All Inclusive

CoExist Stars 2

I recently attended a guild meeting, where the speaker began her talk by making a statement along the lines of “those ugly charity quilts some people make are not art.”

Yeesh. Talk about divide the room.

I’ve been quilting since the late 1980′s, and back then the argument was that if it wasn’t hand pieced, or at least hand-quilted, it wasn’t a quilt, because our grandmothers made them all by hand.

Then in the 1990′s it was art quilting vs. traditional quilting. And now, it seems, the rivalry is modern vs. everything else.

What’s with the US vs. THEM thing? As a Facebook friend remarked last week, she’s so OVER the conversation of whether or not a quilt can be called “modern.”

I can’t help but think that, in this mostly female endeavor, any such divisiveness is just corrosive. Our grandmothers laid the foundation of feminism (in the true sense of the word, as in the respect of women as equal members of society), and I can’t help but think they’d be ready to swat our hands with a wooden spoon for not cheering on our sisters, regardless of how different from us they may be. Incidentally, I think they would also be howling with mirth at the idea we should turn our backs on sewing machine technology out of some Luddite-driven sense of reverence for the good ol’ days.

It doesn’t matter how you make quilts, or even why. Yes, I know that there are people who imbue every thread of their composition with deep meaning, and trust me, with an MFA in Fiber under my belt, I would enjoy the intellectual wrangle of a good chew on the “making meaning” conversation with you. But I’m also equally happy to cheer you on when you decide to make a quilt with pink frog fabric for no reason other than pink frogs make your heart soar.

You get to make the thing that turns you on. You get to spend your free time making charity quilts. You get to spend ten years piecing hexies for an insanely large bed quilt. You get to make everything in purple because it’s your favorite color. You get to try new things. You get to do the same things you’ve always done and be damned with the new-fangled stuff. You get to use nothing but batiks. You get to use Kona Ash in everything. You get to sweat the details on a competition-level quilt. You get to chop your points off because accuracy isn’t all that important to you. You get to quilt it on a home machine. You get to quilt it by check. You get to make your version of beauty. You get to abandon things that are not your cup of tea.

The point is YOU GET TO DO IT YOUR WAY. And the meaning it makes is the meaning you give it. This isn’t brain surgery, although I would argue that the pursuit of it is just as important… a surgeon can heal the body, but a quilt can heal the soul. But enough of debating all this. No more making other people’s art “wrong” – okay?

Just go make something you think is lovely. We’ll all be better off for it!

BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

 

 

JCP is ripping off an artist – UPDATED with GOOD NEWS!

Excellent news – JPC is working with the artist to sort out the copyright violation. See Kal site for an update.

Huzzah for a big corporation doing the right thing by the artists!!!

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Original post:

To be in the arts means we are a maker of things. To make a business of art means we need to sell those things – and the internet is an effective way for most of us to do that.

It also means that the things we make are visible, even to the people that have no intention of parting with their money to own something beautiful that we made. The lesser beings in this karmic soup take the idea of another and run with it.

Kal's stolen work

It would seem that JCPenney is selling bags whose fabric in an unlicensed and un-permissioned copy. Kal Barteski, the artist whose work has been appropriated, writes about it here:

http://lovelife.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/02/stolen-images-at-jc-penney-call-it-spring.html

First up – DON’T BUY ONE OF THESE! Don’t support the theft of other artists’ work.

Next up – head to my FB page and pick up the post about it, and please, please please, forward it far and wide. Let’s help Kal get this issue VISIBLE. There is power in numbers.

We artist must ALWAYS have each other’s back, especially when dealing with huge corporations with lawyers on retainer. We Are SO Worth It.

Room for everyone – and vive la difference!

My dear friend Josh, the man in glitter behind Molli Sparkles has hit a nerve out there… he is part of a guys-only quilt bee group, and it seems that some gals have taken umbrage with the name of the group (No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee) not to mention the exclusion of girls from it.

Sigh. Let’s stop all this now, shall we? There is room in this for ALL of us. Ladies, gents, kiddos and cats too, if the pix on Facebook are any indicator of truth.

Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I want women to have equal opportunity. Yes, I am a member of a couple of women-only bees…. that in all honesty, we want to keep that way. (Or at a minimum, in our own female world view, we didn’t think to ask any fellas.) Yes, my first quilt guild got their bloomers in a bundle over the first guy to brave the biddy gauntlet and join (hell, they got all up in arms when Sam here volunteered to be president, most of them thinking I’m a fella because of my name – not once seeking me out to find out who I really am). But seriously – if we want to be treated inclusively, we need to TREAT OTHERS THE SAME. If we want to get into the locker room, we have to open the door to the powder room. I know the scales are still nowhere near balanced, but our playing narrow-minded and small isn’t going to rally anyone to the cause.

I urge you to read Josh’s follow up post here. It seems that the original post has reached a reader’s son, who now is excited that there is a welcoming place for him to explore his desire to sew. And the fellas in the bee are sending care packages to this lad. Ladies… we do this very same thing! We find the spark of interest, and we fan it with care packages of fabric. What on earth could be wrong with that??? Are we not here to get other people to fall in love with quilting?

So to Josh – bravo! – you done good!

To the young lad – welcome… we love having new people in the sewing tribe! (and please just ignore the biddies… the cool people already do)

And to the naysayers… get off the internet and go do a nice thing for someone today… maybe the steel around your heart will soften up a little!

Great Exposure!

PigeonbitsImage from the delightful Melanie Gillman of pigeonbits.tumblr.com

As this lovely year comes to a close, I want to thank each and every person who has written me from the We Are $ew Worth It posts. Every story, be it a win or not, has resonated deeply with me, and because of that, I have some big plans for the campaign for next year. Watch this space, keep the stories coming, and have a wonderful new 2014… you really are worth it!

 

 

Book Winner! And a little chaos…

BeforeBehold! The “before” picture! This is my new studio-to-be… in my new apartment! Since I last wrote I packed my stuff and upped and moved to the Portland, OR area (from downtown sunny Burbank CA!)

Pretty much everything I own landed in this room, and I’ve been working my way through putting it all where it belongs so that I can rebuild the studio. I’m getting close, and when I do, there will be prettier pix. In the meantime, I seem to be living at either Target or the hardware store as I buy all the things a new home needs (why do I always need to buy different trash cans every time I move???)

While I was on the road, the deadline to pick a winner for Quilting Isn’t Funny came and went, and when I landed I didn’t have internet (I am quite disturbed about how disturbing it was to be disconnected, if you know what I mean!). So now that I have internet, and a computer, and it’s on my desk and I have a chair to sit in, a winner has been chosen!

Random.org chose number 39 of a field of 58 – Kathryn, who wrote: “Most frustrating.  It’s got to be squaring up the quilt.  If all the blocks measure square I”ll never understand why my quilt measurements are off.  But I still struggle with this more than I want to admit…………”

Kathryn – watch for an email from me!

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O Thank Cuteness

The Staff of Generation Q Magazine started something a couple of years back, called O Thank Cuteness (this year’s version here) and it prompted me to write about my favorite guy on my art/travel blog (sadly neglected since the inception of Hunter’s Design Studio… being an entrepreneur is a delightfully busy gig!)

So here it is… out of the archives and into today’s post. And every bit as true as when I wrote it!

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My friend Jake, who spearheads Generation Q Magazine, got a blog topic going this week – “Oh, Thank Cuteness!” She wrote about her daughter, and invited the readers to chime in with their versions. She got me to thinking about my son Steve, known to many in my life as The Boy (the capitalization is honorific here) and so here goes…

Steve’s personality was evident in utero. Every time we got an ultrasound wand near him he turned his back playfully and kept us guessing as to his gender. We could tickle his feet through my tummy, and in return he would torment me with bump-heaving hiccups. He made us wait to meet him, finally consenting to arrive the better part of a month late. The reward in this is that he smiled early.

