Category Archives: nancy crow

Summer’s End: A Workshop, Lecture and an Exhibit Visit

Summer has ended with a return to warm temperatures and a big sigh of relief. I love the last few weeks when you have fully sunk into sleeping in and reading lots of useless novels. Haha-that didn’t happen round here and August has kept me busy and happy.

Highlights from the month:

1. After moving home from VT in early August, I packed my bags and went to a Nancy Crow workshop sponsored by the Muskegon Museum of Art. I had taken it before but signed up knowing that a little refresher is always good for you. The title of the class was Sets and Variables and the intention was to manipulate a “motif” you have made into various assignments.

Peek to the left and you can see the beautiful workspace!

Peek to the left and you can see the beautiful workspace!

The workshop was given in a recently renovated building in downtown Muskegon and I fell in love with the high ceilings and great lighting we had.


Motifs under construction

I greatly missed Margaret’s cooking as we ate out for lunch/dinner which really disrupts your process. I struggled with staying focused for the exercises. I learned quite  a bit about my working habits that are getting in my way.

Alwasy listen to directions :they needed to be smaller

Always listen to directions -they needed to be smaller

2. Nancy  Crow gave a lecture on Thursday night in conjunction with the opening of her solo show titled “Transformational Quilts“. It was a treat to here her speak about her work, her career and inspirations. The exhibit was breathtaking and included older work and some very new pieced work. ( No photos allowed. ) I have never had the opportunity to see more than one or two of her pieces in the past. She is definitely the master of color and composition and this exhibit reveals that so clearly.  It took my breath away to see such a variety of styles of her work in one space. The two events were a treasure for me. If you are in the area, you definitely need to see this exhibit. If you aren’t in the area, think about making a visit there before it closes in mid- October.

3. I went back to fabric dyeing last week. I am in love with full immersion of really dark pieces.

full immersion of  2 yard pieces

full immersion of 2 yard pieces

4. I assisted in the hanging of the AQS show here in Grand Rapids. It was amazing to see what goes on behind the scenes in a show. I signed up for a shift to help hang the quilts and enjoyed seeing both sides of the quilt.  I also appreciate what the vendors do to get their merchandise ready for all those crazy buyers.

large pallets being moved in to the vendor region

large pallets being moved in to the vendor region

And now my son is  back in school and my daughter is at college so I am back to regular studio hours and the  fabric is flying.  I am on to the next season of work and play . What are you working on?


Sinking Into A Vermont Summer: #2

I have decided to embrace the chaos of summer.  I woke up on Wednesday and had no idea what the date was or the day of the week. Or what house I was waking up in until I opened my eyes- Vermont or Michigan?  It was Michigan but I needed to get ready to return to VT which takes me a day to organize and then a day to travel. So I thought I would l give you a re-cap of the past two weeks.

– A silly but cute parade that my kids still wanted to be a part of:


A reluctant parade participant :)

A reluctant parade participant 🙂



She still loves her cows

She still loves her cows


— A trip to the Vermont Quilt Festival

Great use of color with lots of pieces!

Greta use of color with lots of pieces!




I ran into a fellow classmate from the Barn Lee Sproul and I was pleased to see her piece which was one of my favorites from the show.


Lee Sproul "Orange Link"

Lee Sproul “Orange Link”


Details of Lee Sproul's piece "Orange Link"

Details of Lee Sproul’s piece “Orange Link”

Nice job Lee and nice to see you!

— A trip to the Shelburne Museum to see the Nancy Crow exhibit

Hat and Fragrance Gallery entrance

Hat and Fragrance Gallery entrance


A link that reviews the exhibit as I took lousy pictures:

Heather Dubreill


—–A proud mom who is excited and happy that her boy ‘s team won the regional division and will travel to Phoenix in February . Only four teams left in the nation so good job Ben, my goalie man. Congrats!

——Lots of walks

Mountains in the distance

Mountains in the distance

—–goofy selfies

Hope and I with the top down

Hope and I with the top down

I am making the most of every free minute and every not so free minute and keep working and sewing. I am now working on making lots of lines this week-which I can’t show you.

Summer continues to be

Sign at the Shelburne Museum entrance

Sign at the Shelburne Museum entrance

Next week a little more  fabric dyeing as I need reds and greys. Never enough hand dyed fabrics!





