Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Turkey Thanksgiving UrbanAmishThoughts

It's been a wonderful year. What's made it so particularly wonderful is that I find myself in contact with so many alive, creative folks. People willing to take my fabrics and run with them. Or people with whom I can share a common goal and encourage me to give it my graphic best.

They share my passion for creativity and collaborate with me generously and joyously. Some are nearby, some I've never met but have become friends through the magic of the web. One even shares my home!

This is my tribute to them and the power of collaborative friendship.

They appear in the opening image clockwise starting at 7 o'clock. Dustin Farrell, Kristine Poor, Joan Hawley, Pamela Zave, Deborah Vollbracht, Barbara Campbell, Mario Picayo, Marta McDowell, and Diana Mancini. I've introduced them below and their names connect to their web sites or blogs where you can find out more about them.

Dusty is an art longarm quilter.  Dusty has been drawing and painting from ever since he can remember and he continues to let it all flow magically out of his hands through his longarm quilting. I have had the pleasure of seeing his stitching artistry on three of my quilts so far: Dream Garden, Twinkling Star (Both patterns available on my web page.), and Jake's Escalator (which will be published in the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Fon's & Porter's Easy Quilts).

Here they are for your viewing pleasure (Click on the pictures to see bigger so you can see the quilting details a bit better.)

This is the Twinkling Star made up from my Sketchbook Fabrics.

This is a close-up. Love the variation on the traditional feather. And it's all freehand 'longarming.'

This is my Dream Garden quilt which is made from the fabric collection by the same name.

This is a detail.

This is the quilt,  Jake's Escalator, just the corner that fits... too big to photograph the whole thing but you'll be able to see it in the magazine. This is made from Garden Party, the navy-wasabi colorway and my latest line with Blank Quilting.

And a close-up of the quilting detail. Remember! Click on photos, any photo to see BIGGER!

And for the curious: this is why it's called Jake's Escalator.

Kristine Poor (Poorhouse Quilting)

I first met Kristine through her samples of the bags for a Leisure Arts book called Sew & Go Totes at Houston Quilt Market 2008.

Pamela, my partner, was with me at market and spotted all these sample bags in the Leisure Arts booth made up with an old fabric line of mine, Software. We walked in and asked why they were there and they handed me a dummied version of a book soon to be released. We were dumbfounded because practically every projects used my fabric line. So I left a business card and gave it to the Leisure Arts person in the hopes we could make contact and I could thank her personally.
The way she had used the fabrics it was obvious we were on the same design wavelength.
The rest is history. We have been collaborating happily every since.
This year, for Spring Quilt Market she remade some of the projects in the first book with my Sketchbook line.
The Duffel Bag

The Bongo Bag and the Craft Tote

And the backpack.

And here's her toy tote which uses my Garden Party line and will be on the cover of her next book! And a picture of the banner ad for it at Houston Fall Market 2009. The book is called: Ready, Set, Go: Baby Necessities to Sew. At market this year, I also had the added pleasure of meeting her mom. What a team they make.

Check out Kristine's site and also see what fabric kits are available with her designs.

Joan Hawley (Lazy Girl Designs)

Joan Hawley is my role model. Joan does everything she does well. Her patterns are exquisitely written and therefore very easy to follow. Her tutorials illuminating. Her fabric choices inspired. I was overjoyed when I found out a few years ago that she was reissuing the cover of her Runaround Bag pattern with my A la Mode fabric.

Since that wonderful day she continues to promote my fabrics generously on her blog and at Market.
Here's a sampling:
Her Miranda pattern dressed in Sketchbook fabrics at the Salt Lake City Airport

Sassy dressed in Garden Party before her flight to Houston for Fall Quilt Market 2009.

The Claires dressed in two coloways of Sketchbook fabrics. The pictures show front and back of the same bag. Clever, no?

And the latest cuties, the Maggies, presents from Joan to go with my Sassy and my Miranda.
Maggie is Joan's newest release AND the larger Maggie fit's my iPhone oh so comfortably. Now I can always find it fast because of the clip and it's cozy new home.
I'm very excited because over the holidays I'll be setting up a mini-Lazy Girl fabric and pattern store at

And the other thing about Joan that is really nice is that she shares pictures of Honey with me. She knows I have a thing about poodles and for the moment can't really have one. But here is a picture of Honey sent right after she got her hair done. How can you not love that sweet all-knowing little face? Whenever I get a picture of Honey snoring or a close-up of her cute fat toes, I feel like a proud aunt.

