Friday, March 25, 2016

Member Profile: Allison Wilbur

We have a new co-rep for our region! Allison Wilbur recently answered a few questions so we can all get to know her better. You can also visit these two websites to learn more about Allison: and

Allison Wilbur

When did you start making art quilts?
My earlier quilts were definitely traditional and based on my love of quilts formed as a child sleeping under my great grandmother’s flower garden quilt. She had made one for each of her grandchildren and had them hand quilted by her church group. Quilting seemed a natural outlet for me - my mother was a painter and my father a cabinet maker, so it felt like a comfortable combination of color and geometry. I soon found that I changed patterns, then began to make my own patterns, then gradually began to move away from traditional pieced quilts. My first art quilt was in response to a challenge where we had to take a quote and change it and then incorporate it into a quilt. I used a line from Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul,” and changed feathers to butterfly wings. I still love this quilt and it hangs in my bedroom, a good wake up sentiment to greet me each morning.

What is your work like? What styles or techniques do you use?
If I were to choose several key elements that characterize my art, it would be machine quilting, color and foreign textiles. Founding Quilt for Change with my husband, Dick Wilbur, has certainly led me on a path of a series of quilts that talk about the condition of women around the world and the struggles they face (to learn more about Quilt for Change, visit our website - - or Facebook page.)
I like to have a lighter style of working as well to balance that and so have done many pieces inspired by foreign textiles and motifs. Many of these pieces make it into my lecture “Trip Around the World,” which I share with quilt guilds in New England. I have greatly appreciated our regional SAQA discussions on finding your voice as an artist and writing an artist statement. As I have begun to exhibit more outside the traditional quilt show venue, I have had to learn to write about myself and my work, which has been a struggle. The quilt below, Gifts a Mother Passes on to Her Child, was made for the Quilt for Change exhibit in 2009.
How did you learn the techniques you use?
For at least the first decade I quilted I took as many classes as I could. I was very fortunate to have Ted Storm, the Dutch quilter extraordinaire, as one of my first teachers (hand appliqué). Even though it was a short class, it gave me an example of the art of quilting that has always stayed with me. Since then I have broadened my class selections to branch into new areas - fusing techniques with Esterita Austin, painting on fabric with different mediums with Hollis Chatelain and Jamie Wallen, indigo dying with Carol Ann Gotrian, hand stitching with Anna Hergert. I am encouraged that the large quilt shows are offering more and more classes in art quilt techniques and more art quilts in their shows. I definitely prefer to take technique-based classes rather than project-based classes and now that I am teaching classes myself, I focus on techniques as well (machine quilting and sashiko classes are my most popular). I also learn so much each time I put an exhibit together for Quilt for Change. Challenge exhibits are an amazing way to see multiple interpretations of a theme and I love the reveal of seeing the varied entries.

Are you working on a particular theme or series now?

I now seem to be in the middle of a water series as there are three exhibits calling for water themes this year. Bounty of the Seas is now being shown in Geneva, Switzerland at the Quilt for Change "Water is Life" exhibit at the United Nations. I am working on an entry for our regional SAQA “Currents" and “H2O” for the national SAQA show. Even if my pieces are not accepted, I often find that having a challenge, Call for Entry, or theme helps me work.

How do you work? What is your design process?
I gather images from Pinterest, the web, books, magazines and my own photos. I then do a small study drawing, then scale it up to actual size. I often piece the background and use freezer paper to create the details which are fused on with misty fuse. More and more I am using my own hand-dyed or -painted fabric in my work. Once the top is complete I often use trapunto on larger shapes to create depth. Finally, I machine quilt it using my longarm. I use a large variety of microfilm motifs to create texture and movement. Often I quilt words into the background.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Sometimes it is a fabric, sometimes a theme. I once bought a hand embroidered piece from India at a local thrift store and put down everything I was working on to make it into a quilt. I just felt like it was shameful to have something so beautiful in a thrift shop and not being celebrated and admired. I mixed Amish style piecing with the very non-American color choices and stitching motifs to make this quilt, "East Meets West".

What is your studio like and when do you like to work?
My studio is like a tidal pool, ebbing and flowing from neat to a wreck. We moved a year and a half ago and chose a house with what has become my two-room studio off the garage. One room holds my longarm, the other is my sewing and painting area. The woman I bought the house from had a vending business, “Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods” in which she sold vintage lace, trims, buttons, fabric and much more. She was going out of business and I bought a lot of her merchandise. My studio was therefore immediately full!!!

What are your goals or aspirations for your art?
My number one goal is to follow Cate Prato’s advice “Make good art.” I am easily distracted by everything else, and need to spend more time away from my computer and in my studio. I spend a great deal of time teaching, quilting for others, organizing exhibits, and volunteering for various quilt related groups and some days I have to remind myself to take time for my own art.

