Category Archives: Learning from the Masters

Learning from the Masters

Thanks and a Winner

I’m overwhelmed by all the wonderful comments and votes of confidence ya’ll gave me over on Facebook for Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle conference.  I’m thrilled to say I won!  I’m now on the speaker’s lineup and I’ll be presenting at the conference July 20-23, 2011.  I’ve not ever attended Tory’s conference in the past, but from everything I’ve heard, they are phenomenal and really produce results for the attendees.  I’m selective about the companies I align myself with, and I’m proud to be part of the Spark and Hustle team.

Now on to the fun part:  the winner!  I’m excited to announce two winners:  Debbie Snyder and Laurie Krauss.  Ya’ll get your choice of prizes:  either a lecture to your guild, or a social media course over at SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com.  Contact me at maria [at] colormastery.com and we’ll arrange all the fun details.

And the watercolor?  A fun folk art watercolor I did of some homemade cupcakes I made and created a still life with my Winter Bird table runner.  Art imitates life, inspired by art.  It’s all so beautiful!

I hope you are having a wonderful summer with your family and friends, and enjoy your July 4th holiday weekend.  Here’s my family enjoying some time at my sister’s lake house over Memorial Day weekend.

Video Review of Inspired by Tradition – New Applique Book by Kay Mackenzie

Welcome quilters to Day One of Kay Mackenzie’s blog tour for her newest book, Inspired by Tradition:  50 Applique Blocks in 5 Sizes.  If you’re new here, allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Maria Peagler, author of the Benjamin Franklin award-winning book Color Mastery:  10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts.  I’m a workshop instructor and I’m thrilled to have a book like Inspired by Tradition for my students.

Watch my video review of Kay’s newest title, then read on for how you can win you very own copy.

Want to learn more?  Check out all 50 blocks at Inspired by Tradition’s Amazon page.  Check back daily at Kay’s page from March 23 – March 31 to see who will be hosting Kay on their blog.

Want to win your own copy?  Just spread the word about Kay’s new book, by sharing this page with your friends, sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or sending an email to your guild’s Program Chairperson or Newsletter Editor.  I make it really easy:  simply click on any of the icons at the top or bottom of this post to share on your favorite social network or via email.  Then tell me here in the comments how you shared, and you’ll be entered to win.  Check back tomorrow when I’ll announce the lucky winner.

Blessings Tree Table Runner

Creative Quilters, I’d like to introduce you to Blessings Tree, the November edition of our year-long color-of-the-month enhanced e-pattern series:

Every Thanksgiving I long for a way to permanently record our blessings.  As often as I teach my children the lesson of gratitude and try to practice it myself, the daily carpool, school, work, dinner, and errands tend to take over, and we forget.  Here is a simple way to remember, record, and reflect.

The tree starts out bare, just branches, trunk, and buttons.  During our Thanksgiving day with extended family, we’ll catch up with stories of loved ones lost, children who’ve sprouted so tall you barely recognize them, and hugs and kisses all around.  As we cook, catch up, and enjoy time with those we love so much, we’ll begin adding leaves to the tree.

We’ll each write down on a leaf, with a gold metallic marker, what we’re grateful for this sign, sign and date it.  As more and more family members add their blessings, the leaves begin to accumulate.

Then, before we all sit down to the meal, everyone will add their gratitude leaf to the tree, until it’s overflowing with blessings.

Enjoy your loved ones this Thanksgiving holiday.  Cherish the time together, and continue to remember how richly you’ve been blessed with November’s Blessing Tree pattern.

Here’s a hint for next month:  count the branches on the tree.  Hhhmm, would be great for December, too, wouldn’t it?  Stay tuned and I’ll show you how to turn the Blessings Tree into an Advent Tree for Christmas.

To order the Color Mastery Table Runners enhanced e-pattern. click here: I Want to Master Color

Catching Up

Aaaaahhhhh.  It’s so good to be back.  It has been so long since I’ve been able to be here and chat with all of you.  Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you and saying “Ha!  You thought you had a plan?  Here’s where you’re going now . . . ”  I know that each of you can completely relate.  So let me catch you up:

  • Yesterday David turned 45.  We celebrated with a yummy Old Fashioned Devil’s Food cake and Fluffy Chocolate frosting from The Cake Doctor by Anne Byrne (Jamie Lee Curtis’ favorite cookbook).  David said it was the best birthday cake he’s ever had!  Then we enjoyed a couple’s dinner out at Dahlonega’s Crimson Moon and listened to Tom and Julie sing the night away.

  • My younger son turned 10.  I cannot tell you how excited he is to be in the double digits.  He’s also wearing glasses now, and has become a voracious reader.  He’s so committed to reading he carries a flashlight in the car so he can read in the dark on the way to school.

  • My older son is carrying the 60-lb bass drum in marching band, and is needing chiropractic visits because of it.  As much as we love seeing him march and enjoy attending the high school football games, I will be glad when he’s done carrying that albatross.  He’s now in the habit of drumming on anything that doesn’t move.  A habit only a mother can love.

