Friday, August 28, 2015

Bit by Bit

I’ve named this little piece “Bit by Bit.” It’s been a tough summer, and that’s how I’m trying to take things: bit by bit. This is a small needleturn project. The batik squares are done in needleturn applique on a piece of fabric I paint-dyed with metallic paints. It is quite shimmery. This piece measures about 10" x 27".

Here are some detail shots:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I’m teaching at Madeline Island School of Art in 2016!

The fabulous studio at MISA. (Photo courtesy of MISA.)
I am super excited to announce that I’m teaching at the Madeline Island School of Art (MISA) in Wisconsin October 3-7, 2016. MISA is one of the top five art and craft schools in the country, and is known for its large studios, world-renowned instructors, and wonderful accommodations.Madeline Island is in northern Wisconsin in the Chequamegon Bay – approximately 90 miles east of Duluth, Minnesota, along the southern shoreline of Lake Superior. Madeline is the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands. To get there, you take a car ferry in Bayfield, WI. There is also an airport shuttle from Duluth.
MISA’s campus on Madeline Island, WI. (Photo courtesy of MISA.)
I’ll be teaching Paint & Stitch: Create Original Work from Your Own Photos. If you’ve been wanting to learn about wholecloth painting and thread sketching, this is the workshop for you. In five days, you will get in-depth instruction in a spectacular setting. 

If you follow my work, you know that I work most of the time from photos like this one, taken in England of a Suffolk sheep:

… and then turn them into fiber art like this:

Or start with this photo I took of a Gerbera Daisy… 

and turn it into fiber art like this:

Intimidated? Please don’t be. My process involves working directly with the photo to trace lines, transfer them to fabric, and paint. When it comes down to it, it’s a lot like paint by numbers, except you do learn how to mix colors and blend them, and how to work with value to achieve depth. My students get fabulous results with this technique.

Here’s more information about my class:

Learn the basics of creating wholecloth painted and thread-sketched quilts based on your original photos. You will complete 2 or 3 projects, depending on size and complexity. Do not worry if you’ve never painted anything before… this may look complicated, but it isn’t once you learn a bit. Learn how to:

  • select the right photos for great results
  • choose paints and fabrics to use
  • trace key elements from your enlarged photo to produce a line drawing
  • use your line drawing as a pattern to create realistic images on fabric using acrylic textile paints
  • transfer the design to fabric
  • mix paints to get the right colors, shades and tints for your image
  • add detail, color and texture with thread to bring the piece alive
  • stabilize your piece to avoid draw-up
  • regulate your stitch for perfect tension
  • improve your control while stitching
The price for the five-day workshop is $670, plus a $40 materials fee (which includes paint, fabric, brushes) and lodging and meals.

Please contact me if you have questions. I’d love to see you in Wisconsin next October!
Student accommodations at MISA. (Photo courtesy of MISA.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

“Purple Anemone” done

I just finished quilting this piece I am calling “Purple Anemone.” It will be about 17" x 23" once it is faced. It is based on this photo I took in the spring of 2014 in the Duke University gardens:

Here’s how it started, with pieces of fabric – hand-dyeds and batiks – fused down, and chalk lines indicating the main stitching lines (the veins on the petals):


Note: The color differences in these photos are due to different lighting conditions. The main photo at the top was taken outside, and most of the other photos were taken inside, under an Ott light. 

I used Lite Steam-a-Seam II as my fusible, Heavy Weight Shaping Aid as my stabilizer, and Aurifil Cotton Mako 50-weight for thread sketching. In the flower center, I used acrylic textile paint for the tiny dots and details that were too small to do with fused fabric.

I estimate that I spent more than 30 hours working on this piece, most of it thread sketching. Here are all the threads I used:

Of course, Wicked has to have her photo taken with each quilt in progress, and this one was no different:

Friday, August 7, 2015

“Whimsical Inspirations” blog hop and giveaway

Have you noticed that beautiful coloring books for adults are all the rage these days? Seems like everyone is doing it this summer. It’s a great way to relax and be creative. My friend, Jamie Fingal, has a new coloring and painting book out. It’s called Whimsical Inspirations: A Coloring and Painting Book for the Artist Inside Everyone. 

