Friday, November 20, 2009

Book Signing Sunday November 22

Hey Y'all,
I'll be signing copies of my book at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum on Sunday. There's a big shindig to celebrate a new installation showing off quilts from the Joyce Gross Collection, which is part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. Now THAT's a mouthful. I'll be there from 1 - 3 pm. Even if you can't make it to see me in all my splendor, I hope you get a chance to check out the quilts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Book, New New Book, Houston and Titty Tats

Wow, my life is SO CRAZY right now. So crazy. I just checked Amazon and the new quilt book-- Quilting Art-- is actually doing really well. Hooray! I haven't had a second to promote it since the next quilt book, Quilts Around the World, is due to the publisher on Thursday. I'm done with the writing but am still putting finishing touches on over 300 photo captions. Plus I started an AWESOME new job last week. Plus I have five little articles I have to wrap up by Friday. No, I am not sleeping.

I will be in Houston for IQF. I can only attend one day this year, Sunday, and I'll actually be giving a talk from 1 til 2. Not even sure which room-- the theater I think? Am trying to find out but the folks who run IQF are so busy running IQF they aren't emailing me. I totally understand. So I'm just going to show up on Sunday with my talk and a smile and hope it goes well. If you're there please stop by and say hello.

Meanwhile, despite all this busy-ness, I took some time to stop and write a love letter to my favorite knit shop. You can read the love letter here.

I hope you're all pumped for Houston. And I hope that you will kindly tell folks about Quilting Art-- there's more info about it as well as a link to order it in the post below this one.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome Back to You *and* Me

Hey Y'all,
Welcome back, or welcome for the first time. It's true I started this blog sometime ago, and then I neglected it terribly. It's not because I'm one of those people who likes the idea of blogging but, in reality, can't blog. It's that I write so many blogs-- my personal blog over at, the blog for Hill Country Weavers, the blog for Knitting and Yoga Adventures plus other stuff here and there-- that I ran out of time to write about quilts. Also, the other thing that kept me away was that I've been working my butt off researching my next book, a history of quilts from around the world. I have worked with countless experts who are writing pieces for the book. I've been in touch with scholars and museum curators all around the world, collecting info and photos.

I am in the super final homestretch of that book now, and I am WIPED OUT.

This week, in an effort to recharge, I am on vacation, away at a knitting and yoga retreat on Monhegan Island, Maine. The weather, company, and knitting here are all exquisite. You can read all about it if you click the link about for Knitting and Yoga Adventures.

I'm trying to keep work down to an absolute minimum but my wonderful editor, Margret, gently pointed out to me that folks are posting the link to this blog, now that my book, Quilting Art (pictured above) is about to be released. So I thought I'd at least stop by and say hello. Ori and I are beyond thrilled about Quilting Art-- Ori is my boyfriend, my domestic partner, and he took many (many) of the photos in the Quilting Art book. He also knows far more about quilts than he ever imagined, and he has spent countless (I mean literally countless) hours listening to me ponder, fret, and occasionally rant over one quilt book deadline or another. (And, for the record, today is his birthday, so if you're reading this and you know Ori, by all means send him a little birthday shout out.)

Even as I type this I feel incoherent. If it were last week, the incoherence would've been born of exhaustion. This week, it's courtesy of that too-infrequent state of mind: over relaxation. I just got back from a two hour hike around the island, overlooking huge rocks cliffs that give way to the crashing Atlantic below, I have been laughing myself silly with all the hilarious women on this retreat with me. And I am eating like a queen.

So I shall now resume vacation. I will try to get back here with more regularity upon my return to reality next week. In the meanwhile, I would so appreciate you telling folks about the book. If anyone wants a signed copy, you can email me at to arrange that.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday "Quilty as Charged" Anybody?

I know, I know. I have so sorely neglected this blog that I deserve to be kicked out of the blogosphere for all of time and eternity. From the "excuses, excuses" list, please note that I was on that book deadline, and then I needed a break, and then I had to gear up for a hysterectomy, and then I had the hysterectomy, and now I am still recovering from that, which really is taking as long as they said it would-- six weeks. Which is kind of a drag because I'm tired all the time.

But I have a speaking gig at a quilt gig lined up for next Tuesday, and another three gigs lined up for 2009. And I'll be selling my book, "Quilty as Charged: Undercover in the Material World" at these events. Which got me thinking-- you need not be present to win and all that. So if you would like to send a signed copy of "Quilty" to some quilt nut you love who would love to receive it for the holidays (or for no particular reason at all besides quilt love), let me know. You can email me at Yes, it is cheaper to order from UT Press, so feel free to do that. But if you order from me, like I said I'll sign it and I'll also wrap it real nice and mail it direct.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Book Finished! Everything Coming Up Roses!

Once again, I've let a good stretch lapse between posts. I finally had to buckle down and get the book finished. The deadline was September 1st. I turned in the manuscript late on August 31st. The goal was to go to the beach for a few days to unwind after that but Hurricane Gustav dashed those plans. And also, without stopping to breathe deeply, I dove right into researching my next book, a lost-at-sea saga that is going to be very intense in both the organizing and the telling.

