexism, racism, and homophobia in the punk music scene and in the culture at large. Emphasizing female and youth empowerment, collaborative organization, creative resistance, and DIY ethics, Riot Grrrl helped a new generation to become active feminists and create their own culture and communities that reflect their values and experiences, in contrast to mainstream conventions and expectations.” YBCA

Here are more of my favorites from the show:

AlienShe-02

We Couldn’t Get In. We Couldn’t Get Out by L.J. Roberts

AlienShe-03

The Counterfeit Crochet Project by Stephanie Syjuco

Strolling along through the section showcasing the work of Faith Levine I was SURPRISED to discover that I was represented – albeit three degrees of separation – in the book she coauthored in 2008, Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design. The book documents the marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos by profiling 24 artists working in that arena, including artist Sabrina Gschwandtner.

AlienShe-04

When I turned to the section featuring Sabrina’s work it included several covers of her zine KnitKnit one of which featured my 1998 installation at the Headlands Center for the Arts, The 20th Century Comfort Room. So there you go! It’s exciting to find my work situated in a historical, cultural movement and community, even if it is on the fringe.

AlienShe-05

Alien She continues at YBCA in San Francisco through January 25, 2015. More on the 20th Century Comfort Room in my next post!

Posted in Art and Social Practice, Reviews | Tagged , | 6 Comments

The Quilt as a Contemporary Tradition

quilt3-1

A Stitch in Time:
The Quilt as a Contemporary Tradition   
Opening:  Saturday, October 25 (5 to 8 pm)  Open through November 23, 2014
 
Louise Kreifels   Sherri Lynn Wood   Alice McCain  
Our exhibit features three contemporary textile artists.  Each has a distinctive approach to quilt making, but each also has roots in the folk art tradition of the patch-work comfort zone, and the quilting bee.  Colorful, creative, environmentally friendly, functional, warm and cuddly, quilts are a transcendent art form, timeless and timely.

 

The show is an eye-pleasing homage to the tradition of quilt making, a joyful celebration of an evolving art form, and perhaps a hint of future possibilities and directions.

 

Open 4 to 7 pm Wednesday through Sunday, or appointment
Folk and Fine Art    1861-A Solano Avenue   Berkeley    94707    510 900-2591
 
If you are in the Bay Area join me at the opening this Saturday from 5-8PM for the opening reception! New Quilts from The Improv Handbook the will be on show.
Posted in Events and Workshops, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 10 Comments

Improv Round Robin ~ Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association

SCVQA, Improv Round Robin

I recently facilitated an Improv Round Robin workshop and spoke at the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association. When I asked the 300 or so members present at the guild meeting, if they had improvised a quilt, more than two-thirds raised their hands! Improv patchwork is catching like wildfire, even in the long established guilds.

The Improv Round Robin was super fun. I was so impressed by the cohesiveness of the group. You can see by the outcome of their quilts that they listened and responded with skill and courage! Click on the thumbnails to get a closer look.

If you participated in this or one of my other Improv Round Robins, or have organized one on your own with friends, I want to hear about your surprises, discoveries, satisfactions and dissatisfactions! Please share!

If your guild or shop is interested in having me lead an Improv Patchwork workshop for your community I still have room in my 2015 schedule. Contact Me!

 

 

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, Modern Improv | Tagged , | 2 Comments

La supposition où je suis ?

IMG_2221

Oui, oui je suis à Paris France!

IMG_2262

La ville la plus romantique dans le monde. Paris est beau! Plus venir…

IMG_2244

The most romantic city in the world. Paris is beautiful! More to come…

Posted in Personal Heritage, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | 12 Comments

QuiltCon Choices – Which class to take?

Instagram-Teacher-QuiltCon-copy

QuiltCon registration is opening soon. Wondering which workshop to take? I’m debuting three improvisational workshops and a lecture based on projects featured in my forthcoming book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, which will hopefully be available at QuiltCon – finger’s crossed! I just saw the first galleys of the book design and it’s so exciting…

Anyway back to QuiltCon choices.


Lecture

Thursday February 19: 2 – 2:45 PM Improvisational Process and Patchwork

Improvisation is a process of mind at the heart of every great creative endeavor. Music, dance, theater, painting, drawing, design, cooking, conversation, relationships, play, life, and even science benefit, survive, grow, transform, and innovate through the flexibility of mind that improvisational process engenders. We all improvise every day, so why not bring it into our quilt making! This multi-media presentation includes images of classic African-American quilts in the improvisational style, new work featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters (available early 2015), student work, and time-lapse video of my process.


Workshops

Friday, February 20: 030 Bias Strip Curves

BiasStripCurve-Daisy-72dpi-cropMaster the innovative improvisational technique of strip piecing on the curve with troubleshooting tips on how to flatten internal distortions as they arise. Explore construction methods for incorporating bias strip curve piecing in both traditional and improvisational compositions. This technique will challenge your skill set and awaken your beginner’s mind.

So this isn’t an easy class, but that’s the whole point. The challenge presented by tricky piecing situations is a gateway for improvisation and innovation. Not only will you learn how to strip piece on the curve without the use of a ruler or templates, you will be encouraged to discover, master, and innovate your own unique set of patchwork techniques based on the skills you already have. Take this workshop if mastering challenging techniques and/or working with curves lights your fire!


Saturday, February 21: 512 Improvisational Patchwork Doodling

Patchwork Doodle

Doodling is the model for this playful approach to improvisational patchwork. A doodle is not planned or random, but responsive. You will be urged to let go of expectations and commit one-step-at-a-time as you build patterns with simple shapes and negative space into a surprising composition, utilizing basic ruler free sewing techniques. 