Jamie drew her designs with a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point black pen.  There are 12 coloring pages, and all are printed on heavier paper, so you can use paints and markers. Just put a separate piece of paper behind the page you are coloring, so if there is anything that goes through the paper, the next page will be protected. It has a chip board back and a coil binding so it lies nice and flat while you work.   

You can color them in with colored pencils, crayons, markers, or watercolors. (I used water colors on my page at the top of this post.) There are houses, flowers, teacups, campers, dresses, and sewing- inspired designs. After that, you could frame them, or fold them in half to make a beautiful card for a friend.

Jamie self-published the book, and it is available on her blog (just look for the buy button on the right-hand side). U.S. residents only. $19.95, plus shipping and handling, via USPS.  California residents pay tax. 

To celebrate, Jamie’s having a blog hop, and she’s going to give away two copies of the coloring book (U.S. residents only, please). So for a chance to win, please visit all the blogs below and leave a comment by noon (Eastern Time) on August 10.

Sunday, August 2 - Jamie Fingal

Monday, August 3 - Lyric Kinard

Tuesday, August 4 - Leslie Tucker Jenison

Wednesday, August 5 - Desiree Habicht

Thursday, August 6 - Deborah Boschert

Friday, August 7 - Susan Brubaker Knapp

Saturday, August 8 - Sue Bleiweiss

Friday, July 31, 2015

Shooting segments for

I was in Asheville, NC, yesterday to shoot two segments for, an online television show (available through subscription) featuring Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I was on Show 901 in 2011, teaching needleturn applique and fusible applique. This time, I’m demonstrating thread sketching and wholecloth painting. 

Alex and Ricky were in Asheville to feature North Carolina quilters, including Georgia Bonesteel, who was pivotal in bringing quilting instruction via television to countless new quilters in the 1970s. 

Such a great experience. The production crew (including Shelly Heesacker and Lilo Bowman, shown in the photo below discussing the segment with Alex and me) is simply fantastic.

When I arrived, free-motion quilter extraordinaire Leah Day was just finishing up, and Jane Hall (a.k.a. “The Pineapple Queen,”) was also on set, shooting segments on pineapple block quilts. Jane and I will be featured in the same show. 

Here are some photos of Jane on set:

 I’ll post about this again when I know the show number. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Old Red Door

“Old Red Door” copyright 2015 by Susan Brubaker Knapp (40" x 40")
My new piece, “Old Red Door,” has been selected by curators Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenison to appear in the Dinner at Eight Artists’ exhibition, “Affinity.” The exhibit will debut at the International Quilt Market (Oct. 24-26, 2015) and Festival (Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2015) in Houston. It is a juried invitational exhibition sponsored by Havel’s Sewing.

This is a wholecloth painted piece, which means that I painted the image on white fabric with acrylic textile paints, and then stitched it. For more information on this technique, please see this blog post.

Here is the curators’ explanation of the theme, “Affinity”:

I am the garden that I plant.

I have… a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, or idea.

I am all the books that I have read.

I have… a close resemblance or connection to someone or some thing.

I am the places that I have been

I have… an agreement with someone.

I am the people that I love to be near

I have… a relationship or ties to another individual.

I am the sum of my life experiences.

Here are the 40 selected pieces and artists:

Black Cat, Red Flower, Green Leaf - Frances Holliday Alford
Beneath the Surface - Linda C. Anderson
Tutti Frutti City Street - Sue Bleiweiss
The Patriots of Boston - Loris Bogue
Green Bowl - Deborah Boschert
Spring Comes Late - Cindy Cooksey
Undaunted - Lauretta K. Crites
Paint the Town Red - Diane R. Doran
Color Play - Jane E. Dunnewold
Sprocket 2 Me - Robbi Joy Eklow
Raised on Bluebonnets - Suzan Engler
That's Amore - Barb Forrister
Essence - Lyric M. Kinard
Jacob's Treasures - Susan Fletcher King
Fiberarts Complusion - Karol Kusmaul
Napa Valley Vineyard with Red Barn - Cathie I. Hoover
Ms. Stella O'Houligan - Stacy Hurt
Old Red Door - Susan Brubaker Knapp
3 "CANS" - Sandra E. Lauterbach
Peas n'Honey - Linda Teddlie Minton
Focal Point - Jeannie P. Moore
Agave - Susie Monday
Charleston on My Mind - Rachel K. Parris
We are Stardust - Andi Perejda
Crepuscular Flash - Judy Coates Perez
Paris Avant-Garde - Yvonne Porcella
Magnetic Attraction (Tuning Fork #25) - Heather Pregger
The Sweet Press of Remembered Moments - Wen Redmond
Who Has Seen the Wind? - Cynthia St. Charles
Universal - Julie Schlueter
Horloge Musee d'Orsay - Gayle Simpson
Descended from the Stars - Sarah Ann Smith
Rock - Virginia A. Spiegel
Seeking Red - Terri Stegmiller
Martie Learns to Read - Ann E. Turley
The Rest from their Labors - Larkin Jean Van Horn
Sweet, Sweet, Bliss - Valerie C. White
Dot - Kathy York

