Category Archives: Quilts

On the Auction Block – “Elemental Symbols” art quilt

I made this 11.5″ x 27.5″ quilt as part of a challenge based on the word “symbol.”  The colored triangles and the quilting lines within them are both symbols of fire, air, earth, and water.

I am running auctions that start each Monday morning. If you’d like an email reminder when the auctions begin, sign up here.

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art quilt with symbols of 4 elements fire, air, earth, water

“Elemental Symbols” 2016.

New – May’s BirdZeed Challenge

This month’s BirdZeed challenge word is “new.”  I did not sit down with a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm what the word means to me as I sometimes do to get started. Instead, I was talking with a friend about taking a step and doing something new and I imagined standing on a brink, looking down into a swirling blue abyss. I imagined jumping and when I got back to the surface and was again looking down at the blue, it was shimmering. I quilted the blue circle and some of the black background with a shimmery blue thread (Superior Threads Magnifico) to suggest that shimmering excitement of having jumped.

Julie Neu_blue circle on black background art quilt

New, 2017

On the Auction Block – Circles Art Quilt

Up for auction this week is a piece called “Circles” that began as a photo on cloth of a pink bleeding heart plant.  I distorted the image by cutting it into circles of various sizes, which I then appliqued onto a black cotton background. I brought more color and balance to the piece by hand quilting additional circles in hot pink thread.

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Julie Neu, art quilt of pink and green circles from bleeding hearts plant photo on black background

I am running auctions that start each Monday morning. If you’d like an email reminder when the auctions begin, sign up here.

Rise Up

I’ve completed the fourth in my accidental series of protest quilts.  This one is called “Rise Up” and it features a crazy pieced, then appliqued and stuffed, symbol representing woman.”

art quilt of pink crazy pieced woman symbol on white background

What it Means to Me:

One of the most heartening events since the election was the Women’s Marches that occurred all over the United States and all over the world the day after the Presidential Inauguration. Women, men, and children left the comfort of their homes and rose up. They marched, they protested, and they made clear that joking about sexual assault would not be tolerated, that denying women access to health care would not be tolerated, that rolling back women’s hard-fought human rights would not be tolerated. They showed with their feet and with their voices that they were ready to fight. There is great power that comes from women rising up together and that gives me hope.

The woman symbol in this piece is created from a crazy patchwork of pink fabrics to represent that diversity of women who have come together. The symbol is stuffed to represent the act of rising up.  Quilting lines radiate from the symbol to represent the impact that comes from action when we rise up together as women and as a nation.

On the Auction Block – Quilted Tea Cozy

Tea cozies frustrate me. Most require tying little strings or lifting the cozy off every time you pour so I designed a new one. No little strings, no need to pull it off,  just Velcro® once and pour.

The cozy is lined with batting and quilted to keep your tea warm with sewn-on Velcro® tabs that close snugly over a standard 6-cup tea pot. (Tea pot not included).

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handmade quilted tea cozy with velcro closures

I am running auctions that start each Monday morning. If you’d like an email reminder when the auctions begin, sign up here.

Spring Fling

Most of the quilts I work on are complicated and intricate; I like a good challenge.  But, this past weekend I went away for my guild’s Spring Fling, 3 days of basically non-stop sewing near Lake Winnipesaukee, NH.  For that kind of event, I leave the complicated projects behind and focus on fun, easy, colorful projects.  Here’s what came out of the weekend:

Doesn’t get more colorful than this, does it?

The second project was a fusible kit by McKenna Ryan (Block 5 from “In Full Bloom).  These kits are great for retreats because it’s just tracing, cutting, and fusing with very little thought involved.

Creative Play Newsletter (Vol.1: Issue 9) – Play Time

What is Creative Play and why do I keep talking about it?  Well, I keep talking about it because after many, many years of fighting it, I have finally realized how very important it is. I stopped playing at about oh, two years of age.  That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one. My mom has told me that I was the most mature five year-old she had ever met (and I think she really means “serious” when she says “mature”).  My sister can vouch for what a stick-in-the-mud I was as a kid. Needless to say, I carried that into adulthood too. I love reading, but I read mostly non-fiction or classic, serious fiction.  I took up quilting as a hobby initially because it resulted in something useful and was something that I could do while watching TV and thus otherwise “wasting” time. Honestly, it’s amazing people wanted to spend time with me!