From the get-go, he had a sense of humor. Mischief sparkled in his eyes often, and still does. He’s relentlessly funny, not in that doesn’t-know-when-to-quit annoying way, but in a lightness of being that is just present, even when he’s not fully awake. It’s a lightness that carries me often, as I tend to take it all a bit too seriously.

At two years old, Steve grabbed the hose while I was washing the car and sprayed me down, squealing. It was the first salvo in water wars that continue between us even today. As a youngster, he would ask the most hair-curling questions, but could find the humor in the then-ickyness of the answers. As a sleepy teen, he took to tapping my head and mumbling “snooze” when I tried to wake him up. I once painted his toenails while he was napping, and he laughed and wore it for the day before asking for the remover.

Steve understands the concept of having fun. He encouraged me to give up the 2-day ritual of decorating for Christmas and instead spend it in pajamas eating leftover Chinese food, while watching a full season of something geeky with him. In fact, this is how we spent our last Thanksgiving together, getting properly dressed only long enough to go to the movies in the afternoon. I reflect back on that day and remember it as one of my faves.

It would be easy to see all this fun and humor and imagine that Steve is just a party guy. Far from the truth. He thinks deeply about lots of things, and continues to ask the tough questions. The first election he voted in was the one that put Schwartzenegger on California’s throne, and there was Steve, wading through the pamphlets and brochures, trying to figure out how you pick a winner out of a pack of a hundred when all you can see is the slick marketing.

Like his mama, Steve wears his heart on his sleeve. And literally at that. When he decided to get tattoos, he asked me to help design something that spoke to his ideas of family heritage and life philosophy. No impetuous, beer-fueled doodles for him. I was honored to be trusted with this, and he graciously let me share a version of the same ink (it’s on my foot). He has since added more to his collection, all beautiful, and of course, consciously chosen and personally meaningful to him.

Obviously, there is a lot about Steve that has a lot to do with me. But then there is that part that doesn’t have anything to do with me at all. It’s a construction of what he has observed and tried and discarded, ever refining who he chooses to be on any given day – and I find that I really like that guy. I like how straight he tries to shoot. I admire that he keeps trying. I’m humbled by how loyal he is to those he loves.

We are tight, Steve and I – and this is the greatest thing in the world to me. They say you can tell who a man is by how he treats his mother. Let me tell you… Steve is a good man.

One BadAss Market, coming up!

Maddie-Pre-nap

If you don’t know this lovely lady, do let me introduce you: she’s Maddie Kertay of the BadAss Quilters Society.

Maddie is a force of quilting energy, and sweetly caters to many of us who consider ourselves on the fringes of that unfortunate sector of quilting that thinks it OWNS the Quilt Police. You know the one… it stares you down when you use a little salty language (Pardon your French? That didn’t sound like French to ME). At BadAss, Maddie has made a home for a more relaxed approach, full of bright images and positive reinforcement no matter how straight (or not) your seams are.

The Houston Quilt Market is nearly upon us, and of course, Maddie decided to put on a party. She has put together a networking event for everyone, where we get to eat fab snacks, play business card swap, and listen to people talk about stuff they think is important in our industry. The line up of speakers is sweet, and I’m thrilled to say she’s letting me have the microphone for a few minutes to talk about that thing I’m always talking about – art and craft have VALUE.

The official title of the gig is the BadAss Quilters Society Networking Gala – The Big Wing-Ding! Follow that link to read more about it. And yes, she’ll add me to the official published line-up as soon as I email her one of the photos that my pal Larry took of me last week! (Yes… I procrastinated getting head shots done… doesn’t everyone?!)

Not going to Market? Fret not! Maddie is going to videotape all of us (gulp!) and make it available for you. I hear there might even be some live streaming! So go follow her post to keep up with the latest, or catch her on Facebook here.

Oh… and about that head shot… what do you think? Me and the Ultimate Power Tool! Yeah!