But despite that, I am feeling some relief at finishing Quilting Art. And to trot out an overused analogy, writing it was like making a quilt. I had all this great material to work with, material I had gathered all over the place in my travels. And I had to cut it and piece it together and make it into something others can appreciate.

Even though it's a tired metaphor, it remains apt. And I actually reminded myself, as I worked, that really, I was working on the written equivalent of an art quilt. The book was such a departure for me-- my first three books were memoir/first person. And even my fourth book, which was about quilts, had a big first person component. Not this one. Yes, I do a little first person commentary in the introduction. But after that it's me telling the stories of others.

That turned out to be a great experiment for me. I know I'm not totally done writing accounts from my own life. Which, of course, is why I blog. But a part of me feels at peace with a lot of the stuff I used to work through in my memoirs. And I realize that, after over twenty years of reporting-- my bread and butter work-- I've gotten really good at listening to other people's stories, and observing them closely, and zooming in on the details needed to paint a decent portrait of them.

So now the writing doesn't feel hard. Which isn't to say it's easy. But I'm not swinging in the dark anymore and I have a good idea, going into a project, of the size and shape it will take in the end. Very nice to be on this perch after literally decades of honing my skills.

Hopefully, very soon, I'll resume running interviews and stories here of art quilters. For now, it's nose to the grindstone with the new book proposal and, okay, a little relaxation, too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Boo Davis Rocks Out with Her Quilts Out

Wow. Keeping up with the blog and trying to meet the book deadline while simultaneously working my other jobs is... well, let's just say it's a good thing I like a challenge. I spent time last week polishing off some profiles and also talking to Susan Else, who does these amazing, 3-D sculpture quilts. But I still haven't told you about Boo Davis, whom we visited in Seattle weekend before last.

Boo is a designer and illustrator by trade. Earlier this year, she ditched her day job to pursue the quilting thing full time, a choice she admits has its hurdles. There's the COBRA insurance plan (expensive), the lack of ready company she had at the office (though her cats do stand in as coworkers now), and the need to generate enough work to stay afloat. Toward that end, she recently got a contract to do a book of quilt patterns. Alas, the book will not exclusively feature her Evil Rock Quilts. The publisher wanted some, uh, kinder gentler patterns, too. But at least there will be some of her trademark heavy metal work.

Boo really is a metal head, who used to listen to Ozzie Osbourne while wrapped up in a quilt at her grandmother's house when she was little. After making lots of baby quilts for friends, she decided to do a mash-up of her love of sewing and her love of metal. I'm pretty sure she's the only quilter out there doing this thing as a full time gig.

Here's another one of her pieces. And you can see more at her web site:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hanging Out With Margot Lovinger

Warren and I had a great time visiting with Margot Lovinger in Seattle. I have, in my years of learning about alternative techniques, seen an awful lot of innovation. But I have to say that I have not ever before seen anything like Margot's work.

I ask just about every artist I interview to tell me what they think about the word "quilt" as a description for what they do. Some shy away from using the term "quilt artist" to describe themselves, preferring "textile artist." This isn't so much a shunning of the craft root of quilting. Sometimes what it's about is recognizing that some gallery owners, art buyers, and museums pass unfair judgment and are immediately dismissive when they hear the term. Others embrace the word quilt and find that it opens doors for them because so many people instantly get a good feeling when they hear the word. Even if they view a portfolio of work that doesn't match the mental image that "quilt" initially conjures, the fact that that initial connection got made makes for a good start in some cases.

It's not a black and white argument, of course. And plenty of artists see both sides. As for Margot, she doesn't have a problem with the word "quilt" or, as her fellow artists in the Contemporary QuiltArt Association sometimes jokingly call it: "The Q Word." For Margot, it's just hard to come up with a term that accurately describes what she does. Does she use fabric? Check. Does she use layers? Check. Does she use stitches? Some, but not that many-- not nearly as many as most. Still, she incorporates all the basic components of quilting.

Her background is painting and her passion is figure painting. She attended both Parsons School of Design in New York and The Museum School in Boston. By her own admission, her attempts at painting figures wasn't what she wanted it to be. She fell into painting with fabric by accident. Working on a huge quilt to honor her deceased father, she created large wings comprised of thousands of "feathers" made of sheer fabric. She spotted "a piece" of fabric across her studio that was a precise color she wanted to work with. Upon closer inspection, she saw that what she was actually looking at was several pieces of sheer fabric layered. Which is when it dawned on her she could create an infinite color palette by layering different colors.

This led her to where she is today. She'll begin by taking about 200 photos of a model and then, through a process I'll detail more in my book, she eventually creates a map on the fabric. She then "shades" with colors she creates with layers of tulle, organza and chiffon. She doesn't use paints or dye, just fabric. This seems impossible to believe, even when closely inspecting the results, which I had the pleasure of doing.

Really, it's just astounding stuff.

So thanks, Margot, for the great art talk, the delicious lunch, and the chance to learn about yet another incredibly innovative way to use textiles to create art. Here's another: