Thursday, December 31, 2015

Member Profile: Gwyned Trefethen

 I am pleased to share this member profile interview with Gwyned Trefethen. I really felt like we were old friends after reading all of her answers. I am finding this to be such a fun way to get to know our club members! You can visit Gwyned websites too... and

When did you start making art quilts?

This should be a simple question to answer, but it isn’t. I took my first quilting class in 1988. I knew nothing about art quilts and very little about quilting. Over the next decade I gradually transitioned from traditional quilts to art quilts that were completely my own design.

Gwyned Trefethen

What type of work do you do - abstract/realist/representational...? What styles or techniques do you use?

My work is often abstract and sometimes representational. I use whatever technique suits the current piece. I am fascinated by layering, not just the quilt sandwich, but the layering of quilted or thread painted appliques, stitching and any embellishment that calls out to me, such as beads, yarn and Angelina fibers.

How did you learn the techniques you use? (Did you study with a mentor, self-taught, etc?)

In the early years I took many workshops, especially ones that taught either techniques and/or design principles. Now I lean towards experimentation or on-line learning if I need to master a new technique.

Do you have a favorite color palette?
Value is what cries out to me, far more than a particular palette. I am not drawn to neutrals and am more likely to use tints and shades versus toned colors.

Deconstructed Sunrise #3

Are you working on a particular theme or series now? Tell us more about it.

I just finished making four pieces in a row that I have dubbed the Deconstructed Sunrise series. I am fortunate to live in a condo that overlooks a small lake. The sunrise can be spectacular. My husband and I participate in the National Bike Challenge each summer. Since we head out before the sunrise (we have bike lights) we often get to see the sunrise during our outing, frequently over the Lake Winnebago. The views and contemplative time riding led me to create a variety of pieces that include stitched over sections of sunrise photographs peaking out from pieced backgrounds in a sunrise palette.

How do you work? Give us some insight into your design process?

I do not keep an artist’s journal of ideas. I do journal first thing every morning and have done so for approximately 20 years. Many of my ideas and insights come during the process of journaling and when I am exercising (biking, walking or in yoga class.) I explore my ideas in my head allowing my natural stream of conscientiousness to test possibilities and ponder how the idea could be executed. Once I have settled on an idea, I very roughly sketch out the framework along the lines of a blueprint. This provides me with a guide on relative sizes and placement of the design. Next I will I choose a palette and gather fabric that works together, organizing it by hue and value within the hue. I then start assembling the top, using the blueprint as a guide, but not something to be rigidly adhered to if inspiration strikes.
Deconstructed Sunrise

Do you work on a single project at a time or do you work on multiple pieces at once?
I typically work on one project at time. However, if I don’t have a deadline to adhere to, I might start the next piece while doing the finishing hand sewing for the current piece.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Hands down – curiosity. I am fascinated by the question “what would happen if …?”

What is your studio like and when do you like to work?
I am extremely fortunate to have a large, well-organized studio made possible by our move from Massachusetts to Wisconsin in 2010. It is the lower level of our condo with pictures windows overlooking the lake. It is 30’ x 40’. The laundry room is beside the studio and it doubles as my wet studio. One of the counters is padded, covered in plastic sheeting and includes a large “laundry” sink. I had the studio renovated to suit me before we moved in, so besides the natural light, there are many judiciously placed lights, a 120” W x 72” H design wall, and vinyl floors that are can easily be swept up or vacuumed.

What are your goals or aspirations for your art?
My goal is to keep making art for as long as I am able and inspired.

How are you making the most of your SAQA membership? Which aspects of the organization are you enjoying?

I find that volunteering is the best way to get to know SAQA, my fellow members and make discoveries about all that SAQA has to offer. I first volunteered as the Rep for SAQA MA/RI region. Later, I joined the Exhibition Committee as its Secretary. I have been the Chair of the Exhibition Committee since February 2015. I love being able to have a voice in the direction that SAQA is heading. From a personal development standpoint, I find the Visioning Project, outstanding.

Do you design your art with a purpose in mind (function of the piece, for a particular call for entry, a commission)? Tell us about that…

Most of my work is designed with a particular call in mind with the knowledge that if it doesn’t get in, I can always try another call. I have done some commissions as well.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Member Profile: Salley Mavor

I am very excited to post this member profile about Salley Mavor. Her work is fascinating, detailed and beautifully stitched. I really enjoyed learning about how she works and visiting her website.

Salley Mavor

When did you start making art quilts?

I started making what I call “fabric relief” pieces in about 1980. At that time, I made a conscious decision to present my sculptural fiber work in a frame, so that it would have a better chance of being recognized as art.

What type of work do you do - abstract/realist/representational...? What styles or techniques do you use?

I’m interested in creating work that surprises, delights and draws people into a narrative that connects on an emotional level. My artwork resembles miniature, shallow stage sets, with scenery, props and characters telling a story. I embroider, wrap, appliqué and paint different materials and found objects to create scenes in relief, with figures imposed on an embellished fabric backdrop inside a shadow-box frame. Wool felt is feature prominently and everything is hand stitched. I illustrate universal, playful situations having to do with human connections and the natural world. My original artwork is photographed and reproduced in children’s books, cards and posters. I’ve also written how-to books of projects, including Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures.