This is going to be a totally fun and playful workshop. You will learn how to create a quilt responsively –a middle path that falls between random scrappiness and planned blocks. All the ruler-free patchwork techniques are easy to master and you get to use scraps. Working with simple shapes outside the structure of the block, will give you a fresh take on patterning. Adding negative space to the simple shapes has the potential to rock the house! Take this workshop if you are inspired by scraps and have the desire to push beyond scrappy to make a quilt greater than its parts.


Sunday, February 22: 513 Improvising From A Score

Score for Floating Squares

A jazz score indicates the elements of a song without specifying how it’s played. Now imagine a score written for patchwork! You will improvise a quilt by altering the limits of a simple patchwork score for floating squares. You will learn basic ruler free sewing techniques and how to create original scores for future projects.

This workshop explores the central concept put forth in the Improv Handbook, working with and passing along flexible patterns, which I call scores. We are used to passing along fixed patterns with the goal of replicating them perfectly. When a flexible pattern is handed on from one quiltmaker to another it is the range of possible variations of a pattern that is transmitted instead. We will learn flexible patterning by making and altering the score for Floating Squares. Take this workshop if you want to learn how to create and share your own flexible patterns. This is Improv 2.0!


 

BTW – If you can’t make it to QuiltCon, I just signed up to teach two-day, and three-day improv workshops at Quilting By The Lake in July 2015… or invite me to teach at your local guild or quilt shop. I still have dates available in 2015!

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops | Tagged | 22 Comments

Teaching! Spoonflower, QuiltCon and more!

biaspetalquilt-daisyDaisy, ©2014 by Sherri Lynn Wood

I’m on the East Coast for the next two weeks and VERY excited to be teaching at Spoonflower for the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild, at Tabby Fabric and Studio in beautiful Beaufort, SC and for the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild.

Check out the event details on daintytime.net or on the new Facebook GROUP for the Improv Handbook. When you join click on “Notifications” in the top right corner under the cover photo and choose “All Posts.”

Also the workshops and lectures for QuiltCon have been announced. They have a very impressive lineup in 2015. There will be a lot of improv goin’ round!  I will post in more detail about the three brand new improv workshops I’m debuting at QuiltCon before registration opens on June 24.

PS> Yes, in case you’re wondering, I must have been unconsciously inspired by the Spoonflower logo when I was making Daisy. It wasn’t intentional it just happened? I don’t know where this stuff comes from ;)

 

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops | 2 Comments

38,564 words and twelve new quilts!

ImprovHandbook_quiltsWhoopee! Yep that’s how many words I wrote for The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. Wow was that a lot of work. I turned in the final manuscript with the help of the my amazing copy editor, Christine Doyle last week! Christine is also a quilt maker and member of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. She really got that my goal was to write a book on improvisational process with project guidelines that didn’t rely on step-by-step instructions or fixed patterns. She calls it Improv 2.0.

SaraRemington_ImprovHandbook

Also delivered last week were hundreds of images taken by the super talented photographer Sara Remington with her assistant Nicole Rejwan. I loved working with Sara and her whole team. They are pros and a lot of fun. During our last 9 hr photo shoot, while Sara was shooting images of my hand sewing tools and supplies –thimble, needles, scissors, yarn, thread, and batting, I felt humbled and so incredibly grateful that my creative live was being documented and soon to be shared in such a beautiful and intimate way. I can’t wait for you to see the pictures! I have no doubt that this book will have the most beautiful technique photos you’ve ever laid eyes on -let alone the real beauty shots! How many times did I say the word BEAUTIFUL in this paragraph?

Studio_wall_ImprovHandbook

Working with Melanie Falick, the managing editor, and her staff at STC Craft can only be described as a joy. They have taken such good care of me throughout this process. They’ve supported my vision 100%. I’ve now passed the torch on and the book designers are taking the lead. They are shaping the raw material of words and images into a book. I can’t wait to see what they put together. Apparently there will be four passes or design reviews and then it’s off to the printer. Our goal is to launch The Improv Handbook at QuiltCon in February 2015, where I will be giving a lecture (Thursday, Feb. 19 at 2PM) and teaching three workshops (Fri. Sat. Sun. 9AM-5PM) based on projects and techniques featured in the book.

Lukaza_Branfman-Verissimo_ImprovHandbook-

This week I’ve been tying up loose ends. I couldn’t have handled all the details without the help of my smart, sweet and talented intern Lukaza Branfman-Verissmo. She’s an undergrad at the California College of Art and definitely a young up and coming artist to watch. Lukaza helped me with the test/contributor quilting aspect of the book project, by communicating with over 230 fellow quilters directly, and by setting up the online forum and submissions process for the test quilts. Lukaza has finished her work with me and is off on a scholarship trip in July to connect with print making communities in Japan.

ImprovHandbook_HeadlandsCenterArts

Okay well I did it! I’m just happy that I did it! I’m amazed that I did it! I did it with the help of so many, including so many of you. Writing this book challenged me to grow a hundred fold in all directions. I’ve become a better collaborator. I’ve gained in my ability to let go of control and let others help me shape and complete my vision. I practiced what I preached as I wrote and I’m a better improvisor and quilt maker because of it. Even though I’m about as exhausted as I’ve ever been, my mind is full of possibilities for new work and next steps. I can hardly wait!

sherriwaving

It’s as if I’ve been on a boat for the last year and a half and I’ve just been dropped off on a new shore in my life. Everything is YES!

PS> I’m moving on Facebook – Move with me.

Join the new Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters Facebook GROUP, and let’s talk improv and patchwork. If you are a fan of my Daintytime facebook page please switch over and join the Daintytime Improv Handbook Group. When you join be sure to click on     “Notifications” in the top right corner under the cover photo and choose “All Posts”and you will be notified of posts by all the members.

FB has cut organic reach for Pages which means you will not be getting Daintytime FB posts in your story feed anymore unless I pay $5 every time I post. So I’ve started a FB Group and will eventually close my FB Page. Actually it’s better this way. Groups allow for more direct exchange between members. I will be moving all events associated with the Improv Handbook and my teaching/lecturing schedule to the Daintytime Improv Handbook FB Group. Membership is open to everyone! Let’s talk improv and patchwork!

BTW:  Also join me on Instagram: @daintytime and Twitter: @daintytime

Posted in Art and Social Practice, Community, My Creative Process, Personal Heritage | Tagged | 29 Comments

What blocks and/or supports your improvisational flow?

Thank You Improv Handbook Test Quilters

First I want to thank the 230 plus people who participated in testing out the project scores for the Improv Handbook. As a group you submitted 164 quilts to be reviewed for the book. Each one of them was amazing in it’s own way. My editor was very pleased and we both felt like this was a good sign that the time is ripe for a book that provides an in depth exploration of improvisational process for quilters.

Because of budget restraints we were only able to choose 22 quilts for print publication. HOWEVER there will be an online forum that will include all 164 of the test quilts submitted so far. Together they are quite wonderful to behold! I can’t wait for you to see them. The online forum will be posted when the book is released in the spring of 2015.

If you signed on but were unable to finish your test quilt for the book deadline, no worries – you have the rest of the year to finish and submit your quilt for the online forum.  Just follow this link: Improv Handbook Test Quilt Submission Form. This is for new submissions only. The 164 quilts already submitted for the book, will automatically be included in the online forum.

What blocks and supports your improvisational flow?

That being said I want to pose a question to ALL the test quilters, AND more widely to EVERYONE who improvises through patchwork or through other creative disciplines.

What are the forces that drive and support your improvisational process and the forces that restrain and block your flow? Many of the people who submitted quilts for the book wrote about feeling stuck, or getting lost, or almost giving up before they were able to move forward with a composition that surprised them and that they ended up loving.

Please elaborate if this is your experience. I would like to hear about what blocked you – both internally and externally. Were you blocked by not having a sense of control? Overwhelmed with choices? Not enough choices? Not having a design wall?… whatever it may be.

Also I would like to hear about the driving forces, internally and externally, that support your improvisational work. Does curiosity or the desire to explore something new drive your exploration?  Does a submission deadline for a show or a book motivate you? Does working in community support your success or does the solitude of your studio help you most? What else?

If there were forces restraining your improvisational flow how did you move past, overcome, or undo those forces to move forward?

Please comment below on your experiences with driving and restraining forces that either support or block your improvisational process. I’m writing about this in the book and would very much appreciate your input. Thanks!

 

Posted in Craft Therapy, Mantras for Creativity, Modern Improv | Tagged , , , | 45 Comments

50! ?

It’s my birthday today and I’m FIFTY years old! How did that happen?

13210154615_4c5afddd0c_c

Well no matter. Here I am, still hanging in there, learning something new everyday. I have so much to be thankful for, including family and friends, a strong and healthy body, a wonderful studio and work environment, enough money to meet my needs, a great day job, an amazing supportive community of fellow artists and quilt makers, an opportunity to share my craft with you through my blog and this crazy book I’ve been working on for the last year. Wow!

13210497674_eb47f69b10_c

Anyway I just wanted to say thank you. I promise to get back to blogging more once I’ve turned my manuscript to the publishers in mid-May.

Spring blessings all around!

13311300693_717ae86e5d_o

“Getting older is one of the best things that can happen to a person……see how lucky you’re becoming?” ~ from my friend Dan

Posted in Blogging, Community, Personal Heritage | Tagged , | 48 Comments

Open Call For Mod Mood (Get Your Curve On) Quilts

Mod-Mood Quilt curvesThis is an open call for quilts based on the Mod-Mood Quilt-along, or my workshop, Get Your Curve On. We are looking for one or two interpretations of the Mod-Mood (Get Your Curve On) Quilt to publish along with my most recent interpretation in the Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters, to be published by STC Craft/Abrams in Spring 2015.

SUBMIT YOUR MOD-MOOD (GET YOUR CURVE ON) QUILT

If you are an alum of  the Get Your Curve On workshop or you have made a Mod Mood Quilt based on my tutorial then PLEASE SUBMIT your quilt for review and possible publication. If you started one and it is currently in your unfinished projects bin then now is the time to pull it out and complete it. The submission process is free and will remain open through March 25, 11:59 PST.

I know there are a lot of wonderful mod-mood, wedge strip-pieced curve quilts out there and I want to see them! Please pass this open call to people you know who have made or are in the process of making one.

If you have the time to make a stripped-pieced wedge curve quilt based on the methods in the Mod-Mood (Get Your Curve On) Quilt tutorial by March 25 then please go for it!

Important Dates

  • March 1- submissions open
  • March 25- (11:59 PM PST) submission closed
  • April 1- quilts chosen for publication (notificated date)
  • April 18- quilts due in Oakland, CA for photography
  • June 30- quilts returned to maker
  • Spring 2015- Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters released, ALL submitted quilts posted in online forum
  • If your quilt is chosen for publication, you will be notified by April 1 and will be sent all the information you need to ship your quilt to Oakland CA by April 18 for photography. The publisher will pay shipping costs up to $50. The quilts will be insured while on site at the photographer’s studio.  You will receive full acknowledgement, and a complimentary copy of The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.
  • If your quilt is not chosen for print publication it will still be included in an online forum. You will also be entered into a drawing for copies of the book, and some special hand-made thank you gifts from me. There may also be other publication/exhibition opportunities still to be determined.

 

Posted in Community, Current Giveaways, Mod Mood Quilt | Tagged | 2 Comments

Stitch Modern ~ Improv Round Robin Workshop

I’m pleased to announce that I will be facilitating an Improv Round Robin as part of the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild‘s 3rd annual Stitch Modern on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at the Piedmont Center for the Arts.

This is a fantastic workshop for first time quilt improvisors and for people who have never made a quilt before, as long as you can operate a sewing machine. If you are interested in attending please register here.

improvroundrobin-blog

This workshop will be photographed for Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters which will include a marvelous chapter on the Improv Round Robin with instructions on how to organize and facilitate one with your friends or for your guild.

If you live in the Bay Area be sure to check out the Sew Modern exhibition and schedule of lectures and workshops! It’s all happening in February.

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Improv Handbook Test Quilters

Vintage 70's Fabric

Thanks!

The Improv Handbook scores are finally out to all of my test quilters! You guys are awesome. I had over 160 responses and I enjoyed reviewing your skills and preferences, reading every one of your comments, and visiting your media sites.  Thanks for all of the kind words and support.

I was so impressed with the talent and the enthusiasm – to see a range of masterful quilt makers and improvisors, along with the excitement and willingness of beginners ready to jump right in! I was happy to discover the work of some of you for the first time and to have the support of many longtime blog friends!

I can hardly wait to see what you all come up with and again I can’t thank you enough. Your questions and feedback on the scores and process are invaluable to the success of the book.

It’s not to late to participate ~ closed

If you want to be a test quilter visit the call for contributor quilts for more information and fill out the questionnaire.  I will hold the door open for test quilters until February 1st. Late comers will still have a month and a half to finish their quilts by March 25. Definitely sign up if you think you can swing that deadline.

Posted in Blogging, Community, Modern Improv, Quilt Alongs | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Happy Holy-Days!

With deadlines looming and working hard on my first publishing adventure, I wasn’t able to take the extra time to join my family in North Carolina this Christmas but they came to me in September. Any special time set aside to be really present with family or friends is a treasured holiday or “holy-day” in my book. Here’s a sweet video celebrating my family’s recent visit.

I hope your recent days have been filled with simple moments of existence and presence with friends and family.

Posted in Personal Heritage | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Announcing The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters

An Official Announcement

I’m pleased to officially announce the upcoming publication of my first book!

10447378613_1a1320d934_o

THE IMPROV HANDBOOK FOR MODERN QUILTERS: A Practical Guide for Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously by Sherri Lynn Wood is a comprehensive guide on the process of improvisational patchwork quilting, which includes 10 project scores, innovative sewing techniques, tips for accessing intuitive color, and mind tools for creating with fearless spontaneity. Scheduled to be published by Abrams Books under the imprint of STC Craft / A Melanie Falick Book in Spring 2015.

How The Improv Handbook Came About

I began working with a literary agent in November 2013 on a detailed book proposal.

In March 2013 we submitted the 50 page proposal to a handful of publishers. I was thrilled to have phone interviews with a majority of the editors representing the publishing houses and received several offers. The most exciting part of this process was hearing how each editor would emphasize different aspects of my proposal to fit the publisher’s mission of reaching it’s particular audience.

Once the offers came in it was really a tough decision to choose one, but ultimately I decided to work with Melanie Falick at STC Craft. She designs some of the most beautiful craft and lifestyle books on the market today. Melanie edited my friend Sabrina Gschwandtner’s book KnitKnit, and Denyse Schmidt’s latest book Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration. In the next couple of years I know that STC Craft will be publishing books with Spoonflower, Kristine Vejar at A Verb For Keeping Warm, and Heather Jones. STC Craft creates books that highlight the unique visions of their authors.

The Improv Handbook Concept

Improvisation is a fundamental process at the heart of every great creative endeavor. Music, dance, theater, painting, drawing, design, cooking, conversation, relationships, play, life and even the discipline of science benefits, survives, grows, transforms and innovates through the flexibility of mind that improvisational process engenders.

The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters provides a comprehensive framework for fostering improvisational skills through the discipline of patchwork quilting.

The 10 patchwork projects featured in the book are organized as “scores” or “games” rather than as patterns. A score or lead sheet, common to improvised musical traditions such as jazz, is a set of notations or parameters within which the improvisation is free to take shape. In the discipline of improv theater a game defines the set of limits in which an improvised and unscripted scene unfolds.

Each quilt score is designed holistically to illustrate a) approaches and methods from different improvisational disciplines, b) innovative sewing techniques particular to improvisational patchwork, c) design considerations and exercises, and d) mind tools for fostering fearlessness, presence and curiosity.

For instance one project asks the reader to think about doodling as a method for improvisation, by introducing the techniques for building a quilt with simple shapes, while also encouraging a mindset of acceptance. Another project will get you thinking about the design element of rhythm by posing a puzzle to be solved, while teaching skills for ruler free measurement.