  • I taught a Color Mastery workshop to 70 of the  most wonderful ladies in the Crazy Quilter’s guild in Chattanooga.  Much of the credit for huge attendance goes to Sandi, one of my faithful and true quilt testers, who visited area guilds and put out the word that I was coming.  The guild made the workshop super affordable and even included a box lunch.  I dreamed the night before the workshop that we never got to the first exercise of three in the class because of the large group – a bit of a nightmare, really.  In reality?  I was truly amazed at how well everyone understood and applied the concepts of color in such a large class, and Sandi heard rave reviews all day.  Color is not an easy subject to teach, and it’s a challenge to do it with such a large group, but it was a perfect day for both teacher and students.

  • Took a long overdue “me” day and sewed to my heart’s content, making the reversible Market Bag from Tanya Whelan, two Wonder Wallets from LazyGirl Joan Hawley, and a purse organizer insert in anticipation of Joan’s new Suzi pattern.  I used fabric from Michael Miller and Westminster from Karen William’s new quilt shop in Jasper, Quilt Shop on Main.  I used one of the Wonder Wallets as a business card holder and even got a compliment on it from a guy at a social media conference I attended last weekend.  Wow.

  • I started a new business developing and implementing social media campaigns for small to mid-size businesses.  I’ve been so successful with social media in promoting Color Mastery that I’m helping fellow entrepreneurs do the same with their terrific products and services.  I am quite selective about my clients, and  partner only with people whom I believe in and I know put their clients first.

What does all this mean for my quilting, writing, and teaching?  It’s always my first love, but I’ll have somewhat less time to devote to it.  I won’t be posting on this blog quite as much, but you will find me on Facebook and Twitter every day, so catch me there at my personal page, Color Mastery page, or Willow Ridge Media page.

I will continue to write and teach, but will be approaching it all in a way unseen in our industry before.  I was a leader in publishing with many of the ways I reached out to my readers, being the first in the quilting world to do a blog tour, give away a chapter of a book, and have a YouTube channel.  I’m so excited about the new roads I’ll be forging in our industry, and all I can say is, “fasten your seat belts ’cause it’s gonna be a fun roller coaster of a ride!”

Arbor Lane Initial Sketch

Arbor Lane’s humble beginning started with this lovely rough sketch.  Every one of my quilt designs starts with my own hand, pencil, and paper.  I spend so much of my day at the computer, I welcome the back-to-basics of sketching and playing in my journal.  And that’s exactly what I was doing here:  dreaming of a medallion design I would love to make.

I wanted it to be a quilt that a beginner could make, especially since the blocks are pre-cut.  While the piecing and applique would be simple, I wanted a sophisticated look to the quilt.  No sampler look here:  I wanted a beautiful harmony in the design.

Ten designs were ultimately offered to JoAnn’s, and they selected mine.  The process was much like Project Runway, but we were each in our own studio, sketching, measuring, coloring, and giving it our all.  Our own version of Tim Gunn would guide us in the right direction:  center design too similar to what had been done before, tweaking color schemes, sending block designs every week to my tester Scarlette for her wonderful work.  Every moment of dreaming, design, and making Arbor Lane was a joy.  I learned much and grew as a designer and an entrepreneur

See that vase and those birds?  While JoAnn’s didn’t use them, I did later in my table runner series.  The vase shows up in Petite Pineapples and a simple version of the birds is in Winter Bird and Petite Pineapples.  You never know where a creative journey will take you.

Remember, you have until the end of the week to guess how long it took me to make Arbor Lane:  cutting, piecing, and applique.  Some lovely fall fabric could be coming your way!

A Big Debut

I am thrilled I can finally announce my big news:  this beauty is mine.  Arbor Lane, JoAnn’s 2010 QuiltBlock of the Month quilt design, is mine.  My goal for this quilt was for it not to look like a Block of the Month.  I wanted to develop a design that had never been done before.  I love medallion quilts, but had never made one, let alone design one.  Why not?  A girl can dream, can’t she?  I must admit, the team was skeptical.  Designers had tried to fit a medallion quilt into monthly kits before, but it hadn’t ever worked.  Too many restrictions on shapes, number of pieces, and a lot of behind-the-scenes details.  But I was determined.  After all, nothing presents a challenge like hearing “that’s never been done before.”

Here’s are photos of the quilt top in my home, before it went to the longarm quilter to work her magic:


I’ll be sharing the genesis of Arbor Lane with you each day this week.  I give you a sneak peek into my design process, unveil thumbnail sketches, alternative color palettes, and designs that ended up on the cutting table and never made it into the quilt.  It’s going to be fun week:  don’t miss it!

To kick things off in a grand scale, let’s have a contest, shall we?  I’ll be giving away a fall color palette of fabric to the lucky quilter who can guess how long it took me to make this quilt.  Leave your guess in the comment section and I’ll award the fabric at the end of the week.

Boost Your Own Economy

The latest economic news is a bit glum, especially when you consider we’re about to begin the major quilting season.  Fall holds great promise with terrific quilt shows and conferences, cooler weather, new projects, and guilds getting back underway after a summer hiatus.  What’s a quilter on a budget to do?  Don’t despair – it’s Frugal Fabriholic to the rescue!