Jamie Fingal - Rama Lama Ding Dong
Leslie Tucker Jenison - Affinity for Improv

“Old Red Door” (detail)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Orange Gerbera

“Orange Gerbera”
Copyright 2015 by Susan Brubaker Knapp
approximately 24 x 34"
Here’s my latest piece. It is based on a photo I took of an orange Gerbera Daisy (you can see the photo at the bottom of this post). I took the photo on one of my morning walks through my neighborhood earlier this spring. This piece is wholecloth painted, then quilted. I haven’t faced it yet, but it will probably end up to be about 24 x 34".

Here’s a detail shot:

“Orange Gerbera” (detail)
Photo (by me) on which the fiber art is based.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Quilting Arts TV Series 1600 is here!

“Quilting Arts TV” Series 1600 is here! We have some terrific guests in this series; if you’d like to see and read more about them, you can get the inside scoop on my previous post here. These shows will start airing on about 400 Public Television stations in the U.S. soon. Not all stations carry the new shows at the same time, so depending on where you live, you might see the new shows in July, or you might see them later this year.

The DVD of this series, and the digital download is available here for $39.99. (The DVD is now available for pre-order and should ship later this month; the download is available now.)

A note about the projects on QATV: Through series 1400, most of the projects featured on QATV were offered as free downloads. For Series 1500, the projects were available in a booklet for $14.99. For Series 1600, in response to customer comments, F+W Media, the parent company of Quilting Arts, will be offering some of the projects for free, some in Quilting Arts magazine, and some as more affordable individual downloads ($4 each). The company made the change toward charging for this content in an attempt to offset the rising costs of producing the show, which is available free to consumers (without the advertising on regular TV) on public television.

If you are interested in seeing a particular episode, you can now stream individual episodes of QATV on here. (The 1600 episodes will be available here soon.)

1601: Design and Stitch - Join Pat Pauly as she shows you how to add a linear quality to quilt designs with pieced thin lines. Then, explore how to design a double-sided quilt with two different points of view with Nysha Oren Nelson.

1602: Take it Slow - Watch as Lynn Krawczyk explores artful wool felt color studies with hand stitching. Then, let Mark Lipinski explain the philosophy of the Slow Stitching Movement.

1603: Beads and Sequins - First, Catherine Redford demonstrates a fancy beaded edge technique. Then, Jane LaFazio uses beads and sequins to make small works of art. And Susan Brubaker Knapp shows us how to use the sewing machine to attach strings of beads onto quilts to give them a little something extra.

1604: Color it Beautifully - Learn how to highlight the dimension of designs after stitching by applying color with Nysha Oren Nelson. Watch and learn as Desiree Habicht blends and layers colors with colored pencils. Then, see how Julia C. Wood prepares hexagon motifs for hand and machine appliqué.

1605: The Artistic Touch - First, see how Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum creates reusable silkscreens with organza and iron-on vinyl. Next, Cecile Whatman demonstrates a multitude of techniques while making background fabric for an art quilt with non-traditional media.

1606: Fabric and Fabrication - Watch Lesley Riley as she infuses her personality into fragment fabric collages. Then, Pat Pauly shares ways to design compositions for fiber art, including small-scale sketches, collage, and montage.

1607: Make it Special - Mark Lipinski shares a variety of legacy quilts, along with his own, to show how to leave a bit of yourself behind. See how Tammie Bowser makes fusible appliqué “Jazz Quilts” from photos. Then, learn how to take your quilts beyond the ordinary when Susan Brubaker Knapp offers tips for machine stitching tiny motifs.

