Potluck Quilting: Building Community Camaraderie around Fabric Art

Built in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration, the limestone building was originally a National Guard armory, a firehouse during the seventies and eighties, and it now houses the museum. The old rock armory is my favorite building in the town where I grew up.

During the summer, I had the opportunity to lead a community quilt project at the Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center.

Collaborations are always fun for me. Potential combinations of people, topics, materials, and locations make every project a different experience with unique results. People are familiar and comfortable with fabric so the colors, texture, and patterns are relatable. Working with fabric gives an immediate level of comfort for all participants. With community quilts, individuals are free to make their own blocks. Stories are told, ideas and techniques are shared, and when the parts are gathered and joined together, the project and the community are celebrated by the group. It is fun to gather together with artisans of all skill levels to work towards common goals. It is most important for participants to have independent ideas without too much interference from the leader. Read more…

Moth Story Quilts

I loved being a part of the Night Festival at Ruffner Mountain, gathering with other artists to interpret ecological tales and celebrate nocturnal creatures.

My moth quilts, machine sewn and hand stitched, are story quilts telling of relationships between plants and moths. Life cycles, pieced, patched, and sutured with large cross stitches and heavy string to symbolize interconnections, the ensembles tell cautionary tales. Even though special plant-pollinator and host-plant relationships have been forged over long periods of time, the process of co-evolution is ongoing. Fragmented forests, pesticides, urban sprawl and the changing environment mean unpredictable food sources and habitat for the creatures of the Earth. Life is fragile. Natural systems and the ties that bind can unravel in short periods of time. By portraying these relationships with my art and by joining the efforts of other artists who interpret ecological tales, I have hope we will build interest in others to be good stewards of the natural world. Read more…

Beyond Planetary Boundaries

I love this TED Talk by Johan Rockstrom: Let the Environment Guide our Development. He speaks of the “quadruple squeeze” on the Earth and the precarious position we have put ourselves in. He talks about a shift in mindset, turning crisis into opportunity, the need for redefining sustainable development, and allowing the nine “planetary boundaries” to be our guide in protecting the planet. After watching this talk, I focused my thoughts and created a wall hanging called Beyond Planetary Boundaries.

Beyond Planetary Boundaries

Adam and Eve have drastically changed their Garden of Eden. Global warming, polluted air and water, and degraded forests are a few of the perils caused by their sins. The warnings from autopsied symbols of health and spirit are ignored.

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The Wood Storks are Nesting!

The wood storks are nesting! After a two-year absence, the wood storks are nesting again in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary!

Wood Stork in flight

A North American wood stork’s black feathers are visible when the bird is in flight. Photo by Greg Harber

Unlike the European storks that build nests on rooftops and chimneys, of lore and fairy tales, that pick up babies out of marshes and deliver them to expecting parents by dropping them down chimney chutes, our North American wood storks have not adapted to breeding outside of their historical rookeries of cypress swamps or mangrove ecosystems. They depend on expansive shallow swamps to deliver and raise their own babies.

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The Ghost Tree

It makes me happy to see the ghost tree resembling the real trees of Ruffner Mountain.

It makes me happy to see the ghost tree resembling the real trees of Ruffner Mountain.

Made of remnants of canvas from the curtains I made for Ruffner Mountain’s Nature Center, the ghost tree stands in the big room of the Treehouse. I originally made the tree as part of an installation for Naked Art Gallery. Stitched and sutured, pieced and patched, the tree symbolizes the connections between all living things. It serves as a reminder of fragmented forests and trees lost to urban sprawl and rampant development, but it is also a metaphor for hope and the power of nature to rebound if given a chance. A tree’s life is fragile. It is a building block in a forest of interconnected organisms. Tug on a string, and the entwined shifts and bends, branches break, and life unravels.

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Quilt the Forest

Nature, whether a topographical scene, a forest, plant, animal, insect, bird, or an interaction between any of these living things, vignettes of wonder stop us in our tracks and appeal to our senses. As we stroll through a park, walk along on a trail in a nature preserve, or work in a garden, our experiences and observations affect us in ways we may not even be aware of. Lasting impressions, we recall and connect to these nature scenes to inspire, calm, motivate, and center our souls. To help people explore and tell their nature-inspired stories with fabric art, I developed a Quilt the Forest Workshop.

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Day of the Dead Apron

The Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a joyful celebration of lives past with altars and shrines, offerings and artistic displays representing the spiritual essence of the deceased.

DIY Day of the Dead ApronMy good friend, Ann Alsobrook died a couple of years ago at the ripe old age of 93. She lived a good long life. Ann was like a second Mama to me. She taught me how to cook and sew, macrame, entertain, garden with wild combinations, and she taught me how to be myself. Her husband, Charlie, died in 1985. Charlie taught me how to be descriptive and poetic when thinking or writing about nature, and he taught me how to pack for long backpacking trips. He hiked the whole Appalachian Trail when he was 63. Ann and Charlie died 29 years apart, but in the same month. He died on October the 15th, and she died on the 6th.

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Stitching Snakes

I love snakes — real snakes, snake art, snake myths, symbols, metaphors — all snakes. In collecting snake art and stories about snakes, I find it interesting that on the eastern side of the world, snakes symbolize health, regeneration and the circle of life, while on the western side of the world, they stand for evil, harm, meanness, and sneakiness. So, if all the world’s deadliest snakes live in the Eastern Hemisphere and they symbolize goodness, but the majority of snakes of the Western Hemisphere are not venomous but symbolize bad things, how does this make any sense?

My very first Adam and Eve wall hanging takes up almost the whole wall and hangs over my bathtub.

Adam and Eve is a favorite snake story. My very first Adam and Eve wall hanging takes up almost the whole wall and hangs over my bathtub.

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