I’m announcing a program that lowers the price of the Frugal Fabriholic e-book to just $3.99 as long as the national unemployment rate stays above 7%.  As of July 2010, it’s 9.5%, so we’ve got a long way to go, and Willow Ridge Press is supporting quilters in this tough economy.  Be good to yourself and spend on your quilting passion without breaking the bank, using my 12-step savings plan as your guide to saving more cash for your quilting stash.

The e-book is available for anyone who uses a computer or e-reader:

  • Kindle bookstore at Amazon
  • iBook store for the iPad
  • PC, Mac, or any e-reader device at Smashwords
  • My own Quilts & Creativity online store.

Don’t have an e-reader?  No problem!  You can read the Frugal Fabriholic on your home computer, no matter what kind you have.  And for $3.99 –  less than one fast food meal, you can learn how to save over $13,000 on household expenses.  Learn more about the book at the Frugal Fabriholic website.

Confused about Color?

I put together a list of the many resources I’ve created over the Color Mastery journey and put them into one place for you.  Wow.  No excuses not to have outstanding color in your quilts any more!

Color Tips for Quilters by Maria Peagler

Secrets of Accurate Half-Square Triangles

The Spring Tulips table runner uses a lot of half-square triangles (HSTs) in the pieced tulips blocks.  In fact, every table runner I’ve designed so far uses them.  For much of my early years as a quilter, cutting and piecing accurate HSTs was a mystery to me.  I followed all of the instructions, tried the triangle paper, triangles on a roll, and just didn’t find a way that suited me.  I even did Debbie Caffrey’s method of cutting bias strips, seaming them, and then cutting the HSTs.  It was accurate, but a headache too.

I needed something simpler.  I like simplicity:  clean, accurate, easy, no weird tools, just the basics on how to do it right.  I finally figured out the secrets of accurate HSTs, and now I’m sharing them with you in this checklist.  I’ve become a huge fan of checklists after reading Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto.  It’s a fascinating look at how pilots, surgeons, architects, and other creative and technical people nail down a procedure so there are no mistakes.  So here’s my gift to you:  a HST Checklist for getting them right.  Every. Time.

To view this full-size and print it out, click here for the link.  I suggest putting it next to your sewing machine or cutting table:  someplace visible so you don’t miss it!

Girls’ Day Applique!

My buddy and applique guru Kay Mackenzie (Easy Appliqué Blocks)  has a brand new book out called Dolls & Dress to Appliqué and it’s just perfect for the mom, grandmom, or woman wanting to play with fabric paper dolls!  Here’s my exclusive interview with Kay about her newest offering:

Q: What was your inspiration for Dolls & Dresses to Applique?

A: The original idea was ‘Paper Dolls to Appliqué.’ But when I drew them with their hands and feet out into the seam allowances so that they would connect up when the blocks were sewn together, I was not a fan of the look, so it became just Dolls. Then, I had so much fun thinking about the fabrics for the dresses, it evolved into Dolls & Dresses to Appliqué.

Q: What fabrics do you recommend for the doll faces?  For their dresses?  What should we look for?

A: I ordered the Complexion Medley from Keepsake Quilting, but I think it’s discontinued now. You can use any solid or near-solid that looks like skin-tone to you. Or hey, maybe you can find freckle fabric! For the dresses, whatever looks good to you and represents the flavor you’re going for! One thing to think about is scale.

Q: What advice do you have for quilters who are still a bit intimidated by appliqué?

A: I would say, find your method. There are a gazillion ways to appliqué and they’re all good. Some prefer to work by hand, others like machine sewing. Some want a prepared edge, others have no issue with turning the edge as they go. Some are glue or starch gals, some like freezer paper templates, I could go on and on. Just find the method that works for you and gives you satisfaction in your results. Don’t think you have to do it a certain way. There’s lots of information about appliqué, all kinds, on my blog All About Appliqué. There are photo tutorials and links to other sites that have tutorials too. Just investigate the Categories and enjoy!

Q: What was the most fun part of developing this project?

A: Choosing the dress fabrics and the embellishments. I used the embellishments with restraint but I have a tub full of ribbons and beads and buttons and flowers and lace and rosettes and bows… it was so much fun rummaging through that stash to fund just the right touch! Including a little dog that is a 3-dimensional scrapbooking sticker.

Q: Did you ever do paper dolls as a young girl?

A: That’s funny. Not so much! I ran around the neighborhood in dungarees, went fishing, and rode the horse for miles through the countryside. I did a blog post about the dichotomy of the tub o’ doodads and my tomboy childhood.  Now I love floral fabrics and the shabby chic look.

Q: I just created some paper dolls with the kids in the Sunday School class I teach.  One little girl wanted to do paper dogs, and asked me to draw them:  that was a challenge!

A: Now that’s a cool little girl. I’m a total dog person.