My goal for the Improv Handbook is to teach improvisational patchwork in a way that encourages authentic expression. To this end, along with my interpretation of each score, the book will feature one or two quilts by other people to illustrate the infinite range of possible outcomes that improvising from a score allows.

As an example the Mod Mood Quilt is written as a score to interpret, rather than being presented as a pattern to follow, and you can see a range of interpretations of the Mod Mood Quilt score here.

Participate! A Call for Test Quilters

Here’s how to participate

  • January 1 – Register to participate as a test-quilter.
  • February 1 – Open registration to participate closes. Scores sent out to test-quilters.
  • March 1 – Information about contributor quilt submission process will be sent to test-quilters.
  • March 25 – Images of finished quilts based on the scores provided are due and will be considered for publication in the book. Submitted quilts will be reviewed and chosen for publication by me and the editorial staff based on how well they illustrate an alternative yet recognizable interpretations of the quilt score provided.
  • April 1 – Makers of the chosen entries for the book will be notified.
  • April 15 – Chosen quilts will need to be quilted, bound, shipped to and received in Oakland by this date, for photography.  The publisher will pay for round-trip shipping by USPS Priority Mail to Oakland, CA.
  • Makers of the chosen entries will be completely acknowledged in print, and will receive a complementary copy of the book.
  • The makers of non-chosen quilts will be entered in a drawing for complementary copies of the book and other thank-you prizes hand-made by me.
  • There will be an online forum showcasing ALL of the test quilts with the release of the book in Spring 2015.
  • There may be exhibition opportunities for the test quilts, but there is nothing on the calendar at this time.

 

Posted in Community, Modern Improv, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 64 Comments

Talking Quilts with Eli Leon ~ Sarah Turnage

This quilt was pieced by Sarah Turnage of San Francisco and quilted by Mary Thompson and Aurelia Forester.

Quarter Log Cabin by Sarah Turnage

There is so much motion in this quilt that it borders on optical illusion!

The first thing Eli brings to my attention are the two bright reds in the center of the quilt that create a medallion of sorts. They hold the center of the quilt and are flanked by subtle borders.

Notice how the thick brown strip that runs across four blocks the top plays off the skinnier brown strip in the bottom right that runs across two blocks. These constitute a top and bottom frame, or inner border around the reds in the center.

The left border is delineated by a subtle shift of color and scale or rhythm of the blocks. The outer right border is made with strips of solids on the edge that lead to an outer bordered edge of pink on the bottom right.

Notice how there isn’t any white in the blocks bordering the quilt. All the white is contained in the center blocks. This also delineates a sense of the borders.

Eli notes the variable strip widths. Most of the strips and squares are cut evenly but there are a few that are cut wider on one end than the other, these slight irregularities add to the quilt.

The block pattern is a quarter log cabin. Eli believes that the quarter log cabin is unique to the African-American tradition of quilting. He could find no record of this block pattern originating from the Euro-American tradition. It is NOT made by making a log cabin block and cutting it into quarters. Each quarter log cabin block in this quilt was made individually — no two alike.

Not only is each block unique the way the center squares of the blocks come together is always different. Sometimes two squares meet at a seam, sometimes three, sometimes the square runs into strips.

Notice how Sarah uses solids and patterns in this quilt. In the bottom row of the quilt there is a complete mix of fabrics. Eli thinks its undefined. That part of the quilt fades compared to the rest of it. We agree that this is perhaps the weakest section of the quilt, was she trying to do something special or did she just run out of solids? What do you think?

Otherwise the interspersing of solids with prints, especially plaids and stripes add to the boldness and optical nature of the quilt. The flower prints seem like filler to Eli, but I think the pink and green and orange flower print is unexpected and works wonderfully. We both love how the plaids and stripes go in different directions.

Sarah uses all kinds of fabrics, including polyester. These textures add to the quilt. I love how all the lime green is congregated up at the top. The fact that it is not scattered everywhere is a strong design choice.

I also love the quilt’s naturally finished shape. Sarah didn’t just take a ruler and whack off the edges of the quilt to make a straight edge.

Eli insists the name of this quilt is Turkey Breast, because that is how it is listed in some of his notes and in his book, Models of the Mind. However on the tag attached to the quilt Eli listed the name as Turkey Boast.  We disputed the name of the quilt for quite a bit. I think Turkey Boast makes sense because the pattern reminds me of a turkey strutting around. Eli insists that his records record the name as Turkey Breast even though he agrees that it doesn’t make a bit of sense. We both have a good laugh about the pattern name, but whatever the name it’s a spectacular doozy of a quilt. It is unique of its kind.

Listen to our conversation

So what do you see? Please join the conversation! Check out the archive Talking Quilts with Eli Leon for more exclusive insights on improvisational quilts from Eli’s extensive African-American collection.

Posted in Modern Improv, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Upcoming Events & Workshops

People have been asking me about my teaching schedule. I’m happy to announce an exhibition and upcoming improvisational patchwork classes scattered across the country. I may be teaching in your neighborhood soon!

Massachusetts

October 10 – December 28, 2013Right now you can view Rainbow Cloud Quilt in the exhibition, Roots of Modern Quilting, at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA.

Oregon

February 7-9, 2014. I will be teaching the Improv Round Robin at the Modern Quilt Guild’s SewDown: Portland. Registration is open!

North Carolina (East Coast)

July 2014 (specific dates to be determined). Spoonflower in Durham, NC. I will be speaking about Improvisational Patchwork and Process and teaching a full day improvisational quilting workshop. More details to come!

I would like to piggy back two or three more east coast gigs over a two-week period in July. If you are interested in having me teach in your east coast city at your local quilt shop, guild or art school during this time contact me and we will try to make it happen!  I’m willing to travel as far as NY and all the way down to Atlanta.

