Monday, November 15, 2010

New Venue for The Unspoken Truth About Color!

I am thrilled to announce that "The Unspoken Truth About Color: A Dialogue in Art Quilts about Racism" will be exhibited at the ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation in Chicago, IL April 27 - May 22, 2011.  My quilt, "America, the Unbeautiful" will be part of the exhibit.

The opening reception will be held on Friday, April 29, 2011 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  This is in conjunction with the YWCA's National Day of Committment to Eliminate Racism.

For more information about the exhibit and the artists, please visit our blog at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A sigh of relief

The Christmas quilt has been signed, sealed, and delivered!   

My client and I first discussed the idea for this quilt one year ago.  She wanted a recreation of the scene she remembered her grandfather setting up under their Christmas tree when she was a child.  We conferred over almost every detail; the size of the gingerbread men, the placment of the beads, the little figurines. 

It was my goal to have it in her hands before Thanksgiving this year.  Considering when I started, that would not seem to have been much of a challenge, but this year has been extraordinarily busy and she was incredibly patient and understanding.  It really was a joy helping her recreate this cherished Christmas memory.  So here it is:

Under the Tree, 2010 by Jacqueine Bryant Campbell
27" x 47"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Doing the Work, part 1

People ask how I get ideas for quilts and I don't have a good answer.  I could be driving and see something that makes an impression on me, or hear a great phrase that is just begging to be made into a quilt.  I am always sure that it is the best idea in the history of ideas, except for maybe fire and the wheel.  I have a couple of post-its near my desk where I write down these random thoughts before I have a chance to forget them.

Some artists sketch out their ideas.  I don't.  Working from a photograph is one thing, but drawing my own idea? No.  Not because I can't draw (I am a little past stick figures), but because the quilt isn't going to look like the sketch when it is finished, if it does get finished.  The two times I sketched out an idea, I got so frustrated trying to adhere to the sketch that I stuffed those attempts into the bottom of a deep drawer put those attempts away to perhaps reappear as something else some day.

During the summer of 2008, I took a five-day workshop in Traverse City, Michigan, with Pamela Allen, an art quilter whose work I truly admire.  She encouraged us not to overthink what we were doing.  The scissors are her pencil.  Everything is thought out so that she develops a sketch, but in fabric, not on paper. Those five days were incredibly intense, but I came away from the workshop knowing that however the work got done was just fine.  If sketching doesn't work, don't do it!

2-color study from workshop

Restructured fabric from workshop

Next step, running with scissors ideas!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mommy, Me, and the Worst Quilt Ever

Marian Brooks Bryant, age 8

I made my first quilt when I was in the 9th grade, if your definition of quilt is very generous.  There are no pictures and I had forgotten about it, until today.  In honor of my mother's birthday, here is the sad and sorry tale.
We were living in Birmingham, AL.  Alabama history was required for 9th-graders and my history teacher, Ms. Haley, decided we should read some of the Foxfire books that detail the traditions and way of life of people living in the South in the 19th century.  Not only should we read these books, but she had us choose a project, like learning a traditional dance, or making lye soap, or quiltmaking.

I, foolishly, chose quiltmaking.  My mother does not sew.  She taught me to crochet, and how to sew buttons back on clothes, and I could sew the elastics and laces onto my ballet shoes, but that was about it.  I thought I understood the instructions in the book (how hard could it be, right?), so off we went.

Because she is fantastically supportive, Mommy borrowed a friend's sewing machine and we went to the fabric store where I picked out some fabrics to use.  I remember the coarseness of one, and I'm not sure any of them were 100% cotton.  A bad start.

The instructions were for a simple nine-patch square.  Each 9-patch square was supposed to be 12 inches, which meant that each patch should have been 4 inches.  I thought each patch was supposed to be 12 inches, so I merrily went about assembling the quilt top into one giant 9 patch square.  Just wrong, wrong, wrong.

It got worse.  Neither of us knew the difference between batting and stuffing.  We had stuffing.  So we stuffed the quilt.  By the time we got done with that thing, it looked more like an understuffed pillow than anything else.

Presentation day, and one other girl in my class had chosen quiltmaking.  She pulled out a beautifully quilted 12-inch square.  I had a giant shopping bag containing ...a...comforter?  My classmates felt sorry for me.  The teacher called it a shot in the dark.  I cursed the Alabama Board of Education for making me take the class in the first place.

I don't know what happened to it.  We had no dog, so it didn't end up as a dog bed.  Maybe it just got thrown out.  I would bet that Mommy doesn't remember this project at all; I blocked it out so well that I have been making quilts for eight years without a single flashback to it.

So happy birthday, Mommy.  I'm glad we didn't try to make lye soap.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas is Coming Early This Year...

Today I finished quilting the Christmas tree for a commission quilt.  I'm so pleased!

I agonized for months over how to make a Christmas tree that did not look like my six-year-old nephew drew it (no offense, sweetie, you're a wonderful artist!).

I started with three different evergreen-ish fabrics, cut into limb shapes, and overlapped onto each other.

Then I quilted it all over in a zigzag motion to simulate pine needles. 

On to the decorations!