Pocketful of Posies, 2010, children’s book cover

Are you working on a particular theme or series now? Tell us more about it.

For the past year, I’ve been making pieces that contain collections of miniature human characters, each one portrayed as a head and shoulders, peeking out of a cameo shaped opening. The pieces address themes of history, time, fashion and social customs. “Whiskers” depicts dozens of bearded men from diverse times and places, all inside a large flowing felt patchwork beard. Right now, I’m working on its female counterpart, “Cover Up”, which will include a whole array of women in head coverings. The piece will show the contrast between different cultures’ notions about hiding and exposing females.
Whiskers, 2015, 24” x 30”

What is your studio like and when do you like to work?

I have a fairly large studio, filled to the brim with materials and supplies and do my best to keep like
things together in boxes and baskets. When using found objects, you have to have a large supply to choose from. Thread takes up very little space, but felt, fabric and misc. objects are stored in every place I can find. I try to arrange furniture and containers in an aesthetically pleasing way. Piles are fine, as long as materials can be accessed and the mess is part of the creative process. Super neat, white spaces with everything lined up on shelves or hidden behind cabinet doors turns me off. I prefer spending time in a space that has evidence of activity.

I start each day with an hour of group exercise or dance at a local gym. My work is very sedentary and moving like this helps me stay healthy in mind and body. Then, I usually engage in the business and promotional end of things; writing and answering e-mails, filling Etsy orders, blogging and posting on social media and organizing art exhibits. I try to limit my time on the computer, but always seem to get sucked in more than I want. By late morning, I may get going on my artwork and then continue working after lunch. I take a break to cook and have dinner with my husband. In the evening, I go back to my studio and work until bedtime. Weekdays and weekends are the same, unless we go to a social event.

My husband teases that except for eating and sleeping, I can be found working in my studio.

What are your goals or aspirations for your art?

At this stage in my career, I’d like to follow where my art is leading me in a more cognizant way. And it seems like my muse is directing me away from children’s book illustration and how-to books, toward more personal expression. I’m interested in exploring ideas of human and animal connections, fashion and cultural history, and the passage of time. My most recent pieces are larger (24” x 30”) and since I hand stitch, they take from 4 to 6 months to complete. At this rate, it will take a few years to amass enough new work to exhibit together. I’m not sure where this path will lead, but I feel confident that whatever I create, my primary tool and material will be needle and thread. 
Birds of Beebe Woods, 2012, 24” x 30”

How do you work? Give us some insight into your design process?

When I’m stitching and the process is going well, I almost feel transported into the world I’m creating. 

It’s a refuge from the stresses around me and a way to gain control of something in my life, even if for a short while. Through the repetitive, tactile process, I find a calm satisfaction that helps lead to effective problem solving. I would rather do something over than have it not come out the way I want. Each piece requires figuring out something new, so I need time to work things out. Since I know from the start that it will take a long while to complete each project, I’m realistic about planning enough time and persist until it’s finished.

For me, the creative process involves a constant jockeying between the intuitive and the pragmatic parts of my nature. My imagination is full of colors, shapes and emotions that hover, ready to come alive through my fingertips. I find drawing useful for sketching out ideas and designing layouts, but I
discovered a long time ago that I need a more tactile experience to authentically express myself.
Manipulating materials and stitching with a needle and thread by hand helps me communicate what I’m seeing and feeling inside.

Also visit Salley here:

Etsy Shop:



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Florida Regional SAQA Exhibit in MA

The global climate is changing, and manifestations of that change are abundant in some of America's most treasured places, her national parks. The diversity of impacts is as varied as the parks themselves. Rising sea level threatens Cape Cod, Assateague and Point Reyes. Ice is nearly non-existent at Glacier. Flowers bloom earlier in the Great Smoky Mountains and fall colors arrive later along the Cuyahoga and Schuylkill Rivers. Corals bleach at Biscayne and intense storms rip up docks at the Statue of Liberty. At Lowell smoke stacks harken back to the very beginning of the industrial revolution. Elsewhere, migrations are disrupted, fires rage, animals are stranded, lakes dry and oceans acidify. 

Wildfire by Deon Lewis
Maya Schonenberger

Artists are frequently catalysts of change, especially when national parks are involved. Thoughts, fears and concerns were expressed in a variety of textile techniques. The interpretations are as diverse as the problems themselves, but all of them have a common goal: to create an awareness of a vast array of issues facing our planet. 

A juried show of twenty-six art quilts created by over 20 Florida artists is coming to the Boott Reflections Room at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, 115 John St., Lowell, MA, Sunday, December 6th. The free exhibit will remain at the museum through February 7, 2016. The national tour of Piecing Together a Changing Planet is made possible by SAQA and Biscayne National Park, with support from the National Park Service's Climate Change Response Program, the South Florida National Parks Trust, Les Bouquinistes Book Club, and an anonymous donor. For more details about the exhibit, visit the show's website at, the park's website at or call 978-970-5241.