California

August 25-26, 2014Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association, Santa Clara, CA. I will be speaking about Improvisational Patchwork and Process and teaching a workshop.

Hello California quilters! I’m local which means minimal transportation costs. Also Bay Area quilters, I may be teaching a series of test-kitchen improvisational workshops for my book this winter or early spring. Please stay tuned!

Michigan

November 14-15, 2014Camp Stitchalot, Pleasant Lake, MI. So pleased to announce that I will be one of the “camp counselors” for this cozy event! Registration is open.

Again I am hoping to piggyback an additional presentation or workshop immediately before or after Camp Stitchalot.  If you know of a guild, quilt shop, or art school in the Detroit or Lansing area who might be interested please contact me!

Seattle

March 1-2, 2015, Fidalgo Island Quilters, Anacortes, WA. I will be doing two presentations for the guild and teaching a workshop.

I am available to present or teach immediately before or after my visit with FIQ.  If you know of a guild, quilt shop, or art school in the Seattle area who might be interested please contact me!

Photos are from Get Your Curve On, a workshop held at the Pajoro Valley Quilt Association, Santa Cruz, CA on September 9, 2013. A good time was had by all! If you attended this class PLEASE leave a review in the comments.

Posted in Community, Events and Workshops, Mod Mood Quilt, Modern Improv | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Talking Quilts with Eli Leon ~ Rosie Lee Tompkins

Eli Leon surprised me with this amazing quilt by Rosie Lee Tompkins. He has over a hundred quilts by Rosie Lee and considers this to be one of her best – AND it has never been published. This is an exclusive so please pass the word around to your quilting buds!

The first thing I notice and love about this bed sized quilt is the rich intensity of the velvet and the way it deeply absorbs color and reflects light. This dark quilt sparkles!

We both comment on the way light shines and pops out of the darkness. The light blue velvet combined with the pillow ticking in the top right corner is so unexpected –almost like a patch of sky peaking through the rust/purple/green triadic colors of an autum canopy.

Rosie Lee is confident in the way she patches together large expanses of dark values with only slight shifts of intensity. Personally I shy away from doing such a thing, afraid that my patterns will get lost. Yet the rich field of darkness she creates becomes a ground for her bold bright patches to stand fearlessly.

Eli points to the “huge number of changes in stuff that is very similar.” For instance, some of the triangular “half squares” as Eli calls them, vary in size tremendously. Sometimes the scale shifts from section to section, and in the light blue section, for example, there are scale shifts within the section.

Rosie Lee has created floating sections within floating sections. There is a sense that the microcosm gets bigger as the pattern of sections within sections repeats –almost spiraling. It’s simply beautiful. It’s fractal.

Rosie Lee Tomkins Quilt from Eli Leon's African-American collection - improviational patchwork

Personally I have a difficult time sewing with triangles, because they are so pointy, I don’t feel very free with them and they usually come off stiff and precise. In Rosie Lee’s hands they are fluid. Lots of times the points of her triangles are cut off by seams. They fragment like the reflected light of a jewel.

We notice that there is a single “border” at the top.  It’s clear that the quilt is made in sections but it is difficult to determine the actual construction sequence. This is due to the way Rosie Lee bleeds colors from one section to the next.

I love Eli’s enthusiasm for a beautiful quilt, “Something I just noticed for the first time…

Rosie Lee Tomkins Quilt from Eli Leon's African-American collection - improviational patchwork

I like almost a million things about the quilt. It’s that I just feel so great when I’m passing that (the dark-blue bleeds in the light blue section)– when I’m looking up there and see that, even if I don’t recognise that its both this or that, it just turns me on, and that’s been happening with a million things here.

We both agree that there are parts of this quilt that look three dimensional. Eli points out how Rosie Lee will add completely unexpected fabrics to the quilt like the leopard print at the bottom left center, or this very busy print in the top middle –one-of-a-kind elements in contrast to the mostly solid fabrics used through out, that never-the-less blend effortlessly with the whole. I declare that I would never feel free to that and Eli says, “Yes but it works beautifully!”

I ask Eli about Rosie Lee’s personality, “Was she confident?” He says she was more than confident. She never looked for help or approval with her quilts. However she was also a critic of her own work. She could pick out her best, the ones that were “perfect” and others that she thought could be better.

In the end the thing that makes this quilt so extraordinary is the sense I get that it seems chaotic yet feels completely ordered. Eli didn’t see anything chaotic about it but could see what I meant. He declares it “fabulously ordered.”

When asked about her process Rosie Lee said she could picture the outcome before she began. I’d say she was a master at communicating her rhythm of attention.

Rosie Lee Tomkins Quilt from Eli Leon's African-American collection - improviational patchwork

If you would like to hear our actual conversation here it is!

 

So what do you see? Please join the conversation! Check out the archive Talking Quilts with Eli Leon for more exclusive insights on improvisational quilts from Eli’s extensive African-American collection.

Posted in Modern Improv, Reviews, The Modern Quilt | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments

Piñata Anchor of Hope ~ Happy Birthday Mom

It’s my mom’s birthday today. She would have been 70, but she died of pancreatic cancer 10 years ago when she was only 60. I miss her. It’s a rainy day today in the Bay Area, but I feel cozy in my home with a candle lit in her memory, reviewing photographs taken of the two of us during different stages of our relationship. She is still with me.