Okay, this is my honey. I know I can be accused of being prejudiced so just go to her website and judge for yourselves how good she is. She's a computer researcher and a fabulous art quilter. She was just made an AT&T fellow, a great honor, for decades of outstanding computer research. Here's her cake. She dived into it I'm told. She likes whipped cream. She and I are UrbanAmish development team. If the cake had been near me I would have joined her in the dive.

She's into color. Our breakfast conversation do tend to run into the esoteric areas of color and pattern and quilting design and fiber content (but that usually but not always concerns my latest cereal). We are happy this way. Currently we are transforming our little 1934 truck-delivered Sears Cape Cod into a personal size quilt and print museum that we get to sleep and eat and watch movies on AppleTV in.
We just got delivery of new hooks for the picture molding we had put in our living room and dining room so we can change the exhibition as much as we want without making holes all over the walls. And we actually transformed our home into a temporary Rubik's Cube by having the floors refinished to "museum" blond.
She is currently exploring green—it's yellower side in great detail—but more about it in a later post.
Here are some of my favorite of her color explorations:
This is the exploration of the bluer side of green in the quilt formerly known as Before Night Falls but now called Forest, Ivy, Emerald, Viridian.

The brighter side of the spectrum explored brilliantly in Sunlight, Citron, Saffron, Ochre. (Soon to be in a book: 500 Art Quilts by Lark Publications.)

And the introspective purples in Lavender, Heliotrope, Heliotrope, Iris. Or as I call it, being a Prince fan: Purple Rain.

And Pamela just hung up my gift quilt in my studio: Delphine in an English Garden, a bigger-than-life portrait of my favorite stuffed animal standing in the focus fabric field of one of the fabric lines I have most enjoyed designing, In an English Garden. The picture also gives you an idea of what the cyber half of my design studio looks like. (By the way, that's the free download quilt for my soon-to- be-released fabric line from Blank, Twinkle, on the screen of my beloved Mac.)
Having this quilt right before me increases my happiness quotient exponentially. It's like having a door into a magic realm unexpectedly installed in your room.

Deborah Vollbracht (Creative Folk Quilting) 

Deborah found me through the Blank Quilting website. She politely asked if she could use some of my fabrics for a project she had in mind. When I started seeing her designs I was very taken with her style. I liked the simple elegance of her ideas. They were spare to a perfectly balanced point—no more and no less than was needed to make a visual statement.
She also impressed me that in about 6 months she willingly underwent a crash course in computer literacy while temporarily away from home and engaged in helping her sister out in a difficult time. Total grace under pressure.
I carry her pattern designs on my website for now until she can make her transition fully back to her beloved Colorado where she finally was able to return and take the next steps to getting herself a website.
For now we must make do with her blog to read her in her own voice and see snippets of her fabric play. Do visit it and you will see what I mean. (Link from her web name above.) I predict once things settle down for her she will be a creative force in the design world and I will be able to say I knew her when.
I have to thank Deborah for one of the most emotionally meaningful pieces of fabric art I now own.
Below is the Fab Frame that she made for me with a picture of my parents on their honeymoon in 1943 as a thank you for helping her out with the pattern for it.
My mother died this summer; my father died in 1994. It hangs in my studio where I see them everyday.

I also have to thank her for this great placemat set that graced my porch this summer.
the pattern is called Simple Elegance. My porch set is in Garden Party fabrics.
My friend Marta's set is in Dream Garden fabrics and that's her lovely kitchen dining area. Marta lives in another great old Sears home near me.

All of Deborah's patterns mentioned above are available through my website along with fabric kits if desired.

Barbara Campbell (Love in Stitches) 

Barbara and I met through our local Garden State Quilters guild. For two years we collaborated as a design team under the umbrella name of Love in Stitches. She sewed and designed quilts and I designed fabrics and virtual quilts. Together we co-authored two books: Holiday Quilts: 25 Designs for the Holidays and Everyday and Fuse It and Be Done both for Krause Publications. We traveled to quilt market together and back home we had a lot of fun brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other.