The Aftermath

The Aftermath of a Workshop

The Aftermath of a Workshop

I came home on Saturday after a 2 week workshop with Nancy Crow at the Barn titled Potpourri 1 and 2.  To spend time with 27 other women who are pushing the boundaries of their work was more than a privilege. There was a wide range of experience but no limit on honesty, compassion, support and willingness to share technique and information. I wanted to pinch myself at times to make sure it was real. And then, when I slept for about 5-hours, sewed for 12 hours every day including sewing time on the weekend , got frustrated beyond belief when nothing would come of my efforts the last few days, drank a few glasses of wine and laughed until I cried, I knew it was real.

I met new friends (miss you Barb and Maria) , caught up with old friends from previous workshops,  and worked side by side with Elizabeth .  I am inspired , a little overstimulated, sad  sad it’s done with but more than excited to get back to work in my studio.

Back to work after I put it all away.



Introducing Curves

     No time for pictures yesterday. The day floated by me.  I started this piece at the Nancy Crow’s  Lines, Curves, Circles and Figure Ground workshop last  December.  It has been taking up my big design wall for way too long and is one of my few workshop pieces that I want to finish.

     I really enjoyed this class and loved learning how to piece curves.  I can’t believe I was so fearful of sewing a curve. I felt like I had been set free. I didn’t want to make it too complicated as I wanted big, bold and chunky. The assignment involved using bold, bright colors, too.

©Colleen Kole, 2013, Set Free  -work in process, 74 x 75

I haven’t quilted it yet, of course. But am looking forward to free motion quilting it. I folded it up for later to finish as I need to get going on my original goals of 20 Roofline pieces.

 This was my favorite class from the Barn workshops.  What great memories I have of spending time with a wonderful teacher, friends and creating together. What more could you ask for!

I"ve Been To Mars

     Last week,  a friend and I traveled to Muskegon, MI  to take one last workshop for 2012:  Lines, Curves and Figure Ground taught by Nancy Crow. It was given by the Muskegon Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition titled: Innovators and Legends.

The exhibit: Excellent venue and very fine textiles from some of the great legends. Opening night was Thursday so it was great to take a break from the huge final project and be inspired by lots of different styles of work. If you have the opportunity, you need to see this. It is traveling to the Schweinfurth after this venue.

 The first book is a exhibit catalog. (The second book is a book showcasing Nancy’s new monoprinting work that I bought at the workshop directly from her).

The workshop: As always, it was intense. The pace is fast, the mind spins with new ideas and the hands struggle to do the work as quickly as possible. I found this workshop really enjoyable. I am very excited to incorporate curves into my pieces as I truly never knew how to do curved piecing. I always marvel at the gals who have grown up sewing garments as they never struggle with the piecing. This is a shot of the first exercise before I started piecing it.

Unpacking: not done yet.

I kept leaving class and would hear Christmas music playing.  I felt really oblivious to the season. But when I got home, I felt like I had been to Mars for a week and dropped right back in to the Christmas season.

It was a great time with Nancy, old friends and new friends. Fantastic memories.

Now back to the season .

A Whirlwind Catch Up

     I have all these grandiose plans to write a separate blog post for all the fun things I have been doing. But it just seems like old news. So I will give you the abbreviated whirlwind catch up:

1. Attended a day long workshop by Susan Brubaker Knapp at the WMQG on Thread Sketching. I didn’t take the class but was just a classroom volunteer. She is a very good teacher and  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her for a workshop.

2.After two weeks of Artprize, I loaded up the car and went to the Barn for Sets and Variables #3.    Really intense assignments given by Nancy but I loved it. I , of course, came home with lots of pieces and parts not sewn together but I understood the concepts and am loving fine lines.  Lots of ideas swirling around in my head from this class. I need no reminder to know what a privilege it is to study with Nancy Crow each  and every time I take another workshop from her.

3. More press: Jennifer’s nice article about me

4. The Saturday I drove home from the Barn  I squeezed in a quick  90 minute trip to our West Michigan Quilt Guild  which was held at the Deltaplex Oct 3-5th. I was surprised to have won three ribbons for some of my work.

I was proud of our guild and the quality of the work shown.

4. I over-dyed about 40 yards of medium valued fabrics as I used up lots of my darks at the Barn.  I used an electric blanket under my plastic containers to maintain some warmth overnight. More blotchy than usual but not bad! The dye studio has been packed up and placed down the basement ready for next summer.

5. Yardwork, housework, more yardwork  and more housework in a major catchup mode. ( I did very little around here in the month of September).

6. A week of jury duty where they chose me to sit on the jury. At least it was an interesting case=bad boys in big bad trucks being very bad. A business case.

7. And Lucy , my Bernese Mountain Dog,  who had an anterior cruciate ligament repair at MSU vet school. Looks like a 3 month rehab process.