In the photo above we are performing at a church Valentine’s talent show. She is the 70’s version of Patti Page singing “How Much is that Doggie in the Window.” I’m the doggie of course singing the “arf-arf” chorus. I’m vaguely sure our “singing” was in the form of lip-synching, but I do have a distinct memory of my mom teaching me to make the tissue paper flowers that decorated the stage in the basement-level, fellowship hall of Seventh Street Christian Church in Richmond, VA.

This memory of my mom spurred a temporary public art project that I produced, funded, created, and performed for the city of Durham, NC in 2005, a year after her death. The city of Durham was entering a first phase of rapid redevelopment and urban renewal at that time. Lots of things were beginning to change. Renewal of the city center was something everyone hoped for but there was also a sense of loss. On a personal level I was thinking a lot about the nature, and meaning of hope in the face of grief and death.

Piñata Anchor of Hope

The Piñata Anchor of Hope combined two cultural symbols of hope, the “anchor”–the hope for stability during rough seas, the “piñata” –the hope for the prize, with a third natural metaphor for hope –the “seed.”

I had to get permission from city hall and local business owners to site the project on the long abandoned empty lot in the town center where the old Woolworth’s building used to stand.  I worked with children from several downtown after school programs and magnet schools to create the piñata. Friends provided sweat equity, gardening expertise, and their creative talents. Horse & Buggy Press designed and donated beautiful letter pressed posters. I had fundraisers. Poets read and drummers drummed at the public ceremony. The community was involved in the watering and maintenance of the garden. It was written up in all three of the local papers. So many creative Durhamites pitched in to make our community unique and this project happen.

Unbeknownst to everyone but my sister, who traveled to Durham to help me pitch the anchor off of the three-story building, a handful of my mother’s ashes were mixed with the wildflower seeds. I remember thinking that the anchor falling through the sky was like the body of my dead mother.

I recently heard from one of my Durham friends that construction of a 26-story apartment complex on the old Woolworth’s lot is in the process of being approved by city hall. I am pleased that he recalled the blessing of that de facto public space, the abandoned lot in the center of the city of Durham, eight years earlier.

Sister, Father, Family

Ten years ago today my dad, sister, brother and the rest of the family were celebrating my mom’s 60th knowing it would be her last birthday. This is a picture of Dad, Sis, me and my dad’s second wife, Ruth, on Alameda Beach just two days ago. They were visiting from North Carolina all last week. We had a wonderful time together. We thought of mom and missed her.

Oh how life mysteriously generates and goes on!

Posted in Art and Social Practice, Community, Craft Therapy, My Creative Process, Personal Heritage | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Talking Quilts with Eli Leon ~ Signature Quilt

Eli Leon has a collection of approximately 30 signature quilts. Many of them are Anglo-American in origin but this quilt, most likely made by an African-American, is his favorite, and he pulled it out for me to see.

Eli took some time figuring out the names on this quilt, and he pulled out his detailed notes. One of the first things we noticed was that the script of the quilt maker has some unusual features. It’s difficult to distinguish between letters, such as c & e, e & l, d & l, 5 & 6.  One of the key names, perhaps the husband of the quilt maker, is not clear… perhaps its Samuel K? There are no last names just an initial K, and we don’t know the maker’s first name.

The quilt seems to document the family. How are these people related? Eli and I discussed at length the position of the names. At the top of the quilt you see STK – M to –  KAK – JAN 9 1905 (or 6?). Are the names —Ernest K, Lawrence, Leroy K –sons? Or could Ernest K be the father or brother of STK, or the oldest son? Could Lawrence and Leroy be twins? Are Violet, Catherine and Ethel daughters? Below the girls names is the name Arthur C K followed by Mildred K and then in the far right column, Alice. Could this be a father, mother and sister or perhaps an uncle, aunt and cousin to the maker or the maker’s husband? Notice Mothers day in the same row as Mildred K. How is this significant?

Eli thought the family must have resided in or was from Florida. This is where the quilt was purchased and the abreviation FlA surrounded by palm trees can be found twice in the quilt.

Besides the marriage date. There is also the date 1942 – Samuel K – died 27 of Dec. Below that is the probable signature of the maker KAK flanked on each side by the dates Feb 14. 1942 and 1940. What is the significance of the year 1940? Was that the year the quilt was started? Did it mark the beginning of an illness? Did Valentines Day in 1942 represent a last happy memory for KAK of her husband, before his death in December of the same year?

When Eli first received this quilt into his collection he did some genealogy research but came up empty-handed.

The more Eli and I figured out about this quilt, the more questions we were left with. 

As a family tree and signature quilt it is certainly stunning, but what strikes me the most about this quilt is that it must have been made during a time of loss. Was it made after K’s death? Or was it made during an extended illness and his subsequent death?

After sitting a while with this quilt I felt a deep and profound sadness resonating within me. I imagined the person stitching these names and images on black velvet, and of all the thoughts and memories, worries and joys she may have felt while making it. I wondered about the life of this family. How did they fare? How did the daily relationships between them unfold?  Where and who are their descendants?

With its visual field of deep black velvet and twinkling white stitches this quilt is as powerful and mysterious as the universe. It’s as mysterious as death and the feelings of mourning. It’s as powerful as the soul that binds family relations together in complex ways.

Wow! Nice first quilt for the Talking Quilts with Eli Leon series?  

Eli and I are curious to hear your thoughts and questions. What do you see in this quilt? How does it strike you? What catches your eye, or resonates from within?

Posted in Modern Improv, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

improv from the heart ~ lessons learned in theater class

I began an eight week theater improv workshop feeling intrepidly awkward. I finished the workshop with newfound freedom and feelings of joy and bounty.