Q: Have you thought of combining your teapots (in Kay’s books Teapots to Appliqué and Teapots 2 to Appliqué) and your dolls for the ultimate little girl tea party quilt?

A:  What a great idea! Synergy! A friend of mine, Kim Jamieson-Hirst, already combined one of the dolls with a dog design from my book Easy Appliqué Blocks into a Wizard of Oz project. I love it!

Thanks Kay for stopping by and chatting about such a fun appliqué book that’s bursting with possibilities!  You can win your own copy of Dolls & Dresses to Applique!  Just leave a comment here and I’ll choose the winner on Friday.  Good luck!

Watercolor Inspiration

Great art often inspires great art, and I’ve been inspired by my Color-of-the-Month table runner patterns to capture them in watercolor.  I’m delighted to create in both media, as they complement each other.  Quilting is a precise, geometric discipline, whereas watercolor is a loose and often uncontrolled process.  Watercolor has a mind of its own, but I can make an exact 12″ block for my runners.

While the fabric version of a quilt and its watercolor counterpart both present the same colors, achieving them couldn’t be more different.  As a quilter, I go into the fabric shop and select exactly the colors I want, and plan my quilt from those unchanging swatches.  As a painter, I create my own versions of those colors by mixing different pure hues:  Aliziran Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Ochre.  They even sound beautiful, don’t they?

I had intended for this watercolor series to be my own private playtime, a creative exercise just for me.  But I just have to share!  So, I’m making these watercolors available on note cards, a set of 10, with envelopes, in my store.  Look for them here in the online store.

Top Ten Habits Revealed

Look what the post man delivered today to my mailbox!  My Top Ten Habits article is on the cover of the Feb/Mar Quilter’s Newsletter magazine above the masthead.  Woo-hoo.  I’m thrilled, proud, and humbled all at the same time.  My husband and I are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate.  In the meantime, I’m working on a project and not getting nearly enough done.  I know you’ve had those days, so gotta go!

Posted via email from mariapeagler’s posterous

Behind the Scenes

After I shot this video at Dragonfly Quilt Shop in Watkinsville, GA, I gave a lecture to the Cotton Patch Quilt Guild in Athens, and drove home for a late-night arrival.  The same day, my elder son attended a workshop at the local Apple store on how to use iMovie.

I’ve been the computer expert in our home for a long time, and I taught my son how to use Word, how to navigate the internet (with supervision), and even how to create a blog for a math project.  So he was excited to help me with my video.

I planned on creating a black screen with a white title for the Title screen and ending credits, which I can do with the Flip software that came with my camera.  But after he saw my results, he offered to help me do much better.

He showed me how to create the fancy title screen with my book’s cover and the white title superimposed over it, and the ending black frames with the credits on them.  Actually, he wanted to do it all himself, but I’m trying to teach him how to educate others:  never do for them what you can help them to do themselves.

That’s my same motto for my classes.  I never do the work for my students, or else they won’t be able to replicate their experience when they get home.  I gently guide students as to how to achieve results, and everyone’s path there is different.

So thanks, son.  My video looks oh-so-much better.  Who knows what you’ll be teaching me next?

Julie & Julia: Bon Appetit!

This weekend after my younger son’s eye exam (not ready for glasses yet, but soon) we had dinner at Provino’s, a delicious family Italian restaurant.  I had the Spinach Tortellini, David enjoyed the Shrimp and Scallop Fettucine, and the boys both got something equally rich and delightful.  It was the perfect meal to precede our family going to see Julie & Julia.  Believe me, we heard many groans about not going to see G-Force, the movie the boys wanted, but we insisted.  And?  They loved it!  Nora Ephron knows how to make a classic, and the Julie & Julia DVD will definitely be on my Christmas list.

I actually met Julia Child once in Atlanta when she was touring to promote her book The Way to Cook.  She appeared at a hotel at Lenox Square, and guests had lunch and got to submit questions for her to answer.  To my delight, she chose my question, which was “What’s the best way for a newlywed to learn how to cook ?”  Her answer was to master the basic dishes, and you could change them in a variety of ways to have a great range of recipes.  The best part about that whole experience is David surprised me with it:  we had been watching Nathalie Dupree on PBS so we could both learn how to cook, and when he heard about Julia Child in town, he immediately bought a ticket for me!

What I loved about watching Nathalie Dupree is that she was total mess in the kitchen, but still managed to pull off great recipes.  My favorite Nathalie moment was when she put the hot pads on the stove, was talking to the camera, and the hot pads caught on fire.  She put them out, smoke and all, continued talking, and left the whole scene in.  I concluded after watching Nathalie that if she could cook, so could I.

After watching Julie & Julia I pulled out my Julia Child cookbooks just to reminisce, and my turned-down pages were on these recipes:

  • Chicken and Vegetables in White Wine
  • Soup au Pistou
  • How to Boil Rice (really – I learned how to do this from Julia!)

After the movie I asked if everyone would like me to make a Julia recipe every month, and it was a resounding yes!  I’ve been doing a lot of 30-minute-type meals with the busy schedule of a working mom, but sometimes we all need slow down and savor life.  Bon Apetit everyone!