However we came to the sad realization that despite all the fun we were having our business model was not financially viable and that our design and work styles were fundamentally at odds. Independence with the occassional collaboration was the only way to go for each of us.

Today Barbara designs for many fabric manufacturers and continues publishing many beautiful quilts in the trade magazines. Barbara continues to be the source of many beautiful quilt designs using my fabrics even now and is concentrating on developing her wonderful ideas and getting them out to the world.

Here's one of her latest soon to be published with Quilter's Newsletter. It's a very clever rethinking of an old favorite, the basket quilt. (Rethinking the everyday in quilting is something Barbara is very good at. She's always trying to figure out a way to do things faster. She just doesn't like to do the same thing in the same way twice.)

Here's a close-up detail. Notice the fabric folding.

And here's one that she did with my Sketchbook line featured this fall in Fabric Trends. Note it was featured with Kristine Poor's bags from her Sew & Go Totes. 

Welcome Home

Mario Picayo (Editorial Campana) 

Mario is the editor-in-chief of Editorial Campana and it's juvenile division, Campanita.
I design the books for Editorial Campana. Editorial Campana publishes literature written in English and Spanish by Latin@s who dare to challenge the literary canon, conventional social thinking, and who believe in culture as patrimony for everyone. Campana publishes works that contribute to the recovery of Latin@s personal and historic memory as well as those that will develop the pleasure of reading literature written by Latin@s.
I love this collaboration in particular because of it's cultural significance to me personally. Both Mario and I were born in Cuba. We both have lived also in Puerto Rico and New York City. Mario lives now in Upstate New York and I live in New Jersey. Campana offices are in New York City. So geographically and culturally we have led similar lives.
I enjoy working on all the books but I confess to have really gotten the most joy from working closely with him on illustrating his story A Very Smart Cat/Una gata muy inteligente, the second of the two bilingual Spanish/ English children's book I've illustrated for Campanita.
Readers will see some of my Dream Garden fabrics being used as home decor in Ms. Kitty's home. The book, published in September 2008 is now in it's second printing.
Here's two of my favorite scenes.

The first is one of the first scenes in the book when you know things are going to go bad.

This second scene is when things are almost past the point of no return (it's all still careening downhill —for the humans in the household— Kitty seems to be enjoying herself just fine.)

Marta McDowell (

This is my buddy, Marta McDowell, in her Old McDowell Had a Farm outfit. Despite the informality of her dress, Marta looks really impressive on paper and is more so in everyday life. Marta teaches landscape history and preservation at the New York Botanical Garden and is the author Emily Dickinson's Garden (McGraw Hill). I met Marta at a mutual friends' home but I got to know her through reading her beautiful Emily book.
I've had the pleasure of collaborating with Marta on a joint book,  A Garden Alphabetized (for your viewing pleasure).
Now we have many projects up our joint sleeves, including Orchidaceous and possibly a book about a local historical garden jewel, Willowwood. Can't wait to see what the new year brings.
Below is Ladyslipper Chapel from the Orchidaceous book project.

Diana Mancini (

Diana is the creative director at Blank Quilting. It is no exaggeration to say that working with Diana is a dream come true for me. I've worked both in-house at design studios and as a free agent for many years now and always wished and hoped for a creative director with whom I could feel comfortable and whose vision I could respect and trust. I have finally found such a person in Diana Mancini.
Blank Quilting is fortunate to have her and so am I. I love textile design above all my activities because it's the one art form that is truly collaborative. After you are through designing the fabrics another person will come along and use it to create more art multiplying the joy and pleasure of the creative activity in an ever expanding chain.
Therefore, I'm so very thankful that I got to work with Diana and hope to do so for many years to come. She's made a huge difference in the quality of my life.


  1. Wow! What a post! I'll have to come back again to really absorb it. But I'm excited to hear about ORCHIDS - the illustration is lovely. And I really really love those color quilts of Pamela's!

    You have some neat friends!

  2. Thanks, Vicki. Yes, I'm truly rich in wonderful friends. Took me about 4 days to write with 2 days off in between. Each of these people have so many wonderful qualities that just choosing what to say took forever without making it a Bible length post. By the way, loved getting your ABC quilt picture. I'll soon share with you something you inspired as a result.

  3. I really really love those color quilts of Pamela's!
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