I started playing in 2008, at the ripe old age of 33. That’s when I started my “Creative Play” blog and I went into the studio each week with the sole purpose of playing. During that time, I tried out many new techniques and I learned a lot. The most important thing that I learned from that experience, however, was how play feeds creativity. That period was one of the most creative times in my life, precisely because I was leaving room for creativity. I was just playing around to see what happened and what happened was some of my best work.

Fast forward to today, when after a hiatus from playing and after having fallen back into my old pattern, I am again leaving some time for creativity. A few weeks ago, I decided on a Friday to not make a To Do list. I decided that I wouldn’t work on any of the projects on my work table (unless I really felt moved to) and that I would just see what the day brought. I had barely finished my first cup of tea when I started thinking about the BirdZeed challenge word for the month. It was the 27th of January, four days from the end of the month, and I had had no intention whatsoever of doing the challenge. The word was “line” and I had not been inspired.  But, on that day that I had left open, I decided to take up the challenge.  An idea came very quickly to me and I made a good start on the piece. After buying some supplies, I finished it up before the end of the month. I had no plan to create this work, but because I gave myself some play time, my creativity flourished and I created one of my most heartfelt pieces to date. Read more about what it means to me in my blog post.

Line in the Sand art quilt piece. Women's March protest

Line in the Sand, 2017. 8″ x 10″

Read last month’s newsletter article.

The Making of Alternative Facts

Work on my unexpected protest series continued this week with a new piece called “Alternative Facts.”  I first created the letter blocks, sewed them together, and then slashed the top and resewed it over and over again. I captured the in-process pictures and created a 33 second video of them; if you’d like to see the steps along the way, here’s the video: Making of Alternative Facts. I quilted the piece in gray threads to reflect that “alternative facts” take something that should be clear in black and white and changes it to gray. I left the quilting thread tails loose to emphasize the messiness this creates when facts become distorted and disputed.

Alternative Facts art quilt in black and white

Alternative Facts, 2017. 15″ x 24″

What this piece means to me: 

I have not been able to get over my shock over the mere idea that there could be such a thing as “alternative facts.”  I can see how deeply divided our country is and it is a division that I want us to fix and believe we need to, but if we cannot even agree on what the facts are, how can we? I accept that people can look at the same facts and reach different conclusions. I accept that there will be differences of opinion. But, if the facts themselves are under dispute and the Administration actually believes there is something called “alternative facts” where can the constructive dialogue that we need to have to heal these divisions begin? I’m afraid that it can’t and that we will be left with just loose threads.

 

Creative Play Date

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s also Creative Play Date Day. I’m not feeling very creative today because I am still getting over the plague that my daughter brought home from school so I decided I would just play today. For me that means working on personal quilts rather than professional ones, like this one:

This is a nearly 10 year old UFO. I made the tops in 2007 (I think) as a Halloween costume for my husband and me. (With berets and drapes, we were “French Doors.” It required explaining.)  I always planned to turn them into quilts and I am finally getting around to it. C’est la vie!

Welcome Mat

The Muse seems to be stuck on political work lately. This new piece is no different. This piece is entitled “Welcome Mat” and it is roughly the size of one at 20″ x 30.” I used fusible, raw edge applique to add the Arabic letters, which say “Ahlan wa Sahlan,” meaning “Welcome.”

Welcome Mat art quilt with Arabic words Ahlan wa Sahlan

I studied Arabic for more than five years (3 1/2 years of Modern Standard Arabic as an undergrad and 2 years of Classical Arabic as a Masters student) and fell in love with the language. Arabic is extremely well-organized and the script is beautiful to write. Ahlan wa Sahlan has always been one of my favorite phrases because of its meaning but also because it’s a lovely design. There are two equally sized words ending in the same letters, connected by a rounded letter meaning “and” with an upturned H in the first word balanced by a dipping H in the second.

What this piece means to me:

The United States of America is called a country of immigrants. While this does not recognize the citizens who are native to this land, it does speak to the vast numbers of people who have come here from other places (my ancestors included).  More or less, we welcomed them. We erected an enormous statue in the harbor in New York to welcome them inscribed with:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

But today, we are turning away the “homeless, tempest-tost” refugees because many are Muslim. The President has attempted to ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries, claiming national security, but terrorists have not come from those countries, and as Timothy McVeigh brings to mind, terrorists don’t have to be Muslim. The wave of “America First” nationalism that is coursing through the country concerns me because it does not represent the welcoming “land of freedom” that I believe us to be and that I expect us to be. Ultimately, I think that open arms and an open door will do more to counter terrorism than anything else and that’s why I’ve put out the  welcome mat.