Quilt Camp at Willow Ridge Press Studios

Quilt Camp at Willow Ridge Press Studios

This week I hosted six children in my quilt studio to make Quillows.  They were practically giddy they were so excited! We planted the seeds of lifelong sewers and quilters, and they were beaming with pride and tightly hugging their Quillows when they left.

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On Monday we started by making a mini-Quillow.  This turned out to be quite important to understand the whole process.  The real Quillows were so large it was easy for the campers to get lost in the fabric and what step we were doing, and they really liked doing the smaller sample first.

L. topstitching her Quillow.

Overheard at Quilt Camp this week:

  • “Duh!” – a lot
  • “I don’t want to sew through my dog’s eye/nose/mouth!”
  • “The machine came unthreaded . . again!”

Mini-Quillow

Here’s our Quilt Camp by the numbers:

  • 5 girls
  • 1 boy
  • 3 homeschoolers
  • 3 private schooled
  • 1 horse fabric
  • 1 chick fabric
  • 1 dog fabric
  • 1 floral fabric
  • 1 plaid fabric
  • 1 motorcycles & baseball fabric
  • 6 pincushions
  • 250+ pins
  • 24 yards of fabric
  • 12 yards of batting
  • Priceless memories and confidence.  These campers completed a long quilting project and have the skills to tackle any sewing project they want in the future!

A big Happy Birthday wish to Camper E. who turns 12 next week and had her rock-climbing birthday party today!  A rock-climber and a quilter – you go girl!

Art Week: Gee’s Bend Quilts

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Today’s the final day in the Quilts & Creativity Art Week, and I’m concluding with a bang:  quilts from the Gee’s Bend quilters.  I’ve featured works of art from the Big Canoe Fine Art show in honor of my own art quilts that are on display at the Ann Litrel gallery in Woodstock.  Previously I featured works of sculptureglass, and wood.

Even though the Gee’s Bend quilters are from our neighboring state of Alabama, I’ve managed to miss every gallery showing of their quilts.  When they were at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, our family was in the middle of a move.  When a play based on their story was featured in Dahlonega, I was teaching.  I’ve finally gotten to see their quilts in person!

More pieces from the show:

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Gee’s Bend quilters rely on simple designs and piecing, coupled with bold color schemes for a dramatic impact.

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This is a Housetop design, a variation of Log Cabin, often seen in Gee’s Bend quilts.

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The exhibit is in a show home in Big Canoe, and this is one of its closets.  This would be my dream closet, full of about $35,000 worth of Gee’s Bend quilts, at least.

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So much of color is intuitive – even with no formal art training, this quilter used the complementary colors of yellow and violet for vivid contrast.

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A bold interpretation of a Bow-Tie quilt, done in black and white solids.  Wow.

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The red fabric in this quilt is satin and it practically glows.  You can see the sheen in the photograph, but it’s even greater in person.

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The fine art show included some smaller Gee’s Bend quilts in the $500 price range for people who wanted to start their art collections at a smaller scale.

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This quilt was my personal favorite, as it had so much going on I could have looked at it for hours and admired the fabrics and piecing.  The quilting was a simple cross-hatching, just perfect for a quilt that had such busy piecing.

The Big Canoe Fine Art show continues through July 19, and you can stop by and say hello to my husband David of Peagler Custom Homes.  He has two gorgeous homes, one on the golf course, and another on the lake, that are themselves works of art.

Tonight I’ll be at the Ann Litrel gallery from 5-9p.m., and I’ll be speaking on “Color Artistry in Quilt Creation.”  Hans Rueffert, the local Jasper chef and Food Network star will be cooking up dishes across the street at FoxTales Book Shoppe and signing his visual feast of a cook book, Eat Like There’s No Tomorrow.  I own a copy of his cookbook and you should too.  Hans found out he had stomach cancer after his stint on Food Network and has a philosophy on life that is not to be missed.  Tonight’s Friday Night Live theme is Beach Party.  See you there!

Art Week: Wood

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It’s wood day in the Quilts & Creativity Art Week.  I’m featuring works of art from the Big Canoe Fine Art show in honor of my own art quilts that are on display at the Ann Litrel gallery in Woodstock.  Previously I featured sculpture and glass.

The wood pieces in the Big Canoe Fine Art show ranged from furniture to instruments to models, and they were intricate, superbly-crafted, and sophisticated in design and theme.

The sideboard shown above housed beautiful stained-glass inserts in the doors, and the sides of the sideboard had concave curves instead of straight lines.  Not easy to do.

More pieces from the show:

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Twig chair with leather seat and carved back.

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Hand-carved barnyard and barn.

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Exquisite armoire with burled wood.

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Funky vanity with working soap dish and drawer.

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Beautiful chest with hand-forged iron detail.

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My favorite piece:  a handcrafted mandolin, lovely to see and hear!

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And a sneak peek at tomorrow’s quilt day from the show:  two Gee’s Bend quilts in a study with a desk that has a propeller in the top.