Oh geez….life just goes round and round, doesn’t it?  I always have hopes of life slowing down but that is not the case. I am just going to embrace it.

I hope to regain a studio schedule on Monday and am looking forward to it.

Soaking It All Up and Inspired

     I did. I just soaked up every minute of the Barn last week for the Improvisations class given by Nancy Crow. It was a tough class for me-quick paced and some of the art concepts were obviously things I hadn’t really thought of fully before I design a quilt. Or even knew.

   Nancy divides the class into a series of exercises which need to be completed in a specific amount of time. Some of the exercises are done in black and white and some in color. I was really worried about this class but went into it with this attitude:  each exercise given to us to- was just an exercise. Not a wonderful quilt that I would produce but an exercise I would learn from. I did complete most of the exercises but failed miserably at the middle one. Obviously one I need to re-do here at home. I won’t tell you  more about these specific exercises but I will tell you this:

1. I learn more at my one week workshops at the Barn than I ever did in a semester of college. Ask others and they will say the same.

2. It is absolutely wonderful to share time with others who have the same goals and interests. And laugh with them. Making art is lonely and a sharp contrast to what I did before with people every minute I was working.  I didn’t realize how lonely I was!

3. Nancy, her family and Margaret Wolf work together and give above and beyond to make this a great learning experience. Nancy spent a considerable amount of time with us and for that I am truly grateful.

4. Yes, I did sew spending from 7:30 am -10pm  there working away. Uninterrupted time except for meals. Wonderful meals.

Working on a black and white composition
another  work in process 

5. Carol Soderlund was teaching a surface design class there at the same time. It was a treat to see what that class did and see Carol’s happy face. I think one of Carol’s classes will be next in line for me.

6. Set aside comparing yourself to others and what they are doing. You can’t be at any other place than where you are currently are at in your artmaking.

     I am grateful to have had this opportunity. If you have a chance to go to the Barn, don’t hesitate to go. The experience will exceed your expectations. And that expectation should be about learning as much as you can and not about producing the miracle piece.

     Be inspired, my friends- I am over the top inspired. And a little tired.

The End of The Week

     I am going to bed and hoping some how and some way a little finish fairy will visit my work station and promptly complete another exercise assigned to us this week at the Barn. I am assuming that it is due around 2pm tomorrow. This is piece number 6…(this is a very fast paced class not for the faint of heart)

       Lots of strip pieced fabrics which need to be cut up. They are curved pieces which I hadn’t done before…slow poked along I did, I did. And by the end the pile of fabric was way too high. And it needs to probably be cleaned up by 2 as well!
     I have been here for 14 hour days. My right brain hurts-but it has been a good hurt. Coming here is a gift which I don’t take lightly.

     Off to bed to try to sleep- I usually am too keyed up to sleep much. But I will try.

     Don’t stop being creative, my friends and stretch a little bit. It really is good.

A Few Minutes of Peace


   For the first time -in over two months- I AM ALONE. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. And no one is talking. I will sit with my coffee and read my book that just came in the mail. I ordered it from Lisa Call although she has no more. You can find them on the SAQA website.

     Ahhh….how nice is this. The book is from the Color Improvisations exihibit in Germany curated by Nancy Crow. And it is beautiful. I have never seen such a gorgeous catalogue. You thought I would give you a peek didn’t you? No, you have to get your own! Or- you could join me for a cup of coffee.

Monday Catch Up

Grafton Inn,VT

     I am ready to get off the month of May. My friend Betsy described it as wanting to get off the hamster wheel. I do agree. Just got back from a family wedding in Grafton, VT. Left Thursday and came back last night.( Love hearing about what went on while I was gone….). It was an outdoor wedding and the weather was picture perfect Vermont.

Even had fiddleheads on our salad-how much more Vermont could you get? Nice to see family from afar. Did lots of spring clean up at our house there and it always takes longer than you think.

 Congrats Mike and Kate-you finally did it!

     Well I finally downloaded some more of my pictures from my workshop. This is my last piece that I did.

In Process…

She mixed the week up a bit and had us do our larger piece in the middle of the week. This was our choice using any of the motifs that we had brought with us- I mixed up an L and a T. Disappointing and I told her that it looked like a cross between a bad Christmas dream and the American Red Cross flag.

She laughed and said ok- just finish it. She said I backslid on it which I did.At that point in the week, we were all getting punchy. I do recognize my mistakes-bad color choice, too simple of a motif which looked like strip piecing and not thinking far enough ahead with it. That is the good part of the process-knowing when you made a mistake, finishing it and letting go.

     Now, for “homework” she said to do the assignment over at home :)!

Happy Sewing, my friends!