Sam Hunter HS1

Introducing Collage!

My friend Carrie Bloomston of SUCH Designs has just sent her first fabric collection, Collage (for Windham Fabrics), out into the world, and lucky me, I get to share it with you!

collage-catalog (1)

I met Carrie at the Long Beach Quilt Festival in 2011. Her debut booth was a spark of bright and cheerful in an otherwise black-draped sea of business-as-usual. I was immediately drawn to her Wonky Little Houses pattern, and she and I ended up having a wonderful gab.

At the time, I was barely a year out of grad school, and still utterly exhausted and somewhat shell-shocked by the experience of surviving an MFA program. Carrie shared that she was still recovering from a demanding program at RISD, but that playing with fabric was moving her back into her old skin, and that painting was once again calling to her. We ended up bonding over being refugees from art school.

Fast forward to last year… Carrie and I ended up in adjacent booths at Long Beach 2012. It was my first big show as Hunter’s Design Studio, and we again shared a bunch of important conversations about navigating this crazy quilt world. She left me with a story about the danger of wearing layers of other people’s coats (as in allowing yourself to be weighed down with other people’s ideas of how your business should be run) and truly, it was just the conversation I needed to hear that day! So that’s the story of how we met – like many quilting stories… two women find a common thread, and as we pass it back and forth, we weave a friendship. I can’t think of a better way to make new friends.

Anyhow – back to the important task at hand… introducing the fabric! Collage is sweet evidence that Carrie made it back to her paints, and obviously had some fun. Carrie sent fabric to all her blog tour folks, and asked us to just make something from it. If you’ve been following the tour, you’ll see that we all found something in the line that spoke to our own way of seeing the world, and some great projects have ensued.

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For me, the fabrics have a sense of wonder, play and delight – all things I know that Carrie (and I) have worked hard to regain after formal education. Being a Word Girl, I love the text fabrics the best, and adore the many encouraging sayings that Carrie purposely built into them.

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I really enjoy using spots and stripes in things, and Collage offers a bunch of both. The border Birdie print is spectacular, and really usable. The “solids” have subtle tone variations and lines that create depth beyond a flat, monochromatic field. There really isn’t a piece in the group that can’t stand on its own, or play well with others.

Bag smaller

I chose to make one of my latest patterns with the fabric, a chunky little messenger-style bag (the pattern is making its debut here!). While the text fabrics called to me the most, I thought the Birdies made for a better lead role on the flap, with the teal cups and scrappy newspaper stripes as wonderful supporting players. Because I couldn’t find a comfortable way to put ORANGE on the bag, I instead used the deep orange-red scrappy stripes to whip up a little tissue holder to go with it. I had to get my ORANGE in there somehow!

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The lovely folks at Windham Fabrics have offered each blog host a layer-cake pack of all the Collage fabrics as a giveaway! So leave me (and Carrie!) a comment below to enter in the drawing for the layer cake, and I’ll use the random number site to choose a winner. I’ll leave the comments on for a couple of days (let’s say the end of my Tuesday), but don’t wait too long to throw your hat in the ring!

And in case you’ve missed them, here’s the blog tour roster – stop in and see all the things Collage can do:

April 9 – Julie Goldin 
April 11 – April Rhodes
April 12 – Tia Curtis
April 14 – Ramona Burke
April 15 – Sally Keller
April 16 – Angela Walters
April 19 – Jenny Kelly

April 22 –Karen Le Page (One Girl Circus)

Passion

I drive a Miata. I bought my first in 1996, and my second (and current) in 2001. I’m approaching 300K lifetime Miata miles, and I still look out the window, espy my car and think she’s pretty. I remember seeing the first print ad for these little roadsters in 1990 and having that gut level “oh-my-god-I-want-one” feeling. In my eyes the designers did something right, and passion ensued. The first US Miata club was born before the first Miata rolled off a boat – that’s the kind of passion it generated.