Quilt show this week at Ann Litrel gallery.  My talk is tomorrow, July 3rd, at 7p.m.  Friday Night Live in Woodstock runs from 5-9p.m. and it’s Beach Party-themed this month.  See you there!

Art Week: Glass

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It’s glass day in the Quilts & Creativity Art Week.  I’m featuring works of art from the Big Canoe Fine Art show in honor of my own art quilts that are on display at the Ann Litrel gallery in Woodstock.  Yesterday was sculpture and you can see it here.

The glass-blown artwork in the Big Canoe Fine Art show was gorgeous, light-filled, and oh-so-delicate!  I’m not in the right phase of life to have fragile sculptures like these in my home.  Two active sons and a dog don’t make for an art-display friendly environment.  That’s what made it so fun to view it in another home!

Two more photos from the show:

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Quilt show this week at Ann Litrel gallery.  My talk is Friday, July 3rd, at 7p.m.  Friday Night Live in Woodstock runs from 5-9p.m. and it’s Beach Party-themed this month.  See you there!

Art Week: Sculpture Day

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It’s art week here at Quilts & Creativity, in honor of my upcoming talk at the Ann Litrel gallery in Woodstock. I dropped off the quilts today and got a behind-the-scenes tour from Ann, and her gallery is gorgeous. Her paintings are luscious and color-rich.

I’ll be talking about my color inspiration, how I approach color in my art, and how color in quilts is truly unique from other art forms.  Join us for a fun night out on Friday, July 3 at 7p.m.  Woodstock will be hosting its monthly Friday Night Live, where shops, restaurants and merchants stay open late until 9p.m.  It’s a great family night out for everyone.

I also attended the Big Canoe Fine Art Show and was delighted with the vibrant colors, shapes, and textures contained in the exhibit.  I’ll be sharing photos with you each day, revolving around a theme.  Today is sculpture, Wed. will be glass, Thursday will be wood, and Friday will be quilts, Gee’s Bend quilts to be exact.  Don’t miss a single day!

Here are some of the sculptures by local artist Eric Strauss of Ellijay, GA:

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Artful gate.

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Gate detail.  The roses look like you could pluck them right off the gate.

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Reminiscent of Leonardo’s horse.

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Whimsical birds in a fountain.  The gurgling water sounded meditative.

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This sculpture greeted us as we drove toward the Art Show home.

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Oversized apple and pear, with blown-glass and metal sculptures in background.

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This bowl radiated color and light.

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Mother and child.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing glass pieces from the show.  Enjoy – and stop by for a visit if you live in north Georgia.  It’s gorgeous in the mountains right now!

A Real Book’s Lasting Value

Color Mastery Fan

I want my work to last.  Longevity is one of the three main goals I have for my books.  The other two?  A post for another day.

I realized long ago that it took just as long to write a book that was trendy and out of print after two years as it did to write a classic.  And as a quilter and artist, I appreciate books that provide me with lessons for years to come.

Bookshelf

I often hear people complain about how expensive books are, which is why I go for those that provide me with lasting value.  I enjoy patterns, booklets, and other fun diversions.  But they don’t have the lasting value of a book.

Bookshelf 2

Color Mastery has nine quilt projects.  If you bought them individually in a pattern, each would average $15.00.  Multiply that times nine and you get $135.00.

Color Mastery also has 11 exercises, and has twelve months worth of class material.  I teach shop owners how they can offer a different class each month using the exercises and projects in the book.  A full-day class averages about $60.00, and 12 of them would be $720.00.

$135.00 worth of patterns/projects, and $720.00 worth of classes is a total of $855.00.  Still think a book is expensive?  Look’s like the world’s best bargain to me.

The real test of a book-lover’s book is this:  does it provide those things that make a reader’s life easier, that will make the book last, and makes it easy to find, or get more information?  I printed Color Mastery on museum-quality paper using the best photographer and printer in the industry.

I included an index to make information easy to find.  Look at the latest quilt book you bought:  I bet it doesn’t have one.  Publishers are skimping on this kind of stuff and betting you won’t notice.  Bibliographies too.  I want to know how to find out more information when I’m interested in a topic, and I know my readers do too.  And librarians love them.

Does the book’s binding last?  Is it sewn or glued?  Color Mastery’s is sewn, of course.  And it has a spine, so you can find it on a store shelf or your own.

Look for these qualities when you buy a book.  Be a discerning consumer.  Expect them in your books and ask for them.  And support quilt book authors who give you the best.

Color Mastery Gallery Talk

Ann Litrell, a local painter in Woodstock, Georgia, invited me to speak at her gallery event to raise funds for charity.  Here are the details from Ann:

Gallery Show and Fundraiser – The Colors of HOPE: Author and quilter Maria Peagler, with local quilter Mary Litrel, will show selected quilts from their collections at the gallery on July 2-4. Ms. Peagler will give a talk on Friday evening at the gallery for the Woodstock Friday Night Live event. “Color Artistry in Quilt Creation,” 7 pm.