This is what I learned:

Improvisation is establishing a pattern or noticing my pattern, and choosing to do something different. The first thing we did in class was to walk naturally. After a bit of that our teacher asked us to make one small change in our gait. This is the basic building block of improvisational process.   

Focusing on making my partner look good, making sure I had his or her back, greatly reduced my own self-consciousness. This is an excellent tactic for fostering conversation with strangers and friends.       

Aspire to the greatest challenges. Taking risks provides an opportunity to embrace failure and celebrate mistakes. Whenever we got stuck on stage, or during one of the games, our teacher encouraged us to throw up our arms and gleefully declare our mistake with an enthusiastic “whoopee!” I began doing this at home when I burn toast or worse, and while making quilts. It’s extremely freeing and effective to let go of self-judgement in this physical way. Try it. Seriously try it.

I don’t need to plan ahead. All I have to do is affirm what my partner offers and add one little bit to it. By taking things moment by moment and accepting everything that’s offered and building on it –doth make the scene or quilt unfold. Practicing this in the theater class has reinforced my ability to do this with in my improvisational patchwork.

The path where I am least comfortable holds the most promise for discovery and the most opportunity for a dynamic unfolding of the scene. Choose the route that feels “dangerous?” How awesome is that! I’m so tired of living a life where my primary concern is being comfortable. Everywhere I turn culture bombards me with the supremacy of comfort and security as the highest standard by which all relationships seem to be deemed as meant to be, or not meant to be. Okay I will stop my rant right here but let me say that I am moved to tears of gratitude, in this moment as I’m writing, for having the opportunity to participate in a community that affirms one of my deepest values –that discovery is the path to knowing and being known which leads to the gateway of freedom, and freedom is the path to connection, and connection the path to  joy.

Damn if I’m not going to have some fantastic kick-ass quilts if I keep this in mind while I’m making them! Which brings me to this quote by quilt maker Arbie Williams:

I’m going to be up to something real dangerous when I get through with this. This quilt done killed two people.  –from “Let It Shine: Improvisation in African-American Star Quilts” by Eli Leon.

 

Fully commit — to the character and to what has been established in the scene –and follow it whole heartedly. I learned that commitment actually supports flexibility, because with commitment comes whole heartedness. Once I am into something 100% it’s easier to be present and flexible. When I committed to the smallest character trait like a nervous hand tick for example, the scene flowed with less effort.  There are so many choices to make in a quilt that without commitment there is no flow or integrity, just a constant back and forth that leads to confusion, feelings of being overwhelmed and a mishmash patchwork. Commitment feels and looks so good in comparison!

Of course I discovered so much more than I can put into words. Hopefully the many lessons learned from theater improv will show up in my quilts. I’m joyful to report I’m already feeling some impact on my life and relationships.

A big shout out to my teacher, David Alger at the Pan Theater in Oakland, CA, and to all of my amazingly talented and brave Improv From The Heart classmates – whoopee!

Posted in Community, My Creative Process, Personal Heritage | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Talking Quilts with Eli Leon

As part of my research for my forthcoming book on improvisational patchwork I’ve been reviewing the many amazing show catalogues based on Eli Leon’s collection of over 1000 African-American improvisational quilts.

During a recent visit he generously gave me a stack of his catalogues and we spent an afternoon looking at them and talking about our favorite quilts. In particular I’ve been grooving on Accidentally on Purpose, a catalogue that includes two extensive essays by Eli, from the exhibition at the Figge Art Museum in 2006.

The essays written by Eli, incorporate over a 100 hours of interviews of African-American quilt makers. They speak about their process in their own words and Eli brilliantly pieces together their narratives into a comprehensive view of their approaches, tactics, and methods of improvisation. If you want to really learn about improvisational patchwork then study these quilts and read Eli’s essays.

The quilt-making successors of these early African-Americans often express a high regard for scraps. “Scraps,” Odessa Dolby told me, “make the best quilts.” “I’d rather have the scraps,” Frances Johnson agreed. “I like the different materials.” “When you use scraps,” Kate Brown reported, “you always get a surprise.” –excerpt from Accidentally On Purpose by Eli Leon

Announcing a fabulous EXCLUSIVE blog series!

We had so much fun talking quilts while looking at the catalogues, we decided to “talk quilts” on a regular basis.

Now each time I visit, Eli chooses a different quilt from his African-American collection that he particularly likes.  I’m always surprised. We hang it in his living room, sit back, bask in the quilt’s magnificent glory, and then discuss the aspects of its design that contribute to its shine.

Eli has a keen aesthetic sense and a wealth of information about African-American improvisational quilts and their makers. I am happy to say he has given me permission to share images of the quilts and notes from our conversations. Stay tuned — join the conversation — grab an archive button for your blog if you like.

Posted in Modern Improv, Reviews | Tagged , | 24 Comments

sorting scraps like the bionic woman… i wish

I always make a big mess when I’m piecing a quilt top. I mean a HUGE mess. It’s insanity. There’s fabric everywhere, underfoot and on every surface. If my studio was in a zero gravity zone scraps would be floating to the ceiling. Imagine that!

I can’t show you the quilts I’m making for my book on improvisational patchwork, but I CAN show you the aftermath!

Once I’ve finished piecing a quilt top, it feels great to get my studio in order again. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the bionic woman –able to condense eighty minutes of scrap sorting into one? Okay now it’s on to the next quilt.

How do you sort your scraps?

Posted in My Creative Process | Tagged , , | 21 Comments