Over the years I’ve had many discussions about the merits and pitfalls of a two-seater with a small trunk. No, you can’t get a month’s worth of groceries and dog food in it. Yes, you have to pack small (but I’ve gone camping with it). No, its rear wheel drive was not optimal for three Virginia winters during grad school. Yes, the same rear wheel drive it is the bomb for twisty road play. I point out that the car fits me ninety-nine percent of the time and when it doesn’t, I borrow something bigger and return it with a full tank and deep gratitude. I like that it is nimble and small. I like that I get both decent performance and good mileage. I like having only one empty seat instead of three when I’m stuck in traffic solo (which, living in LA, is a daily occurrence) and pondering about all that wasted space in cars. I like dropping the top and getting my ration of sunshine. When I helped my teenage son buy a Miata, I was thrilled that there could be only one (not four) other kids in the car distracting him.

And so what does this have to do with quilting, pattern designing, art, running an entrepreneurial business, or even life, for that matter? Passion. And knowing in your gut what works for you.

Continuing the car stories, some years ago I read a great car article about the Dodge Viper vs. the Toyota Camry (and I have searched to find it again, to no avail, so what you are getting is perhaps not what was written, but what I took away from it). The article spoke to designing something that people could be passionate about. The Viper had a pretty small niche: it had two seats, serious horsepower, rudimentary creature comforts and a price tag of $70K at the time (they start at $95K now). It was a throaty, stiff ride. The first time one passed me on the freeway I thought I oughta take up smoking, it sounded that good. The Camry was then, and still is, one of the top selling all-around sedans. The article pointed out that the Viper had a small but positively rabid following. Clubs were forming. Speed shops were coming up with fun go-faster bits and pieces. And then they pointed to the Camry. And they pointed out all of its great features (and there are many). And they pointed out that while a lot of people bought this car that is obviously designed by committee to not engender any dislike, the flip side of that was that it didn’t engender much passion either. Since reading that article I ask anyone I meet that drives a Camry to tell me about it, and they pretty much all describe a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Nothing much to complain about at all, but not a lot to enthuse about either. The article concluded that rather than shrink the world of car design to the idea that there could be one car that meets most needs, we should celebrate that for some people the Camrys are the best fit, and we should still design the Vipers for the ardent few that want them, that *get* them.

And so back to the art business again. As I tooled up for the Long Beach show I was inundated with advice on how to do it like a lot of other people do it. And a lot of it was great advice that was duly noted and acted upon. But I was aware that there is this other part of the puzzle – the Viper criteria if you will. At the end of the day it needed to be my voice that was singing. Obviously from the business perspective I would love to have the sales of the Camry – lots and lots of patterns leaving the booth. But I find that what I really want is the passion of the Viper. I want to make something that I am entirely committed to, that I can stand behind, that I can own with deep, gut-truth passion. I want to make it in orange if I’m moved to do so, if orange is the right solution to the aesthetic problem for me, and not care that “most people don’t like orange and it might sell better in blue.” I want to find my Viper club: the people who are excited about what I design, the people who *get* me and my ideas. And of course, if that Viper club happens to be as populous as Camry owners, I might be able to buy a new Miata!

So let’s make all the different art that can be made. And let’s give up the idea that it should have to conform to the mass market to do so. Make it passionately, and it will find its following.

Typographic image courtesy of Inksurge.

Not a Fabric Crush, but a crush nonetheless!

My friend Carrie over at SUCH Designs created this little gem of a sewing machine from the family Lego pile, and generously shared a tutorial on how to make it here.

Now there’s a way to ask Lego to make it for real – check it out.

I so want one of these. Alas… The Boy (my son) is grown and gone and there is no Lego left in my house. Which is maybe a good thing considering how much of it I had to pick from between my toes back then. And I know all you parents have had the same “conversation” about keeping the bedroom floor free of the Lego minefield!

And so now I plot and scheme… who still had Lego-loving kids at home, and how much can I bribe them? Hmmmm….