A quilt by Mary Litrel, entitled ” Esperanza,” will be donated for a raffle, with funds being raised for the HOPE Center in Woodstock. The final raffle drawing and winner will be announced immediately following the Freedom Run in downtown Woodstock on July 4. Raffle tickets will be sold at Ann Litrel Art, and at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists in Canton, www.cherokeewomenshealth.com.

If you’ve never visited downtown Woodstock, you owe it to yourself to check it out:  it is absolutely charming.  Quaint.  All those adjectives for a downtown area you can stroll through and never want to leave.  It’ll be a great way to spend a hot summer day and evening.

Ann is an excellent artist, and has a collection of her paintings at her website.  Don’t miss the Woodstock Depot series, where she paints the local train depot in the styles of great masters Monet, Van Gogh, and others.  That takes talent.  Then check out my own Learning from the Masters series on the great quilters of today and what we can learn from them.

Event:  Color Mastery Gallery Lecture
Date:    July 3, 2009
Time:   7p.m.
Location:  Ann Litrel Art, Woodstock

Gather your quilting girlfriends and make it a girls’ nite out to benefit a great organization.

Top Ten Ways I Budget for Quilting in Tough Times

Even with the tough economy, I’m still spending money on two things:  quilting and books.  I can give up eating out, pedicures, car detailing, my housekeeper, and Starbucks without feeling deprived.  But you take away my quilting and reading, and you’re messin’ with my priorities. My inner Madea might just come out.

I’ve long had a monthly budget for quilting and books that has remained constant over the last 15 years.  Yes, I actually have an amount set aside for how much I can spend on my quilting supplies and my books.  Here’s how I ensure I can continue to do that, even when times are tough:

  1. Evaluate spending:  is it an investment or a short-term purchase? Anything I buy to make a quilt I consider an investment, as the quilts I make will be around for decades.  My fabric gets used in multiple quilts, my sewing machine has served me well over a decade, batting will serve for a quilt, handbag, and maybe a table runner.  Same goes for books.  I buy books that I can use for years to come, and pass by the trendy stuff.  I don’t mind giving up a meal at a restaurant, as it’s a one-time purchase that’s over in 30 minutes.  Same goes for movies and other entertainment-type spending.
  2. Identify Your Currency. My currency is a fat quarter, and I measure every purchase I consider against that.  Here’s what I do:  a fat quarter costs around $2.50 in my area.  So for every item I consider buying, I ask myself:  how many fat quarters could I buy with that?  Which do I want more?  I’ve done this for years and it helps remind me of what my priorities are and to keep my spending in line with them.  I also taught my boys the value of money this way before they could really understand the concept.  What they did understand, from a very young age, was a Happy Meal from McDonald’s.  So if they wanted a toy, I would explain to them “That costs as much as 10 Happy Meals.  Do you think it’s worth that?”  They immediately got it and were able to make a judgement of worth based on that currency.  Often it was “No way!”
  3. Use a Rewards Credit Card for Everyday Purchases.  I signed up for a rewards credit card and use it for everyday expenses:  gas, groceries, clothing, haircuts, etc.  I pay it off every month, and use the reward points to buy clothes for my older son (who lasts in one size about 6 months), Christmas and birthday gifts, books, and other items.  Every purchase I made with my reward points freed up more money I can spend on fabric and books!
  4. Learn How to Make Great Meals at Home.  Go beyond Tuna Casserole and Hamburger Helper.  I rely on outstanding cookbooks and magazines that help to feed my family terrific meals that taste great, are healthy, and don’t break the bank.  Here are my trusted resources and my family’s favorites from them (links for each at the bottom of the blog post):
    • Rachel Ray’s 365,:  No Repeats (30 Minute Chicken Under a Brick, Buffalo Turkey Burgers, Chicken Noodle Bowl)
    • King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking (Irish Soda Bread, Bran Muffins, Whole Wheat Bread, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies)
    • Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific Diabetic Cooking (Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Chicken, Spinach, & Black Bean Enchiladas, Biscotti)
    • Desperation Dinners (White Chicken Chili, Turkey Chili, Lazy Lasagna, Fruit Salad)
    • Cook’s Illustrated Magazine (Roast Chicken over a Beer Can, Beef Tenderloin, Light Caesar Salad Dressing)
  5. Shop Local. I save on gas, get better customer service from bankers, grocery store clerks, hair stylists, pharmacists, and quilt shop owners who know my name.  They get my business.  Everybody wins.
  6. Enlist Family Help. We’ve cut back on allowances for our boys, which motivated them to tackle large jobs around the house they might have scoffed at earlier.  They wash cars, vacuum, organize the laundry room, put together my press kits, and earn money doing it.  Instead of outsourcing those jobs, I can pay my kids.  Again, everybody wins.
  7. Never Compromise My Integrity to Save Money.  I’m proud of the work I’ve done in Color Mastery, and I’ve made a financial investment in my business and my book to make it an outstanding resource.  I have many friends who are quilt book authors and pattern designers who depend on the income their work provides.  I never copy patterns or pages from books to give to friends.  If you like an author/designer’s work, support them and you’ll see more from them in years to come.  However, if they aren’t able to make their work profitable, we all lose.  They won’t be publishing future work, you won’t have their designs and advice, and our industry suffers.  Thank you for supporting the quilting industry by not copying patterns and books!
  8. Borrow.  My friends and I do this often with quilting books we just want to browse.  If I really like it, I’ll purchase my own copy.  When I lived in metro Atlanta, we had a great library system and I was there literally every week checking out books.  Unfortunately, the rural county we live in now has a meager library that doesn’t offer much in the way of resources.  So I borrow a lot from friends.  I also sign up for LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program (only for the serious book lover).  My husband often gets requests for tools friends need only for a day or two.  Again, only do this with friends you trust.
  9. Get Creative in Reducing Your Spending. Every family budget is different, and the ways I reduce spending may not work for you.  Write down what you spend for one month and review your purchases.  Where can you cut expenses without feeling deprived?  What areas are of utmost importance to you?  How can you redistribute your spending to still afford those?  Consider making a budget.  I know, they aren’t sexy or fun, but they work.
  10. Find a Financial Resource You Trust.  Not a financial planner, but a book, course, or expert whose ideas make sense to you.  When I stayed home to raise my children, we lost half our income, and I was determined to live well and save.  Our decisions didn’t reflect those of our friends and family (we lived in the same house for 12 years while everyone we knew moved up at least once, usually twice), but we had to follow our own path.  Here are some resources I’ve found helpful (links to each below):
    • Crown Ministries Christian Financial Management Course
    • Dave Ramsey
    • Tightwad Gazette
    • Miserly Moms
    • Your Money or Your Life
    • Clark Howard (he actually has a vacation home in our neighborhood)