Friday, March 18, 2016

New Trunk Show Pieces

Two more quilts have been added to our Trunk Show since our meeting last fall. The Trunk Show now has 15 pieces and is big enough to start looking for smaller venues like libraries and quilt shows for exhibition. It can also travel to local guilds (along with myself) at their meetings. If you know of a guild who would like me to bring the Trunk Show or a local library who might be interested in a small exhibit let Nancy or Allison know.

Sue Polansky

Sue's Conversation was created for SAQA MA/RI Region's Trunk Show from unused elements left over from a previous quilt. Look for this grouping of people, although slightly smaller, in When Time Runs Out on her website.

Goldfish #4
Tricia Deck

Taken from a photograph of goldfish bags for sale while traveling in China, Tricia has created a series of quilts highlighting this amazing array of colors and shapes. The fourth in a series, her challenge was to convey the shape of the bag in fabric and show the reflection of light.

Submission details for the trunk show:
Each piece must be 9”x 11” - unbound please as the edges will not be visible and the piece will be mounted on matboard.  Please keep any dimensional embellishments at least 1" from the edges.  Include a one page (8 1/2” x 11” sheet of paper) artist statement that has your name, the title of the piece, materials and techniques used and any contact information or other information about the piece you wish to include.   Please also email a copy of this statement to Nancy at

Send the artwork to Nancy Turbitt (or bring it to a future SAQA regional meeting, our next meeting is Sat., March 19 at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, Ma from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. Please include $5.00 (make checks payable to SAQA) to cover the supplies needed to mount and frame the artwork.

Note that this is an open ongoing call for all SAQA MA/RI members and there is no deadline to submit a piece for it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Member Profile: Nina Hunt

I am pleased to write about Nina Hunt today. She has been making art quilts for about five years. You can keep in touch with her via her facebook studio page.

Nina Hunt

What type of work do you do - abstract/realist/representational...?
I do all three depending on the project.

What styles or techniques do you use?
I use glue basting, fusing, thread painting, painting, stenciling, etc. Whatever the piece needs to be completed.

How did you learn the techniques you use?
I have always loved art and got a BS in Fine Arts many years ago. Then I have taken classes with Wendy Butler Burns, Katie Pasquini Masapust, and other wonderful art quilters to learn many different techniques that I incorporate in my work.

Do you have a favorite color palette?
I prefer a cool palette.

Are you working on a particular theme or series now?
I am presently exploring spirals in nature. I use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate the images and then recreate the images in fabric.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Anything can inspire me, family, nature or a contest idea.

What is your studio like and when do you like to work?
I have just redone my studio incorporating more shelving and a cutting station. I like to work in my studio either in the afternoon or late in the evening.

What are your goals or aspirations for your art?
To create something of beauty that promote an emotion in the viewer.
To promote the field of art quilting among all artists.
To gain the respect of my fellow artists

Do you design your art with a purpose in mind (function of the piece, for a particular call for entry, a commission)?
I love the challenge of creating a quilt with specific idea in mind. Something I have done, for several years with a local gallery, is a writer/artist inspiration where a writer shares a written piece and I create the art to go with it. I then share a piece of art with them and they create a written piece to accompany it. The "Stain Glass Rose" is the picture I did for this years writers challenge. I also have participated in the Hoffman challenge creating an art piece for exhibition. "Gypsy Dancer" took second place in the Aurafil category for the thread painting. (2015)

Friday, March 4, 2016


Two MA/RI SAQA Members Featured  

Art Quilting Studio Magazine

Published and distributed by Stampington & Company, LLC, Art Quilting Studio is a semiannual publication released every June and December, which caters to the art quilt. It's not surprising to find inspiring works from cover to cover by members of SAQA. It is unusual to find two SAQA members included in the same issue from one region, MA/RI, and both from the Berkshires.

Blood Moon, by Ann Brauer is on the cover and featured in their Series Showcase is Ann Brauer: Fabric Strip Quilts. The article is written by Rice Freeman-Zachery, who lives and writes in Midland, Texas. Ann's 'quilt as you go' method is discussed by her as well as her studio, her process, and how she became an art quilter.

Flip a few pages and you will find an article called The Evolution of Four Art Quilts by Cheryl Rezendes. In the article, Cheryl features four of her quilts, Whichever Way the River Flows, Night Sky, Fertility and Indian Summer. For each of the quilts Cheryl discusses her techniques and inspirations.

Art Quilting Studio offers their readers the opportunity to be published in several departments as outlined in the back of their publication. Submissions for the June 2016 issue have already passed and my quilts will be featured in this next issue. If you want to submit for the Winter 2017 issue the deadline is July 15, 2016. They prefer receiving original artwork for submissions. For an overview of their guidelines for submission visit To purchase a subscription you can go to Stampington & Company or call 877-782-6737. Back issues are available from Stampinton as well. I was lucky to find this last issue at my local JoAnn's for $14.99.