1608: Paint it! Cecile Whatman explains the ins and outs of building a painted surface with depth and movement. Then, Desiree Habicht shows how versatile acrylic paint on fiber can be by improving and accentuating details with paint.

1609: Grab Bag - Enid Gjelten Weichselbaum shows how to use stickers and textile paint to add text to her quilts. Next, Rebekah Meier shares her Confetti Zipper Bag which is a great way to use up special threads, yarns, and fabric bits. Finally, Jane LaFazio makes hand-felted soaps for lovely and useful gifts.

1610: Hot Stuff - Joan Shay shows how to make a gorgeous 3-D butterfly using fusible appliqué. Then, learn how to create fabulous textural effects using heat shrinking thread with Liz Kettle and bold metallic designs using iron-on foils with Susan Brubaker Knapp.

1611: Appliqué Three Ways - First, watch as Sue Spargo appliqués wool and embroiders it to make a beautiful needle case. Then, Becky Campbell demonstrates an innovative method for fusible appliqué. And finally, Susan Brubaker Knapp gives tips for making bias strips for stems and vines.

1612: Repurposing - Learn how to recycle old quilt blocks using surface design techniques with Lynn Krawczyk. See how Trish Bowman creates a beautiful memory quilt with vintage silk neckties. Then, watch as Nysha Oren Nelson alters a wooden box and uses it to display intricately quilted pieces.

1613: Inspired by a Photo - In this episode, discover how two artists use photographs to inspire their artwork. First, Jane LaFazio shows how a photo of a unique plant inspires a series of quilts. Then, Pat Pauly shares ways she uses photos to help jumpstart her abstract designs.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More from Jane’s class

Here are more of the drawings/watercolors I’ve been doing in Jane LaFazio’s online course, Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs from Life. If you’d like to learn more about drawing or watercolor, I highly suggest taking a class from Jane. I’ve really enjoyed this class, and both Jane and my fellow students were very positive and supportive, while offering great constructive criticism to help each student learn.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Our family had two important milestones last week. My father turned 80 years old. And our eldest daughter, Lea, graduated from high school.

I made two handmade graduation gifts for Lea. The first was a water-colored quote (at the very top of this post). All her life, Lea has drawn cards for family and friends, and so I wanted to make one for her this time. The second gift was a quilt for her college dorm room. It is mostly purples taken from my mother’s quilting stash. Lea shared a love of the color purple with my mom.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exploring taking (and teaching) online courses

My latest class assignment
I have just started an online class with the fabulous Jane LaFazio. It’s called “Watercolor Sketchbook: Designs from Life,” and even though it’s only the first week, I’ve learned a lot and had so much fun! The photos in this post are some of the work I’ve done for the class. 

Here is Jane’s description of the class: “Working in a sketchbook, you’ll draw and paint in watercolor from real life subjects. Then from your own drawings, you'll create original designs that could be used in surface design and mixed media.”

Jane is a mixed media artist who works in paper, fabric and fiber. She’s been on “Quilting Arts TV” numerous times, and I took a class from her in person several years ago when she taught in North Carolina. You can learn more about Jane's online courses on her blog here.

another page

The class is delivered in bits, once a week, in the form of videos and PDFs with photos and text. There are exercises and assignments. It is six weeks long, and all the information is available for several weeks after the class officially ends. The cost for the six-week class is $99. 

I’m taking the class partly to explore the idea of teaching online classes. I wanted to check out the platform Jane uses (Ruzuku), and to see what I like, or don’t like, about it. So far, it seems very easy to navigate and to connect with Jane and the other students taking the class.

If I offered online classes, what would you want to take from me?
Here are some ideas I’m considering:
  • Tyvek, Mylar, Lutradur: Explore versatile materials for art quilting
  • Wholecloth painting: Paint on fabric from your original photo
  • Thread sketching: Add detail, texture, and interest to your work with thread
  • Fusible applique: Build a composition from your original photo
  • Needleturn appliqué 101: Get started with this heirloom technique
  • Machine quilting 101: Gain confidence and skill in free-motion machine quilting
  • Photo inspiration: Learn how to use basic design and composition principles to take better photos with a point-and-shoot photo or your smart phone