I don’t consider myself an expert; rather, I’m a woman who worked her way through college, lived well on one income while raising my family, and have found the habits I cultivated during those times have served me well.  My hope is you can continue to quilt, read, and do whatever is essential to your well-being during these challenging economic times.

Some Good Financial News

As I climbed onto the elliptical machine this morning, my neighbor Sue was on the adjacent machine watching a financial news network.  I couldn’t help but quip, “So what’s the good financial news?”  We both had a good laugh, which is about all you can do when all you hear around you is “meltdown.”

I actually do have some good financial news to share with you.  My hope is that it will make a difference in your life as it has in mine and my family’s.  My husband is a builder, and right now he’s one of a shrinking minority in the Atlanta area:  last year there were 2400, now there are 1200.  Yikes.  What made the difference?  We follow a different financial philosophy than most families, businesses, and Americans.  We took a financial management course years ago at our church, using the Crown Financial Ministries curriculum.  It made a difference.  We changed how we thought about money, how we prioritized, and how we taught our children about money.

Check out their site.  It has some great tools, a radio show, and is chock full of articles to help during these rocky times.  Crown helped us.  If you’re looking for sound financial advice at a time when wisdom seems in short supply, try Crown.  They have my highest recommendation.

Quilt Project Runway: Katie Pasquini Masopust

Katie Pasquini Masopust has a new book on creative quilt design called Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Dynamic Art Quilts. All about taking inspiration from photos and artwork and using them as a source for your quilts. Katie professes not be good at drawing realistically, so she takes her photographs and sketches and turns them into abstract art.  How’s that for turning a challenge into an opportunity?

Also learned that Katie machine quilts her quilts in sections, Marti Michell-style: Machine Quilting in Sections. Her art quilts aren’t that large by most quilting standards, but she says it makes quilting much easier.

I have Katie’s previous book, Color and Composition for the Creative Quilter: Improve Any Quilt with Easy-to-Follow Lessons and enjoyed the quilts and the lessons in the book.  Even though I didn’t want to make her quilts, I did learn from the exercises.  That’s what I believe the best quilting books do:  teach you how to improve the quilts you want to make, not how to make someone else’s quilt.   While the Fall Quilt Market 2008 Schoolhouse session I attended was short, Katie showed impressive innovation, humor and accessibility.  She doesn’t get so serious about her art quilts that she forgets to have fun with them and her students.

Behind the Scenes at Fall Quilt Market 2008

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

I’m in Houston, TX this week and I’ll be giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the giant trade show to the quilting trade: Fall Quilt Market.  From this show come the new fabrics, books, patterns, and designers you’ll be seeing in your quilt shop in 2009.  And you’ll hear about them here first!

All the commotion starts tomorrow, so today I hit three art museums in Houston’s Museum District:  the Lawndale, the Center for Contemporary Craft, and the phenomenal Museum of Fine Art.  It was there that I actually gasped when I turned corner after corner to see artists whose works I had seen scattered throughout different museums and exhibitions, but never together in one place:  Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Van Gogh, Botecelli, Munch, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Carrie Mae Weems, Mary Cassett, Georgia O’Keefe, William de Kooning,  and the list goes on.  It was terrific and a great way to start this trip:  inspired by the best.

In the photo above I’m in the neon underground tunnel connecting the two buildings that make up the MFA. Truly, if you are ever in Houston, this is a must see!